Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review- Bella Key by Scarlet Chastain

Bella Key
By Scarlet Chastain
April 30th 2013
Contemporary/f/f/Multicultural (Hispanic/white)/Fluid sexuality
12.8K words
75 pgs
Pub: Evernight Publishing

Maddie Jacobs must be crazy. At least that’s what her mother thinks. Professionally, she’s confident and secure; personally, she’s a hot mess. Not even a marriage proposal from a man who adores her can quell her search for something more.
In need of an escape, Maddie flees to Key West’s most southern island, Bella Key, to rest and recharge at Casa Bonita. She almost gives up on the weekend retreat when the Bed & Breakfast is closed for repairs until Sunny Rojas, the inn owner, extends an offer of friendship, sweet tea and a room. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime partner, Sunny is thankful for the diversion from her own broken heart.

The arrival of a fierce storm forces the women’s emotional journey to a head and leads them into each other’s arms. But can Maddie throw her hang-ups to the wind and go with her heart? The magic of Bella Key teaches her that passion cannot be placed neatly into boxes labeled right and wrong, because love knows no boundaries.

This is such cute, well-written and erotic story and it gave me the warm fuzzies all over. You know when you meet someone and you immediately feel so comfortable that none of the usual first meeting guarding comes up? You feel very relaxed and as if whatever you do or say will be fine, you can be yourself? This is the kind of relationship that Maddie and Sunny have. I loved it!

The whole set up on how these two women meet and why Maddie would be there was totally believable and didn’t feel contrived. Right away the women are very comfortable with each other, easily chatting and acting as if they’ve known each other for years.

Maddie comes across as someone who is somewhat vulnerable even though she has a high powered job. She wants to end it with the “perfect” guy on paper and just wants a few days to chill and think things over.  

Sunny is a warm, friendly person who welcomes Maddie with open arms, making her feel at ease right away. And she calls Maddie Chica in an endearing and familiar way even though she’s just met her, which I liked. She also doesn’t shy away from being who she is, letting Maddie know that her last partner was a woman when it comes up in conversation.

Even though they’ve just met, the women slip into a sweet sexual thing like right away. But it was written realistically from both POVs. Maddie doesn’t angst about her first time with a woman, but also doesn’t feel totally comfortable as it’s something new for her. All those thoughts about ramifications do run through her head.  Sunny lets her figure it out without putting anything on her about it even though she wants her to stay and wants to keep something going.

Even better was that these two women work things out pretty quickly without a bunch of drama. There’s something so refreshing about two people clicking and simply enjoying each other without the usual awkward uneasiness about what’s going on and so on.

Just also wanted to say that for such a short story, it’s a perfect package. The writing, the pacing of the story, how it starts, how it ends, it’s very feel good. And it’s sexy!

Heat Level- 3- sensually written, but not too graphic-- sex scenes

Grade- Really liked it

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review- Mask of the Highwaywoman by Niamh Murphy

Mask of the Highwaywoman

By Niamh Murphy

Dec 3, 2012

Historical/ Lesbian

Pgs 161 (Kindle Edition)

Pub: Freya Publications

Evelyn Thackeray, the spirited daughter of a wealthy aristocrat, is en route to meet her future husband, when a gang of vicious outlaws attacks her stagecoach. In spite of Evelyn’s terror, she is intrigued by the leader of the gang, a beautiful Highwaywoman called Bess. Increasingly entranced by Bess and the prospect of adventure, Evelyn puts up little resistance when she is kidnapped. However, she begins to suspect there is a lot more to her captor than she initially thought and what started as a light-hearted escapade rapidly turns into a desperate escape and a frantic struggle for survival.
Niamh Murphy’s debut novel is not just a swashbuckling lesbian romance, but also a gripping tale of love and betrayal.

OK, I’m just going to come right out with it, I just don’t know what the heck this is. This story is so full of plot holes and TSTL moments. And character development is practically non-existent. This book is one long string of chase scenes with constant angsting and whining by the main protagonist.

This story starts out with Evelyn getting robbed and then kidnapped. Then there are flashbacks to her life until that moment. She’s living with her widowed father and being wooed by a man that her father is doing business with. According to her, she’s bored with her life of luxury. Nothing exciting ever happens. While this new suitor seems nice enough, he’s not floating her boat that much. She decides it’s time to marry though because that’s what women of her station do. But before doing so, she’s convinced to go see a friend of hers , a two day ride by carriage, by her suitor so that she will get a chance to see what married life might be like.

Along the way, the carriage is robbed. One of the robbers is a woman who captures Evelyn’s attention, not being like any other woman she’s known. Having everything stolen from her, she’s forced to offer to work for a night’s stay at the crappiest inn in a nearby village. Suddenly, the highwaywoman shows up, coming through her bedroom window and gives back her stuff. Even more intrigued, she insists on knowing who this woman is but is left alone again. The next morning she takes the next carriage out and is then kidnapped by this same woman. From there on out it’s a constant cat and mouse game with Evelyn trying to run from her captors and caught between her attraction to the highwaywoman and her fear about who’s side this woman is on.

As a character I didn’t like Evelyn. She insists on taking a “public” carriage to her friend’s house when her father has his own because she wants to feel the freedom and adventure of it. But then bitches non-stop about how crowded and uncomfortable it is the whole way. After being kidnapped by the highway woman and under the guise of helping her, she is led to a country village where she muses about how lucky those country people are with their simple little lives, getting to work the land all day and having their cozy little houses with their loving families and not having to think much about all those boring, pesky things like tedious rich people tea parties and socials and long days of nothing to do.

She also constantly vacillates between feeling an attraction to this woman who represents the adventure she craves and never knowing if she can trust her. This, even after having been betrayed by this woman over and over. I felt like screaming at her, shit or get off the pot because it went on and on.

Then, towards the end she acts so stupidly. Well, she’s acts stupidly through the whole book, but the end, the last big chase scene was a huge WTF for me.

The romance: there was no romance really. The women end up with a few moments together while on the run and Bess, the highway woman, is in love with Evelyn. She doesn’t know why, she just is. She doesn’t know jack about Evelyn. At least I could see something from Evelyn’s POV because Bess represents anything but her boring life. But we get ZERO POV from Bess as to why she’s madly in love with Evelyn from the start. I felt no real emotional connection between the women.

The frequent chase scenes got bogged down in too much detail and I ended up skimming through a lot of them. The author also went into lots of descriptive detail on the scenery, but barely expressed any of the usual and subtle nuances in interaction that show two people have a growing attraction.

If you’re looking for a book with a lot of action you’ll love this book. For me, it was lacking on so many levels and was a wall banger on others. 

Heat Level: 2 one or two non-graphically written sexual interactions between the women.

Grade: Didn’t like it