Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review- All The Wrong Places by Karin Kallmaker

All The Wrong Places
by Karin Kallmaker
Contemporary/ Lesbian/Romance
264 pgs.

Buy it Amazon, B&N

Brandy Monsoon is looking for love. Since there's never a shortage of casual playmates at the tropical resort where she works as a fitness trainer, most of the time she gets it, too.

If Brandy tires of the perpetually curious but primarily straight women, there's her best friend Tess for a friendly encounter – safe, with no strings. After all, they're just buddies.

When an all-lesbian tour group arrives for a week, Brandy is sure she'll be in paradise on earth. The guests include lesbian celebrity comic Celine Griffin, who has an obvious interest in an after-dinner Brandy. Celine and Brandy do find explosive pleasure together -- so why does Brandy feel as if that's no longer enough for happiness?

What comes to mind when I think about how this book read for me is, beach read. All The Wrong Places is light, fun erotic romance with easy going characters and a summery, recreational backdrop in which they get to play. This is also a friends to lovers story, which I’ve come to really enjoy.

Brandy is one of those characters who I’d love to be friends with. She’s a light, easy going but inherently grounded person. Although a full on confirmed lesbian who has no issues about it within herself, she seems to be constantly getting involved in non-committal flings with straight girls who want to experiment. Brandy knows this not a good thing for her ultimately, but she hasn’t met a lesbian who rocks her world. She’s also a person who has had to deal with major crap from her family who’ve disowned her for being gay and it still affects her psyche.

Although this story is told from Brandy’s POV in first person, I will talk about Tess as well. Tess is working with Brandy in the same resort. The resort they work at has an unwritten policy of don’t ask don’t tell about sleeping with the clientele. Both Brandy and Tess enjoy mingling with the guests on a sexual level; Brandy with straight women and Tess with men. Tess is the type of woman who goes with men to scratch an itch. She loves sex and especially when she’s premenstrual, she seems to need non-stop sex. Unfortunately, she hasn’t met a man who can satisfy her when she’s hormonal and then have a normal sex life the rest of the month.

Tess and Brandy are friends and after one night of desperation and lack of satisfaction with the man she was with, Tess heads over to Brandy’s for some girlfriend comfort, and bitch about men and sex, time. This innocently leads to a hot night of unbridled sex in which Brandy satisfies Tess’ hormonal/sexual needs without a break and Tess finds out how juicy it is to be with a woman. In the following weeks, they have several friends-with-benefits encounters but stay just friends.

The rest of the story is Brandy’s musing and obsessing over her growing feelings for Tess as she realizes that Tess has maybe switched sides for good and that makes her a bit jealous. They have an easy going relationship, sexually and otherwise, until a group of lesbians show up at the resort giving Brandy some options with real lesbians. It also gives Tess a chance to explore to Brandy’s chagrin.

What I really enjoyed about All The Wrong Places is that it was a nice slow build to a sweet love story between Brandy and Tess. I love it when I’m reading and half way through I’m really dying for two people to get together, wondering and hoping that it can work out. I love it when I can feel the ache of the characters and ache myself for them to get what they want. Ms. Kallmaker created that longing and tension in this story, but not in an angsty, heavy way.

Ms. Kallmaker’s style of writing is fun and very erotic, meaning, there’s a lot of sex in this book, written fairly graphically. However, it all had its place and nothing felt gratuitous. Nor did it really feel over the top erotic, but more playfully sexy.

All The Wrong Places was basically a few weeks in the life of Brandy and what she feels about them. It’s a rather intimate viewpoint and I liked that; it had the feel of chatting with a girlfriend and her sharing everything that happened, which kept this entertaining.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a light lesbian love story with a satisfying ending.

Heat level 5- graphically written sex scenes. Strap-on, dildo.

Grade: B+


Jill Sorenson said...

Ooh!! The 2 Kallmakers I've read were very well written, but not erotic or even that romantic. More women's fiction-y. This sounds great! Thanks for the review.

LVLM said...

Jill- I'd definitely read another Kallmaker. She does have an easily readable style.

This book does have a lot of sex in it. Maybe a bit too much for my taste. And it's with several people, which I read in other reviews turned people off.

This book I'd say is a bit fiction-y in that the romance itself is not really developed by Tess and Brady interacting a lot.

Most of the build up and longing is in Brady's head until the end. I think it would have been really nice to get into Tess' head since it would have given the story some more depth. But the ending is very sweet and satisfying.

Cathy in AK said...

In the description, the arrival of Celine seems to play a big role in Brady's relationship with Tess but you don't mention Celine in your review. I'm guessing that with Tess switch hitting from time to time and Brandy hooking up with Celine, Tess is given some food for thought, yes? Is that the conflict that arises? (I'm all about decent conflict : )

LVLM said...

First, for some reason I called her Brady through my review even though I knew her name was Brandy. Senior moments. heh. Anyway, it's fixed.

Cathy-- I didn't mention Celine because I felt she was more a side bar. She's famous and Brandy has idolized her, so it was a coup for her to spend the night with Celine. However, the whole time she's thinking of Tess. She's pretty much obsessing about Tess even though she's with some other women.

And Tess, well this is where it would have been nice to get into her head, wasn't with any men since she was with Brandy. Brandy doesn't really know that though.

The actual catalyst to the Brandy making a move is something that happens with her family and which thaws out an uncomfortableness that has occurred between her and Tess due to Tess getting with a lesbian from the group.

So really, I felt that Celine was more of a diversion to her starting to realize that Tess is someone more important to her.

There really isn't a huge conflict. It's more that Tess surprises Brandy by going with another woman and this pushes Brandy's buttons. But she was already starting to feel something more for Tess but didn't want to acknowledge it too much since she felt that Tess was basically straight.

It's more of a misunderstanding rather than a conflict because Tess thinks Brandy is not into getting serious with anyone.

Cathy in AK said...

I just realized I called her "Brady" too. Dang sticky keys....

Hmmm....I don't know...264 pages of set-up/misunderstanding? I'll take your word that it's a good read, but I think I'm looking for a bit more intensity at the moment : )

LVLM said...

Cathy, yeah, this is a bit on the lighter side although not superficial. It's why I called it a beach read. Not too much to think about. heh.

If you want intensity, it's not a book but a movie that I just watched, Portrait of a Marriage Holy crap, was that movie intense. It's the true story of Vita Sackville-West and her love affair with Violet Trefusis.

Both women were writers and Vita was also a lover of Virginia Wolf.

I'm still so affected by it. It was such an intense, passionate love story. I will review it tomorrow probably.

Karin Kallmaker said...

Thank you so much for the review!

LVLM said...

Hello Karin- This was such a fun book! I'm looking forward to reading some more of your books. :-)