fiction

Secret Heart

Image result for secret heart danielle dreger

Secret Heart, Danielle Dreger’s debut novel, strums the angsty heartstrings of its leading ladies: Avery and Madison. On first glance, the two girls could not be more different. Avery is openly queer, a badass rocker, an only child, and far from a star student. Madison is a poster child for perfection: stellar grades, student council President, soccer star, and all-around super nice person. Not that Avery isn’t nice ūüėČ Casual acquaintances for most of their high school lives, their lives intertwine on the inaugural meeting of their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (Lion Pride).

Senior year can be a crazy time and it’s easy to lose sight of which way points up. The instant chemistry and intense desire surprises both girls. Avery and Madison both face heavy expectations (from bandmates, parents, friends, Lion Pride). They struggle to find a personal balance for their lives after high school and if their burgeoning romance (plus the secrecy that Madison wants) is worth the stress. As I read, I marveled at the elasticity of their hearts. Was the trust worthily bestowed? How much of themselves, of their core being, would they be willing to sacrifice in order to appease others? 

Had I never met the most unreal-ly nice person before reading this book, I would have scoffed at a character so kind-hearted, successful, and popular. Madison’s life, however, is far from perfect and she plays her cards close to her chest. My inner cynic was pacified by the complexity embodied by both leads. They challenge stereotypes (Avery’s affinity for Taylor Swift and marathoning Zac Efron films with her best friend, Scott, for example) and some other surprises. By the end of the story, I was more satisfied with the characters’ personal growth than with their romance.

Secret Heart is a fun, angsty roller coaster of love and self-discovery.

“Avery’s Playlist” (condensed)

Dreger curated the perfect playlist for this book. The song selections in themselves reflect the storyline and emotional roller coaster of teenage romance. It makes me want to record a mix tape from vignettes of my own life. For a full set list, turn to pp. 247-248 of Secret Heart.

Secret Heart

Author: Danielle Dreger

Publisher: DDB Press

Released: October 2016
ISBN (print) 978-0-9977659-1-5                                      

ISBN (ebook) 978-0-9977659-0-8

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Don’t forget to check your local library for availability! A part of the proceeds from every book sold goes to support the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

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Categories: fiction, friendship, lgbt, librarians, romance, young adult | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe Passage – audiobook review

Safe Passage [Audiobook]

 

Jules Delacroix, a former Olympic rower, now math teacher & rowing coach at an all-girls high school, inherits her great-aunt’s New Orleans home in the Garden District. She also inherits a safe full of her great-aunt’s secrets. Encoded letters, with what Jules at first mistakes for French, give her an excuse to enlist the translation services of the sexy French teacher, Gen. Once they figure out that the letters are layered in ciphers (drawing out Jules love of and skill at numeric codes) and then in French (not that Gen needs an excuse to stay on with the project; it’s tr√®s intriguing and damn, that Jules is one tantalizing package!). The safe also contains other clues, such as a sketch of a beautiful black woman, a journal, and an antique pistol. Together, the two women develop fantastic chemistry as they delve deeper into the secrets.

Jules receives emotional grounding from her friends Beth and Becs. The rapport between the friends flows naturally throughout the story, infusing the day-to-day, mystery, and romance with love and humor. One of my favorite moments comes when Jules refers to her friend Beth¬†as a “Wal-Mart sports bra of support”. Jules’¬†friend Becs, a New Orleans police officer, calls her¬†“the world’s most useless butch” in college, though Jules is an amazing cook.

E.V. Grove delivers an engaging, enjoyable performance. While I’m not an expert in the differences between regional Southern dialects, Grove’s voice places me among trellises, creeping vines, and humidity.¬†Aside from being a bit quick at the beginning of the story, Grove provides great characterization and tone. Each woman springs to life, radiating charm, uncertainty, teasing, straight-forward, and eagerness.

There are also many instances in which there is not enough space in narration to denote change between sections. However, I think that is likely the result of editing. Overall, the production quality is good, pulling you into the listening experience, rather than popping you out.¬†By the end of the two hours and twenty minutes, Owen’s storytelling and Grove’s narration left me wanting more.

Safe Passage
Kate Owen
Narrated by E.V. Grove
Published by Less Than Three Press and Produced through Audible
Length: 2 hours, 19 minutes
ASIN: B00SLW82PY
Released: January 2015

Available as an audiobook¬†from Less Than Three Press, Amazon,¬†Audible, and¬†iTunes. It is also available as Spanish and French language ebooks! I think that’s a sign to brush up on my French ūüėÄ

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Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Year of Needy Girls

Image result for the year of needy girls

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith is an uncomfortable and compelling look at residents of a small New England town. When ten year-old Leo Rivera is abducted by his neighbor, Mickey Gilberto, from his front yard in the East-side of town and later discovered dead, the people of Brandywine, Massachusetts become frenzied with fear, sorrow, and anger. Soon after his discovery, Dierdre, a French teacher at Brandywine Academy, located on the West-end of town, a private all-girls school, is accused of molesting one of her students. 

The townsfolk, already divided as the East-end and West-end, struggles to process the heinous crime and reconcile it with their differences. A snowball effect sweeps up everyone in its path as tensions rise during the investigations. Most residents of the West-end are affluent caucasians. Their children attend prestigious private schools, such as Brandywine Academy and rarely visit the East-end of town, even if they have a chaperone present. The residents of the East-end are more diverse. Many folks come from primarily working class backgrounds, speak a language other than English in the home, and have family members who immigrated to the United States within a generation or two.

The charges brought against the teacher add pressure to Dierdre’s and¬†Sara Jane’s (SJ) five-year relationship. As the accusations fly, the tenuous threads binding the two women together stretch taut. The fall-out forces both women to confront long-held grievances and desires in their relationship. They also become subject to an attack reminiscent of Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign; a challenge they both handle in different ways.

The novel is divided between the perspectives of Dierdre; SJ, a librarian at Brandywine’s East-end branch with¬†a connection to Mickey Gilberto; interludes that focus on the female students of Brandywine Academy; and letters to the editor of the town newspaper. There are marginalized community voices¬†that also surface intermittently.¬†Despite the victim’s home in a Brazilian East-end neighborhood, however, readers are confined to the lens’ of the “needy girls”. “Needy girls”, how Dierdre frequently refers to her students, is applicable to the adults, as well.

The novel deals in perceptions, muddled motives, and doubt. ¬†There are plenty of uncomfortable moments when readers dance up to the edge with Dierdre as she makes observations about students’ lives beyond the classroom and as she examines her own role in the drama. Despite discomfort expressed by characters at the teacher’s devotion to her students’ lives, both in and out of the classroom, Smith does not make it easy for readers to define Dierdre. Smith also brings into play comparisons between the teacher and Mickey Gilberto. On the other side, SJ is isolated in their relationship. Her struggle to find satisfaction and need in her work, to find a place where she isn’t second or third, drives her narrative. However, her part in this tale is not as cut and dry, either.

The Year of Needy Girls¬†revels in ambiguity. At every turn I felt compelled to question my own assumptions, as I judged the protagonists and secondary cast. I’m still mulling over motives and ethical questions raised in the story. Readers who enjoy moral dilemmas and the drama of small town New England life, filled with wonderful detail and told at a snowballing pace, will relish Smith’s debut novel.¬†

***Also, does anyone else think that the woman on the cover looks like Krysten Ritter à la Jessica Jones?***

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith
Published by Akashic Books
Released: January 2017

ISBN-10: 1617754870
ISBN-13: 978-1617754876

Available from Akashic Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local public library for availability.

Join the discussion on Goodreads! Bonus discussion guide available on Akashic Books’ website.

Categories: fiction, lgbt, literary fiction | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Yeeeeeeehaw! Historical Westerns

Now that I’m finally watching HBO’s Westworld, it’s all I can think about. What does it mean to be sentient? It brings up a ton of great questions, none of which are the focus of this post. It did pique my interest, though, in creating a list of historical westerns. Which of these novels belong in the pantheon of western “classics”? Click on any of the links (including the book covers) to learn more about each book.

The queer women in these books are passionate, tenacious, and stalwart. They face mile high odds to love and live the way they want and need to. These badass women are most definitely doing it for themselves and for each other.

Some of books featured below are ones that I’ve read, some are in my closet and await a spare moment, and some I’ve only just discovered while building this list.¬†How many historical fiction novels starring queer women can we round up? If you’d like to help me add to this list in-progress, please share your books in the comments below. Thank you!

montana-feathers

Montana Feathers by Penny Hayes
Publisher: Naiad Press¬†(you’ll be redirected to Bella Books)
Publication date: 1990

High adventure in the old west…romantic and satisfying. An authentic portrait of women finding and loving each other in America’s frontier days. (Goodreads)

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backwards-to-oregon

Backwards to Oregon (The Oregon series) by Jae
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication date: 2013

“Luke” Hamilton has always been sure that she’d never marry. She accepted that she would spend her life alone when she chose to live her life disguised as a man.
After working in a brothel for three years, Nora Macauley has lost all illusions about love. She no longer hopes for a man who will sweep her off her feet and take her away to begin a new, respectable life.
But now they find themselves married and on the way to Oregon in a covered wagon, with two thousand miles ahead of them. (Goodreads)

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the-long-trail

The Long Trail by Penny Hayes
Publisher: Naiad Press¬†(you’ll be redirected to Bella Books)
Publication date: 1986

A lesbian western: Authentic, rip-roaring, fast-moving, and a very sexy adventure. (Goodreads)

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warrior-healer-thief

The Warrior, the Healer, and the Thief
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication date: 2016

All three [characters] prefer to walk alone, but if they’re going to survive legendary beasts and powerful magic of the unforgiving west, they’ll have to learn that sometimes there’s strength in numbers. (Goodreads)

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bittersweet

Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (1999 reprint, as shown on cover featured)
Publication date: 1984

A heart-wrenching, yet tender tale of two women whose boundless devotion to each other is continually challenged in nineteenth century America. (Goodreads)

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distant-thunder

Distant Thunder by Peggy J. Herring
Publisher: Bella Books
Publication date: 2003

When she was very young, Leona Trask’s mother died, leaving her with the task of raising her four younger brothers. Leo yearned to be free, to ride the vast empty spaces of the open West and escape the endless drudgery of running a farm. It was a hard life, and every night she tumbled into bed exhausted to dream of freedom.

Then Cordy rode into her life. A free spirit, a loner, who would take off without warning, Leo resented her for her freedom, yet at the same time Cordy awakened feelings in her–feelings she couldn’t explain or comprehend. As the endless poverty of farm life drew Leo’s father into the outlaw world of train robbing, Leo shouldered more of the responsibility of keeping her little family together–and she burned with resentment that Cordy was part of the gang–treated as equal to the men.

A kiss awakens Leo’s inner passion, and sends her on a journey to find Cordy; a journey that is also one of self-discovery. (Goodreads)

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tumbleweed

Tumbleweed Fever by LJ Maas
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises РYellow Rose Books
Publication date: 2000

In the Oklahoma Territory of the old west, Devlin Brown is trying to redeem herself for a past as an outlaw. Working as a rider on a cattle ranch, she meets Sarah Tolliver, a widow with two children and a successful ranch, but no way to protect it from the ruthless men who would rather see her fail. Sparks fly when the former outlaw teams up with the beautiful, yet headstrong, young Tolliver. (Goodreads)

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sweetwater

Sweetwater series by Mickey Minner
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises РYellow Rose Books
Publication date: 2006

The “respectable” world of an Eastern woman in the late 1800’s, marrying and caring for a family, holds no appeal for Jennifer Kensington. She seeks a life of adventure and challenge. When her request to work in the family business is refused by her father, she leaves for the West, where she is certain she will find a new life in a society where a woman’s options are not so restricted. Jesse Branson has built a good life for herself in Sweetwater, Montana. Skill in a poker game made her the owner of The Silver Slipper, a one time bordello, now a successful restaurant and rooming house. The profits from that business made it possible for her to achieve her biggest dream, to own her own ranch. Jesse is a respected member of the community, but someone is plotting to destroy all of her dreams as well as take her life. Jennifer and Jesse’s attraction for each other grows as intrigue swirls around them. Will their chance for happiness survive as the danger to Jesse unfolds? As they struggle to save Jesse’s life, they also try to save their future. (Goodreads)

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tahoma

Tahoma by Mary Broughton Boone
Publisher: Cape Winds Press
Publication date: 2000

In 1883 in the Washington Territory, Agnes Farwell still mourns the recent death of her father. William Tyrell, her new stepfather, seems intent on destroying the family farm, but when he hires Hope Lawson as governess to Agnes’ four younger siblings, Agnes is surprised at the feelings she has for the young woman. But even as Agnes finds strength to break free of William’s power, he shows he has one more deadly trick up his sleeve. (Goodreads)

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Last Train Home, The - eBook

The Last Train Home by Blayne Cooper
Publisher: Cavalier Press (later prints published through other presses)
Publication date: 2004

Blayne Cooper, the award-winning author of Cobb Island, Echoes from the Mist, and The Story of Me, and co-author of Madam President and First Lady, has once again presented readers with a well-spun tale. The Last Train Home, an endearing and often heart-wrenching story set in the late nineteenth century, will keep you on the edge of your seat. One cold winter’s night in Manhattan’s Lower East side, tragedy strikes the Chisholm family. Thrown together by fate and disaster, Virginia “Ginny” Chisholm meets Lindsay Killian, a street-smart drifter who spends her days picking pockets and riding the rails. Together, the young women embark on a desperate journey that spans from the slums of New York City to the Western Frontier, as Ginny tries to reunite her family, regardless of the cost. In this dramatic saga a solid friendship is forged, one strong enough to endure the trials of an impoverished existence in 1890s America and a quest from which neither woman will back down. It’s those same bonds that form the basis of a tender, and very unexpected, romance. (Goodreads)

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Josie and Rebecca: The Western Chronicles

Josie and Rebecca: The Western Chronicles by B L Miller, Vada Foster
Publisher: Intaglio Publications (reprinted this title in 2005)
Publication date: 2000

At the center of this story are two women; one a deadly gunslinger bitter from the injustices of her past, the other a gentle dreamer trying to escape the horrors of the present. Their destinies come together one fateful afternoon when the feared outlaw makes the choice to rescue a young woman in trouble. For her part, Josie Hunter considers the brief encounter at an end once the girl is safe, but Rebecca Cameron has other ideas… (Goodreads)

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The Grass Widow

The Grass Widow by Nanci Little
Publisher: Madwoman Press
Publication date: 1996

A moving novel of support, friendship and love, set in the tiny frontier community of Washburn Station, Kansas in the year 1876. (Goodreads)

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Categories: fiction, historical fiction, lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Resolutions for 2017

¬†Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

You Know Me Well – audiobook review

 

You Know Me Well

 

You Know Me Well, an entertaining collaboration from authors Nina LaCour and David Levithan, follows a pair of teenagers as they navigate turning points in their lives at the end of the school year. The story is told in alternating, intertwined narratives through the eyes of high school students Kate and Mark. Although they have sat next to each other in math class all year, the two¬†first really¬†see¬†each other at a bar during San Francisco’s Pride kick-off festivities. Despite being virtual strangers with a recognizable face, the emotional maelstrom of love and the unknown lead Kate and Mark to become instant friends.¬† It’s a jubilant story of new beginnings, dashed dreams, and evolving relationships. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this story as a great road trip or seaside companion.

If I didn’t already love David Levithan’s storytelling, I would have picked up this title for the sole¬†reason that Emma Galvin narrates Kate’s sections. Previously, I¬†enjoyed her turn as Tris from¬†Divergent, the dystopian YA trilogy by Veronica Roth. She has the type of voice well-suited for playing strong and conflicted young women. If she reads the dictionary next, I’ll be first in line to listen. As Kate, a high school senior standing on the brink of the planned and the unknown, Emma explores the rocky terrain of desire, anxiety, friendship, and more, through skillful narration. The supporting cast of friends, family, and acquaintances are also wonderfully realized by both narrators.

Matthew Brown characterizes Mark, a high school junior in love with his best friend/secret non-boyfriend, so genuinely that I can’t imagine him as any one¬†but Mark (and the other people he voices). Unlike Kate, Mark clings to what he wants, even when Ryan tells him that he just doesn’t feel the same way. Their relationship is complicated and it takes Kate and her outsider’s point-of-view, to help him through it all. Matthew provides nuanced characterization that aptly reflects the struggle Mark is experiencing. When the world feels like it’s falling down around Mark, the listener can’t help but feel it, too. Every awkward moment and new experience feels real.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

You Know Me Well
Authors: Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Narrators: Emma Galvin, Matthew Brown
Produced by Macmillan Audio
Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
Release date: June 7, 2016
ISBN: 1427279500

Available as an audiobook from Audible, Audiobook, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

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Categories: audiobooks, fiction, friendship, lgbt, romance, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Curbside Wanderlust

As soon as June rolls around, I get the itch to pack up my gear and go camping or drive aimlessly down random highways. Most of the time, though, I can rely on my never-ending stash of books to satisfy my craving for adventure. I have paperback books squirreled away in my car for trips on the ferry; books on my smartphone for long queues; audiobooks on my Kindle Fire for my lengthy commute; and various books on my Nook for any time, any place. Right now I’m looking to satisfy my wanderlust vicariously via stories featuring fun road trips and camping. Not quite a substitute, but a good supply of fun, outdoorsy-based reads is worth is its weight in gasoline.

There are a lot of engrossing stories out there and it would take me much longer than the length of this post to list them all. I’ve chosen instead to highlight a few that I’m currently reading.
the trip

Robin Alexander’s The Trip is an entertaining story about a  crazy making family road trip. Jill Savoy,  is wrangled into a weeks long road trip by her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend. Charged with maneuvering Sally, the mammoth RV and apple of her father’s eye, she tries to retain her sanity in the face of blatant matchmaking, raucous senior citizens, and surprise detours.
infinite loop.jpg

 

Meghan O’Brien’s Infinite Loop, on the other hand, is a road trip prompted by personal tragedy. The tale’s leading ladies, Regan O’Riley and Mel Raines, form an instant connection at a straight bar. Soon after meeting, a close friend of Mel’s is shot and the world turns upside down. Road trips can bring out all sides of a person and provide plenty of opportunities for Murphy’s Law to manifest.

 

camptown ladies

 

Camptown Ladies by Mari SanGiovanni continues the zany adventures of the Santora clan as they take on a seemingly Sisyphean task of sprucing up a dilapidated campground. They’re a tight knit bunch, so when something goes awry, there’s sure to be more than one pair of hands involved.

 

More stories, this time featuring outdoorsy thrills + romance + laughs

When the idea for this post germinated, I struggled to find novels that featured the great outdoors as the primary backdrop, but no as a setting for suspense novels or thrillers or crime dramas. A pile of stories with heart melting romance, raucous adventure, and friends for life, awaits you! Enjoy!

Categories: family relationships, fantasy, fiction, lgbt, librarians, romance, suspense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books as Comfort Food & Security Blankets

Books have always been my comfort food, my security blankets. When I reach for a well-worn favorite, I don’t have to explain my need. The book is simply there, waiting to wrap its words around me, to weave its pages through my soul. The recent shootings at Pulse in Orlando were (and are)¬†awful *understatement*, but the outpouring of love and support from people around the globe is heartwarming and a sign that all is not hate and darkness.

I have a few lesfic books nestled amongst my pile of comfort reads. The angsty drama is at a minimum because having my emotional guts churned into puree isn’t the kind of story that I want to curl up with alone at night…or during my lunch break at work *no thank you ugly tears*. They share loving affirmations that you can find light even in the dark. If you have any comfort reads featuring queer women, please share them in the comments below! Thank you ūüôā

 

Annie on My Mind covers AE

via AfterEllen.com

 

I’ve read and listened to¬†Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, narrated by Rebecca Lowman,¬†countless times. Annie Kenyon and Liza Winthrop, two 17 year-olds from¬†different New York City neighborhoods, meet by chance at¬†the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They expand their horizons as they share the city with each other and discover love. Part of the novel’s charm for me lies in the setting and in the time period. Garden (and Lowman, through her narration) characterize all of the joys, uncertainties, and angst teens on the brink of adulthood experience. It was written at a time when young adult novels for lgbt youth were slim pickings. The girls navigate uncharted emotional territory with imagination and heart. Some may find it dated, but I’ll return to it for as long as I need it.

Curious Wine KVF

Every winter I¬†return¬†to¬†the cabin where Diana and Lane first met, in Katherine V. Forrest’s Curious Wine. The women¬†gathered at the cabin seek different things from the¬†excursion.¬†You can read more about this book in-depth¬†via my posting in¬†February. The story radiates warm fuzzies through Forrest’s use of language, setting, and characterizations. Love and possibility pervade this story, even when the going gets rough.

Desert of the Heart book cover

Jane Rule‘s Desert of the Heart (1964) is a more recent addition to my favorites list. I’d watched the 1985 film adaptation (“Desert Hearts“) quite a few times before picking up this slender tale of romance and self-discovery. All I can say is that I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It contains all of the ingredients that I enjoy in a romance: strong, intelligent women who struggle with themselves and outside odds, but eventually prevail. Mid-century Reno provides a wondrous landscape. Evelyn Hall is an English professor in town to get a divorce. She meets Ann Childs, a cartoonist and change operator at a local casino, while staying at a lodging house. Their burgeoning romance navigates age differences, career paths, and mixed levels of support from family and friends.

 

 

 

 

Categories: fiction, lgbt, romance, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Touch of Temptation

A Touch of Temptation

Kate Dawson’s life is mapped out from cradle to grave. Her mother strategizes the best possible husband, career, connections, and friends, for her only child. On the morning of her bar exam, the last step before taking on a leadership role in her family’s prestigious law firm, Kate passes out from a sudden illness and lands in the hospital. After several weeks recuperating at home, with evenings spent watching classic movies with her gran (Katherine), the family matriarch, Kate is ready to go crazy from her inability to run a mile without getting winded or stay awake long enough to study for the next bar exam. Despite her love of Cary Grant’s and Katherine Hepburn’s onscreen shenanigans, Kate feels lost without the finely ordered path she has followed up to this point.

Gran¬†pushes Kate out the door,¬†insisting the woman recuperate at her mountain cabin, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It starts out a mixture of the life Kate leaves behind in the city and the solitude of a well-worn refuge. Cue Chris, the woman Kate later (playfully) refers to as the “Lesbian Casanova”. It’s lust at first sight for Chris and confusion for Kate (as she has never felt attraction for a woman before).

Chris Brent is the studly butch-next-door. She oozes a sexy combination of confidence and competence. When she’s not riding her motorcycle with her dad and friends, she is hard at work building up her small landscape architecture business. Weekends often find her mingling with lovely ladies at sex parties thrown by her friend, the sexually vibrant and insightful Georgia, in San Francisco. Chris doesn’t want any of the complications relationships may bring. Still, when she meets Kate (a serial monogamist), it’s becomes harder to insist on no-strings attached sex.

At the heart of the two women’s journey is their struggle with what they thought they wanted versus what they’re starting to realize they actually need. Sexuality plays a substantial role in the story. Kate¬†isn’t the only character who embarks on journey of self-discovery in this arena.

When the outside world seeps into their semi-secluded retreat, Kate and Chris¬†face even more barriers. Nicole, Kate’s best friend from college, plays tag team with Kate’s mother in their attempts to derail the burgeoning romance. Support comes from at least one unexpected corner, which I found pleasantly surprising.

One of my favorite aspects of Julie Blair’s storytelling is her ability to make me feel like I’m there.¬† The family mansion and its palatial grounds and the cozy tucked away amongst the trees, with more trees than neighbors, are distinct. The spheres in which the women live and work are clear, emphasizing the seeming chasm between the two. Even now, a few weeks after reading the final word, I can close my eyes and instantly imagine myself at the cabin, in one of the luxurious gardens, or standing in front of the painted ladies of San Francisco. I also appreciate how the author does not use the characters to insist on one type of relationship as the ideal (i.e. monogamy).¬†¬†

It’s fun and flirty, with a delicious mix of family secrets, double lives, and “world turned upside down” life events. I highly recommend this story for anyone who enjoys a healthy dose of sensuality and erotica with their romance *fans self vigorously*

A Touch of Temptation
Author: Julie Blair
Published by Bold Strokes Books
Publication date: May 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-62639-489-6

Available from Bold Strokes Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Categories: erotica, fiction, netgalley, romance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

June is Audiobook Month!

Julie audiobook collage 2016

 

This month publishers and book supporters shines a spotlight on LGBT+ and on Audiobooks. My ears are tuned into audiobooks five days a week. If I could, I’d have more than one set of ears and oodles of hours in a day so that I could share a broader selection of reviews. As a result, whenever I pick up a book that sounds interesting, I automatically wonder: Is there an audiobook version of this?

Thankfully, you can acquire LGBT+ audiobooks through online sellers such as Audible/Amazon, Scribd, Barnes & Noble, and Audiobooks.com, etc. Depending on your local public library, you can borrow audiobooks through Overdrive, Hoopla, and One Click Digital, as well as on CD. You can also find a selection via your local public library (CD and digital editions). I hope that not only will production increase so that more titles will be available in audio formats, but that they will be more widely available at libraries. 

Feel free to share LGBT+ audiobooks you’ve read and enjoyed, in the comment section below!

You can read more about this month’s celebration of auditory pleasures via the links below. I’ll add to the lists as I find more sources (:

General Postings celebrating Audiobook Month 2016

LGBT+ (Publishers who produce LGBT+ audiobooks)It’s not a complete listing, by any means. If you know of any audiobook production companies that release LGBT+ titles that are missing from this list, let me know in the comment section. Thank you!

¬†Postings about LGBT+ audiobooks (Please let me know in the comments if you’ve read any postings on this topic)

***Did you know Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire S√°enz ?!!! I used Amazon as a link so that you can listen to a sample.***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, nonfiction, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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