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Black Iris

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  3,152 Ratings  ·  865 Reviews
The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking arou
Paperback, 371 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Atria
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Emily May
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Two girls, cherry-mouthed, glitter-lashed, our skin luminous with moonlight and sweat, making out beneath pennants that still shivered with the afternoon’s boy bravado.
If only you bastards could see me now.

You want to know the bad thing about this book? I must have spent hours trying to single out the quotes I wanted to use from all this BLOODY PERFECT writing. It's like Leah Raeder thinks about every single word - simultaneously telling a story AND writing poetry. It's after books like this t

Gather the above words close to your heart and hold them tightly, for this is not a story about redemption or growth. This is not about forgiveness.

Only vengeance.

This book is dark, guttural. It speaks to that side of yourself you keep hidden from the rest of the world. That reptilian part of your brain that never evolved past fuck, kill, conquer. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Take away our modern conveniences and we’re nothing but savages slaughtering each other in the primordial swamp.

Mom used to say that if you listen, people will tell you exactly how to hurt them. Because part of us wants to be hurt. We want to know how strong we really are.

Well, well… finally. I have finally read an enjoyable lesbian romance story. I was on the verge of admitting it to myself that perhaps it just isn’t for me. Thank you, Leah Raeder, for convincing me of the contrary. Thank you.

I can’t even describe you how complex and crazily dark, suspenseful the story is. There’s so much in this: so m
Nov 18, 2013 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Update: April 28, 2015

It's live! And I wrote a kinda personal blog post about it: Happy book birthday, Black Iris.

I'm feeling all sorts of weird things right now, but the main one is: gratitude. Thanks for letting me publish a dark, fucked up, queer-ass book, Atria. And thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed it.

It only gets gayer from here, kids. <3

I'm giving away a bunch of signed copies and other goodies on social media. Follow me for a chance to snag something purple and pretty:

5 stars. Full review posted February 8, 2015

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My first five-star rating of the year goes to Leah Raeder's Black Iris writing. That should tell you something. If you don't know yet what I mean, then I'm going to elaborate later. Just let me get down to business stat.

When I look at all those wannabe authors and how much crap has been published in Romancelandia, then it goes without saying that genuine and gifted authors like Leah Raeder…

Write in a league of their own


Soothe my bruised reader'
Steph Sinclair
Love is not a thing we create. It's an undoing.

Black Iris is the story of Bonnie and Bonnie on Bitch Better Have My Money quest with a Bad Blood mentality. It's not a Redemption, Coming of Age or Happily Ever After story. So if you are looking for those elements, look elsewhere. It's more of a Bitches Get Shit Done tale with a pinch of romance. Let me make this clear, Black Iris has a bunch of fucked up characters that you're not always going to like, if ever. But that's cool, because they d
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Welp, I had high hopes for this one . . . but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Commercial Photography

No shit, right? I’ll be the first to admit New Adult is not generally my bag, but I seriously dug Unteachable so I thought if anyone was going to be more than a one-hit-wonder for me in that genre it would be Leah Raeder.

Is this a love story or a hate story? Is it about me, or your bloody revenge?

Yeah, is it?

This is the part where I lose some friends .
Lady Vigilante (Feifei)
Ever since I finished this book I’ve been thinking about it non-stop and how to convey all these weird feelings I have in a cohesive review but because I’m on a time crunch that won’t be happening. This will be short and unadulterated.


I want to say 95% of books I read it’s easy for me to tell where I’ll fall in the like/dislike/love zone. Then 4% where I get mixed feelings but in the end I’ll let my heart take over. Then that super rare 1% where both
Elise (TheBookishActress)
"Why did you marry [Mom]?" I asked suddenly.
"I loved her fire," he said from far away. "I didn't know I would burn."

It has been a month since I read this book and I still have no freaking clue what to say about it. There is something very deeply twisted about this book, and Elliot Wake owns it.

Black Iris follows Laney, a revenge-focused college freshman, and her two newest friends, Blythe and Armin. All three of them are terrible people and all three of them know it and all three of them
Allison ❤️Will Never Conquer Her TBR❤️

Review posted April 22, 2015 (finally)

DNF at 58%

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It's been weeks months since I DNFed Black Iris, however, I held off writing/posting my review until closer to release date. Some of the issues I had with the book have faded in my 40-something year-old brain but one thing is still crystal clear- Leah Raeder is a talented writer. Beautifully poetic. I fell in love with Unteachable and could not wait to tap into this (thus why I read it in February- 2 months BEFORE release). So what fell short, if
Chelsea ❤Peril Please❤
**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

I am not the heroine of this story. we go. If anyone follows my reviews, even a little, they know I hardly ever rate below a three. Hell, I hardly rate a three. Even less frequently do I rate a book a one-I mean, like, the last two years. So, to say I am shocked at my visceral reaction to this story is an understatement. I expected, at worst, maybe some indifference.

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Maybe a little bit of dislike. But I nev
Feb 27, 2015 marked it as zzz_dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
DNF @ 31 %
"Trying to find yourself by losing yourself completely."

Black Iris is a book that I wanted to love, Leah Reader is a beautiful writer, her words are chosen carefully, smart and witty. But after much thought, I found that this book was not for me. I am probably the minority here, and I'm okay with that, and suggest you all give it a try.

From the very first pages I knew this was going to be a heavy hitting book, with strong subject material, which I am all for. But what threw me off
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
First 5 Stars of 2018

“I never wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to follow me down into the darkness.”

I’ve been trying to write this review for a month. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened this word-document only to delete some half-assed paragraph fifteen minutes later. I literally don’t know how to review this book. (I did my best. I’m sorry)

Raeder’s lyrical prose pulls you in immediately, establishing this hazy-intense fever-dream. The first chapter walks us through our main c
KL (Cat)

Scroll past if you don't want to read a decidedly ranty review with a healthy dose of profanity.

Ok, too late.


Like what? The actual? Fuck? Are you serious?

1) Somehow the abuse of drugs is seen as ok?????? Is this some pseudo-liberal artsy text campaigning for the freedom to sell drugs or something?
a. Laney gets rejected at school; big fucking boo hoo. You know what? Being rejected is actually okay! People don't owe you anything, leas
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

1 Star

I didn't like this book at all. I was so excited to get an early copy of this book because I saw everyone raving about it on Goodreads. I just knew that this would be a book that I would fall in love with based on all the 5 star reviews that I saw. I am not sure that I read the same book that everyone else read. I disliked everything about this book. I almost stop reading many times but I kept waiting for that magical moment where I wou
February 27th, 2018:
Okay, so this is still one of my favorite books of all time, but I never gave it a proper review because it just felt too personal. But if you guys are interested in my thoughts, my dear friend Silvia is doing an amazing feature on her blog called #QueerLitStories, and I wrote up a guest post, where I talked all about this book and what it meant to me: Black Iris and pansexuality 💖💛💙

May 21st, 2015:
I have no words, only a lot of feels that I'm not sure what to do with. Oh, and
Oct 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-reads
I just can't!
This is a black hole of a book... It leads nowhere! Leah tries to cover up a slack story line and a jumpy timeline with over describing any and everything.

I get she was aiming for dark and different but I think she missed the mark. Unteachable was one of my favorite books last year and I was hoping Black Iris would be the same. Sadly that's not the case.
Aly's Bookish Wonderland
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Check out the full review HERE!

Girls get under each other’s skin. We get too close, too attached, too crazy, and then we can’t let go. Our claws sink too deep. When we separate, we tear each other apart.

Black Iris is not your typical New Adult book. It’s not about romance, or finding your true love or freeing yourself from the past. It’s about cold, hard vengeance. Forget your overused, overworked Mary Sue heroines. Forget your template love story. Forget everything you thought you knew about
Natalie Monroe
"We're all Kafka's rider, trying to get away from ourselves.

Maybe I'm a little bitter.

And maybe this isn't your typical college romance novel."

Leah Raeder is like the dark horse of the NA genre.

She always brings something fresh to the table. Something that doesn't usually work, but does. Unsympathetic heroine, check. Unconventional character arc, check. Twisted ass love triangle, check. Zero morals, check. Lyrical bordering purple prose, check.

"I was staring at that rose-lipped mouth, then
Faye, la Patata

Good god. If ever the day comes when I need a book about my life published, I will beg Leah Raeder to write it because I bet she can write from my perspective, own it, bring out emotions I didn't think were there before, and maybe even write sides of me I never even knew.

And here I thought Unteachable was Leah Raeder's masterpiece. Black Iris proved me wrong as this book made me feel as if I were the main character herself - the way it was written was just so sublime and so honest and raw and d
Sue (Hollywood News Source)

Black Iris is not only provocative and alluring, but it also explores sexuality, the sexy side of f/f romance which every genre lack and the gritty, reality about mental illness, queerphobia and drugs.

I have zero intent on writing this mini review since everything has been said and done about Black Iris, but I want to properly do it nonetheless to show my appreciation for this book.

Plenty of things struck me the most about Black Iris, one of those is, it is beautifully written. I love the prete
Initial reaction: I'm still trying to decide how to do the review for this book. Should I do a standard discussion review to kind of vet out all of my feels on this book, or should I do "Black Iris: The Musical" - which would be all in verse? (ROGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN HAVE NOTHING ON YOU - you may say, but I don't have that kind of confidence. >.<;;;) Maybe I might do both? I honestly have no idea yet.

In any case, "Black Iris" was a read I really liked and appreciated for the journey collect
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don’t think I can adequately begin to express just how important of a book Black Iris is. I attend an extremely liberal, accepting college but, even then, this novel made me feel less alone and more comfortable in my own skin—and that’s no small feat.

Black Iris is a revenge story, one that I often found difficult to read, but Raeder’s prose is pure magic and it is impossible to stay away from this book for long. While Unteachable was a clear-cut forbidden romance, filled with emotion and roma
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Glass by: *P*u*r*p*l*e* Masochist

How I looked while reading Black Iris?


And then...


And after that big reveal?


After the last page?


Leah Raeder has an obvious genius streak. Still, I’m sorry to say I couldn’t get my head around this book. It was too dark and too raw to work with the author’s beautiful lyrical writing – it was like a Quentin Tarantino scenario written in Shakespearian English – and too pretentious but shallow to make me feel anything more than some kind of mock amusement toward the druggies cast as characters. They were so self-centered they couldn’t see anything beyond themselves; they oozed arrogance and co ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it did not like it

Oh. My. F**ing. God.
I can't. I just can not.
I am on the tour for this book and my stop is tomorrow, and I was really forcing myself to get through this because, you know, so many people seemed to have loved it, the publisher raved about it, I was told it was some sort of new groundbreaking, life-changing, orgasmic reading experience, but all I got out of this is a freaking reading slump and a groundbreaking, life-changing, non-orgasmic headache.

This book is just too pitch-black and messed up f
Feb 19, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist


Is Blythe the bitchy one? Please tell me Blythe is the bitchy one.
Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮
I'm bumping this up to five stars because I loved it even more the second time around.

I found something that resonated with me in nearly every chapter. This book makes my heart hurt, and burst with joy at the same time. And because this...

"If I was gay, I wouldn't need an asterisk beside my name...... I wouldn't have to explain that I fall in love with minds, not genders or body parts. People wouldn't say I'm 'just a slut' or 'faking it' or 'undecided' or 'confused.' I'm not confused. I don't
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
This was fucking FANTASTIC. I am officially obsessed with Leah Raeder. I love her writing style and how dark the stories really get and how every one of her books has a small connection to her others. UGH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH
Vane J.
I am not the heroine of this story.
And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes. I’m completely dysfunctional and that’s the way I like it, so don’t expect a character arc where I finally find Redemption, Growth, and Change, or learn How to Forgive Myself and Others.
Fuck forgiveness.

Hands down. This is probably the best book I've read in 2015 and
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ELLIOT WAKE (formerly known as Leah Raeder) is a transgender author of four novels: Unteachable, Black Iris, Cam Girl, and Bad Boy. Aside from reading his brains out, Elliot enjoys video games, weightlifting, and perfecting his dapper style. He lives with his partner in Chicago.
More about Elliot Wake

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“Girls love each other like animals. There is something ferocious and unself-conscious about it. We don't guard ourselves like we do with boys. No one trains us to shield our hearts from each other. With girls, it's total vulnerability from the beginning. Our skin is bare and soft. We love with claws and teeth and the blood is just proof of how much. It's feral.

And it's relentless.”
“If I was gay, I wouldn't need an asterisk beside my name. I could stop worrying if the girl I like will bounce when she finds out I also like dick. I could have a coming-out party without people thinking I just want attention. I wouldn't have to explain that I fall in love with minds, not genders or body parts. People wouldn't say I'm 'just a slut' or 'faking it' or 'undecided' or 'confused.' I'm not confused. I don't categorize people by who I'm allowed to like and who I'm allowed to love. Love doesn't fit into boxes like that. It's blurry, slippery, quantum. It's only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible.” 102 likes
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