Oliver and Ryan are returning from their marriage and honeymoon in Montreal to their home in Chicago. Unfortunately after spending every last penny they’d saved on the wedding, the guys must rely on cheap, public transportation to get them home. While on their long ride on the el, the men encounter a few truly strange individuals, but it is the one at the end of the trip that rips apart their lives. Barely a block from home, Oliver and Ryan pass a dark stranger, a mysterious man in a leather hood with a zipper across the mouth. Although Ryan wants to avoid the man, Oliver simply wants to get home and they continue on their path…into disaster. The hooded man grabs Oliver and pulls him into the nearby parking garage, and when Ryan makes a move to save his husband, he pays the ultimate price. One push of a switchblade into Ryan’s neck, and the next thing Oliver knows he’s on the ground watching his husband die. Oliver’s life is ripped apart, and he’s barely living due to his overwhelming grief, and when Ryan appears to him, Oliver is willing to overlook the small details that prove this isn’t his lover.
This is not your typical story, and it’s one that has left me quite a bit confused. I have to admit that I’ve only read through the story once, and I have a feeling that this is one of the stories that needs multiple readings to grasp what the author is intending. At the same time, I never put it past Reed to provide a story that leaves the majority of questions open for the reader to answer, and this could easily fall into that category.
Reed sets up Oliver’s grief quite well, starting with the descriptions of their closeness and happiness from their time away from vacation. The beginning of the story is filled with questions, as Oliver is haunted by the decisions he made, wishing he had done things differently that night. However, as much as he might try to change things, the end result is always the same. The depth of despair and anguish at the loss of his husband comes through clearly on the pages, and Oliver is left as a shell of a man. This part of the story worked for me, and my heart was breaking for Oliver.
"Oliver was surrounded by people: people in high-rises, people in cars rushing by, people coming in and out of bars and discount stores less than a block away on Granville. People everywhere…and not one of them heard him screaming."
Unfortunately it was the second half of the story that took a tight turn into the strange and decidedly paranormal that left me unsure of the tale. The title suggests that an incubus is involved, a male demon who sexually preys upon human beings, and the description of Oliver’s “sharp cry of pain at the ice of [Ryan’s] penis as it rammed into him” seems to make it quite clear who is the incubus. Unfortunately there is really no explanation given as to how Ryan returns, or why. Is this being really Ryan or is it a demon using the image of Ryan to prey upon Oliver? I can’t answer that question, and it is most definitely left to the reader to decide.
Still, that’s not the part of the story that confused me the most. It was the ending, as Oliver seeks out the man in the leather biker jacket from the tunnel between el lines who was shouting “Get close to Lucifer!” when Oliver and Ryan passed by on that fateful night. Oliver encounters a woman with a baby on the way to find the biker, and what that means I really don’t know, but Oliver does find who he’s looking for, which drives to the conclusion of the story. What that conclusion means I’m still not clear on, and I think it's up to each reader to interpret.
The writing is solid, and as Oliver is the focus of the story he is given more development than Ryan. His emotional turmoil was clear to me as a reader, but it was the descent into the paranormal aspects of the story that left me unsure where the story was trying to go. This may not be my favorite story of Reed’s, but I am still thinking about it well after I finished reading. This is the kind of story I would love to talk about with other readers, as I wonder if they saw things that I missed with my reading. This is a dark, cruel tale that will definitely leave you wondering when you finish reading.(less)
Maddie’s life has gone in a very unexpected direction now that she and her best friend Kate are a couple. Kate is wild and impulsive and she pulls Maddie along for the ride. While on vacation, they both admire an attractive young man, dubbed Surfer Boy, and Maddie’s imagination takes off with sexual fantasies. Kate is helping Maddie move past the end of her marriage and Kate’s playful and determined nature ensures she always gets what she wants.
Summer Heat is an erotic tale that focuses mostly on sexual encounters and not as much on character development. As the story is told from Maddie’s point of view, there is more insight into her motivations, but often she is simply caught in Kate’s net and has no need to make decisions on her own. Kate is a strong woman who is confident in herself, but at times she comes across as a bit overbearing.
Although the main relationship is between the two women, there is more of a bisexual theme to the story since some of the sexual scenes involve a man. Kate is a sexual being, one who sees attractiveness not the gender, and is unwilling to deny herself a chance at please with a beautiful person. This makes for a sexual roller coaster throughout the story, though I would have liked for more of the focus to be on only Maddie and Kate. Granted they are on vacation, when all bets are off, and they are most definitely enjoying one another while adding an occasional playmate.
This is a good story for readers looking to try out lesbian fiction with an erotic tale of best friends whose love and friendship has developed into a relationship.(less)
It is the last day of Brenda’s surprise dream vacation from her fiancé Jacob. Their time together has been filled with enjoying one another to the fullest, and reveling in their deep and unwavering love for one another. Jacob has one final surprise for Brenda, and it will push her out of her comfort zone, but her love for Jacob opens her mind to enjoy his secret fantasies.
“To sexually adventurous individuals and couples, who seek to feed their sexual appetites. To those who live vicariously through fiction in order to drive their imaginations wild, to stoke their fiery libidos, and ultimately enrich their means of escapism from the real world.” This quote from author Jennifer Wren is provided as an opening to the tale and is a fitting description of this story. It is an exploration of sexual fantasy, of a woman discovering a new side of her fiancé and her own ability to embrace the fluidity of her own sexuality. It is pure fantasy, and not necessarily the most realistic of setups, yet can be enjoyed for what it is, a quick and sexually charged tale of a couple indulging in the forbidden.
With four participants, there are all combinations of partners represented here, but the most important is that between Brenda and Jacob. The other two characters are exceedingly attractive pawns to the playful encounter between the couple. The erotic content is not overdone and instead is tightly written, with the end result being arousing because of the overall situation and reactions from Brenda.
Readers who can appreciate all spectrums of sex will be able to enjoy this short story, which drives to its climax almost too quickly. This is a tale meant to arouse and spark the imagination and it hits the mark. There is no need to ponder the sexuality of each character, and it’s enough to accept that there is a fluid range and these characters are willing to blur the dividing lines to enjoy themselves and each other.(less)
An extremely detailed blurb tells you most of what you need to know here. Cade is a demon hunter but he’s also a wolf shifter. This makes him even more proficient as a hunter, since being a shifter makes him more powerful and specifically immune to all demon bites.
He has always been a lone wolf, working alone, but after a particularly rough hunt he spontaneously posts an ad on craigslist to find a partner to work with him. After six months he assumes there will be no answer until young David shows up at his door. David is pure human, and only seventeen, but is driven and has a deep desire to hunt and kill as many demons as possible.
For years Cade and David work together, side by side, beginning with David’s intense training as the young man becomes Cade’s protégé. Cade quickly comes to care deeply for David, and is determined to keep him safe despite the high level of danger related to their job. When a hunt one night finds them walking into a nest instead of the one or two demons they had expected, David is unable to fight back the attack and ends up covered in bites that immediately begin to poison his soul. Cade is desperate to help David, but must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to save David.
I first discovered Evangeline Anderson through her story The Assignment, which I read near the beginning of my foray into m/m fiction. I loved the story and got immediately engrossed in the characters. I have read several of Anderson’s stories and when I wanted to read a werewolf tale I picked this out of my TBR list. What I didn’t know is what this story held in store for me. It’s not a typical werewolf story by any means. The most important thing is that Cade is a demon hunter, and being a shifter is another piece of his arsenal of protection against those he is driven to eliminate.
The story has a very fast-paced feel and is constructed like a web. It begins in the present, as Cade is trying to get David to safety and aide. The story jumps to the past, telling the story of how Cade and David met and what they have been through over their years together. The flashbacks are a mixture from Cade’s point of view and others from David so there is a good balance between the two. The flashbacks are all driving to their current predicament in the present and that’s where the ending comes in.
I liked that this isn’t your typical shifter story, that there is a detailed paranormal aspect that is integral to the story. Anderson integrates many of the facets that are typical of shifter stories but picks a few to really focus on such as the submission of pack members to the alpha and the connection and bonding among pack members. Cade has for so long been a lone wolf, but the appearance of David in his life creates his own pack.
There are intense feelings between Cade and David, ones that neither man is willing to admit to, which is common within Anderson’s stories. Both men have to admit their feelings before they can move forward, which is not an easy task.
I enjoyed the story quite a bit and didn’t put it down until I reached the end, but at times I wanted to strangle both men. There is a lot of sexual content in the story well before either of them have admitted how deep their feelings run. And here is where my biggest frustration enters the pictures. This is an issue that I am finding is common to quite a few stories in the m/m genre which is both frustrating and disturbing.
He had long ago stopped thinking of his protégé as straight, but he didn’t think of David as gay either. He was simply a lost kid who had come to Cade for guidance and somehow taken hold of his heart. And Cade himself was simply a lone wolf — someone who had never needed anyone.
The men care for one another, struggle to admit they love one another. But they aren’t gay. Cade gives David a handjob and a blowjob and makes David submit by inserting the head of his cock into David’s ass. But they aren’t gay. David has found his way into Cade’s heart and David would do anything for his mentor and alpha master. But they aren’t gay.
I understand that often it’s hard to pick a label for a character, as labels can be restrictive and too rigid, but I do not understand why an author who writes a story about two men who love each other feels the need to make it abundantly clear that the men are not gay. It’s the “yeah they aren’t straight but they totally aren’t gay” aka “gay for you” mentality that I’ve read often in books and I just don’t understand. And the real problem with this element of stories is that it usually lowers my overall enjoyment of a story.
That is what happened here as well, and a story that overall I did enjoy quite a bit was lessened by the author’s insistence that the characters “aren’t gay”. They seem quite gay to me, and the assertion that they aren’t makes it seems that there is something wrong with the characters being perceived as gay and sheds an unfortunate, but unavoidable, homophobic light on the story. I question why an author would include something like this in a book being marketed as LGBT. I understand that the majority of readers of a book like this will be straight women, and I would hope that readers would recognize how derogatory and exclusionary comments like those are. The story would have been perfectly fine without the “don’t forget these boys aren’t gay” insertions, and I argue that it would have in fact been better.
It’s very possible that many readers will not stumble over the “gay for you” addition to the plot, and will enjoy the characters and the sex. I did like the story but my overall impression is unavoidably tainted.(less)
Catherine McAllister didn't expect to be widowed in Indian Territory, her husband dead in a freak accident. When her neighbor and best friend Amanda is left alone as well, the women move in together. Soon, they find friendship was the least of it, and settle in as a married couple to make a go of their joint homestead.
When zombies begin devouring their livestock, they treat the invaders like any other predator. Aided by Amanda's mother-in-law, Half-Moon, Catherine leads the local homesteaders in defense of all their wives and children. Will they be able to keep the things that go bump in the night off their land?
Catherine knows that something has to be horribly wrong when Eli comes running across the fields to find her. Eli is Amanda’s oldest son, acting as the man of the household after his father John died from a fever caught while clearing a swamp. When Catherine’s husband Luke died in an accident, the women joined their ranches together. The last thing they need is to be trying to run a ranch and raise children alone in Indian Territory. Out of friendship a deep love has blossomed and the women live as a married couple raising their combined family. Especially when there are zombies afoot.
Many of the townspeople believe the Choctaw Indians are to blame for the monsters. But it is more likely due to slave-holders not wanting to give up their free labor, so they killed their slaves and had voodoo men bring them back to life. The zombies have traveled out of Louisiana and invaded the ranches in the area and it is up to Catherine to gather all the homesteaders together to defend their land and their families.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is a really interesting story with elements that are rarely found together. It is a historical story about two women who, through the loss of their husbands, discover a love and caring for one another that fills their hearts. But it is also a horror story of zombies eating livestock and attacking the homesteaders. It’s a crazy combination but it works, and we get insight into Catherine’s character by watching how she deals with the zombie invasion. The relationship between Catherine and Amanda is developed and the intimate moments are handled delicately and with a great historical voice. The women have combined their ranches and redefined their families, in a way that works for everyone. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from the author.(less)
This anthology is made up of six stories: three are fantasy and three are science fiction. In each there is a female character on an adventur...more3.5 stars
This anthology is made up of six stories: three are fantasy and three are science fiction. In each there is a female character on an adventure of some kind, and there is another woman who has caught her eye. Each story is unique and explores a genre that doesn't often offer strong lesbian heroines.
In "Raccoon Skin" by J.D. Everyhope, Sophia must help her girlfriend, who has the ability to transform into a golden eagle, by entering the fantasy world Beyond wearing only a raccoon's skin in order to rescue Caterina's family. This story was a bit too short and needed more development of the fantasy world and the characters. I had trouble connecting with the characters, especially Sophia who seemed to simply accept all of the fantastical things that happen around her with a bit too much ease. This is an interesting concept that could be quite enjoyable with a bit more of the story spent creating a cohesive fantasy setting.
"Amazons" by Jesse Sandoval is the story of a woman who is wiling to go to any length to protect her love for Maria, and she is determined to have Maria for her very own. This is a very short tale that is filled with vivid imagery and is a story that should be read more than once. In just a few pages, the narrator is able to convey a wealth of emotions toward Maria making for quite an interesting read.
In "The Conclave" by Trent Roman, Tanya is dating Erin, a several millennia old fairy, and one night when their relationship isn't doing so well, Erin decides to take Tanya to the greatest party of her world: the Conclave. This is a quirky story filled with humor from beginning to end; Oberon and Titania even make an appearance, which will be a treat for anyone who knows their Shakespeare. Both women are well drawn; Tanya is a mere mortal who is tired of trying to keep up with her supernatural girlfriend and Erin sees herself as a rebel by dating a mere mortal. The fairy world and its inhabitants were detailed and well developed and there was a thread of superiority through everyone. All reactions from Tanya were quite realistic, even given the fact that she is in a fantasy world, and it is easy to identify with her character making for a fun read.
"Under Suspicion" by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon takes us to the 25th century where Ensign Lily Branoch is in charge of a cargo-hold on the medium-attack cruiser Mastodon and encounters Marine lieutenant Daniella Cruz-Ortega. Lily can't take her eyes off Danielle from the moment she first sees the woman, but when there is a possible smuggling scheme afoot and Lily begins to investigate, she is shocked to discover that Daniella may be a part of it. This is the first sci-fi story in the anthology and it is wonderfully written with a fast pace and great characters. There is quite a bit of witty banter between the women and the story drives quickly to the end. There is a lot of detail provided to flesh out the futuristic world but it is never overwhelming or a burden. Overall this is a story of intense attraction with a bit of mystery mixed in making for a great read!
In "Cupcake" by Erin MacKay, Stasya is hired to assassinate Mitsuko Jennings-Villega, whose husband finds himself in serious financial trouble. Stasya infiltrates High Street, the upper crust of society, to get close to Mitsuko and ends up having to change her plans quite a bit. By far the best story of this anthology, this is also the longest. It is a sci-fi story but never does the setting become problematic, and readers are dropped into the middle of the world that is well developed and clearly drawn. Both main characters, especially Stasya, are engagingly complex. It was easy to quickly become immersed in the world and characters in this exceptional story. Although it was clear from the beginning what direction the story would take, it didn't lessen my enjoyment one bit. MacKay has penned an exceptional story that is not to be missed.
"Dead and the President" by Tenea D. Johnson is the story of Dead, a black woman in a futuristic United states who is an "Antibody" and has the ability to "phase" in and out of other people. She uses this ability to control things happening around her, starting with helping local kids get food and ending in the mind of the President. This story is a bit difficult to follow as there is a wealth of detail about both the world Dead lives in and the people like her but it is disjointed and presented in scattered bits and pieces that made it hard to form a clear picture. The idea behind the story is intriguing ~ people have been genetically altered to make reparations for slavery but are now being held prisoner in a fenced in area known as the Basin. The story tried to focus on a bit too much and it was difficult to connect with the character of Dead and as a result this story fell a bit flat.
Tangle Girls is a good anthology with a selection of fantasy and science fiction stories. My enjoyment of the stories ranged a bit, making it quite hard to give a rating. If rating the stories individually, "Cupcake" would have received 5 stars, with "Under Suspicion" following closely with 4.5 stars. These two stories alone make this anthology worth a read, and the others are interesting as well. If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, definitely check out this collection!(less)
When a mysterious stranger comes to the aid of a woman being followed by a gang of young men, the woman unexpectedly becomes part of an unusual set of events. After asking when she’ll be able to see her savoir again, the woman is told to visit a well-known, out and loud lesbian bar, In Your Face. However, when she shares with the bartender that she was sent by “Katy did” as instructed to do, the reactions she receives are filed with shock and suspicion.
Tell Them Katy Did is a very short tale mixing together elements of horror and the paranormal with a very real life dangerous situation. The main character does not solve the mystery within the pages of the story, but instead the focus is on the strange happenings and a perceived definition of justice.
For such a short story, this definitely gets its point across yet I was left wanting a bit more. The setup is most definitely intriguing and you can’t help but wonder where the author would have taken it next. This is arguably part of the allure of many short stories, to be pulled in and given just enough detail to satisfy yet leave aspects open for the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps. This story mostly delivers on that front, though I would have loved just a bit more be included within the story itself.
From an author as established as Victor J. Banis, it’s not surprising that the writing is solid and the tale is unique. This tale is a welcome change of pace from the usual short stories that feature lesbian characters. It is rare to find stories that incorporate an aspect of horror and that makes this a welcome and satisfying read.(less)
4 Stories Down, 4 Stories Up is a unique view of the highs and lows of a relationship, told in the shape of an elevator ride that goes up and down, seen through the memories of a young woman. Some of the pieces of the story are as short as three lines, while others are much more involved and represent a large percentage of the overall story. Each one relates deep emotions and experiences despite the number of words it spans.
The display of raw emotions that are present at the beginning and the extreme lows that happen when things aren't going quite according to plan are equally gripping and moving. It's not easy to say a lot in a very short space, but here the author most definitely succeeds. With the short length, it's possible to read the story through multiple times and each reading uncovers yet another aspect of the nuances of the story.
Anyone who has tried to build a relationship with someone who is not fully out, or has feelings that aren't mirrored in their partner, will recognize the emotions on display here. There are a wealth of emotional demands featured throughout the story and every reader will instantly connect with the main character.
This quick story was definitely a surprise, written in a distinctive style that won't easily be forgotten. I was left wanting more from both the character and the author, making this story a wonderful introduction to an author I wasn't previously familiar with.(less)
In this surprising short story from author Anne Brooke, Celia becomes obsessed with the image of a young woman in a painting inherited from her grandmother. As the girl in the painting begins to mysteriously move, Celia can think of nothing else. She becomes obsessed with the images, which invade her dreams and thoughts and lead her life in an unexpected direction.
I have read several stories from Brooke but this was a surprise in many ways. The Girl in the Painting is a showcase of the quality of writing that many have come to expect from the author, and at the same time this is a welcome departure for her typical stories that feature male characters. The descriptions are wonderfully rich and the reader’s imagination immediately begins to piece together the details of the painting that entrances Celia. Brooke approaches the character of Celia with genuine care while placing her in a particularly unique situation.
On her website, Brooke refers to this as a “literary feminist short story” and it is that and more. Despite the compact length, each reader will see something different in the character and the decisions she makes. This story could easily be seen as an allegory for so many things, and it definitely opened my mind and left me wondering about the history and future of Celia’s life. Few authors can so deftly express so much emotion and depth in the span of just a few pages, and Brooke does not disappoint.
This is not what one might typically expect from a short story labeled as lesbian fiction, yet there is most definitely a connection between two female characters. To what depth that relationship will be taken is not explored within the story, and instead is left to the reader to decide. Brooke has delivered an intriguing story that will leave you wanting more. This is a wonderful example of Brooke’s gripping writing and the chances she is willing to take with atypical storylines. I really hope that Brooke intends to explore this genre more in the future, but until she does we are left with a fascinating story to enjoy.(less)
Lionel Beaumont has no memory of his life prior to the age of ten when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. Twelve years later, he has more questions than answers and a recurring dream of falling and darkness, claws tearing at him, and the name he always calls out…Ben. Lionel doesn’t know who Ben is, but the dream is always the same.
Lionel works as a counselor at Pickworth General Hospital and has a quiet life, all the while constantly feeling that something isn’t quite right, that he doesn’t belong to his life. Despite the photo albums his mother shows him over and over again, Lionel can’t remember anything of his childhood, much to his mother’s veiled disappointment.
After a visit to his parents’ house one night, Lionel stops by a loud bar and meets Ben Whittaker who brings about strong feelings of déjà vu from the moment Lionel looks at him. Lionel can’t escape the feeling that he knows this man who will eventually help Lionel find the answers he’s been looking for.
Guardian is a relatively short story for it being part of the Single Shot line, but the pages are filled with moving and touching words and a tale that I greatly enjoyed. The beginning starts out focusing on Lionel and his amnesia since the accident and there were heart-breaking descriptions of how Lionel, and his family, suffer due to his loss of memory.
"All he had were hand-me-down memories. Given to him by his mother on those occasions when she tried so desperately to trigger something in his mind that would open the doors and let him recall something. He sighed. He hated that he’d never been able to do what she wanted.
Looking at the photos was like looking through windows at someone else’s life. The faces of his parents, their friends, were familiar, but not. Lionel closed his eyes briefly. It only brought home to him all the more clearly that his accident had not only knocked him unconscious, but had knocked the entire world a few degrees to the left, leaving him with a ten year void, and his mother with an unconsummated and unending grief. Loss without death, bereavement without closure.
All the skills that he used in his job every day would never be enough to heal the bleeding wound in his mother’s heart. There was nothing he could do and that helpless feeling made him sick."
When Lionel meets Ben, there is immediate mutual attraction leading to what both assume will be a one night stand. However both men are drawn to one another, for reasons they can’t explain. When Lionel begins to put the pieces together with Ben’s help, the story takes an unexpected and intriguing turn. There are answers for all the questions Lionel has had throughout his life, and he regains control over his past and has a good outlook for the future.
This is a tale of love and reunion, even with people Lionel has never been apart from, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading, but the story provides a roller coaster ride that ends on a high point. I enjoyed the twist that comes in with the ending, and Kasar provides just the right amount of detail for the overall resolution. Lionel and Ben have intense chemistry from the moment they get together and their journey is intriguing and engaging. This is my first story of Kasar’s and I look forward to reading more.(less)
Laura McCallister and her partner of ten years, Holly Crawford, have a wonderful vacation to Maine planned. Unfortunately, there is a dead body that p...moreLaura McCallister and her partner of ten years, Holly Crawford, have a wonderful vacation to Maine planned. Unfortunately, there is a dead body that puts a crimp in their plans. Tobias Faraday, a seventy-three year old man, is found dead in his living room by his housekeeper. All of the evidence points to Faraday’s sister, Alexandra Sinclair, but as Laura continues to investigate, it becomes clear that things are not as cut as dry as they first appeared. As Laura follows the clues that have been left for her, she struggles to maintain control over both the case and her own emotions which are stirred up by the recently deceased man.
Secrets and Sins is a captivating mystery filled with wonderful characters. Laura is excellent at her job as a detective, and is always determined to find justice for the victims. I am a huge fan of the Lesbian Adventure Club series in which these characters also appear and it is a treat to get a story from Laura’s viewpoint. Kate, another club member, plays a role as a secondary character in this story and it is fascinating and fun to see Laura and Kate interact in their “real lives”. They have a mutual respect for one another and a very close friendship.
The relationship between Laura and Holly is moving and emotional. These women are so very much in love, and that comes across in all of their interactions. After ten years, they know each other very well and they are able to provide support and comfort for each other whenever it is needed. They also provide some humorous moments, for example the lobsters Paul and Art who receive a tear-filled reprieve, but most of the story is driven by the investigation and the emotional path that Laura unexpectedly finds herself on.
My only criticism is related to the fact that throughout the story, Laura is always referred to as "McCallister". This makes sense when she is in her role as a detective, deserving of the respect of those around her. But when she is at home with Holly, it seems a bit untrue. I felt that she should be "Laura" whenever she is with her partner, shedding her detective façade. However it doesn’t detract from the story in any way and overall this is an enjoyable story that is not to be missed!
This is the second mystery featuring Laura McCallister, the first being Woman Justice. Although I have not read the first story, I didn’t feel at a disadvantage at all. I will most definitely be getting a copy of the first story to read and am anxiously awaiting the next mystery for detective McCallister to solve!(less)
Fingers sticking out from under a door. Tiny, little fingers. This book opens with Jenni standing on the porch of her house staring at fingers that belong to her infant son. She stands outside the house as the entirety of her family ~ husband Lloyd, sons Mikey and Benjamin ~ try desperately to reach her. To eat her. Her family has been turned into zombies after Lloyd came home with a bite and, as all zombies do, they have one desire, to eat human flesh.
Jenni almost joins her family's fate when they finally begin to break through the barriers, but suddenly Katie comes along in an old, white truck to rescue her. And so begins the first days of zombie infestation. Katie and Jenni bond immediately both as survivors and as women who have lost their families. Katie discovered her wife Lydia was a zombie and was forced to leave for her own safety, an action that continues to haunt Katie.
The women are desperate to survive and that means constantly running from bloodthirsty zombies. But they also want to hold on to some shred of their humanity and set out to rescue Jenni's stepson Jason and find other survivors. Neither an easy task when there are walking dead around every corner, sometimes a few and sometimes a few thousand.
As the World Dies is a thrilling and gripping horror story that starts off at a heart-pounding pace and never lets up. It very much reminded me of some of my favorite zombie movies and makes several, often quite humorous, references to Dawn of the Dead. If you enjoy bloody, gory action that doesn't pull any punches you'll thoroughly enjoy this story. The zombies are violent to a level that is rarely seen in novels, and they aren't just covered in bite marks when they become the walking dead. They have whole sections missing, intestines hanging out, limbs annihilated ~ if any of that grosses you out be careful reading this book as it's quite graphic in the best possible way. I really respect Frater for going all out, for making the zombies as gross and nasty as they should be.
Being a horror novel, and one that is the beginning of the world dying as it is overtaken by zombies, there is a lot of violence. There is a lot of killing and a lot of blood and at times it's not pretty, but it's very necessary. Underneath the bloody zombie surface, this book is about the will to survive. Katie and Jenni are survivors in many ways, determined to evade and outthink the zombies. As Katie thinks to herself, "She couldn't give up without a fight. She would do whatever it took to survive." This is the truth for many of the characters that we meet while following Katie and Jenni on their journey.
Along with everything else, this novel has an emotional core that is gut-wrenching and heart-breaking. Katie has lost the love of her life, and struggles with the knowledge that Lydia is out there in the world, like one of the zombies Katie encounters. Jenni fights hard to rescue her stepson, to hold on to some shred of evidence that she is a good mother. The women become deeply attached to one another, convinced that they will only survive if they are together. They deal with the moral dilemma of whether it's killing to end a person's life when knowing they will become a zombie otherwise. All of these are just some of the examples of that provide depth to the characters.
With all of these aspects to the story, with zombies galore and action packed scenes and emotional turmoil, my absolute favorite part of the story comes down to one simple fact. Katie is bisexual. This is one of the most unexpected aspects of this story. The other survivors are under the impression that Katie is lesbian as they all know she lost her wife, but the fact is she has been bisexual since school, loving both men and women. After losing Lydia, she can't imagine ever being drawn to another person, especially another woman, and is surprised when there is an immediate connection to fellow survivor Travis. They have the kind of connection that neither can deny from the moment they meet, although Katie tries hard to hide it.
In one part of the book Katie is explaining to Jason about being bisexual and why she has often told others she is a lesbian. What she says to the young man rings so true and many readers will find themselves nodding along in agreement. There's an honesty to Katie's character that makes her easy to identify with and creates a solid connection with the reader.
'"I often tell people I'm a lesbian just so they're comfortable.'
'I don't get it.'
'Well, people like absolutes. And it blows most of their minds to try to think that I could find men and women equally attractive and possible mates. It just freaks them out. They want me to be one or the other. So, since I was with Lydia, it was just easier to say I was a lesbian.' Katie held the cell phone against her chest and tried not to cry.'"
As the World Dies: The First Days is a phenomenal beginning to a zombie trilogy. It is filled with great characters and constant action that never disappoints. The only complaint is that the story could definitely benefit from another editing pass as I noticed numerous grammatical errors and typos, but overall it did not dampen my enjoyment of the story. From the moment I started reading I could not put this book down and I am anxious to read the next story in the trilogy. I can't wait to find out what is in story for these characters and what will happen next in their world.(less)
Dr. Julia Blanchard finds herself in quite a precarious position when she is caught diving alone near an excavation site by a group of modern...more4.5 stars
Dr. Julia Blanchard finds herself in quite a precarious position when she is caught diving alone near an excavation site by a group of modern day pirates. With no one around to help rescue her, Julia is left to her own devices to avoid being violated or even killed by the men who are determined to steal her boat and don’t have any qualms about using her in the process. To escape the pirates, Julia dives back underneath the water, banking on the fact that the men won’t be able to shoot her from above water if they can’t find her once she is deep enough. Sure enough, the men give up and drive off, taking Julia’s boat with them.
Julia is left at the dive site awaiting rescue. The only problem is that no one knows to look for her, and when a storm rolls in her situation becomes much worse. Hanging onto a buoy for dear life, she tries desperately to hold out against the storm but a large wave breaks her grip on the metal structure and she is washed out to who knows where. Julia finds herself adrift, victim to the elements as the sun beats down on her and the salt water dries out her skin, with only a wet suit as protection. She pushes herself to the limits to survive, awaiting a rescue that doesn't come, until she is on the brink of death when a ship finally appears. Julia is pulled from the water, barely alive, and finds herself in a place, and time, that barely seems real.
So begins a wild journey for Julia as she finds herself on a ship Le Faucon de Mer, The Sea Hawk, which is strangely similar to the ship she has been excavating. However this ship is above water, a beautiful ship sailing the ocean with a full crew and a unique captain, Simone Moreau. Julia finds herself on the ship near the close of the War of 1812, and quickly becomes tied to The Sea Hawk's captain and fate.
The Sea Hawk is a beautifully written story, one that is entrenched in a fascinating history with a few extra twists and turns. From the beginning I was wondering where the story would go, and I was drawn in immediately by the character of Julia and her tale. This book does require a bit of suspension of disbelief, both for the time travel aspect that mysteriously places Julia back in the past of 1812, as well as the acceptance of a female captain of a ship who is openly involved with other women. Although I initially thought that both aspects might cause me issues, I found that neither gave me pause whatsoever. I was engrossed in the book from the beginning and found that I was able to accept the direction Adcock takes readers without a problem.
The historical details and descriptions are fascinating and add weight to the story throughout. There are several strong female characters throughout the book including Julia and Simone as well as secondary characters Esperanza and Kitty. The relationship between Simone and Julia is captivating from their combative beginning to their eventual involvement. This book is the tale of their romance, and the sparks between them are palpable and intense. In a time when women were not meant to be independent and strong, these two characters stand out as being both unique and intriguing.
I was engrossed in this story once I started reading and couldn't put it down. It is filled with intense moments, both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and I was fighting back tears as I neared the end. Adcock ends the story brilliantly, as reality regains its hold on Julia, and leads her in the most surprising of directions. As I flipped to the last page, all I could think was that I wanted to read it all over again. I highly recommend this story for readers looking for a romance between women from different times who meet and discover a love that's powerful and real. After reading this novel, I will definitely be looking for more of Adcock's novels to enjoy.(less)
Russ wants more than anything to be able to overcome his doubts and walk into the building looming across the street. By doing so he will be admitting that he belongs in a place with a rainbow flag outside, and when you’re seventeen that’s not an easy thing to do. Once he gets across the road, it’s just two steps up to enter the building, but those two steps are the hardest ones Russ has ever contemplated taking. What he needs is someone else to be there with him, safety in numbers, someone to understand what he’s going through, but he’s standing all alone with his skateboard staring at the building. That is until Brian starts talking to him.
Two Steps Up is a wonderful short story and anyone who struggled with sexual orientation during high school will identify immediately with the character of Russ. He is so well drawn and developed as a character that it is easy to empathize with what he is going through, the internal struggle of being true to himself and opening up to complete strangers. What may appear to be simple is actually an intensely difficult thing to do, and this story so beautiful describes what Russ is going through.
"Russ bites his lip and keeps one foot on his board as he stares at the building across the street. It looks innocent enough, except for the rainbow flag that hangs from the top of the doorframe. Nobody would be able to mistake your intentions for going into that place. Everybody would know your business.
He wonders why they have to make it so obvious. Don’t they know they’re scaring away… potentials? Not that he thinks he is a potential anything; he has long come to the realization that he is a homo. A fruit. Pansy. Fag. Cocksucker. Pillow biter. Friend of Dorothy. Queer. He’s seen all the terms on the net, and those examples aren’t even scratching the surface of what you can be called. Why are there so many words for what he is? And none of them are particularly nice either."
I was immediately drawn into the story with Kennedy’s exceptional writing. The story being in present tense is a perfect choice, making the reading experience a total immersion in the character and his experiences. It isn’t easy to write a story within this tense, and Kennedy does an excellent job.
Within the short length, so much is translated onto the page that by the end you can’t help but be connected to the character of Russ. The story is written from Russ’s point of view, so it is his emotions and thoughts that we are privy to, but at the same time Brian is not a one-dimensional character by any means. Although we may not know much about his past, it’s easy to extrapolate about the kind of person he is. Brian has been where Russ is, and intrinsically knows what Russ needs to bolster his courage.
I likely connected with this story so strongly because I know what it is like to be in Russ’s shoes. His emotional struggle is a mirror image of a part of my own past, like it surely is for so many LGBT individuals. Kennedy has captured that point in a person’s life, the turning point to being able to finally openly admit, “yes I am, this is me, I belong here.” I’ve already read the story a few times and suspect it will be one that I often re-read. Though this focuses on being gay, any reader who has ever felt like an outsider will be able to identify with the main character.
This story is about teenagers, and therefore rightfully so doesn't enter into any elements of a sexual relationship. This short story is perfectly suited for young adult readers, but it can definitely be enjoyed by readers of any age. For only $1.49, this is a story that everyone should read. Kennedy has quickly moved to the top of my list of favorite authors with his exceptional prose and enthralling characters. Anyone who hasn’t yet been introduced to his writing should pick up one of his short stories, and this is an excellent place to start. Once you read one story you won’t be able to stop. (less)
In this short yet extremely moving tale, Rave takes a drastic step to show Astrid the destruction she's done to her body. Astrid's refrigerator collage, labeled Ugly Naked People, features images of naked bodies that don't meet what Astrid has decided is the ideal which she strives to attain. Their relationship, and Astrid's health, are at risk due to the effects of Astrid's eating disorder.
Author Renarde sets up this expertly crafted story with care and depth, with characterizations that are fleshed out even within just a few paragraphs. It's painfully clear what Astrid has done to herself, and how her view of those around her has become warped as a result. Astrid recognizes that Rave is struggling, forced to endure Astrid's critical view and unease with their realationship, yet she is helpless to change.
With just a few scenes, the author clearly lays out how Astrid's issues with body image stem from an overall unease with her own identity, especially that as Rave's girlfriend. It is heartbreaking to see how Astrid fights both her own inner demons and the unrealistic vision of her own body image. This story is not just a comment on the effect of societal pressures to fit a body image that is far from healthy. It also shows how being uncomfortable with one's sexuality can manifest in very dangerous and destructive ways.
This is an exceptional example of how much can be achieved within just six pages, including an important message about acceptance. Everyone should take the time to read this moving and emotional short story.(less)
This book is two novellas put together, the first “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly” is told in first person by Belimai Syker who is a Prodigal, des...more4.5 stars
This book is two novellas put together, the first “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly” is told in first person by Belimai Syker who is a Prodigal, descendant of demons, and one of the few with the ability to fly. Belimai is an addict, reliant on ophorium after being captured by the Inquisition and tortured for a confession related to a charge against his friend Nickolas Sariel. Captain William Harper is a priest with the Inquisition and comes to Belimai for help finding his missing sister. Belimai is thrust into the middle of a wild and sordid situation.
The second novella, “Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle” is told in third person from Harper’s POV. It is a continuation of the events of the first part in a way. Harper is trying to find his place both with his job and in his relationship with a Prodigal. He gets pulled into a murder investigation when an old woman stumbles upon him in the street waiting for a carriage. What Harper uncovers is a thinly veiled conspiracy to hide the truth and put the blame on a Prodigal, and Belimai is on a short list of ‘suspects’.
Wicked Gentlemen is a wonderfully fascinating book that I was immersed in from the beginning. The characters are quite well developed and the world created is detailed and complex. The descriptions of both places, Crowncross and Hells Below, are extremely detailed and lead to a truly visceral experience filled with sights, sounds and smells that come alive at every turn. This is a very different type of fantasy/paranormal story that I greatly enjoyed.
The real crux of this book is the differences and similarities between Belimai and Harper and how they each navigate their worlds. This is not an easy pairing, and you have to pay attention to see the romantic elements in the story. What the reader is provided with is a detailed fantasy universe and characters that are well developed but also flawed. In a fantasy novel, the last thing you might expect is a depth and root in reality but that is what readers receive here. Each character, at the core, is a man with problems and past that must be overcome. Their present and futures are of course affected and directed by the past.
This is not an easy relationship ~ Harper is extremely private and doesn’t share easily while Belimai is determined to remain aloof about the distinguished Captain. But neither can deny the mutual attraction and we are provided with brief glimpses of their pairings. This is not an erotic novel, a fact that I found refreshing, and the reader is instead given just enough details about the men being together. Imagination will easily fill in what isn’t explicitly shown and it’s true to the tone and focus of the book.
There are also interesting secondary characters such as Sariel and Harper’s brother-in-law Edward that add weight and emotional connections to the story. The real focus, however, is Belimai and Harper. Getting a chance to digest each character’s POV is appealing and provides a more extensive picture of each of the two main characters.
There were bits to the story that I guessed and others that I didn’t but at every turn my attention was held on the unfolding of the gripping story. Hale has created a universe and tone that is carried throughout the story, a hint of historical with fantasy thrown into the mix to make it unique and fascinating. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book but I was pleasantly surprised and discovered an author that I am anxious to read more from. If you are a fan of fantasy stories, I definitely recommend reading this book!(less)
Tess Camillo is many things. A lesbian, a computer programmer, a breast cancer survivor, and a would-be detective investigating murders. In this secon...moreTess Camillo is many things. A lesbian, a computer programmer, a breast cancer survivor, and a would-be detective investigating murders. In this second book by author Morgan Hunt, Tess finds herself tied into a murder when she goes for a hike and discovers a crucified body. The corpse turns out to be Cody Crowne, a folk rocker who opened for Gabrielle Leatheross at a concert the previous night. Both Tess and her straight new-age massage therapist, certified herbalist and Tai Chi instructor roommate, and ex-lover, Lana were in the audience of that concert. Lana has adored rocker Cody Crowne for years, and the news of his death shocks her and spurs Tess into action.
Tess uses her many connections with the music scene and the police force, and her ex-husband, to gather information and follow up on leads, trying to identify Crowne's killer. Along the way she attends a cocktail party full of Hollywood music elite and ends up falling for one of them, visits a church where one of the members takes crucifixion a bit too seriously, visits Legoland (possibly my absolute favorite part as a Lego fanatic), rides a carousel a dizzying number of times, and travels all over San Diego following up on clues. In the end, Tess chases proof of her suspicions and enlists Lana's help, getting them both mixed up with a killer and fighting to avoid the same fate as Crowne.
Fool on the Hill is a humorous and engaging mystery story with a phenomenal main character that I adored from the very beginning. Although this is the second tale in the series focused on Tess Camillo, at no point did I feel lost or lacking information since I haven't read the first book. Hunt does a wonderful job of providing just the information you need to understand the characters and I was immersed in the book quickly.
This is a mystery through and through, but what I loved about it is the depth and well-developed characterization of Tess. She is a complex character who has been through so much in her life, and it colors every experience. She has learned the hard way to live every day to the fullest and she does so, with her beloved roommate by her side. Tess has a brilliant sense of humor that is injected into every scene and makes for an exceptionally fun read. She has conversations with her dog Raj and makes pop culture references and light remarks on what she observes, all of which keep the story from becoming too serious and provide for lots of laughs.
Tess is also a breast cancer survivor and this, of course, affects many aspects of her life. This side of the character was beautifully handled, with realism and care no doubt inspired by the author's own experiences, and it is captivating to see how Tess has overcome so much. A mastectomy and breast reconstruction will inevitably affect a woman deeply, especially when it comes to sexual relationships, and Hunt doesn't shy away from these aspects of her character. There is an inner strength that Tess possesses which is evident on every page, and seeing her struggle slightly with self-confidence issues related to her breast cancer is poignant and moving.
This story is filled with a wonderful cast of secondary characters that I enjoyed, from Tess's ex-husband Roark, neighbor Smacker, Detective Kari Dixon, and of course roommate Lana. All provide additional humor and assistance to Tess in her search for the killer. The relationships all help to make Tess even more relatable, with a fascinating and detailed past. Lana especially shines in the story ~ she is the antithesis of Tess in so many ways but together they fit beautifully. There is some heartache on Tess's part by yearning for a woman that is hopelessly straight, but she loves Lana and most importantly wants her to be happy. I truly enjoyed how these two women play off of each other, feeding off their different approaches to things. It's a beautiful friendship and one that is a joy to watch.
This is a phenomenal story with a truly exceptional character ~ once I started reading I didn't want to put it down! I will most definitely be seeking out the other two books in the series and will be waiting impatiently for more mysteries. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a strong female character with a brilliant view on life that will have you both smiling and laughing out loud. This story ends with a wonderful line that has stuck with me, "Yes, every story has a happy ending, if you know precisely when to stop." Filled with meaning, it is a poignant ending, but I can only hope that the author has plans to provide many more Tess Camillo stories in the future.(less)
The ninth book of this favored series is a bit different than all of its predecessors. After the craziness of Christmas in July provided by M...more4.5 stars
The ninth book of this favored series is a bit different than all of its predecessors. After the craziness of Christmas in July provided by Maggie and Susan, it is now January and time for Holly and Laura to host the weekend of adventurous fun. Claudia and Kate know that they are in for something crazy when they pull up to “Evil Dick and Evil-er Chick’s house” and can’t miss the huge sign spelling out “HollyWould.” Yes my friends, the weekend is intended to be filled with things that Holly would do. Needless to say all the women ~ including Janice and Allision, Ginny and Kris, and Maggie and Susan who join Claudia and Kate ~ are a bit frightened.
Clothed in orange jumpsuits emblazoned with “HollyWould” in place of a jail name, the women all follow the orders of Holly and Laura, or risk house arrest. There is a list of “laws” to obey, the most important of which are “Trust your hostesses.” and “Remember we love you.” The first activity involves a trip to Holly’s studio, and each couple will choose one to draw and one to pose. Pose as in become an object for their partner to draw. Without clothes. Five women, stripped of their bright orange jumpsuit, au natural for their partner to draw.
Sounds like fun, and is most definitely something that Holly would do, but poor Kate finds that she just can’t do as Holly would do. Kate can’t bring herself to look at Claudia as an object, as the equivalent of a fruit bowl thanks to the machinations of her mind. She goes back and forth, struggling over this task that is hurting her to her very core, and even gets sent to house arrest over it. Through Kate’s painful struggle, we come to find out that there are other factors at work, and poor Kate isn’t functioning at her normal, albeit slightly crazy, levels.
Spiders is an intriguing story, one that is another great addition to a phenomenal series, and which is very different from many of the stories that come before. Here we have a story that goes steadily in one direction, and then halfway through takes a dramatic 180 degree turn. Everything we thought we knew is thrown out the window thanks to new information that is brought to light. I have to admit that for the first half of the story, I was confused. Lost. Unsure. My beloved character of Kate just didn’t seem like ... Kate. After nine books I feel that I know her pretty darn well, and this just wasn’t the gal I’ve come to know and love!
It all became clear as I soldiered on, but it did make for a bit of confusion as I was reading. I did have to read the book more than once in order to fully grasp the threads running throughout the story. Although this story could be read on its own, not having any prior exposure to these characters would make it even harder for people to follow the arch that I think Wraight has set up here. Looking back on the story, I think that Wraight’s intention is for readers to be confused, unsettled and unsure during the first half in order to really set up the situation that is revealed within the second half.
As with all of the stories, this book is about the connection between each of the couples and the love that exists both as partners and as friends. This is a tight knit group that will do pretty much anything for one another, as evidenced by previous stories. Here, as always, the women are there to support Kate at all times, even when she doesn’t realize that she needs them. My favorite couples of Kate and Claudia as well as Laura and Holly truly shine here, and the beautiful friendship that these four women share is heartwarming and inspiring.
This story includes the humor that I have come to love and expect from these wonderful characters, but it also included something I didn’t expect which was quite a few errors in the text. I noticed several missing words or extra words and general typos that I don’t recall being present in previous stories. It didn’t affect my feelings toward the story itself, but with the pauses I encountered when stumbling upon a mistake, my reading of the story was affected a bit.
As always, I recommend that you start at the beginning to truly understand and enjoy this exceptional series. Filled with wonderfully developed characters that you will grow to love, you won’t be disappointed at all. Before Spiders the series includes the stories Scavengers, Ledge Walkers, Savages, Loose Sleuths, Sisters, Leakers Ignited, Scraps, and L-Word C-Word. All are phenomenal stories and once you start you won’t want to stop!(less)
In the eighth book of this brilliant series it is December and Maggie and Susan are hosting the monthly get together of the ten women who form the Les...moreIn the eighth book of this brilliant series it is December and Maggie and Susan are hosting the monthly get together of the ten women who form the Lesbian Adventure Club. Despite it being December, no one better dare say the c-word or insight images of a jolly fat man in a red suit. The women are donning their Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops and winter jackets. Instead of Christmas in July, the women will be celebrating July in ... well, the c-word. They will be ignoring the raging blizzard outside the house, and inside will celebrate as if it is July the third.
Being that it is July, the women will be spending the day at summer camp. Each couple will have a camp, one which they will name and assign a theme. There are colors assigned to each: Claudia and Kate are green (Camp Kis Cak), Holly and Laura are purple (Camp Wan Na Ta Ta), Janice and Alison are yellow (Camp Crystal Lake), and Ginny and Kris are red (Camp Thunder Thigh). The currency for the summer camp excursion will be beads, and trading will be necessary as camps are decidedly lacking in all the necessary essentials. Each camp is set up in a different part of the house, separated by a hallway that soon becomes a bottomless river complete with bubble wrap and an endless supply of squeaky alligators. The women must beware because squeaky alligators bite! Or at least squeak to alert of danger and the required rescue of one of the precious Dykes Who Dare.
The goal of the adventure is to end the day with the most beads, and to be in possession of their totem. One member of each couple created a special gift, something that signifies the love the couple shares, and the other woman must ask questions of the other couples to first determine who is in possession of their totem and then to uncover what the totem is. Much easier said than done! Of course, there is always a deeper meaning, and here Maggie and Susan have planned out an adventure that will help each couple to explore what they mean to one another.
"'The point was to get you to think about what's important to you as a couple, how you feel about each other, the basics, the primal stuff. That whole 'true meaning' of the c-word stuff.'"
L-Word C-Word is another exceptional addition to a series that has carved out a permanent spot on my "keeper shelf." These characters are ones that I enjoy spending time with over and over again, and each new book is just as good as the ones that came before. In a series, after seven books, is it still possible to be inspired, awed, captivated, thrilled, gut-wrenchingly sad and heart-warmingly happy along with the characters? The answer is a resounding yes and the proof is this book. After so many other stories, the series is still as fresh and engrossing as the first story. Wraight has created a cast of characters that readers are drawn to and a concept for a series that can continue on for a long time. Anyone would be lucky to experience the love that each of these couples possesses, and in my opinion these are the best of the best when it comes to romance, with a large dose of adventure mixed in.
This story has the same brand of humor and insight into the characters that I have come to expect from Wraight, but this is a much more emotional tale as well. The previous book, Scraps, put Kate and Claudia through the ringer, but here we see them exploring and fully and completely embracing their love for one another. This is the longest story in the series so far, and it's a chance for each of the couples to look at how they love one another and the depth and strength of that love. It's touching and moving in all the right ways.
What struck me the most about this story is that we learn a bit more about Kate's history, a truly heart-breaking aspect of her past. It brought her to Ginny and Kate, and eventually Claudia, and forced her to redefine the meaning of family in the most horrible of ways, by the rejection of her own family. Kate has always been one of my favorite characters, something that is easy as each story is written from her point of view, but this is a new side to this incredibly deep and intricately developed character. Knowing this small snippet of her past speaks so much to the woman she has become, and the reason she clings to those she loves. It imbues the character with even more honesty and realism, making her jump off the page at the reader. I reread these portions of the story numerous times as I was so struck by the emotion behind every word. By reflecting on her past, Kate discovers the one way she can express to Claudia how much she loves her, and the scene is beautiful and inspiring.
My other favorite couple is Laura and Holly, who always infuse a level of humor and intensity into the story. These two women love each other beyond understanding by outsiders. They are soul mates, tightly woven together, to the point that they cannot exist without one another. Their love is so intense that at times it shocks their friends, but it's real and all encompassing. In this story the women get a bit more serious, as Holly tries to guess their totem and Laura fears that she's let Holly down. It's a strange feeling to see these women unsure in even this tiniest of aspects, but it only serves to provide even more information about their deep bond. I really liked seeing yet another aspect of this couple, and can't wait for more.
"Holy said, 'I feel that way about Laura. I don't know if I'm luckier because she loves me so much or because I love her so much. I just know I'd shrivel up and die if I didn't have both."
There is a quote that comes at the very beginning of this story that exemplifies what I love so much about this series. "But today was not Christmas. Today proved far, far better: a Lesbian Adventure Club day. That knowledge awakened yet another part of me; my anticipatory gland contracted and squirted, mingling its good stuff with lifeblood that was slowly being caffeinated." These women truly love their monthly adventures together, and each other. Kate looks forward to these days, ones that are even better than a holiday. It's a sign of the special bond they all share, and the thread that runs throughout every book in the series.
You could easily read any one of the books in this series on its own, but I advise starting at the beginning and working your way through the stories. There is an evolution of the relationships and characters that is best enjoyed when in order, and you won't be disappointed in the slightest. The series so far before L-Word C-Word includes Scavengers, Ledge Walkers, Savages, Loose Sleuths, Sisters, Leakers Ignited, and Scraps. Start from the beginning and enjoy each of the books in this phenomenal series that I highly recommend!(less)
The author notes from the beginning that she is making this book an adventure for the reader as well as the members of the Dykes Who Dare. You may mim...moreThe author notes from the beginning that she is making this book an adventure for the reader as well as the members of the Dykes Who Dare. You may mimic Kate with her patented “What the hell?” when you learn that the book is written backwards. Seriously. It starts with Chapter 10 and ends with Chapter 1. It is written in the same vein as the rest of the series, just is presented a tad bit differently. If you aren’t up for the challenge, and are in fact a “leaker”, the Forward Version is included as well. My friends ~ take the dare. Embrace the nature of the Lesbian Adventure Club: “to mess with and to be messed with.” Enjoy the story as intended: backwards. And to celebrate this cunning storytelling technique, I am jumping off the pier too. My review is written backwards. Starts with the end and ends with the start. Enjoy it. I “D Double D dare you” to!
“Again, we concluded our meeting with beginnings. Something ended, but hope remained ignited nonetheless.”
Any of the stories in this series can be read on their own but I highly recommend starting from the beginning. The development of each of the couples as well as the friendships among them all is quite a journey to follow, and without reading all the stories you will miss out on the subtle innuendos that are included throughout. How else will you know who the “big-boobed bimbo babe” is or why it is so wonderful to see Noelle and Denny on a date? The first five books in the series, in order, are Scavengers, Ledge Walkers, Savages, Loose Sleuths, and Sisters. Each installment in the series is as enjoyable as the previous and is always a wonderful adventure that marks not an ending, but the start of something new for the wonderful characters.
Once again we are presented with an exceptionally fun adventure involving friends and lovers, making for a truly exceptional read. I cannot recommend this series more highly for anyone that enjoys thrilling adventure and captivating characters. After six books I feel like these characters are old friends that I can’t wait to visit with again.
As always there is humor throughout this book, and that is of course not surprising if you are at all familiar with the other books of this series. The first adventure results in a “Smut Pumpkin”. There are ballcocks and nipples, elbows and eyes, a choice between “Whale of a Weenie” and “Greenie Weenie”, bags of body parts, a Dean Grim Reaper, and plenty of blood and guts. Plenty! Hell, there is balloon boob bursting throughout ~ what more do you really need?!? Personally, the haunted house turned out to be one of my absolute favorite of all the DWD adventures. Blood curdling screams and dismembered body parts always make me giggle.
I love all of the characters in these stories but there is a special place in my heart for Kate and Claudia as well as Holly and Laura. Kate is our narrator, and we see these stories through her eyes, and her reporter sensibilities always put an interesting spin on things. I adore her quirks and her dedication to Claudia. That Kate’s life is defined by her love for Claudia is touching and always moving. These two have come a long way since the first book and I look forward to watching them celebrate their ten-year anniversary in the next book. Holly and Laura are always a force to be reckoned with, and the fact that they leave their bedroom at all is shocking! These women burn for one another, one cannot resist the other, and although it can be at times humorous it is also heartwarming to see two women who are so completely consumed by their partners. To separate these women would be a crime and I look forward to every scene they are in.
Leakers Ignited is another exceptional addition to what has become a favored series. Each adventure is so unique, yet maintains the same themes throughout. We are given five couples made up of ten women who couldn’t possibly be more different. Yet they bond together as the closest of friends, and are there to help each other out at all times. Each couple exemplifies the definition of love, from Ginny and Kris who have been together for twenty-five years to Allison and Janice who have only a few months as a pair.
“I thought of our group, of our friends who had afforded us this closeness in many ways. We held mirrors up for each other. When one struggled, we were grateful for what we had. When it was us slogging in the muck, we were reminded of what we could be, of what we owed each other and ourselves to be.”
As is always the case when the women get together, the adventure parallels the relationships between all the couples. Some of them need help from their friends to move forward and others are just looking to reaffirm how much love they have for one another. By working together they will all end the adventure stronger than when they started, loyal to the end to what is most important, their friendships and love.
Their first adventure involves a list of items and the women have to come up with the clue. What results is a jack-o-lantern carving escapade that only our beloved DWD could pull off. The following adventures are scavenger hunts, similar to the first adventure that Ginny and Kris hosted, but of course there is a twist. The women are given the items needed to help figure out the clue. Never an easy task! The evening culminates with the “Blood Curdle College of Spookology” ~ a haunted house ~ since it is October after all! The DWD are given a single hint by their illustrious hosts to make it through the spooky house, “’Remember that everything is backward. In order to find your strength to make it through, you need to identify your weakness.’”
Ginny and Kris have decided to add an extra special spin on the night but making everything backwards. The women have all been ordered to wear reverse baseball caps embroidered with DWD, mustache-nose-eyebrow glasses on the back of their heads, and backwards bras with water balloons for boobs. They look positively ridiculous and that is only the beginning. With each adventure, succeeding will result in losing points and the lowest score at the end of the adventure wins. However, the final twist, is that the team with the highest score will be given the honor of ownership of the “big-boobed bimbo babe” for another month. Yup, the prize goes to the loser. Backwards, my friends, backwards.
That’s right, you guessed it, another month has passed and all the women of the illustrious Lesbian Adventure Club have gathered for another adventure. This month the Dykes Who Dare find themselves back at the beginning, having gone full circle through each of the five couples. It is now October, and Ginny and Kris are hosting the wild group antics once again. Inevitably hilarity ensues when the matriarchs of the group take over, but by the end of the day the relationships between each couple will be stronger and the friendships between all the women will be even tighter.(less)
A month has passed, and the friends are ready to get together for another fabulous Lesbian Adventure Club escapade. This time Kate and Claudia are the hosts, and Kate is particularly anxious that all their plans go off without a hitch. Claudia is by her side at all times, managing the group and executing their well-scripted activities. The bond between these two women is quite strong after their friends intervened during the previous month’s scavenger hunt when it looked like their relationship was at an end.
All of the characters from the previous story are back for this month’s adventure, minus one. Couples Ginny and Kris, Maggie and Susan, and Laura and Holly are in attendance as well as Alison who broke up with her partner during the scavenger hunt. Thankfully, Kate and Claudia convince Alison that she does not need to be part of a couple for their plans. As Kate exclaims, the club motto could almost be, “If you’re queer, we’re here.” It is clear from the beginning that these women are all very close friends, to the point of being family. They know each other so well, providing much needed support as well as endless sources of humor.
What Kate and Claudia have planned for the women does not involve a competition or winners and losers. Playing off the fact that five of them are teachers of some kind, the adventure centers around learning things that they should have learned in school, but didn’t. They will focus on things that the women will find useful in their own lives. An expert is brought in for each “session” and the day is modeled after a school day. The women start with Recess, the way everyone wishes school always started, and then move on to the educational classes. These include Physical Education, Art, Home Ec, Earth Science, Sociology, Health, and Psychology. Thankfully, there is a visit to the Cafeteria mixed in as well. Each class focuses on a specific task to help them all be “strong, healthy women”. This becomes their mantra throughout the day, shouted by all women at the top of their lungs.
As is of course the case with the “Dykes Who Dare”, there are twists and turns along the way and things don’t always go as planned. Each couple has unique issues to deal with over the course of their adventure, but with the help of their friends, they are able to continue. Kate notes that the “bond between us all, and between partners, had again strengthened” as a result of the club’s latest adventure. The meetings provide a chance for the women to release stress and anxiety, and to relax and have fun with each other.
Ledge Walkers is filled with humor and wild antics, but more notable is the serious treatment of the relationships between the women. Reading this story was like visiting with old friends, and I was immediately pulled into the story. Spending time with these characters is entertaining as well as touching as they all wear their emotions on their sleeves while in the presence of good friends.
The premise of learning useful things that were never taught in school was cute and fun but also provided a backdrop for many of the characters to discover things about themselves. The characters are the true focus of this story and they are all well-developed and realistic. No one is perfect in these stories, and they each have their own issues to overcome. Everyone has their good days and their bad days, and these women are no exception. Through it all, they must learn to trust in themselves, and each other.
This story is choked full of powerful emotions from all the women, and it is wonderful to see these relationships continue to develop. Each is a unique character, and the detail provided gives a complete picture of who they are. One of the most interesting, and intriguing, classes is Psychology when each woman takes on the persona of her partner. While it starts with humor as Kate and Laura emulate their much more feminine partners, it quickly turns serious as the exercise allows some of the women to confront each other with raw emotional fervor.
On top of everything else, this story has some wonderful secondary characters and continuous bits of humor. I loved the integration of Sam and Charles into the adventure, as well as Charlize. When Ginny is convinced that Kate is going to “defecate pearls of wisdom” in the backyard, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. And perhaps my favorite part of the story comes during the Sociology and Health class. According to Kate and Claudia, there are “five levels of intoxication,” which include Gifted, Guru, Gladiator, Gacker, and Goner I must admit, although a bit sheepishly, that I have personal experience with several of these levels and I am sure many readers will be in the same boat. Although the women all agree to stop at level two, it isn’t always that easy to get the body to comply when alcohol is involved.
I highly recommend this story for all readers who are looking for an enjoyable and touching story with wonderful characters. Although this story can be read and enjoyed on its own, I encourage reading Scavengers first in order to fully grasp the dynamics in each relationship as well as all the references to the highly entertaining scavenger hunt. After all, without having read that first story how can you possibly truly appreciate the “Lover Doll” or the “Mad Cow Burger”? These stories really are best enjoyed in order and you won’t be disappointed! Thankfully for all, the third book Savages has already been published and the fourth book Loose Sleuths should be available soon. Once you start reading about these characters you won’t be able to stop!(less)
Yup, you guessed it, another month has passed and it is time, yet again, for another Lesbian Adventure Club get together. This month the hosts are Hol...moreYup, you guessed it, another month has passed and it is time, yet again, for another Lesbian Adventure Club get together. This month the hosts are Holly and Laura, the “indisputable scoundrels of the group.” Emotions run high when the women are told that the weekend has been designed by their scheming hosts to help their friends lose their sexual inhibitions. Needless to say, this doesn’t go over too well with the participants.
With that kick in the pants start, Kate puts things in reverse a bit to explain how they got to this point of sheer terror for those at the mercy of their hosts “Evil and Evil-er”. When Claudia and Kate arrive they find the other couples waiting outside the house. Susan and Maggie, Ginny and Kris, and Alison and Janice are scared of what Holly and Laura have planned for them, and can’t bring themselves to enter the house. As always, they know there will be some element of revenge and retribution involved for the previous months’ trials. In particular Susan and Maggie know that they are in trouble ~ when they least expect it Laura is sure to avenge Holly who was so scared by the ghost of Bub. (If you don’t know what that could possibly mean, go read book 3, Savages. Now!) One of the group mottos is that “dykes who dare had better prepare to accept the consequences” so the women must admit that all is fair in love and war.
“Yes, the notorious lessons we were forced to learn each and every frickin’ month. Fair was fair. Annihilate and then be annihilated.”
Since Laura is a detective, the actual adventure she and Holly have devised is centered on “Five Mysteries for a Buck.” With each mystery, there will be clues to solve to help the couples test their own sleuthing powers. Two days prior, each woman received an envelope marked “For Your Eyes Only” which contained information about attire and 300 dollars of play money, “DWD bucks.” The money will be used to solve the mysteries, as each question asked will cost a dollar and requested items can be five dollars or more, and awarded to the winners. The clothing directives specified what color each woman’s sweatpants and underwear must be, as well as what colors must be represented in other articles of clothing. As a result, the women look quite mismatched, like a bunch of children allowed to dress themselves for the first time.
The ultimate prize will be awarded to the team with the most money after all five mysteries, the “beloved big-boobed bimbo babe” from the previous month’s adventure. Of course, everyone wants to claim her as their own ~ who wouldn’t? The women are all warned that they must put their “fears and mistrust aside” to prevail, but as is often the case this is easier said than done. Things never go as planned when the “Dykes Who Dare” convene, and this get-together is no exception. Each couple is pushed to deal with an issue that has been lying dormant under the surface, and in the end they will be stronger thanks to help from their friends.
Loose Sleuths is once again a fabulous addition to the Lesbian Adventure Club series. It includes playful humor as well as touching moments between the women. I love spending time with these characters, and eagerly anticipate each adventure. I always know that there will be a fun and tricky adventure but there will also be moving displays of the love and closeness of all these women. They are a family, in the strongest sense of the word. Each couple is so realistic, they have issues to deal with and are never perfect, but at the core is intense love and respect that is apparent throughout every story and most especially this one.
The adventure is filled with humor, as is always the case with these stories. I was left with images of the bobbling bimbo prize doing her little dance after Laura gave her “a mighty flick so she did her sluttish jiggle” for the group. Foxhole maneuvers to escape bedrooms and bathrooms, panty swapping, a blue bra blindfold with the straps flapping around, littermates, and mismatched color-coordinated clothing are just a few examples of the hilarity that ensues when these women set off on their adventure.
I love so many of these characters, but this story especially provided more depth to Laura. She is a complex woman, and although she is often scheming and desperate to arise victorious at the end of any adventure at all cost, she truly cares for her friends and will be the first in line if ever one needs help or protection. Kate explains, “As brassy as Evil Dick could be, her heart glinted gold if you looked from the right perspective.” Laura’s relationship with Holly is so strong and there is no question that they are soul mates. Their easy affection with one another is heartwarming and joyful to experience. The best explanation of how close these women are comes from Kate’s reaction to witnessing a fight between the couple.
“Something within me felt like it was dying. I wanted to throw up. In all the years I had known them, I had never heard them argue. They loved each other in a way that was dizzying to watch. This made me sick.”
Although the adventure does not turn out to be a thinly veiled attempt to throw caution to the wind when it comes to sexual inhibitions, a strange phenomenon seems to be sweeping through the women. Several of them feel the need to account for a sudden amorousness from their partners which is totally unexpected. Kate, in particular, is completely thrown by Claudia’s new willingness to be sexually open around their friends. So used to their previous roles, Kate isn’t quite sure how to handle this new development, or where it stems from. She even thinks that Holly and Laura have possibly spiked their drinks with aphrodisiacs. Whether it is the house or being in the presence of Holly and Laura who are not afraid of any type of PDA, all of the women seem to be affected and the result is some private moments not so well hidden from the others. In short, lots of sex between these couples.
“The rip sound wasn’t from the fabric of reality. It was undies being torn from the shank. … We were a bunch of horn dogs … stuck up the center … and grateful for it … horn dogs at the state fair next to smelly stalls of undomesticated pigs. Dogs With Desires. Dykes Who Diddle.”
I cannot more highly recommend this story for readers who enjoy an adventure story with wonderfully detailed characters. As always, this story can be read and enjoyed on its own, but I encourage reading them in order. Scavengers, Ledge Walkers and Savages are the first three books in the series and are hilarious and exceptional reads. Spending time with these characters is engaging and once you start reading you won’t be able to stop. I only hope that Wraight has plans to continue this series that I have come to love so much!(less)
Yet another month has passed, and the Lesbian Adventure Club is ready for a new adventure. This month belongs to Maggie and Susan, who have dragged al...moreYet another month has passed, and the Lesbian Adventure Club is ready for a new adventure. This month belongs to Maggie and Susan, who have dragged all of their friends out into the middle of nowhere for a camping excursion, a “family outing” of sorts. Claudia, with her ever present best friend Earl Grey, and Kate, with her latte, are en route to the specified location, dressed all in black like cat burglars, with absolutely no idea of what lies ahead. As always there is a level of unknown and unpredictability but as Kate clarifies, “The activities were never the variables. It was us, together: a bunch of unruly kids.”
When the women all arrive, they hit the ground running as they are told they must hunt for their camping gear which has been scattered about by their hosts. This is the very first sign that this is not your typical camping trip. Soon the plans for the weekend are laid out by Maggie and Susan, and the women learn they are to take part in an elaborate game of Capture the Flag. The goal of the game is to capture and protect flags from other teams while protecting their own flags, without being caught and going to jail. Kate and Claudia are green, Holly and Laura are purple, Kris and Ginny are red, and Alison and her new girlfriend Janice are yellow.
In order to make the game even more interesting, there are hidden charms ~ Goddess, Retaliation, and Probation ~ and spells to protect a team’s designated area ~ Alarm, Freeze, Humiliation, and Damsel. On top of everything else, one member of each team is armed with a paintball gun in order to help protect her area. Of course, the most unlikely of each pair is chosen and Claudia, Holly, Ginny, and Janice quickly find themselves in a paintball crash course. The ultimate prize for the winning team is a trophy, “a hot little dame with gigantic bobble boobs” engraved with “#1 D-Double-D.” Each team will use whatever they can to trick and distract their opposing teams in order to capture the colored flags and rack up points to be the ultimate winner.
Things don’t go quite as planned, which is the norm for the “Dykes Who Dare”. These friends who are as close as family, immediately become enemies vying to win the game, as their competitive streaks come out with a vengeance. They are a bit ruthless and Kate learns that it isn’t always so easy to be competing against your best friends. In the end, Maggie and Susan reveal that there is an underlying theme to the entire weekend, and they are all amazed at how well they have all played into the devious plan.
Savages is yet another amazing selection in the Lesbian Adventure Club series. It is both insanely hilarious and wonderfully poignant, and an excellent example of the strength of friendships between women. Each time I start one of these stories I am thrilled to be spending more time with these characters that I have come to love. At the core, these stories are about “trust and love and camaraderie” and none more so than Savages.
I love all of the characters in these stories, but here we get to see a whole new side of Claudia and Holly. Their normally more feminine natures take a back seat as their crazy and competitive spirits come out to play. Holly in particular has a bit too much fun with the paintball gun, proving Laura’s sentiment that she “couldn’t hit a barn” is far from the truth! I love seeing so many different sides of these complex women, both in their relationships and individually.
As always, the adventure is overflowing with humor and after reading this story you will have verses of “I Feel Pretty” resonating in your head. You will want to call your friends “B-word” and “F-er.” You will find yourself trying to say “big-boobed bimbo babe” ten times fast. Don’t ask, just read.
At the same time, there are several touching moments, especially with Kate. The game pushes on her bottom line, things she expects from her friends and things she will not do. She has some difficulty reconciling the cut-throat nature of the game with what she anticipates from her closest friends. Luckily she has Claudia by her side at all times, and the love and support between these two women is emotionally moving. They are soul mates in every sense, and watching their relationship continue to grow and strength is captivating and satisfying.
If you are able to retrieve your memories from English class in high school or Literature class in college, you will most likely be able to figure out the basis of the adventure that Maggie and Susan have devised well before Kate does. It is fun watching her battle to decipher the clues she is fed along the way. I won’t reveal the answer as I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone but it was fascinating how each member of the group unknowingly followed the role set out for them so perfectly. I will offer you a clue provided by Ginny who summarizes the adventure, “It’s about the sometimes fragile boundary between human reason and animal instinct.” Perfectly clear, right? Don’t worry, after reading this story it will all make sense, like the last piece of a puzzle being put in place.
I highly recommend this story for fans of adventure stories with enjoyable characters and exciting twists and turns. This story most definitely stands on its own, but as always I encourage reading the stories in order. Scavengers and Ledge Walkers, the first two books in the series, are hilarious and touching and you will not be disappointed. And the adventures continue as Loose Sleuths, the fourth book in the series, should be available shortly.
There is a perfect line in this book spoken by the character of Janice who is new to the group, when asked why she is crazy enough to join the rest on their wild adventure. “Together, you all create something very special. How could I not want to be a part of that?” That sentiment so perfectly reflects my own feelings about the Lesbian Adventure Club and how much I enjoy these stories. They are truly special and deserve to be enjoyed by all. I can’t wait to spend more time with these characters and I hope we continue to be provided with wonderful stories from Wraight!(less)
As this story begins, we are introduced to Claudia and Kate, sitting in a diner, barely acknowledging each other’s presence. The women have been together for nine years but lately they are hanging on by a thread. The story is told from Kate’s perspective and she details the wide range of emotions she experiences at the potential end of her relationship. She grasps at any shred of information that might shed light on where they went wrong, on how they let things get so bad.
For over two years, the women have been participating in a monthly adventure get-together, the Lesbian Adventure Club. Each month is assigned to a couple, who are responsible for arranging the “adventure” for the evening. Kate has started to use the monthly outings as a guide by which to measure her relationship’s longevity ~ each adventure marks another month that they have successfully managed to stay together.
The latest adventure has been planned by Ginny and Kris, who have been together for twenty-four years, and are matriarchal role models for the others. The couples joining Claudia and Kate on the adventure are Laura and Holly, Susan and Maggie, and Alison and Lisa, each at different points in their relationships. The current month’s quest involves eight clues that will guide the women, working as couples, on a scavenger hunt. They must first figure out the item based on the clue, retrieve or photograph it, and return to home base to check in, win points, and receive the next clue. The hunt will be complete the next morning when the overall winner will be announced.
As Claudia and Kate work through each clue, they also begin to hunt for the reasons why their relationship has been so strained. It is obvious that they love one another, but they have been suffering from a lack of communication. Claudia is pulling away from Kate, who squanders while trying to figure out what she did wrong so that it can be fixed before they lose each other forever. Over the course of the evening, the women find a way to work together, and with the help of their friends, begin the process of healing and reconnecting.
Scavengers was a total surprise, catching me completely unaware and sending me on a wild ride. I have to admit that I was a little unsure as I started reading the first chapter, wondering where the “adventure” was coming from as the story starts out so serious. Thankfully, I quickly learned that I was just beginning a phenomenal story, following the “Dykes Who Dare” on their adventure.
The scavenger hunt is a wonderful set up, and a metaphor for the journey that Claudia and Kate are on. Although the plot follows the hunt through each clue, the story really focuses on the characters themselves. We gain a great deal of insight into Kate and Claudia, as well as beginning the introduction to the other characters. The premise of the book is such a wonderful setup, allowing for one couple to be the main focus of the story and still integrating the others.
It is obvious that a lot of thought went into the planning for the scavenger hunt clues, but the details don’t overpower the story in any way. They are fun, playful, and several times I found myself trying to “solve” the clues before the characters. Here is just one example of the enticing language of the clues:
here it is where we shall State: the food for zeus’ little nymph ~ the big fat cow; sacred to aphrodite ~ bird’s foot ‘round her head; the lures of monarch lagoon, but not the tackle
Yeah, I know it doesn’t really make any sense at first glance. One of my favorite aspects of the story was discovering the clues along with the characters. (And as a side note, those bold letters and the capitalization aren’t a mistake.) As each clue is revealed, I found myself flipping back to reread the language and catch all the nuances that are hidden within the text. They are absolutely brilliant and make for a very interesting scavenger hunt!
The story is filled with powerful emotions that are both captivating and moving. I can’t remember the last time a story had me both rolling on the floor laughing for minutes at a time and getting misty eyed. The story is overflowing with witty humor that keeps it moving quickly ~ until, of course, I reached passages that were so funny I had to read them over and over again. You know you are in for a treat when a story includes a “Famous Mad Cow Burger,” “The Great Dildo War,” and a “Wrap Around Lover Doll.” If that doesn’t entice you to buy this story, I don’t know what will! At the same time, the more serious moments are handled beautifully and the interactions between Kate and Claudia are heart-warming and tender.
I can’t possibly do this story justice in a single review, as there are so many wonderful moments that I could be quoting for pages on end. I cannot recommend this story more highly for all readers! Possibly the best news of all is that the second book, Ledge Walkers, has already been released and the third book, Savages, is in the works. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this series and can’t wait to read the next story!(less)
It’s time for another gathering of the Lesbian Adventure Club and this month is a little special. Kate and Claudia are celebrating their ten-year anni...moreIt’s time for another gathering of the Lesbian Adventure Club and this month is a little special. Kate and Claudia are celebrating their ten-year anniversary at the Crappie Cabin, just the two of them for one blissful evening before they are invaded by the group of their closest friends. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and when Claudia accuses Kate of something quite serious, feelings are hurt and the women spend the evening not talking. Kate is reeling from the accusations, and the lack of trust her partner has in her cuts to Kate's core.
“But I also knew how much I loved her, how utterly committed I was to her. Having that questioned ~ even if via fear ~ seemed like a punch in the stomach, the heart.”
Despite their best efforts to hide their troubles from their friends, Kate and Claudia are not very good at masking how miserable they are. Or maybe it’s just that Ginny & Kris, Maggie & Susan, Alison & Janice and Laura & Holly know their friends quite well. Before too long comes yelling, tears, confessions, assurances, more crying, and declarations of love. All the women are there for Kate and Claudia when they need their friends the most. But that is only one part of the undisciplined weekend. Claudia sets the stage when she throws their plans out the window. The women are all excited by the prospect of a free weekend, with absolutely no plans and lots of time for relaxing. However, despite howls of excitement from all, these woman just aren’t happy unless they have plans and things begin to rise up including bowling and rescuing some Dykes Who Dare honorary members.
Scraps is once again a fantastic addition to a series that has become a personal favorite of mine. I never know quite what to expect when I begin a Lesbian Adventure Club book but Wraight never fails to deliver a tightly woven plot with characters that are engaging and well developed. These women are strong and independent yet they have their weaknesses and rely on their close connections with one another. Of all the female characters I've read, these stand out in my mind for so many reasons. The stories are fun and heart-warming and silly but what keeps me coming back to the books over and over is the characters. These women are true-to-life and feel like old college friends who come by for a visit every once in a while.
The core of this story is trust. Trust in your partner, trust in your friends, trust that you know another person and can rely on that trust. The story beings with Claudia not trusting Kate, something that is simply gut-wrenching to watch since these women have fought so hard throughout the series to fix their relationship and be solid together. There are numerous other instances within the story of cases where friends and lovers either trust or do not trust one another, continuing the theme throughout the entire story. Some are serious ~ Kate believing that she will be alone again if her friends believe she is capable of what she’s been accused of ~ while others are quite funny ~ Alison fighting tooth and nail against Maggie who wants her to try vegan ice cream. Each is cunningly woven into the story so that they don't hit you over the head but instead subtly push over and over toward understanding the need for trust.
This story is much more emotional than some of the previous ones, and a lot of that is undoubtedly because Kate & Claudia are one of my favorite couples and my heart simply ached for them. I'm being intentionally vague in the review as I don't want to give away what comes between them, but reading it brought tears to my eyes. Kate, as our fearless narrator for each story, is the character that readers will undoubtedly feel closest to as we experience the stories through her eyes. To see her struggling, so desperate to make Claudia understand, foundering at the thought of losing the woman that is the center of her world, is deeply moving. This books starts out with a punch to the gut and then simply takes off, a wild emotional ride from beginning to end.
Of course, this wouldn't be a Lesbian Adventure Club book if there weren't lots of laughter inducing bits! Wraight deftly balances emotional storylines with plenty of humor. Kate has a “hemorrhoid removal via the nostril” episode which is quite unpleasant and brought on by a sadistic rendition of “She’s a Little Teapot” from Laura. You just know that when fierce detective Laura is singing and dancing around there is going to be hell to pay. There is talk of how often couples “ta-da”, a “Venus gay-man trap”, “a littermate crybaby ~ a primate crymate”, a “Squiggly Empress Show”, and DWDWDWD aka “Dudes Who Deal With Dykes Who Dare.” No really! And for sports fans, one gal manages to get "a bunch of daredevil lesbians to agree to wear ugly shoes and touch balls.” Now that's skill!
Anyone who has read one of my reviews for the books in this series will know that they can always be read as stand-alones but I highly recommend starting from the beginning. The books flow together beautifully with the progression of the relationships between both friends and lovers. The series prior to Scraps starts with Scavengers, and continues with Ledge Walkers, Savages, Loose Sleuths, Sisters, and Leakers Ignited. Each book is a fantastic read, and all together they make for a phenomenal set of books that I cannot more highly recommend.(less)
As always, another month has passed and it is time for another gathering of the Lesbian Adventure Club. This month the hosts are Alison and Janice whi...moreAs always, another month has passed and it is time for another gathering of the Lesbian Adventure Club. This month the hosts are Alison and Janice which is especially fitting given what the women have been dealing with. There was an injunction hearing and Alison went to court to get a restraining order against her ex-girlfriend Lisa. Over the month the women of the group have given Alison as much support as they can and although Lisa has been silent, no one trusts that she is done.
In order to trick Lisa, and keep their group meeting location secret, the story starts out with Kate, Susan, Laura, Janice and Ginny being quite stealthy, hiding their cars at various locations and creating diversions. When all the couples are finally together, what transpires isn’t the typical monthly adventure. For the first time, the women want to be the “Dykes Who Don’t Dare”. They want a fun weekend that is not overly competitive, to be able to relax and simply enjoy each other’s company. But what fun would that be?
They begin by each woman writing down a worry onto a piece of paper that is then burned in the fire. Despite their worries, they each have a lot to be grateful for and the ceremony helps them see that. Then Alison and Janice reveal that the weekend will be filled with each woman getting to make one law that will last for an hour. And of course, there is a baby pink cowgirl hat with a silver star badge on the front to denote the current law maker. There will be no competition and the “beloved big-boobed bimbo babe” will remain with its current owners. What transpires is multiple rounds of Truth or Dare, jumps into the lake, overfilled hot tubs, crazy antics and bossy older sister rights.
Unfortunately, the women quickly learn that Lisa knows where they are and it is suspected that she has broken the restraining order. All of the women band together to help protect Alison, especially detective Laura. She feels fiercely protective of the group of women, and holds herself personally responsible for making sure they are all safe. Laura is desperate to pin charges on Lisa to make it all stop so that Alison no longer has to be afraid. When some of Kate’s stuff is damaged or goes missing, Lisa’s stalking cuts very close to home and encroaches on their weekend.
“Everything felt tainted to me … as though someone had spit on what was precious to us. I wanted to rewind the clock to yesterday in the cop shop parking lot. I wanted to start over, to do whatever necessary to keep what was ours untouched. I wanted Alison back. I wanted Janice back. I wanted to hold onto Claudia, tight. I wanted someone to stand up laughing and scream, “Got you, you b-words! We were only kidding!” I wanted it to be just another stupid game we made up, but it wasn’t.”
In working together to protect one of their own, the women realize how strong they are and how dependent they have become on their group as a whole. They vow to remain family, sisters in every way, and to keep each couple together no matter what. Through the actions of an outsider trying to mess with one of the sisters, the bond between the women is further strengthened in every possible way.
Sisters is a fabulous story about the relationships between each of the five couples as well as their bond as a group. Over time each couple has grown and changed, becoming stronger thanks to the relationships they have forged. There is a level of trust and love amongst the women that is evident through every story, most especially this one. I enjoy these characters so much, and know each time I pick up a new book that it will provide an adventure as well as a touching story about strong women. I enjoy following each of the couples but my personal favorites are Kate and Claudia as well as Laura and Holly. The love is so evident every time each couple is together and the friendship between the four of them is amazing to watch.
These adventures are always filled with a wealth of humor, one of the many reasons why I enjoy them so much. I had to be careful not to laugh out loud on the train when reading about the “Crappie Cabin” and the “Celestial Symbiotic Slumber Chamber” lest I get strange looks from the other passengers. I always giggle at the use of “f-er” and “b-word” amongst the friends, each of which is either a “littermate” or a “crybaby”. And amongst the humor there are important life lessons such as, “when a naked woman is flying overhead preparing to cannonball, do not, under any circumstances, look up.” Who can possibly argue with that?
I highly recommend this entire series for readers who enjoy adventure stories with wonderfully engaging characters. This story can be read on its own, but to fully enjoy and understand all the subtle references I encourage reading the stories in order. Scavengers, Ledge Walkers, Savages and Loose Sleuths are the first four books in the series and each is just as enjoyable as Sisters. What more can I possibly say about this series? Each addition is as good as the previous and is always an adventure. These characters have gone through so much and I hope Wraight continues the series for a while to come!(less)
Jonah Sellers is stuck inside his house, a prisoner thanks to a broken leg. To add insult to injury, Jonah was hurt tripping over his ex-boyfriend's s...moreJonah Sellers is stuck inside his house, a prisoner thanks to a broken leg. To add insult to injury, Jonah was hurt tripping over his ex-boyfriend's stuff while the man moved out of their apartment. Due to his serious lack of mobility, Jonah’s sister Stephanie has been stopping by frequently to bring him groceries and check in on him. When his sister goes on vacation with her family, she hires a nurse to look in on Jonah while she’s away. The last person Jonah expected is Liam Brooks, who is young and gorgeous and peaks Jonah's interest immediately.
Jonah’s sentence of being trapped in his house gets quite a bit more exciting when he sees a man, a very attractive man, undressing in the window of the apartment across from his. But just as quickly as the man appears, he disappears. When the man appears in the window again, in exactly the same clothes and a mirror of his previous movements, Jonah knows something odd is going on. With ghost enthusiast Liam’s help, they start to investigate the man in the window, which leads them to a fifty-year old unsolved disappearance.
Windows in Time is a phenomenal book and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down for even a minute. I was completely engrossed in the lives of the characters from the very first page and was constantly wondering what would happen next. The writing is smooth and easy to read, and I practically flew through the book. There is romance and mystery mixed together and the story is emotional and gripping from beginning to end.
As the title suggests, the story is based on windows in time, and it is based on two sets of characters separated by fifty years. Their stories of meeting and falling in love are interwoven together, with constant parallels between the couples and chapters alternating between 2007 and 1957. 2007 is the story of Jonah and Liam, while 1957 focuses on newspaper reporter Buck Addison in a time when being gay was decidedly not openly discussed. As a social reporter, Buck spent a lot of time with Hollywood stars, a group where a preference for the same-sex was more common and accepted.
When Buck sees a woman in a red dress he is slightly shocked at the intense attraction he feels for her, until he finds out that Minna is actually Oliver Caldwell. Buck’s attraction only intensifies and the two quickly become inseparable, although they have to be careful not to raise the suspicions of others who might deduce that Minna and Oliver are the same person. The two men are deeply in love until they disappear suddenly, and no one since has been able to solve the mystery of what happen to Buck, Oliver, or Minna. My favorite lines in the book are written by Buck as he reflects on his relationship with Oliver.
”Maybe, fifty years in the future, someone will care more about the fact that we were in love than the face that we are both men. Maybe someone will care that Oliver is a clever, intelligent, caring man and not that he likes to wear dresses on occasion.”
This story is very much inspired by Hitchcock's Rear Window, and reading it actually made me a bit anxious to watch the movie again. I first discovered Aedin through her short stories, and when I heard she was releasing a novel I was anxious to read it, hoping that the exceptional quality of the shorts would translate into a longer tale. In no way was I disappointed, and I’m happy to say that this stands up to, and even bypasses, the high quality of the shorter stories. I very highly recommend this story for anyone who enjoys romantic stories filled with well-developed characters and a beautifully engaging story. I am definitely looking forward to more from Aedin!(less)
Janet is a psychologist helping women with mood disorders to battle their issues. She also has a side job writing erotic stories to make a little extra cash and provide an outlet for her otherwise unfulfilling sex life. She has noticed a change in her recent stories that coincides with a personal discovery. Her stories are focusing more and more on lesbian characters, and Janet can't help but wonder if these characters are a reflection of her true self. While at a conference, Janet is rooming with a complete stranger who sends Janet's emotions and desires running wild.
This is a quick and enjoyable story about a woman beginning to explore new desires and needs. The character of Janet is well drawn and, as the story is from her point of view, she is understandably more developed than Chaz. Their interactions cause sparks to fly from the very beginning and you just know it will culminate in a very satisfying ending once they give in to their mutual attraction.
The story is well written and it flows smoothly. There are some points where the story veers off course slightly or provides more details than are really needed, but in general it stays on course and drives to the climax. There are many details about New York that readers familiar with the city will likely appreciate and recognize. This is a sweet story of discovery and exploration with a smidgen of spice mixed in to satisfy readers. This was an introduction to a new author for me and I will definitely be looking to read more stories from Crystal.(less)
Dominic Abernathy is the host of cooking show Midnight Gourmet with the gimmick that he is a witch, mixing magic and cooking together for the show. The real trick is that Dominic actually is a witch, and uses magic in his everyday life as well as during the taping of the show. Along with his familiar, stuffed tiger Blaise, Dominic has created a successful show. When the man playing the "witch hunter" on the upcoming show backs out due to illness, Dominic's agent hires cookbook author Carter Brooks to replace him. The only problem is that wherever Carter goes, witches end up dying and the last thing Dominic wants to do is invite a possible witch hunter into his home. When they are attacked at a book signing by the actual witch hunter, Dominic can't deny being drawn to Carter, the last thing he ever imagined would happen.
This story is based on quite an interesting mix of witchcraft and cooking. Not often are these combined and it was a premise that I enjoyed. The writing is clean and economical, with the dialogue between characters fast-paced and quick witted. At times there was a bit too much internal responding to what another character says or asks, which got a bit frustrating as I would have preferred to see the character actively speaking or responding. The story overall is a quick and easy read, though it was a bit jarring for me in the very beginning as we're dropped so quickly into the story. It almost felt like starting to watch a show already in progress, or that I should have known these characters from a previous story.
This is a story based around cooking and so it's not surprising that there are some recipes including throughout the story. The recipes are very tongue-in-cheek with a lot of humor and snarky comments in the directions, but what really puzzled me was their placement. Although they relate to what is going on in the text when they are included, they seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere. At one point you're reading the story and next you're thrown into a recipe. Though the recipes came at the end of chapters, it felt a bit jarring to me to suddenly be reading a recipe, especially when the recipes were sometimes written from another character's perspective than the one that was active just prior in the story. The recipes add an element of humor, which I definitely enjoyed, but for me they were more distracting than they were worth.
Of the secondary characters, Simon is presented as a bit crazy and way too obsessed with his work, rightfully so. He truly believes in his family's destiny and sees the elimination of witches as justified. Dominic's brother Justin is intriguing but his role in the story is a bit weak. He's there to challenge Dominic, especially when it comes to choosing a partner, but we don't know much about his abilities or background. There are details about Justin meeting a man at a crime scene, and the time they spend together, but since this has no bearing on the story it felt out of place. Justin's presence in the story felt like it was laying the groundwork for another story to focus on his character. I enjoyed his character enough that I wish he had played a more central role.
Absolutely my favorite part of the entire story is Blaise, Dominic's familiar. Of course Dominic created his familiar when he was eight, so Blaise is in the form of a treasured stuffed tiger. Yes, my mind immediately thought of Calvin & Hobbes as well, though Blaise is much more proper with an slight English accent and strict attention to manners and instead of getting into trouble all the time is usually looking out for Dominic, despite how much it might annoy him. Blaise's dialog is witty and humorous while at the same time his genuine care for Dominic always comes through. I easily could have read an entire book based only on the interactions between Dominic and Blaise.
Overall this is a fun and quick story, well worth the read for the fabulous Blaise. If you enjoy stories with magical elements, you should pick up this story.(less)
Engineer Smith has a real connection to computers, especially the Artificial Intelligence system Larn who Smith talks to on a regular basis. Larn has been learning to be more "human" thanks to the interactions with Smith, while Smith struggles with a multitude of worries and the state of the relationship with lover Nell. The answers Smith seeks will be found thanks to the help and insight of Larn, but it is up to Smith to embrace and apply the information.
Engineer Smith is an intriguing short story set in a futuristic setting where computers can be programmed to learn and adapt to be quite human. The story is well written and provides necessary details while remaining vague about many points. It's a story that most definitely needs to be read more than once to pick up on the subtle nuances, and to better understand the character of Smith. With each reading, more is pulled out of the tale and the economical style of writing falls in line with the underlying theme of the story.
The central aspect of this story is Smith, an androgynous being who is clearly transgender, though the gender of the character is never revealed. The story remains vague on this point throughout, and considering the internal struggle that Smith is wrestling with this is understandable. The effect it has is to leave the reader guessing, but it also provides a particular insight into what Smith deals with on a daily basis.
Though a computer program, Larn is a critical character within the story and the dialogue and insight presented from it, or him if you accept the anthropomorphistic possibilities, never lets the reader forget that Smith is interacting with a computer program. At the same time, it's hard not to be fascinated by how Larn breaks down Smith's issues to clear pieces in a way that is both human and inhuman.
This is a quick story but one that is quite interesting. It doesn't focus directly on Smith struggling with gender identity, but the uncertainty with a relationship and worries over life in general are undoubtedly connected to that theme. This is a unique examination of a transgender individual's quest to be happy with life, and how a computer program can help a human learn to be human. (less)