April 23, 2014

‘Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia’ by Heather Rose Jones

Posted on April 13, 2014 by in Romance, Speculative

Daughter of Mystery: A Novel of Alpennia, is a wonderful book of intrigue and romance. Margerit Sovitre is an orphan who lives with her overbearing uncle, his wife, her sister, and their son. She is the god-daughter of Baron Saveze, a man who has ancestral lands and great wealth.  (more…)

‘Finding the Grain’ by Wynn Malone

Posted on March 26, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to stop struggling against the grain.The title, Finding the Grain, suggests searching for something that’s right, even if it involves floundering off course as part of the search, rather than the negative “against the grain.” So when Augusta “Blue” Riley’s life takes what seems like one wrong turn after another, following the tragic death of her parents in a tornado, she begins a journey that takes her on paths that seem to lead her astray again and again. But she might not be off course at all; she might just be looking for the grain of her life. If she finds it, she might be able to slip into the flow of it and ride along effortlessly; however, in Blue’s case, finding that grain may take a while. (more…)

‘Family Issue’ by Nat Burns

Posted on March 6, 2014 by in Mystery, Romance

Family Issue (Bella Books) is set in southern Louisiana, near the Gulf of Mexico. Denni Hope, who grew up near Fortune Farm, has been asked by her ex-girlfriend, Patty Price, to investigate a rash of violence and vandalism which is plaguing the farm. Denni is a trained insurance investigator, and is quite willing to use her skills to help Patty. She is not sure, however, how she’ll feel about seeing Patty with Yolanda Elliott, the woman Patty left her for. (more…)

Transitions

Posted on February 13, 2014 by in Opinion, Romance

Janus is the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions; he looks to the past and to the future. Janus is usually depicted with two faces. I’d like to re-appropriate this ancient archetype as the god of transitioning genders for the first book I will review by L.A. Witt that was just reissued in January. Then I will use this same archetype to discuss authorial collaboration–two heads are better than one–in the romance genre in a new release from L.A. Witt and Cat Grant. Finally, I will look at a recent release by Cat Grant that masterfully uses parallelism to illustrate the choices that the characters must make between self-hate and love. (more…)

‘Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance’ edited by Radclyffe

Posted on February 11, 2014 by in Anthology, Romance

Many of us grew up with stories which ended with the words, “and they lived happily ever after.” We never knew the rest of the story… how  they managed to live happily ever after. Love Burns Bright is a compilation of short stories which tell the rest of the story. These are mature couples who show, in the words of singer Judy Fjell, “love that goes the distance.” In the story “Sepia Showers,” author Andrea Dale writes, as one of her characters copes with her mother’s dementia, and wonders how she and her partner will age, “Someday, down the line, we might forget the person… but we can never forget the love.” In “Forever Yours, Eileen,” Rebekah Weatherspoon writes about two African-American women who are finally together again after nearly fifty years. Through all those years, they faithfully wrote to each other, staying in touch, but not able to touch each other.

Some of the stories are quite erotic, while others, such as Radclyffe’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” are sexily sweet. Some of the women are living the American dream with a house, jobs, and kids, and yet still working to find ways to keep their love and passion alive. In “Waiting For the Harvest,” Sommer Marsden’s characters successfully explore their passion for each other by using very creative and erotic tools.Chris Paynter’s “Full Circle” begins with two women meeting  at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969 and then returning to that special place in 2009, to celebrate forty years together.

Each of these eighteen authors is very skilled at creating characters who are fully developed, and have a compelling story to tell. Many times their situations are very real, as in Dena Hankin’s “Cooling Down and Heating Up.” Her two characters live in a lovely 180-year-old farmhouse  in North Carolina. They are restoring what they can, and going without what they can’t afford, including air conditioning. As the story begins, it’s summer, and one of the characters groans, “I love you sweetheart.  Don’t touch me.”  How they solve their sweaty situations is creatively funny. Catherine Paulssen’s “The Way to a Woman’s Heart” has her characters, Matilda and Olivia, finding some alone time by sending the kids to Matilda’s mother for a vacation.  How the two women handle their alone time is both creative and sexy! English writer Rachel Randall, in her story “Ravens,” gives readers a sex scene in the Tower of London! It happens  in the cell where Sir Walter Raleigh was housed. Randall plays with fantasies as well as a curious raven.

Author Derek Shannon’s two characters include one who is in the Army and deployed. Counting the days and hours until she returns, the couple keeps in touch via telephone calls, some of which are quite sexy! Again and again, the different authors show loving relationships which are held together by creative passion and caring. These are not couples in trouble, but couples who have stayed the distance and made their unions work. They are about women who are growing older together, and experiencing the physical changes that come with aging. In these well-written stories, readers are treated to mature couples who have made their unions work. As more and more states  recognize gay marriages, books that support and celebrate successful relationships are important to couples who are together for the long haul.

 

Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance
Edited by Radclyffe
Cleis Press
Paperback, 9781627780001, 242 pp.
December 2013

‘Amor and More: Love Everafter’ edited by Radclyffe & Stacia Seaman

Posted on January 23, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of anthologies. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, I just prefer something that goes on a little longer and gives me a more in-depth study into the characters and their lives. However, Amor and More: Love Everafter is a little something different because it isn’t just a short piece of something new. Instead, it’s an extension of something already richly familiar. (more…)

‘Last Salute’ by Tracey Richardson

Posted on January 16, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Last Salute (Bella Books) begins with Pamela Wright coming home from her shift in the ER of Chicago’s University of Illinois Medical Center mentally exhausted, and feeling as though she has accomplished nothing. She’s just getting into a reheated plate of spaghetti and meatballs when the doorbell rings. Two officers in full Army dress are there to tell her that her sister, a medical doctor, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The last surviving member of the family, Pam must now go to Ann Arbor, her hometown, to plan her sister’s funeral.  (more…)

Winter Tales

Posted on January 8, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Winter is one of the most magical of seasons, at once dark and luminous. The winter holidays also carry with them some of our deepest memories of the old religion present in the Solstice wreath, the Yule tree, and the holly and the ivy. The first two romances I review in this month’s “Book Lovers” contain memories of the time when our world left behind the old faith to embrace the new, and the second two address how even in a world that is superficially secular, a deeper magic runs beneath. (more…)

‘Web of Obsessions’ by Diane Wood

Posted on November 26, 2013 by in Mystery, Romance

Jordan MacKenzie is a social worker who has recently fled a job at a medium security women’s prison to a position in a maximum security facility to get away from a relationship-gone-bad with a coworker. When she starts her new job, she has no idea of the Web of Obsessions in which she will become unwittingly entangled. Meeting Danielle Veillard, assistant superintendent of operations, proves to be a bright light in a rather dismal atmosphere, and Jordan is immediately taken with Danielle’s professionalism, beauty and friendliness as Danielle extends a warm welcome and the two women begin a tentative working relationship. But as the association continues, each woman is forced to acknowledge an attraction that their individual struggles cannot keep at bay. (more…)

Romance Writers Engaged!

Posted on November 25, 2013 by in Interviews, Romance

Best-selling gay romance writer T. J. (Travis John) Klune (Bear, Otter, and the Kid) recently popped the question to fellow popular romance author Eric Arvin (Woke Up in a Strange Place) at the 2013 GayRomLit conference (GRL) in Atlanta, Georgia. (more…)