Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review- Turning the Page by Georgia Beers

Turning the Page
By Georgia Beers
2001
Contemporary/Lesbian
268 pgs.
Renaissance Alliance Publishing

Buy it Amazon (paper,Kindle), B&N (paper, Nook)

Melanie Larson is an attractive, extremely successful business executive who shocks herself by resigning from her job when her company merges with another and relocates. While trying to decide what to do with her life next and at the urging of her uncle, Melanie heads to Rochester, New York, to stay temporarily with her cousin Samantha. She hopes to use her business savvy in an attempt to help Sam sort out the financial woes of her small bookstore.

During her stay, Melanie meets and becomes close to the family that owns the property on which Samantha lives, the charming Benjamin Rhodes, a distinguished, successful businessman, as well as his beautiful and intriguing daughter Taylor. Surprised by what and how she feels for each of them, Melanie is soon forced to face the facts and re-examine what's really important to her in life, career and love.


This is my first Georgia Beers book and it won’t be my last. This is a sweet coming out story, the kind where a character falls in love for the first time with someone of their own sex. Just the kind I really like.

What I liked: Melanie is at a turning point in her life and is in limbo about what she’ll do. Until this point, she’s focused solely on her career, putting love on the back burner. As far as she knows, she’s straight, until she meets Taylor. What I loved is that how she falls for Taylor is done nice and slowly. No big shocks or freaking out about what she starts feeling, just a nice slow progression of opening up to and acceptance that she might be a lesbian.

Melanie decides to take over a bookstore her uncle bought for her cousin after her cousin blows off, but realizes that since the big box stores are major competition, she needs to be a niche bookstore. So she decides on it being gay/lesbian oriented along with feminist offerings. This is part of her opening process.

She also becomes really good friends with Lynda, a lesbian and owner of the coffee shop next door. Since Melanie is so open, Lynda is not sure about her and invites her to a lesbian bar, where Melanie has a good time, becoming more open to her interest in all of that.

All along, Melanie has growing feelings for Taylor, the daughter of the man who owns the house Melanie’s cousin, Samantha, has been renting. But Taylor’s father also has eyes for Melanie and this becomes confusing to Melanie since she has a lot in common with him as he pursues her romantically.

Taylor makes it pretty clear that she’s very attracted to Melanie. But of course, she’s not sure if Melanie is into women so she comes on and then backs off accordingly, which actually gives Melanie a chance to ease into it since this is the first time she’s attracted to a woman.

The dance between Taylor and Melanie is done so softly and yet, it’s very clear that both have major hots for each other. All those intense feelings of attraction and falling in love come through pretty strongly in the writing and how they interact.

I liked all the characters in the story. Lynda is a fun character who adds a lot to this story as she’s sort of the go to person who helps Melanie sort out her unexpected feelings. Samantha is a bit of a caricature of a bad girl. And she has a shocking reaction at finding out that Melanie is having an affair with Taylor, which I thought was a bit over the top. But I think it fit her superficial personality.

Taylor is a genuine, sweet type of character. She’s fairly conflicted about what’s going on with her and Melanie due to issues with her father, an ex- girlfriend who keeps calling, and not being sure if Melanie is actually straight or bi or gay. But she’s a grounded girl and she just keeps putting it out there in ways that Melanie can take and so when Melanie really gets that she’s a lesbian and goes for it fully with Taylor, it’s so satisfying.

What bothered me: This is the first romance book I’ve ever read in which there are romantic competitions going on between a parent and child. I’ll admit, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Everyone knows that it happens between mothers and daughters in some situations in which jealousies and competition happen about partners, but it’s an unspoken thing that most people don’t like to acknowledge. Certainly not in a romance.

In this case, you have a lesbian daughter in competition for women with her father, who is a good looking, suave man who easily attracts women. Since Taylor’s mother died her father has been dating a lot. And he sets his eyes on Melanie almost immediately, to the chagrin of Taylor.

Although Ben, Taylor’s father, is written as a good guy, a decent man, it’s still weird for me to read a romantic triangle with a father and daughter being two parts of that triangle. Just to be clear, Melanie is about 13 years younger than Ben and about 8 years older than Taylor. So the age differences weren’t what made this squicky. It’s handled in an OK way, but it does cause some stress to Taylor to betray her father on this level. And it was just a bit weird for me.

The main thing that bothered me though had nothing to do with plot or characterization, which was well written, but more to do with writing technique. Instead of character names, phrases like “the tall one, the younger one, the older one, the brunette, the blond, the blue eyed one,” etc. were used constantly. This drove me nuts for some reason. I’m sure this is personal preference so YMMV. But after a while they stuck out like a sore thumb and pulled me out the story often. This was either the first or one of the first books Ms. Beers wrote, so maybe her writing has changed over time. I hope so on that level.

Altogether though, I loved this book. It’s full of heart and realistically written as a coming out story. Although there are quite a few stereotypical to lesbian pop culture references, it didn’t get preachy or so lesbian centric that that non lesbian readers won’t relate to it. I definitely recommend Turning the Page if you like first time experiences that turn into love stories and characters who don’t make a big deal about finding out they are gay.

Heat Level: 4—some graphic sex, mostly sensually written.

Grade: B+

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Phaze - sale



Phaze Publishing is having a 25% off all books sale from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

Enter coupon code 'BLACK' when checking out.

I just looked to see what f/f or f/f/m they have and I've read and reviewed most of them.

It's been a very long while since I shopped there and I'm surprised there isn't really any new f/f in all this time. That's kind of sad.

But it's a great chance to scoop up some books for a cheaper price.

Happy shopping!

Beguiled by Paisley Smith

Beguiled
by Paisley Smith
Nov. 16, 2010
Historical (Civil War time)/ Lesbian/bi
Short Novel- word count UK
Ebook- Loose- Id

Buy it Loose-Id

The Civil War has torn Belle Holloway’s world apart. Left to manage her Georgia plantation with little help, she is exasperated when the Union Army adds to her burden by leaving a wounded soldier behind. But upon closer examination, Belle is shocked to discover the soldier is actually a beguiling woman.

Clad in male attire, stubborn, brash Alice O’Malley awakens a passion in Belle she never knew existed. Alice dominates Belle’s lonely existence with taboo pleasures and erotic escape. Soon Belle realizes she is more than willing to submit her body and her heart to the woman whose strength and compassion she admires -- until those very attributes prove to be the catalyst that could destroy their newfound love.


I’ve read all of Paisley Smiths f/f books so far and I’ve enjoyed all of them. So picking up this one was a no-brainer. Again, I wasn’t disappointed. Moreover, the time period Beguiled is set in-- late 1800’s-- coupled with one of my favorite scenarios--- a woman passing herself off as a man— made this a yummy and favorite book.

While overall I really enjoyed this book, there were a few niggling things that bugged me. I’ll get to that first so I can get to what I loved.

There were a few inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story here and there or made me wonder. At one point Alice thinks to herself:

Alice knew from Belle’s passionate reaction that she would go all the way with her, and the knowledge that the prim, proper southern lady would spread her legs for another woman drove Alice mad with desire.

Her mouth went cotton dry at the thought of Belle lifting all those frilly petticoats and then beckoning her to touch her—taste her. Alice tried to swallow but couldn’t. She’d seen the look of desire in Belle’s eyes. The curiosity to explore, to not only be touched but to touch as well.


First, Belle comes across as tough, efficient and competent right from the get go. She reacts to horrific events that would make even a more hardened person flinch, with aplomb. I didn’t see any of what I thought would be an uptight, prim and proper, gentile southern belle woman in her characterization that would make Alice hot on that level. Maybe if Alice had met Belle before the war it would have been the case.

And also, again, due to the ravages of war, of Belle needing to do all the house work and tend to repairs and the animals, I didn’t picture her in frilly petticoats either. I pictured her more in tattered and dirty older dresses.

That was another inconsistency that I felt as well. Belle tells Alice when they are talking about their lives, that she had a great education and learned several languages, that their slaves were taught to read, that she basically lived the life typical to a woman of her station as the daughter of a plantation owner, meaning, she was a lady living a life of ease and refinement. But there was nothing in the way she spoke,or acted that gave that impression even if the current circumstances required her to adapt to a harsher life. I would think she’d still react according to her background and upbringing even if she did adapt.

Alice also uses fuck and said at one point:

“I don’t suppose I’ve made figuring this shit out easier for you.”


Shit and fuck? I know people said those words at that time, but I guess I always think of ladies at that time not using such words, even if Alice was in the Union Army pretending to be a man and she did come from a poor childhood in Boston. Belle is not shocked at all of Alice talking like that, like that’s the kind of language she’s always heard from women or men even.

Another question I had was that it seemed that the Union soldiers of Alice’s troupe knew she was a woman dressing as a man acted as if it were normal. Does anyone know if that’s so that it was accepted? I know women did serve, but it was only if they could really pass themselves off as a man. I would think once they knew she was a woman, they would have dumped her or worse. And in fact they did, but only because she was wounded at the time.

Now that I’ve said those things, none of them changed the way I felt about this story. Alice and Belle are very real and colorful characters. I suppose that Belle in an earlier time might have balked at such advances from Alice, but in her new situation and life, it seemed on par with the changes in her life.

Belle is a strong woman and she deals with the trials of war and her life without freaking or acting put upon. She’s lost just about everything. She’s so intrigued and impressed by Alice dressing and acting like a man and fighting in the war; Alice is like no woman she’s ever known and this attracts her.

Some might question her really going for it with Alice when she didn’t know if her husband was still alive or not, but I wasn’t bothered by that. Mainly because there really wasn’t much discussion about her relationship with her husband before he went off to war. Outside of some inconsistencies in character, I loved Belle as a character. She's got fortitude and doesn't shy away from much.

Alice is also an intriguing character. She grew up poorer than poor and had nothing left to lose by leaving her family and Boston. She’s definitely a lesbian and having been disowned by her family for being “different” she joins the army. And she gets away with it for a long time, at least until she’s wounded and left at Belle’s.

Alice pretty much seduces Belle and Belle doesn’t resist. Not only that, but Belle is all over that. She even gets into it asking Alice for more. This is one of the best parts of this story, these two women go at it with nary a real conflict. Of course, Belle wonders about being with a woman, thinking it’s wrong, but wondering how wrong what she feels could be? And Alice, while having her fears about falling in love with a woman who is married and whose missing husband could return, follows her feelings anyway.

The conflict in this case comes from outside actually in the form of bushwhackers and other sundry soldier types floating in and out making life harder. This draws them together even more.

The sex is pretty hot and nicely written with a touch of D/s going on, which added a bit more spice to their interactions. I thought the characters, while not getting too much of their backgrounds, were well fleshed out and the general plot line kept this story entertaining. I got a good feel for the time period and how it would have been. Overall, it’s a good read.

I definitely recommend Beguiled if you’re in the mood for period f/f and one with a sweet/spicy love story.

Heat level- 5- fairly graphic sexual scenarios. Interesting dildo use.

Grade: B/+

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interesting Few Days


This pic is not from the show. I'm still waiting for my friend to upload some so I can steal them. But this is what it was like

So... I dropped the Mr. off at the airport since he's going to Hawaii without me this year. :(

I have too many classes I would miss if I went, so we decided he'd go by himself this year because his mom is getting up there and who knows, right? Better to go see her.

Just after I dropped him off, I went to a lesbian bar. Heh, it's not what you think! LOL

One of my classmates belongs to a feminist group and they were sponsoring an AIDS benefit, which the ladies who own the bar graciously gave up the room, door cover costs and tips for the night to help them out.

There was a drag show. Now, I've been reading lesbian for a couple of years now. I read some lesbian oriented blogs for a couple of years as well, and I had NO clue about drag king shows. My classmate kept saying there was going to be a drag show and I assumed it would be men. But it was women dressed as men! I feel so clueless.

Anyway... I don't know if this is a common form of entertainment at lesbian bars, but the show went on for like 2 hours and it was women dressed as men, lip-sinking to male rap, country and rock singers songs and.... It was so much fun!!!

They would walk around the room and sing to particular women, or touch a face, or hold a hand of members of the audience and the women would tip them dollar bills.

It was hilarious and so much fun. I had no idea. Some of the performers came up to me, I was sitting by myself waiting for other classmates to show up, but I thought it was nice of them since I was sitting all alone. I felt shy but I finally caught on to the dollar tipping and totally got into it.

If I weren't an old married woman who's normally in bed by 8:30, I would so want to go there all the time. There was just such a fun and nice vibration there, I was so turned on and enjoying so much.

That night though, it started snowing, and snowed all Mon. Mon. evening, a huge wind storm blew in and we lost power. I only got power back early this am. Since we are having unusual temps in the teens, my house was 39 degrees from about noon on yesterday. Was miserable.



The only bright spot was that since I had no TV or internet and school was canceled all week this week, I managed to finish two books! Woot. So I will try and get a review out today or tomorrow sometime.

Have a nice Thanksgiving all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Added Two New Review Sites



I found some new to me blogger/reviewers of bi and lesbian.

I linked them on the sidebar under Other Reviewers.

Bibrary Bookslut - focuses on sci-fi/fantasy and bisexual stories, which is kind of nice.

And Lesbian Fiction Reviews focuses on lesbian romance and fiction. So far, I've read a few of those reviewed and I like their review site. 

Review- Point of Ignition by Erin Dutton

Point of Ignition
by Erin Dutton
2009
Contemporary/Lesbian/ Suspense
228 pgs.-Bold Strokes Books

By Guest Reviewer Cathy Pegau

Buy it Amazon, Bold Strokes Books, ARe


Arson investigation is not exactly what firefighter Kate Chambers signed up for. But she doesn’t have a choice when an injury forces her off the engine and into the office. Her first case, a fire at a downtown bar, is a clear-cut instance of insurance fraud, or so she thinks.

But the property co-owner and prime suspect, Alexi Clark, has spent too many years battling her own demons to quietly go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit.

Soon Alexi is fighting both the false charges against her and an unexpected attraction to the investigator determined to prove them. Amid a blaze that threatens to consume them both, Kate and Alexi redefine love and trust.


I won Point of Ignition during National Coming Out Week over at Dear Author. I’d never read Erin Dutton’s work before, but she has a new fan in me.

Kate Chambers had been part of an engine company until an injury sidelined her career. Frustrated at no longer being in the trenches, Kate is trying to come to terms with the fact that she will have sit behind a desk until retirement, or find another line of work. The fire at Alexi Clark’s bar, In Left Field, is her first assignment as an investigator.

Alexi is a mess. She sank her heart, soul and money into the bar and it’s gone. Her business partner is keeping things from her, and the partner’s wife, Alexi’s best friend, keeps throwing Alexi’s alcoholism in her face. On top of that, Kate has marked her as a suspect.

When the women first meet at the scene of the fire, Alexi is rightfully upset and Kate wants to comfort the stunning woman. Not the most professional attitude, especially if Alexi started the fire. But despite her attraction to Alexi, Kate is determined to do her job and find out who did it. Even if it means pissing off Alexi with her questions.

In her gut, Kate doesn’t believe Alexi is guilty, but she doesn’t have evidence either way. Alexi resents Kate’s implications, and at the same time finds the tall blonde incredibly attractive. After a second fire destroys some prized possessions, Alexi gets drunk at a bar where Kate and her friend are hanging out. Kate intervenes and brings Alexi back to her apartment. Drunk Alexi makes a move, kissing Kate, and as much as Kate wants to reciprocate and then some, she leaves Alexi in her bed and sleeps on the couch.

Kate continues to dig deeper into the motivation behind the arson, which keeps Alexi at arm’s length despite their mutual attraction. Between the two of them, however, they figure out the who and why of the fire.

Before long, the women act on their desires. The love scenes—only two, and perfectly placed within the story—are sweet and sensual as Kate initially allows Alexi to set the pace then shows Alexi she can let go and still be on equal terms with her lover. Both have issues to deal with (Kate’s career, Alexi’s alcoholism and ability to let someone care for her) but I could see these two hanging in there for the long run.

If I read contemporary romances, I typically read those that have a strong external plot or conflict to help bring the characters together, ie: romantic suspense or thriller or the like. The arson plot here isn’t much of a mystery, but it’s not the focus either. Kate and Alexi are, and I was pleased with how their internal and external conflicts were meshed. Most of all, I liked these women and wanted to see them happy.

I’ll be looking for more from this author and checking out her backlist.

Heat level: 3-- Sensual love scenes, but nothing graphic.

Grade: B+

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pimping by proxy


Paisley Smith is having a contest giving away a copy of her new book Beguiled .......here. So hop on over and comment away!

I'm going to try and read it this weekend and get a review up ASAP. No guarantees though. :-)

Link

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review- Split the Aces by Jove Belle

Split the Aces
By Jove Belle
Sept. 2008
Contemporary/ Lesbian
186 pgs; WK 46.7 K
Trade: Bold Strokes Books

Buy it Amazon, ARe, Bold Strokes Books

In the neon glare of Sin City, two women ride a wave of passion that threatens to consume them in a world of fast money and fast times.

It's lust at first sight for blackjack dealer Rae Sutherland and conventioneer Cori Romero. Rae wants more from life than the constant shuffling of cards in a smoke-filled casino, but for now, she revels in the excesses of life and appreciates the never-ending parade of women at the tables. Cori is looking for something besides her day-to-day grind and aching for a new adventure, but doesn't expect to find it on the Vegas strip. Fueled by the encouragement of friends and Captain Morgan, she auditions for a singing gig and her path inevitably crosses Rae's. In spite of themselves, their relationship develops into something deeper than the initial intoxication of attraction, but both wonder if it's worth the gamble.


I was lucky enough to win this book at Dear Author during their GLBT Gay Writes in honor of National Coming Out week contest. I’ve read one other book of Jove Belle’s and really loved it. So I was excited that I ended up with this book, which I’ve been wanting to read.

First, this is a much different book than the other one I read, Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness was a dark, gritty suspense novel with complex characterizations and a gripping plot. Split the Aces is very different. It’s far more erotic and it’s mainly about two characters falling in love set in the what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas backdrop.

Rae is a character that some might find hard to take at first. She’s a player in the true sense of the word. She works the black jack tables all the while constantly scouting the casino for women to seduce. She doesn’t care about who they are or even what their names are, she just wants uncomplicated quickies in the janitor’s closet. This has been going on for years and she’s come to accept that this is just who she is.

I think many will dislike her because she is so cool and callous in a way. In m/f she would be that rogue guy who sticks his dick into anything that moves, not quite the type of character one can warm up to. She’s also very ambitious and will not let anyone interfere with her getting her degree so she can run her own show one day. She doesn’t plan on being a company peon forever.

So generally, she’s forsaken any type of love relationship to get where she wants to go.

Cori, on the other hand, is a sympathetic character. She’s a quiet girl who doesn’t like partying too much and is just living an ordinary life in Seattle as a massage therapist. She would like a woman she can love and share her life with, but it’s not happening for her.

Cori and her friend from work go to Vegas for some work related events and Cori decides she’s going to let go and do something wild and crazy, to come out of her shell for the weekend. While sitting by the pool, Rae sees her and buys her a drink to seduce her. Cori is immediately attracted and they end up getting it on.

This time though, there’s an unusual twist, Rae finds herself feeling a bit more with Cori than just scratching a horny itch. She starts wondering why she feels that, while at the same time trying to figure out how to spend more time with Cori.

Cori for her part really wants Rae, but notices that until now Rae has been a player and she’s not interested in anything serious or long term and that turns her off somewhat. She even gets jealous when she ends up at a party and sees Rae getting off with some other woman. What she doesn’t know is that Rae is falling for her and wishes it was Cori she was with and that Rae was upset about that happening.

You can guess by now that the main conflict in this story is the big misunderstanding. Rae is fearful to really come out and share with Cori her growing feelings, but that has much to do with her own fears of falling in love in general. And Cori doesn’t want to be another notch on Rae’s belt so she keeps her feelings to herself.

The non communication and misunderstandings go on for quite a while on both sides. It’s not a favorite conflict device, but Jove Belle didn’t take it to an annoying level thankfully. I actually rather liked that Rae as a character changes quite a bit during this whole thing. It’s definitely one of those stories of meeting someone you have an immediate attraction to and it changing who you are and what you feel about yourself. So on that level I really enjoyed this story.

And I also liked that Jove Belle took this a bit further than just an erotic tale by showing some of the family backgrounds for both women. What’s interesting is that the jaded Rae has a very close relationship with her mother who accepts her and supports her totally. Whereas the more serious Cori comes from a family of homophobes and coldness from her parents. I felt this made the characters much more interesting than two quite different types who hook up for sex.

While for the most part I loved this story, it did hit the skids for me at one point though after Cori goes back to Seattle and both are trying to deal with each wanting the other but not expressing it. Their only contact is through curt emails. But one day they talk on the phone and go through this whole phone sex type thing, which I felt was totally out of character for both women since they had been cool with each other for a while. Also, Cori is a kind of straight type of person and she was acting in a way that was quite different than her characterization until that point. It felt off to me. However, the story did get back on track and there is a happy ending.

I recommend this story if you’re in the mood for lots of hot (yes, very steamy) sex, a love at first sight type of story, or one in which character growth through unexpected love turns you on.

Heat level: 5- graphically written sexual scenarios. One threesome scene f/f/f.

Grade: B+

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sorry People


I know I sound like a broken record, but I just don't have the time to keep this blog going on a regular basis. School is whipping my butt this quarter and I'm so stressed out. That's what I get for taking accounting with a medical math calculations class. Numbers up the wazooo! I'll say it right now, anyone who is an accountant, thank god you do it because I would slit my throat if that were my job. So tedious. Ugh.

On to other things....

I saw on GLBT promo blog that there is a new press,
Phoenix Rising Press dedicated to offering and publishing lesbian romance/fiction. From their Author's section:

Phoenix Rising Press represents a new paradigm in lesbian publishing--a philosophical shift that is designed not to supplant, but to complement traditional publishing models. Phoenix Rising Press works with well-established, seasoned authors who are looking for maximum creative freedom and ownership of their work.


Well, it's nice that there is another publisher dedicated to offering lesbian romance and fiction. There are certainly not enough of those types of publishers. However, I probably won't be buying from them.

I can see charging $14 plus for a paper/trade book. That is pretty much the standard for lesbian fiction from any press. And since they don't do large print runs, it's going to cost. But there is no way in hell I will spend $11 plus for an ebook. An ebook that again is slapped with DRM. No. Just No. I can't share it, or resell it, or give it away. I can't even read it actually except on my computer since my reader doesn't read their three formats.


It's unfortunate. This genre gets so little attention since it seems to be such a small population who read it. But charging so much for an ebook doesn't help. It's been the major deterrent in me buying Bold Strokes books, a publisher that already has an established group of well-known and excellent authors. Why would I try out a new author on Phoenix with an $11 charge?
So, sorry Phoenix Rising Press, I won't be buying from you. Especially since there are lots of other epubs willing to put out lesbian and f/f ebooks DRM free and at a decent price.

Speaking of which... I know most readers of this blog read Dear Author. Jane has started a new site called
lostbooksales.com . It was set up for people to write why they didn't buy a book. I think it's a great idea. Maybe if publishers get to see exactly why people don't buy books, they will change their stance on how books are offered and the price of them. I don't think it will really change anything, however, it's a central place for readers to bitch, which at least gives us a voice and feels good frankly :-). More info here.

And now for some pimping:

Paisley Smith has a book coming out on NOV. 16th. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

Beguiled
by Paisley Smith

Historical

The Civil War has torn Belle Holloway’s world apart. Left to manage her Georgia plantation with little help, she is exasperated when the Union Army adds to her burden by leaving a wounded soldier behind. But upon closer examination, Belle is shocked to discover the soldier is actually a beguiling woman.

Clad in male attire stubborn, brash Alice O’Malley awakens a passion in Belle she never knew existed. Alice dominates Belle’s lonely existence with taboo pleasures and erotic escape and soon Belle realizes she is more than willing to submit her body and her heart to the woman whose strength and compassion she admires—until those very attributes prove to be the catalyst that could destroy their new found love.