In Fear of Losing You by Ericka K. F. Simpson (Mar-Apr. 2006 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Publish America, Nov. 2005
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  240

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Commitment-phobia never read so good as in Ericka K. F. Simpson’s IN FEAR OF LOSING YOU, where good friends Kelly “Sweets” Owens and Katrina “Kat” Stanton are two 20-something soft studs looking for love in all the wrong places and coming up empty. However their reasons why are completely different.

Sweets is the optimistic romantic, a person who falls in love with just about every woman she meets. Overcompensating for the mistakes made with her ex Lisa, Sweets’ is determined to meet the right woman who will complement her life. Instead, she runs into chickenheads who have no problem breaking her heart. After several disappointing chances at love, Sweets still thinks God will bring her the one who will truly love her.

Kat, on the other hand, won’t let love destroy her. The ambitious businesswoman finds her pleasure in as many women as possible and subjects them to her “rules before engagement” terms. She only indulges in her flings for about six weeks–her breaking point. After that she moves from the ex to the next, never getting too close to anybody. Even when she thinks she has a chance at happiness with a beautiful femme, she pushes it out of her life, refusing to show love as her weakness.

Both women are smart, successful, and charismatic, but love is not their strong suits. They have a lot to learn about being true to themselves and their hearts.

In Fear of Losing You is a great book, and Simpson is a wonderful storyteller. The trials of these two women will consume you, and the colorful cast of characters adds a unique flavor to the novel. I was engaged at every page. Simpson handles the plot smoothly, and taking control of her grammatical errors would make the book better. However the story is a winner, and one every black lesbian should have on her shelf.

Reviewed March-April 2006

Between Girlfriends by Elizabeth Dean

Publisher/Date:  Kensington Publishing Corporation, May 2004
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  264

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Elizabeth Dean has become one of my favorite authors. Her uproarious first novel, It’s in Her Kiss, paired a contemporary theme with an intelligent storyline, and created a first-rate book.

And BETWEEN GIRLFRIENDS is no different.

This story is about the lives of four lesbians who are smart, attractive and very with-it. Gracy is the narrator, a freelance writer who meets Blair, Parker, and Leslie at a New Year’s Eve Party. The four become fast friends and soon share everything – their lives, their loves, their joys, and their pains. It’s touching to find a group of hip lesbians, but I’m not quite sure how realistic.

Lesbians do bond quickly; in fact, it’s the basis of most of our relationships: quick, quick, and quicker. Yet I’m not quite sure how often a group of this make up comes together. Let’s see. There’s Gracy, a writer (white); Parker is a rich, white businesswoman with a horny appetite; Lindsey (white) is a lawyer who doesn’t take many risks in life, and Blair is a black schoolteacher who is so prudent and prissy. Could this makeup really happen? I guess. I do applaud Dean for showing and embracing diversity. Some “authors” wouldn’t dare take that chance.

Beyond that, the novel was highly entertaining. I loved the jokes, the witty banter and the discussion of today’s lesbian lifestyles. A lot of their points I agreed with wholeheartedly, like how lesbians move fast in relationships, how to find a “single” lesbian with no issues, and how lesbians never quite seem to let go of their exes. I just really had a lot of fun with this book. The story was truthful in its observations of our species, but didn’t take itself too seriously.

In fact, I could call Between Girlfriends the lesbian Sex and the City.

Oh wait, we already have The L Word.

Reviewed March-April 2006

Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey

Publisher/Date:  Signet, May 2002
Genre:  Bisexual
Pages:  400

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

BETWEEN LOVERS, the sixth book from best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey, takes a more different turn than any of his previous novels: this one involves a bisexual triangle between an unnamed narrator, his ex-girlfriend and her lesbian lover.

The story revolves around Mr. Anonymous, a jilted fiancé left at the altar by girlfriend Nicole, and who’s now back in his life. A year later, however, things have truly changed: Nicole is now in a committed relationship with Ayanna. That doesn’t stop her from having her cake and eating, too. She wants the three of them to be together.

Mr. Anonymous at first is down for it at first, but then his heart is torn between loving and hating Nicole, becaythe fact that she puts him in this position. And soft-stud Ayanna feels the same way; it’s only their love for Nicole that makes them want to share her and hold on to her tightly.

And that one night opens a Pandora’s Box. In opening himself to anything, he’s learns everything – and what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Dickey is the master of spellbinding, sinful novels, and Between Lovers definitely keeps it hot. I enjoyed the basic premise of Between Lovers, and the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, the whole three-way between Anonymous, Nicole and Ayanna dragged on far too long for me. I wondered what would make a person want to stay with a selfish woman like Nicole, who basically wanted to have both lovers for herself without regard to either person’s feelings. The novel also doesn’t do anything for the negative perception of bisexuals, portraying them as people who simply flip from men to women at the drop of a hat.

Reviewed March-April 2006

Silk Sheets by James D. Jackson

Publisher/Date:  Regal Publishing, May 2002
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  178

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Though silk is one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics, you wouldn’t know it by these SILK SHEETS, James D. Jackson’s story about a woman’s sexual awakening. While Sheets isn’t a total disaster, the story didn’t keep me warm.

The tale involves three points of view: Tanya, the naïve protagonist who discovers her sexuality later in life; Charlene, the woman with a little more lesbian experience under her belt; and William, the man who surprises them all in the end.

When Silk Sheets begins, Tanya is an over-achieving high school student, destined to make something of herself and escape from the derelict neighborhood in which she grew up. Her father, a lousy provider, shifted all the financial responsibilities to her mother, and left her without a strong male role model. But her dreams will not be deferred, and she strives to create her own public speaking company.

Tanya’s neighbor is Charlene, a sexually-charged young lady who gets kicked out her house after her father finds her with woman’s head between her legs. Soon after she heads to Clark-Atlanta University, where she begins having an affair with her biology professor. It’s when that relationship takes a wrong turn that Charlene runs into Tanya, now a student at Howard University. They share a sultry night after, one that leads Tanya in questioning whom she is. She gets over her fear, and the two move in together after graduation.

William comes into play awkwardly as a blast from Charlene’s scandalous past, now about to get
married to Tanya’s best friend, Donna. His character doesn’t provide much else.

Jackson creates a couple of love scenes that will ruffle your Sheets, but as a whole, the story just didn’t do it for me. He doesn’t effectively capture the essence of a black lesbian, and it shows as the novel progresses; when Tanya seeks advice from Donna’s mother, a sociologist, she has some outlandish thoughts about homosexuality that don’t make much sense. The plot was also jumbled and clunky, and the characters came out of place, with no transition as to who is speaking.

Silk Sheets may be a quick read, but it’s one that leaves me cold.

Reviewed March-April 2006