Lion’s Den by Azure

Publisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2012
Genre(s): Romance, Young Adult
Pages:  304

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Chaz is 22, a recent college graduate transplanted to Chicago to start her career as an IT engineer and a life away from her family. What she finds in the Windy City is drama LION’S DEN by Azure. It follows her, though some of it is by her own doing.

At the novel’s onset, a night out leads to meeting and falling for an older woman named Samantha. It’s good for a while, yet Chaz recognizes her options – younger, sexy ones – and settling into a committed relationship becomes a chore.

Not when she has Jazmine. And Lori. And white girl Kelly. Plus a few others.

All Chaz’s bed hopping does a have a root, though. Coming out at 19, she wrestled with living in a Christian values home where her sexuality was a sore spot for her parents, her dad especially, as well self-esteem issues stemming from being treated as the ugly duckling. Therefore, Chaz only felt attractive when around the lesbian community. It’s a high-speed carousel from woman to woman, and you can feel dizzy just reading.

That’s my issue with Lion’s Den. From all the partying, sex and drugs, has Chaz really learned anything? Lord knows she’s smart and aware of her shortcomings, which is great; she’s also young and allowed to make mistakes, but her life choices pained me at times.

Azure is a good storyteller, and Lion’s Den has plenty of action. However, the writing was choppy, there were excessive grammatical errors, and not enough dialogue. However, young adults could relate to Chaz, and hopefully for them, it will be a cautionary tale.

Reviewed December 2012

Chaos by Sherry Michelle

Publisher/Date:  AuthorHouse, Mar. 2011
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  220

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Chaos is living in this dreadful economy.

Chaos is getting divorced after only 72 days (yes, I’m speaking to you, Kim Kardashian).

CHAOS is also the debut novel from Sherry Michelle, which follows protagonist Danielle Cyrus, a Miami marketing manager in love with her married boyfriend. Talk about chaos.

She settles for a convenient affair with boyfriend Malik, a powerful businessman with serious clout, bank, and a naïve wife. Both get what they want from this illicit arrangement, but Danielle begins to question herself and their relationship after they have a ménage a trios with Ariel, a night that was supposed to be a one-time deal.

The way Danielle feels at the touch of Ariel’s hand and lips coaxes her for more. Malik can no longer satisfy her the way a woman can. Coming to terms with her newfound sexuality, she leaves her boyfriend and begins a new relationship with Lexy, who caters to her body and mind.

Then Danielle discovers she’s pregnant with Malik’s baby. Once telling him the news, Malik demands Danielle abort their child. After much thought, she realizes her baby is the most important person in her life. But her life is soon threatened when Malik learns his ex is still pregnant.

Danielle then has to resort to desperate measures to protect her unborn child.

Chaos is drama-packed, from adultery to bisexuality to crazy baby daddy woes. And some of it works; some of it doesn’t. The story is fast, but the ending left me cold. Also, Danielle as a character was very selfish for most of the book; her relationships with women seemed one-sided and shallow. It appears she only changes with the conception of her child. And her classifying her transsexual friend as not “natural, God made beauty”—not cool at all.

Reviewed January 2012

Love & Money Don’t Mix by KoKo B

Publisher/Date:  Angel Pearl Publishing, Dec. 2007
Genre(s):  Contemporary Romance, Intrigue
Pages:  220

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

If money can buy love, then it can never be true. This is the case in LOVE & MONEY DON’T MIX, the debut novel authored by KoKo B.

The story revolves around Amanda and Shaun, a seemingly perfect couple who first meet a party. Becoming inseparable almost immediately, the two grow together through the years, sharing their lives. There are things that bother Amanda, the narrator of this tale, such as Shaun’s uncomfortable distance from her family and her overly ambitious nature. However, Shaun is a go-getter in every sense of the word, and only wants to make a better life for herself and Amanda.

So when she takes a job with a dubious businessman, Russo Tolentino, the money is flowing and Shaun is thrilled to have such a high-powered post. In fact, the money’s so good, it blinds Shaun to the fact that there might be more than meets the eye with her boss. It’s only when employees come up dead that the couple realizes this job is placing their own lives in danger.

Someone is after them, and with crooked cops in the mix, Amanda and Shaun only have each other to lean on. Can their love be enough to get them through this unsavory situation?

Love & Money Don’t Mix is an intriguing book, one you could easily sit down and breeze through in an afternoon. While there are some interesting plot twists, the story doesn’t live up to its premise of a lesbian couple on the run. I felt Amanda and Shaun’s characters weren’t as fleshed out as they should have been, and therefore I wasn’t as invested in the couple’s struggles. The excessive grammatical errors don’t help either. With that being said, Love & Money is still a story that can hold your attention.

Reviewed August 2008

The Lezory Files by Safari Ann Jones and Rose Sutra

Publisher/Date:  Lulu, July 2007
Genre:  Lesbian Real Life
Pages:  166

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Safari Ann Jones and Rose Sutra’s THE LEZORY FILES speaks volumes that love is surely a killer.

This memoir recounts the experiences of Safari and Rose’s rocky road to true love, a street littered with unfulfilled dreams and broken hearts. They share their experiences in the life – some of them happy, most not. The pain and disappointment of lesbian love are detailed from their childhoods to discovering first and finding everlasting love. The real-life stories they describe are relatable to the black lesbian experience in that we all have dealt with coming to terms with ourselves and trying to find our place in the world. Poems from the authors are also included in the book.

Growing up for Safari was a time full of lost dreams. She discovered the sweetness of women through her innocent crushes on girls but it was years before she would fully admit her preference. Even now, she sums up her lifestyle as being a “choosebian,” meaning she is straight and choses to be with women.

Rose, on the other hand, always knew she was gay, but it didn’t stop the wreckage she endured in her life. Being abused when she was younger took its toll on her adult life, but it leads her to Safari and their intense relationship, where the pair fell hard after two chance meetings. All of the drama they faced was worth finding love with each other — right?

In The Lezory Files, Safari and Rose gear this book to black lesbians as “a wake up” call to love one another and ourselves, and the authors’ purpose was fulfilled as they bared it all, from happiness to heartbreak. It reads more like novel than a real-life story. Nothing was held back, intricate and sordid, and accounts like these are honest and reflect, in some part, our lives. We love and hurt like everyone else. What made the book a little bitter, though, were the excessive grammatical errors throughout the book. Parts of the book were choppy, as well, and it made for a belabored reading.

Yet I will say had The Lezory Files been edited more, it would have been a great story of two women finding love in all the wrong places – but still hopeful that it will conquer all.

Reviewed March 2008

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