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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.
Can two women who have been together for twenty years and now have two children revive the romance in their lives? The story “The Cherry Stem” examines that question. “Life Drawing” deals with two women, one a student, and one a model for a nude drawing class. The author delicately shows the growing attraction between the two women, who only speak, for nine-tenths of the story, with their eyes!
All of the stories are well written, with the authors’ other published work listed at the back of the book. The only story where I was unable to suspend my disbelief was “Lucky Charm” by Kate Dominic. Set on a lake in Northern Minnesota, Maribelle and her lover have sex in an icehouse, in the middle of winter! I’ve lived in Northern Minnesota, and believe me, sex on the ice was never an idea I embraced! That said, the story includes some wild scenes and great humor.
Radclyffe gives readers such a variety with her choices of stories that each reader will be able to find one that speaks to her and resonates with her feelings and experiences. This is a great collection, and shows the strengths of these seventeen authors.
Best Lesbian Romance 2013
Edited by Radclyffe
Paperback, 9781573449014, 208 pp.