Emily Moore's Reviews > Stalemates

Stalemates by Rosalyn Wraight
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's review
Aug 18, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads, ebook, lesbian, tdb-reviews

4.5 stars


The eleventh in this wonderful series of the Lesbian Adventure Club takes the women in an unexpected direction, complete with maps included! As always, they never know quite what to expect when it’s an LAC weekend, but it’s always a wildly fun ride and a chance for the women to reconnect both with their respective partners and with each other as a group. The basics of the LAC are pretty simple. Five couples get together once a month with a rotating schedule of one couple hosting and in charge of the plans for the weekend. The others are subjected to whatever madness their hosts can concoct, leading to an adventurous weekend filled with friends and fun.

As is always the case when Ginny and Kris are in charge of the weekend festivities, there is a very literary tie to this gathering of the Lesbian Adventure Club, but it takes a bit of time before that becomes apparent to the participants. The women find themselves in the middle of downtown Granton early on a Saturday morning, completely unsure of what to expect from their hosts. With a bit of help, it is finally revealed that their town has been turned into the equivalent of a chessboard and the rules of the game most definitely apply. Their goal is to become queens in the final square, and to get there they have Alice as a guide. But not the Alice you might expect. In this case, it is Lewis Carroll’s Alice of Through the Looking-Glass infamy. Of course, what that means for our favorite ladies is that much of their day will be nonsensical in the best possible way. “’No. The joy of it is the nonsense. If you make sense of nonsense, it isn’t nonsense anymore, is it?’”

Stalemates is another excellent addition to a series that has become a personal favorite. I always look forward to the next installment and never know what to expect, but I always know that there will be quite a bit of humor involved as well as consistently strong writing. Thanks to the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, hopefully most readers will be familiar with the basics of Through the Looking-Glass. It’s most definitely not necessary to have read the original tale, but the more you know about that story, the greater your enjoyment will be. Familiarity with the original story will increase your ability to pick out the little details that Wraight so adeptly incorporates into her story. There were many times throughout Stalemates that I found myself chuckling at the parallels between the tales, and I wanted to pick up a copy of Carroll’s book and read the two side by side. One of my favorite parts involves the appearance of a particular writer, something that fans of Carroll will not be shocked by in the slightest.

The Writer White Knight shrugged. “Maybe it’s just the difference between a quest and an adventure,” she said. “It sounds as though they’ve sent you on quests in the past, challenges that have more to do with you as people. They push you to grow. Maybe this one is simply an adventure, nothing more than a journey from one place to another. Or in this case, one end of a chessboard to the other.”

Wraight’s books always feature the emotional bond that exists between the women in each couple, how strong their love is, and that is most definitely present in this story as well. One of the most moving parts of this story for me is the reaction the women have to being out and about downtown, an area where they can’t openly be themselves. Such a large part of the LAC weekends involves quality time with partners, with open displays of affection, and in the city environment that is stifled. It’s something that the characters run up against, and is something that many readers will identify with from situations within their own lives. The realism within these scenes is palpable, and the reaction of the women when they have a stop at a gay bar is touching.

The very instant we noticed two guys dancing and two women embracing by a pool table, partner grabbed partner. A whole lot of kissing and holding ensued as we replenished what our bigoted world had depleted. For the moment, we could be ourselves fully and not give a damn what other people thought.

I’m a huge fan of this series, and have enjoyed every installment, reading some more than once. My only concern with this latest addition is that readers are dropped into the story without much lead in. For readers that are familiar with the structure of the series and the characters this is not a problem at all, but for those who are new to the series, it could make the beginning quite confusing. For that reason, I don’t recommend starting with this book as an introduction to the series. From the standpoint of being nonsensical and aligning with the literature that inspires the tale, it is quite appropriate, yet it could be confusing and even off-putting to newcomers.

As this story is a part of a longer series that is immensely enjoyable to read, it’s easy to overcome this obstacle by starting with some of the earlier stories. These include, in order and linked to the reviews, Scavengers, Ledge Walkers, Savages, Loose Sleuths, Sisters, Leakers Ignited, Scraps, L-Word C-Word, Spiders, and Likely Suspects. All of them are wonderful stories, and the character development throughout the series is quite elaborate. For our narrator Kate, in particular, there have been many ups and downs, and following along with her journey is an absolute pleasure. I highly recommend this series for fans of fiction featuring exceptional lesbian characters that are lovers and friends.

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