No doubt about it: June 26, 2013 will always be remembered as one of the pivotal moments in the historical fight for LGBTQI rights. The tide which gathered first with the Stonewall uprising swept away the obstacles to marriage equality when the US Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. But can a new novel, a debut novel no less, do justice to such a monumental event? (more…)
The lives of four people intersect on Jekyll Island, Georgia during one summer in The War Within. The story is divided into two sections, one historical and one contemporary. The first section gives us the story of a young, idealistic nurse who has volunteered for duty during the Vietnam War. Idealism gives way to realism as Meredith Chase and her enigmatic new-found friend, nurse, Natalie Robinson, navigate the dangers of war and of feelings for Natalie that leave Meredith thrown off-kilter. As the story begins, this history is recounted by Meredith as she and her granddaughter, Jordan, travel from Wisconsin to Georgia for their annual summer vacation. (more…)
Canadian author Lois Cloarec Hart claims to be an accidental author. But her latest rich, opulent period piece set in Victorian England and the Canadian “Wild West” demonstrates that readers are all the better for the circumstances which prompted this gifted author to take up ink and pen. (more…)
The story of Keepsake Self Storage starts with a “body” floating down the Connecticut River. However, May Hammond is wrong about the ominous looking blob, as she finds out later when the police investigate to find a bag of old clothing. Nevertheless, a body-shaped bag of debris turns out to be a metaphor for the madness that ensues as the tale regresses into a madcap chain of events that sends all parties involved into tornado-like whirlwind of emotion and chaos, sweeping the characters up and spinning them out of control. (more…)
In the opening of Hypnotizing Chickens, we find main character Chrys Pickett leaving a teaching job, with tenure, at Western Carolina State to move in with Dr. Meredith Padgett, a plastic surgeon with a faux mansion and maid. The move is a step up for Chrys, one she wasn’t entirely comfortable with, but she is glad for the relationship and the comforts of her new home. In spite of her disappointment with her new teaching job, she soldiers on, taking comfort in her relationship with her partner. But everything is not as it seems and Chrys is headed for heartbreak. (more…)
Olive Oil and White Bread, the cleverly titled offering by romance novelist Georgia Beers, is the story of two women, one from a traditional yet accepting Italian-American family, and one from what can only be termed old-school, uppity American. Angelina Righetti’s family is warm and accepting. Jillian Clark has an apologetic father and a snooty, unsupportive mother. There is an immediate attraction when the women see each other from a distance at a softball game, but only meet months later. It’s clear from their early interactions that these two are meant to be together for a lifetime if they can only figure out what’s important in life and in relationship—and that’s where the problems begin. (more…)
A twenty-something named Annie Jump Navarro, known to fellow online poker players as “Nova,” is about to experience a life-changing event as All In begins. It seems as if everything is going Nova’s way. She’s just won big in on-line gaming and is about to use her winnings to buy a house, enabling Nova and her roommates to live at peace and away from a crazy, homophobic neighbor. However, the stars are not exactly aligned for Nova and her friends, and things start to fall apart quickly. (more…)
As And a Time to Dance opens, Corey Banner and Judy Wagner meet at a softball tournament for the first time. Without hesitation, the two women begin a romantic dance punctuated by everyday life. The relationship lasts for six years, and Corey and Judy are still in love, although Corey is somewhat frustrated at the long hours Judy’s job demands. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Corey is devastated and set adrift on a tumultuous sea of loss and uncertainty. Even an attempt to return to normalcy by engaging in a new relationship two years later ends in disaster, when Corey is accused of living in the shadows of her past. The end of a relationship Corey was never sure she wanted in the first place leaves her jittery and forces her to take a long look at where her life is headed.
In an impulsive move, Corey decides to head off from her Michigan home to explore the Rocky Mountains, something she and Judy had talked about doing together when it seemed that life, and their relationship, would go on forever. She strikes out for a stay in Grand Lake, Colorado, hoping to find work as well as healing. At her destination, she meets Erin Flannery and her Aunt Tess, co-owners of the Rainbow Lodge, Corey’s initial destination. Tess quickly takes Corey’s measure and offers her a position at the lodge as head of the maintenance department using her expertise honed working for her dad’s construction business. Erin, however, is not as quick as her aunt to trust Corey’s abilities—or her friendship.
Erin has had her own hard knocks. Abandoned years before by someone she thought she’d be with for the rest of her life Erin now runs from any kind of commitment, playing the field in order to avoid heartbreak. She beds one short term resident at the Lodge after another and tries to think it’s enough. Her aunt is concerned. Her mother is appalled. Erin thinks she’s happy; but denial is a poor cover for the sadness and loss she feels.
As the two women are thrown together in their work and in their personal lives, walls start to crumble. But crumbling walls are difficult to clear away and the rubble makes joining in a romantic dance difficult. Miscommunications come across as unfeeling, even uncaring, as Corey and Erin battle their way toward making tentative advances trying to find a dance steps they are willing to take together. If they can’t find their way, they may be destined to dance alone—or not at all.
In And a Time to Dance, Paynter portrays the beauty of the Rocky Mountain scenery without taking us out of the story. She has given us a heart-wrenching story of love and loss and the journey of two women who long to find their way to the healing and romantic possibilities of their lives Corey and Erin are likeable and the story has a background melody that makes us long for them to reach out to one another before it’s too late. In a plot tinted with melancholy and longing, these two women try to over and over again to trust their hearts and reach out to one another toward wholeness, life, and the promise of love. However, they will only get there if they’re willing to take a risk, and sometimes even the promise doesn’t seem like it’s enough, especially when Erin’s so-called relationships keep getting in their way, trying to cut in on Corey and Erin’s dance. In the end, it is confronting and overcoming fear that may finally these two open their hearts and allow them to stop running. And a Time to Dance tells a story of two women working to get beyond confusion and tumult. It’s an achingly beautiful story set in the splendor of the Colorado Mountains. Who could ask for more?
And a Time to Dance
By Chris Paynter
Blue Feather Press
Paperback, 9781935627647, 202 pp.
Positive Lightning (Blue Feather Books) tells the story of the intersection of two lives—both a little lost, both trying to find a way back to wholeness. Faith Hutchins is blind as a result of a recent tragic accident. The once independent, athletic woman has been reduced to activities tinged with a tentativeness that she hates. Twice before, she has signed up for the guide dog program to help her become more mobile, but both attempts failed, leaving her with only her white cane and a too-clingy ex-lover to help her get around. (more…)
Charlie Porter is an out and proud young woman who’s delayed starting college to recuperate from losing her first love to tragedy. While auditioning for a place in a prestigious music program, Charlie has a chance encounter with Hazar Alim, a pianist and the accompanist for the program auditions. The title of this story, Nightingale, as Hazar reveals, comes from the translation of her name and is a symbol that will prove significant as the story unfolds. (more…)