Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Pearl by Kelly Rand

By Kelly Rand
April 26, 2012
Transgender/Period Historical 20's/Erotica (semi)/Romance
36 pgs- 9.6K words
Storm Moon Press

Edith sleepwalks through a life so normal as to be boring. She lives with her mother, works a mundane job to support them, and makes no waves among the ladies of her sleepy 1920's Canadian town. Secretly, though, she watches the flappers and so-called "loose women" with envy, dreaming of what glamorous lives they must have. And that's before Clark walks into her life.

Clark embodies the world that Edith wishes she could be a part of. He's slick and dangerous and sexy in a way Edith has never experienced. So when Clark offers her a window into his world, she dives through without thinking. On the other side, though, her black and white world explodes into shades of gray, challenging Edith in ways she never imagined.

I saw that this author has an f/f book coming out. I thought it’s out already so I went searching and didn’t see it on Amazon. In the meantime, I’ve discovered it’s not actually out yet. But that search led me to this book. The blurb really grabbed me and I was excited to read it.

There are already so many great reviews of this book on both Goodreads and Amazon, so I don’t need to say much.

I loved, loved this book. Kelly Rand managed to get in a short amount of space a great story with just the perfect dance between these two unlikely characters. She created an authentic 20’s era atmosphere and offered just enough hint of who these two people are to get a good feel for them.

What I liked especially about this story is the lack of conflict-- as it were. I guess in many stories that would make it boring, but in this case, these two societal outcasts—in their own way—hook up in an almost easy, dreamy way that brings out something better in both of them.

I loved both of them. Edith just goes along with the status quo in every sense except after she meets Clark. She’s not sticking with the status quo due to a lack of an adventurous spirit though, it’s more that she seems a bit naïve about how to allow herself expression of that part of her. When she discovers the truth about Clark, there is no judgment, or fear, or angsting or even thrill about being rebellious about her attraction to him. She simply opens up and goes with it as if he was the person she should be with all along and she wasn't trapped in mundane life all along.

Clark, for his part, is not ashamed at all about the fact that he moves through the world as someone who society would never accept if they knew. He’s found his way through life and is rather content and confident actually. I loved that somehow he sees something in Edith that will respond positively to him coming on to her and that he isn't shy about going for it with her.

Their interactions are very sweet and highly erotic at the same time, even if not written in the graphically sexual language.

Being that it’s such a short book, I was rather surprised at how fleshed out and fulfilling this story was to read. It’s just an all-around heartful and emotionally pleasing read.

I’ll be getting Kelly Rand’s upcoming f/f Portrait of a Crossroads and hoping it’s just as good!

Heat Level: 0-2 – I felt the one sex scene was very erotic, but the language is more sensual than graphic.

Grade: Loved!!!

Review: Trail of Hearts by Kate Richards

Trail of Hearts (1 Night Stand Series #40)
By Kate Richards
October 2, 2011
36 pgs, 12K words
Decadent Publishing Company

The promise of an exciting date with the blonde, blue-eyed woman of her dreams has lured Charlotte to sign up with Madame Evangeline’s 1Night Stand at the urging of her friend Julia—a 1Night Stand success story. Expecting a night at a luxurious Castillo resort, Charlotte is aghast when her limo turns in at the Castillo Wagon Wheel…a dude ranch! This is one city woman who is not interested in dusty bunkhouses full of cowboys….

Birdie has landed a job at the Wagon Wheel because it’s the only place she, a cowhand who happens to be a girl, could find work in these hard times. In a moment of loneliness, she fills out the application online for 1Night Stand. The woman who arrives, gorgeous mocha-skinned beauty though she may be, looks too sophisticated to enjoy an evening like Birdie has planned. But it’s too late to change, there’s no going back and she only hopes the sweeping Sierra meadows will help her seduce the woman who catches her heart at first glance.

This story is about a short erotic interlude between two women who maybe want more. It’s part of a “One Night Stand” series from the publisher. I liked some of this book, but felt that the author tried to pack too much into its very short 36 pages. This didn’t quite work for me as: 1. much of it was unrealistic and 2. each part the story was short-changed and not fully developed due to this. Would have been better for me if the author just focused on one aspect and really developed that.

Both women sign up for a one night blind date through an agency. I thought this was an interesting setup with good possibilities. Both women come from very different backgrounds and have little time or chances to meet other women to date. Although both paid a lot of money for this one night only set up, both internally wonder if the person they’ve been set up with could be someone more.

In the beginning the women find each other very appealing. But right away one wonders if she sees a spark of jealousy in the other over an interaction with the bartender. This is where things started going off for me. Who would be jealous of someone they paid to have a blind date with and just met? That seemed weird to me.

I was then a bit surprised that Birdie, a cowboy, makes Charlotte, a city bank executive, get on a horse and ride for miles to catch up with a wagon trail full of tourists instead of them having a quiet, elegant date in the nice restaurant at the resort, just the two of them. Even though both women paid a lot for this date, it seemed to be Birdie deciding how the date will go and what they will do. This in and of itself was OK but Birdie got snippy about Charlotte not being as proficient on a horse as she was. Charlotte rises to the occasion like a sudden pro even though she’s never really ridden a horse before, but they both acted a bit put out with each other over perceived slights in the process. Something felt off about that as well because that kind of reaction seems more credible in people who have some kind of established relationship already.  

They spend the night having great sex. Fine and good because this is supposed to be, as far as I know, a short erotic story. But by morning…spoiler:  
Charlotte is talking about buying land for Birdie to have her cattle ranch and them setting up house together and living happily ever after.

If it had been written as just an arranged one night of hot, no holds barred sex/date with no expectations, I would have loved this story. Although I can see for many having them go from zero to --see spoiler-- would be liked by some, for me it tried too hard to be something more than it should have been. Would have gone better for me if the author either extended the story to build up romance or just focused on the erotic sex for the night with a “I enjoyed that, let’s get together again.”

Heat level: 3-4- I would have expected more sex in a short erotic story but it was sensually written. Nothing too graphic though.

Grade: It was OK- absolutely not worth $3.99 though. 

Review: The Watson Evidence by Rosalyn Wraight

The Watson Evidence (A Detective Laura McCallister Lesbian Mystery #4)
By Rosalyn Wraight
July 14th 2011
281 pgs
Pub: Don't Waste Daylight

In recent weeks, two teenage boys have jumped to their deaths from Granger Bridge, and now, another one is missing. Detective Laura McCallister is frustrated and desperate to find a way to stop the deadly succession.

Meanwhile, a County deputy summons her to the hospital with the hope that she can ID an unconscious accident victim. After surviving a fiery wreck, the woman’s only possessions: $10,000 cash, and McCallister’s business card in her back pocket. Is there ever a good reason to have a detective’s business card?

Not knowing who the woman is, McCallister waits for the mystery to solve itself with the woman’s awakening. But, things don’t prove quite that simple. In fact, they become so convoluted that McCallister must endure some of the darkest moments of her life. This time, the mystery exists inside her own self, and the skills she instinctually relies upon for resolution seem far beyond her capabilities.

I started reading this particular detective series a couple of years ago and all have been reviewed here on LVLM or Goodreads in case you’re curious. I happen to be really fond of Laura McCallister as a character and have enjoyed reading these books due to it. This book was good as well even though I had some minor issues with it.

Unlike in the last three books, this story revolves mostly around Laura’s personal life, rather than some mystery or case she’s working on. Although a mystery she’s gotten sucked into and her personal life are connected in this case.

On the one hand, I liked this because there is more detail about a character I like. Kind of like when you like someone and you want to know more about them. However, for the purposes of the story as a whole, I felt sometimes there was too much personal emoting/dialogue that left the plot and mystery part, the exciting part really, lacking.

I was really sucked in by the first part of the book. There are several mysteries going on that Laura is dealing with that piqued my curiosity about what’s going on. It starts out as a traditional detective novel, which I liked. There’s been a succession of teenage suicides on a local bridge that Laura wants to stop, and a woman who was in an accident and has amnesia is found to have Laura’s business card on her.

The main mystery going on is the amnestic woman, even though the rash of suicides is how the book starts out. Although it’s not really a case that Laura needs to work on, because of this woman having Laura’s business card, Laura tries to figure out what’s going on with her. As Laura tries to help the woman remember anything about who she is, she comes to a painful conclusion that throws her into a lot of emotional turmoil as she’s pulled into her own painful past. This in turn causes her to make a rookie mistake that almost kills her. She is then forced to deal with long suppressed feelings, which she doesn’t want to do.

OK, so that story line was very intriguing to me. It unfolded slowly enough to keep up mystery and tension. However, how it all resolved and come to a head still left me with many questions about why some characters acted the way they did. Some of it just didn’t make any sense to me, or seemed illogical. A little more psychological motivation of the other characters would have helped I think. Laura’s personal journey is interesting though, and that kept me going.

The other mystery story line also left me wondering what that was all about. I kept thinking there was going to be a linkup between the two threads or some other connection to the main plot, but that didn’t happen. I felt there should have been some explanation as to why it took up as much book space as it did since there seemed to be a suggestion of possibly something more sinister going on. I think this would have been a cleaner, neater story if that part had been left out since it distracted a bit from the focus of the book. But YMMV.

It’s actually kind of hard to categorize this book. I can’t say it’s really a mystery because it doesn’t solely focus on the mystery in the traditional mystery/detective book sense. I can’t say it’s a romance on any level, but a lot of the dialogue between Laura and Holly, her partner, is about their relationship, their life together and Laura’s emotional state. It bordered on being a little too mushy for my taste. But I can’t be nitpicky about that because I do feel that a lot of readers will love that; will love the expressions of a deep emotional connection between them.

Overall though, I enjoyed this book. It flows nicely and at a fast pace, and there is just enough intrigue to keep it interesting and compelling to read. Laura grows as a person quite a bit in this story, which also added to my enjoyment. I hope there’s another Laura McCallister book coming; I’ll definitely read it. 

Heat Level: 0 

Rating: Really liked