The Aftermath by Anna J.

Publisher/Date:  Q-Boro Books, Sept. 2006
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Pages:  250

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Crazy-ass Monica is back in THE AFTERMATH, the sultry sequel to My Woman His Wife.

In the previous book, married couple James and Jasmine Cinque realized too late that bringing Monica into their bedroom to spice up their sex life was a horrible mistake. The havoc she caused their lives was unbelievable, but in this new novel, Monica takes it to a whole new level of drama.

The Aftermath begins with Jasmine finding James in a compromising position with Monica, and it almost ends their relationship. And if things couldn’t get any worse, Monica finds out she’s pregnant with James’ baby, but she still wants Jasmine all to herself by any means. James and Jasmine simply want the broad out of their lives for good. It’s hard trying to put back together your family when there’s a determined woman hellbent on sabotage.

But you have to understand: Monica’s simply a misunderstood woman who’s endured a lot of pain in her life. Flashbacks in the novel take you to when Monica was a young girl antagonized by her classmates and raised by a lecherous uncle that took advantage of her. It’s these images that help you understand whom Monica is as a character.

All the destruction she’s caused is coming back to haunt her. Monica has more enemies than you can shake a stick at, and it’s only a matter of time before she feels some repercussions.

Anna J. does her thing in The Aftermath. The story was more credible than My Woman, and I was totally engrossed. You get to know the characters a little better; each one had his or her own distinct voice. And as always, the sex was steamy and plentiful.

However, there were some unanswered questions by the book’s end. I foresee a continuing story soon – one that I would most definitely welcome.

Reviewed August 2007

Complete by S.D. Lewis

Publisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, Oct. 2006
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  136

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

An aptly titled story, COMPLETE thoroughly fulfills the promise fashioned from author S. D. Lewis’ two previous novels, Changes and Moving Forward in Reverse.

Here, Lewis crafts a simple love story. It begins with Angela, an unhappily married woman in a dysfunctional relationship. Only married a year, her manipulative husband cheats, lies and disrespects her. She tires of being in a loveless relationship, and decides to do something about it.

The other voice of Complete is Moe, the womanizing stud from Lewis’ earlier books. She’s moved from Atlanta to Jacksonville and has returned to her player roots after Jasmine, the only woman to ever claim Moe’s heart, betrayed her. It’s ho after ho for Moe, until a vacation back the ATL allows her to run into Angela.

Angela and Moe have a lusty past, one that ended when Moe gave her heart Jasmine. After seeing each other, the two reconnect, but is Moe willing to take a second chance on love?

Lewis’ Complete does conclude quite nicely. It’s good to see Moe become a more mature person, especially after all the dirt she did in Changes and Moving Forward. The novel also includes previous characters Jasmine, Lelani and L.D. in different but supporting roles. In this story, Moe takes center stage. Although the story does wrap up quick in less than 150 pages, it’s satisfying nonetheless.

Simply put, the trilogy is Complete.

Reviewed August 2007

A Different Kinda Luv by Tanaine Ja’Cole Jenkins (June 2006 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  iUniverse, Dec. 2005
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  213

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

It might seem like it’s all about the bling in Tanaine Jenkins’ debut novel, A DIFFERENT KINDA LUV, but once you get into the adventurous romance story, it goes so much deeper. Absorbing until the last page, Jenkins knows to capture your attention.

Best friends Nickaya “Nick” Rivera and Jordan “Jae” Taylor have been through it all. Growing up together since kids, the pair has nurtured each other through rough childhoods, survived their college years, and matured into successful entrepreneurs. The friends own Flavors, a popular gay nightclub they bought in the college-town of Tallahassee. However the ladies couldn’t be more different.

Jae is the more level-headed of the duo, the one who works to the bone in both business and love. She works hard to keep Flavors the best in the city. And when in love, she falls hard, giving much of herself to the relationship. That led her to stay in a miserable relationship for so long with A’lanna. But she finds comfort in Tamiera, someone who is the total opposite of controlling A’lanna. Tamiera is down-to-earth, loving and thoughtful. The two make a great couple, but Jae doesn’t want to move too fast. She soon realizes, though, when you find a different kinda luv, you hold on to it.

Nick, on the other hand, ain’t studying love and is all about the you-know-what. Women are simply playmates, and she’s the one holding the cards. That is, until she meets Suenos, Tamiera’s friend. Nick allows her in her heart just a little, spending more time with her than with any woman Jae’s seen her with. Nick knows Suenos is a special lady, but she’s not sure she wants to turn in her playa card just yet. She’s not quite convinced if this is a different kinda luv.

Jenkins’ book delves into a lot of action that will keep you flipping the pages. It’s a read in one night kind of book because you won’t want to put it down. The fast cars, the crazy parties and the beautiful women will capture both studs and femmes alike. A little slow at first, it picks up and keeps you on the edge of your seat till the end; the ending will leave with watery eyes. Jenkins, grammatical errors aside, is a good storyteller—and that counts for a lot.

Cause everybody’s looking for a different kinda luv. And in Jenkins’ book, it’s certainly possible.

Reviewed June 2006

All the Bold Days of My Restless Life by Sharon Stone

Publisher/Date:  Alyson Books, May 2005
Genre(s):  Romance, Out the Box Feature
Pages:  224

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

If you’ve ever wanted to get an insider’s look of a soap opera and be captivated by a lesbian romance, then look no further than ALL THE BOLD DAYS OF MY RESTLESS LIFE, the laugh-out loud novel that takes place on a daytime drama. Author Sharon Stone concocts a wild ride with main character Bailey Connors, the head writer on the soap billed with the same name as the book.

Though it seems like a dream to work on a wildly popular show, Bailey doesn’t have it easy. She not only has to cater to the stuffy suits of the network executives, but she also has to wrestle with the demands of the spoiled, egotistical actors who don’t always agree with the scripts they’ve been given. It’s enough to make a girl pull her hair out. And Bailey’s not trying to hear it right now, especially after being dumped by her longtime girlfriend.

Never fear, her trusty assistant Peter is there to save the day. Her flamboyant friend has a few prospects up his sleeve to help butch-looking Bailey to get back on the horse. But the women he sets her up with are horrible, to say the least. Let’s see there’s the actress cum online porn star; the plain-jane looking femme with six kids; and let’s not forget the…oh okay, I won’t give it all away.

And if Bailey’s life could get any worse, she is stuck with one of the dumbest writers to ever live and has to rewrite months of scripts to kill off one of her favorite characters on the show. Talk about drama!!

Stone’s All the Bold Days is hilarious, not to mention outrageous. It has a quirky sense of humor that reads sharply and very quickly. She creates a great peek into the world of daytime TV, giving tidbits into the soaps. The ending wraps up well, as you root for Bailey to land on her feet.

Pick this one up if you need a good laugh.

Reviewed June 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

Speaking in Whispers: African-American Lesbian Erotica by Kathleen E. Morris

Publisher/Date:  Third Side Press, Oct. 1996
Genre(s):  Short Story, Erotica
Pages:  161

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour can best describe these outrageous tales of lesbian passion in Kathleen E. Morris’ SPEAKING IN WHISPERS: AFRICAN-AMERICAN LESBIAN EROTICA.

Morris has compiled 14 stories of lesbian lust with candor, with four interludes named for a season thrown in as a quick tease. The style and characters are contemporary, and some will leave you hot and bothered. Here, black lesbians are referred to as “wimmin” or a “womon,” Morris’ own term she coined.

In “HER,” a womon meets HER on a crowded train and lives out her fantasy with the stranger, while Loren has to teach her stud a “Lesson” she’ll never forget. Jaime gets a “Second Chance” at love with a new wommon after boarding up her heart.

Speaking in Whispers does manage to venture out for pleasure. A trip to “The Movies” gets a little freaky for one pair, and a spicy encounter with a womon at “The Club” gets Tita’s blood racing. In “The Painter,” an art student finds a new source of inspiration with a sexy classmate, while an overworked womon gets a different kind of treatment at “The Spa.” “Appetizers” are what’s on the menu for Carmen and Paula, two wimmin wanting to taste the rainbow.

Making time for love is also a theme in Speaking. At “The Festival,” a security guard at a wimmin’s camp can hardly find sometime alone with an exotic, dreadlocked beauty vying her a little of her attention. “The Honeymoon Cottage” is where it all goes down between Hillary and Sonia, two passionate wimmin with no time for each other between their busy schedules. Kimberly finally gets her fantasy with “Pongee,” a professor she’s lusted after for years and gets her chance with years later.

Other tales include a lover getting caught looking in her girl’s “Honey Eyes,” while there’s nowhere for desire to hide in “The Exit.” “The Gateway” leads Patrice to another dimension, one where an erotic alien is taught the real meaning of human sexuality.

Morris’ stories are titillating, but a few didn’t hit the spot. There were a couple of stories that left me hanging with how short they were, and there were a couple that just didn’t do it for me. And I’m not quite sure what the seasonal interludes were supposed to do. Morris also should focus more on making her stories more varied and wide-ranging, as sometimes I felt I was reading the same story twice.

But most of the tales I enjoyed, the ones that managed to do their job, leaving me craving for more.

Reviewed February 2006

Jada by Denise Alexander

Publisher/Date:  iUniverse, July 2005
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  100

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

If I had three words to describe JADA, author Denise Alexander’s debut novel, it would be: no more drama!

Alexander’s tale is the semi-erotic tale of Jada Williams, a sexy diva in a new relationship with femme Shanice. Jada, who’s only out to her friends, has been in the life for a few years, and thinks she has finally met the perfect woman. After meeting at a club, the two hit it off and get pretty serious after a couple of months.

Both Jada and Shanice have endured dead-end relationships in their in their pasts that took tolls on their souls. Jada learned she can’t be something she’s not to please others, while Shanice survived endured an abusive affair. They lean on each other and try to trust again, though it’s not easy.

Everything is peachy for the pair until Shanice loses her job. Jada soon learns the real Shanice is ugly — and it takes something piercing for Jada to realize that Shanice is not as perfect as she seems.

Alexander is a good storyteller, I’ll give her that. But Jada moves too quickly to for the reader to get a real hold of the characters. The novel’s namesake comes off kind of immature and shallow at times, and the couple’s problems seem to be easily solved with sex. The grammatical errors also take away from the tale, too.

However, I do recommend Jada for lazy afternoon read — one that starts off good but ends too

Reviewed January 2006

Rainbow Heart: You Have No Control Over What the Heart Decides by Toy Styles (Oct. 2005 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  iUniverse, Inc., June 2005
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  144

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A girl comes of age and acknowledges her sexuality in Toy Styles’ debut novel, RAINBOW HEART: YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHAT THE HEART DECIDES. This saga stars Evelyn Kelly, and her quest to love herself enough to be who she is.

At the novel’s start, Evelyn is 13 years old. Her world revolves around her crew that includes younger sister Tammy and friends Kiesha, Tiffany, and May. The girls share their lives and troubles at home, always leaning on each other for support. As the fivesome grow up in their Washington, D. C. neighborhood, they each have trials of their own. Sisters Kiesha and Tiffany live with a crackhead mother, while May endures sexually abusive father. Evelyn and Tammy have the best home life, being raised by their overbearing but loving mother.

But as close as the girls are, Evelyn has always felt different. Evelyn’s not quite like the other girls, with their crushes on boys. This is evident from the first chapter as her sister teases her constantly about not having a boyfriend. She’s never had one, and doesn’t want one.

She’s only comfortable around her girlfriends, especially May. The two share a special bond that no one, even jealous sister Tammy can break. Evelyn adores May, and they have this special connection. Although she doesn’t know what it is, Evelyn feels a deeper love for her that she can’t explain. Things turn sad for them, though, when Evelyn has to move from D. C. to Texas They lose touch after a while, and she is simply heartbroken. She never stops thinking about her, even when the story fast forwards 10 years later.

At 23, Evelyn is seriously dating Antwan, or at least Antwan is serious about her. Evelyn’s not so sure she’s in love. She feels something isn’t right between them. Antwan doesn’t have a clue as he’s ready to propose marriage.

By this time, Evelyn has a new best friend and roommate, Six, who’s gay. She confesses this to her, and the two enter a secret relationship. This is enough for Evelyn to know she’s gay – and that she has to break it off with Antwan.

No better place to out yourself than your own birthday party. After her sister Tammy manages to bring all of the fivesome back to surprise her, including May, it gives a bold Evelyn the courage to announce to family and friends her true self. Does her family accept her? Will she get back with May, and what about Six…and Antwan? Evelyn doesn’t have all the answers, and author Styles plans to answer them in the next two books in this trilogy.

All in all, Rainbow Heart is a novel that keeps your attention. Toy Styles is a great storyteller, but the grammatical errors do take away from the story. But that aside, you will want to know what happens next-and to see exactly where Evelyn’s heart takes her.

Reviewed October 2005

Rain by Monique P. Howerton

Publisher/Date:  Hersay, Sept. 2002
Genre:  Supernatural
Pages:  206

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Right in time for Halloween comes a book that combines the afterlife, black lesbianism, romance and the gay family. It’s here, all combined in Monique P. Howerton’s supernatural story, RAIN.

Rain is the tale of Monica Walker and her unrequited love (or so we think) for Pia, a woman who stole her heart when she was 16 years old. Monica was introduced to Pia and her extended “family,” but the two women had this connection, a deep affinity for each other, not withstanding a fantastic sexual attraction. Lovers for years, everything changed when Teri steps into the picture.

Monica and Pia loved each other, but Pia, being older and wiser, thought it could never work with someone so young and innocent to the world. So she finds love with Teri, a womanizing stud who couldn’t remain monogamous to save her life–literally. It’s because of her infidelity that she and Pia both contract AIDS. All the while Monica stands by and knows she could give Pia a better life. Monica has done everything she could to make Pia see that they are soulmates; Pia does realize it–when it’s too late; her fear simply kept her from knowing an unconditional love.

The constant rain described in the novel, almost a character itself, was a metaphor for the sadness and drama that ensued.

Here’s where the supernatural part comes in. Monica, who grew up with supernatural powers, fights to protect Pia’s soul from evil forces that come for her. If you’re into supernatural fiction tales, then this part will grab you. If you don’t believe in the afterlife, you will just read it for what it is.

Howerton’s writing is unique, despite the grammatical errors. Rain is quick read, but the story does use a reverse plotting element, flopping from the past to the present, and you will sometimes find yourself trying to figure out what’s exactly taking place at times. Elements are revealed as the story progresses, but in the beginning, names and details are mentioned without much explanation. But Howerton does deliver a different type of story–and that’s always to be applauded.

Reviewed October 2005

Moving Forward in Reverse by S.D. Lewis

Publisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, Oct. 2004
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  432

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Just when you think everything is going right in your life, something happens to turn your world on its axis.

This is never more evident than in MOVING FORWARD IN REVERSE, S. D. Lewis’ sequel to Changes, the novel that followed sistahs in the life Lelani, Jasmine and Moe. The ladies and stud are back, but this time things have truly changed.

The story begins on what’s supposed to be Lelani’s wedding day. She was to get married to L. D., but instead leaves her at the altar. Lelani’s not sure she loves L. D. anymore. Evidently, her mind can’t get past Moe and the night they spent together recently.

But Jasmine and Moe are still going strong, resolving their issues and making it work. Jazz is well aware that Moe used to be a playa, but it still intimidates her. She feels as if she has to compete with other women for Moe’s attention. It’s only a matter of time before she lets that insecurity break up the good thing she has with Moe.

And now that Moe’s a bachelor again, she’s on the prowl. She and the dumped L. D. spend their time gaming hoes and hitting the club. Despite how much Moe tries to shake her off, her heart still remains with Jazz.

Complicating things are the new characters that enter the women’s lives. Lelani begins dating someone new, a shady stud named Kylee. Moe is happy about her surprise visitor–her brother, David, whom she hasn’t seen in years. And Jazz meets someone who might just take her mind off Moe.

These women all made some serious mistakes in Moving Forward. It seemed like they had finally gotten their lives together, only to unravel them with their insecurities. Lelani is still as naive as ever, a woman who’s book smart but totally dumb when it comes to relationships. She flops from L. D. to Moe to Kylee. Jasmine’s no better, sleeping with others when she knows Moe is the one. And Moe just returns to her wicked ways even though it hurt her to be without Jazz and her daughter Rikeena. For all the growth the characters made, they regressed in others.

Lewis has a knack for crafting characters that are flawed and real, but Moving Forward wasn’t as good as Changes, the novel that introduced the tantalizing trio. There were just too many characters floating around to keep up with. Plot twists that were introduced were dropped or not fleshed out.

However I’m still looking forward to Lewis’ follow-up book, as the ending to this novel kept me wondering what the next installment has in store for them.

Reviewed September 2005