Best Lesbian Romance 2013 (Cleis Press) is edited by Radclyffe—renowned author and founder/publisher of Bold Strokes Books. In her introduction, Radclyffe discusses how often the words “love” and “romance” are used as though there is no difference in meaning between the two words. She then goes on to discuss and show examples of each of the words. At the end of the introduction, Radclyffe gives her opinion: “Love and romance may defy simple definition, but every story in this collection speaks to the universal thread that binds lovers everywhere—possibility.” What follows are seventeen stories about love and romance. The first story in the collection is set in a small, dusty Spanish village. Ana has returned home to help her mother, who is suffering from old age dementia. Vika, who met and became lovers with Ana in America, has followed her to Ana’s village in Spain. What follows is the delicate rebuilding of their relationship and the rekindling of love. The next selection takes readers to Reno, Nevada. When Sandra and her husband separate, she leaves the small desert town where they lived and moves to Reno.There, Sandra has her first sexual encounter with a woman and discovers passion. The story “Sgt. Rae” explores the possibility of love and romance with two veterans, one disabled. The tenderness and caring in this story shows how love can flourish in very difficult circumstances. “The Loneliest Road” takes the reader back to a famous empty highway in Nevada, and the meeting of two very different women.
Envy the judges who were privileged to weigh the merits of the five finalists in Gay Romance for the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, but pity them, too, because they can only pick one winner, a task I would personally find impossible to do. The reader of any of these outstanding gay romances will be the real winner. (more…)
Love by the Numbers—a book about a book—and its author, Professor Nicole Hathaway. Nicole is a numbers kind of gal. She’s a cerebral perfectionist who exhibits little emotion—except for the annoyance she feels at her Indian mother for serving vindaloo for dinner and her intrusion into Nicole’s personal life. Everything is pretty black and white for Nicole. That is, until she slips on that leather jacket and becomes ’Cole, the “bad girl” who loves them and leaves them breathless as she disappears into the dark of night. Then things get all gray and misty—and sensual.
Companions (Nich’ooni) is an astonishingly powerful self-published novel by Jed A. Bryan (BecHavn,2012) that explores two unfamiliar American folk cultures, the Mormon Church and the Navajo Nation. In 1968, young Anglo missionary, Elder Johnny McKay is teamed up with his Pueblo-German missionary companion, Elder Geoffrey Rama, to preach the Mormon faith to “God’s chosen people,” the Navajo Nation. It’s hate at first sight as the two young men compete to outdo each other in their missionary zeal. The towheaded Elder McKay is stereo-typically “Mormon” with eyes that “exactly match the faded blue of the hottest summer day.” When Elder McKay first lays sight on Elder Rama, he thinks, “He was undoubtedly the handsomest Indian I had ever seen,” but is quickly put off by Rama’s cold arrogance, “Dressed in a full suit, coat and all. Idly, I wondered whom he thought he was going to impress out here. The Navajos laughed at us behind our backs for wearing such impracticalities as white shirts, slacks and oxfords where the summer heat was often well above a hundred, and sandstorms were as common as flies on a dead goat….We had an image to maintain. An image of stubborn refusal to adapt.” (more…)
The Princess Affair (Bold Strokes Books)–the title sounds like a lighthearted romp through an adorable love story, but it’s nothing of the sort. This story is so much more. Rhodes Scholar Kerry Donovan, who hails from America, meets Princess Alexandra Victoria Jane, known to her friends as Sasha. Sasha is a member of the fictitious British Royal family. She’s second in line for the throne, a bit of a wild child, and deeply ensconced in a suite of closets. Although Sasha is known for her clubbing and drinking with “the beautiful people,” and she is mostly seen in the company of men who are movie stars, and athletes, it’s all a front because Sasha prefers women. She’s never had a really serious relationship with anyone, preferring to keep her women coming through an ever-revolving door and holding them at a distance. Then, in an unlikely alignment of circumstances, Kerry Donovan happens–and the Princess’ world is never the same. Neither is Kerry’s. The attraction is explosive from the start–and then the story takes a turn into other deeply meaningful topics. (more…)
“Two weeks ago, she was settled into her life: alone, but settled. Today, nothing made sense.” Meet Jill Allen, a forty-three year old, successful attorney with a prominent corporate law firm in Denver, who seems to have it all – she’s a partner in the firm, has a condo with a fancy address, and drives a BMW. The truth is she works eighty-hour weeks, suffers from insomnia, forgets to eat, and despite seemingly appealing offers from eligible lesbians, is alone. Or was, until two weeks ago, when Caroline Prince re-entered her life. This is the premise of One Fine Day, a smart and engaging stand-alone romance and the third book from Erica Abbott, author of the Alex & CJ series. (more…)
Dirty Money is the second installment of Ashley Bartlett’s Dirty series (book one is Dirty Sex). Vivian Cooper and the DiGiovanni twins are on the lam from the mob. Ryan DiGiovanni has been Cooper’s best friend for years. To him, “Coop” is just “one of the guys” and he’d do anything for her—except choose her over his twin sister Reese. (more…)
Since the major religious festivals of the Spring Equinox cycle are underway I thought I’d take a look at two romance writers whose Christian faith informs their writing. G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The very word ‘romance’ has in it the mystery and ancient meaning of Rome.” But this mystery can have a sinister aspect as well as a revelatory one and for the writers I spoke with, Anne Brooke and Dennis Paul Stradford, both meanings are present. (more…)
Samantha “Sam” Murphy’s business is leading people up the challenging Himalayan peak of Annapurna I. She’s proud of the fact that in all the years she’s been at it, she’s not lost one hiker during the dangerous journey. Murphy’s Law as Sam knows it is that everyone returns from the mountain alive, no exceptions. Even though Sam keeps on her toes ensuring everyone else’s well-being, she’s constantly battling against being overcome by the memories of her own bitter loss of years ago—the past that she’s still grieving, and the past with which she’s still uncomfortable. Because of her own emotional turmoil, she’s determined to keep her distance from the charming Dr. Olivia Bradshaw, especially when the doctor offers her a chance for a little recreational diversion on the trip. It’s not that Sam isn’t up for such things. It’s just that there’s something about Olivia that makes Sam realize an affair with her might lead to more than she bargained for. Olivia has some demons of her own to conquer. Never one to actually invest in a relationship, she’s drawn to Sam with feelings that are new to her—and she battles to figure out what she wants to do with them, because if she yields to them, she’s afraid her walls will come tumbling down around her. (more…)
The First Robin of Spring is one of those old-fashioned love stories that is bound to thrill the romantic in all of us. The characters are well-drawn and the narrative flows seamlessly—mystery and intrigue wrapped in a love story. Told in a more “old style” voice, but without the archaic language of love stories of the 70s, the story is packed with the sweetness of budding romance. (more…)