My Secrets Your Lies by N’Tyse (Mar. 2008 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  A Million Thoughts Publishing, Mar. 2007
Genre(s):  Romance, Street Life
Pages:  229

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

If you’re looking for a dramatic tale about two scandalous females, then MY SECRETS YOUR LIES will definitely fit the bill.

This delicious novel, written by author N’Tyse, is off the chain. It begins with Sand, a hustla willing to do anything to keep her lady Rene satisfied. Both hitting the streets as teens, out in the cruel world, the two became inseparable. Sand was attracted to Rene’s natural good looks and banging body, while Rene was drawn into the security her stud offered. With a little ingenuity, they manage to hold each other down for the long haul.

Everything changes one day for Rene, though. She feels stifled in her relationship and is tired of being treated differently for being gay. She begins seeing someone new (gasp, a man) behind Sand’s back, spitting more lies than President Bush at a FEMA press conference. Yet, Rene is sure her life would be better with a man as her partner than a woman.

Predictably, Rene soon learns that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Despite her issues with being gay, she realizes where her heart truly is – with Sand – although it might be too little, too late. Too much has happened between them to go back: infidelity, kidnapping, a baby. Will there be enough love to bring them together?

N’Tyse kept me mesmerized with the love affair between Sand and Rene. My Secrets, while it has some exaggerated drama, is true to the life of some black lesbians. Urban lesbian novels are on the rise in the literary world, and N’Tyse has created one of the better ones. It’s a story I would recommend to both women in the life and straight folks who want to understand what the lifestyle is all about.

You will undoubtedly be schooled.

Reviewed March 2008

In the Game by Nikki Baker

Publisher/Date:  Naiad Press, Sept. 1991
Genre:  Mystery
Pages:  224

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

When your best friend’s lover turns up dead, do you:

a. accuse your friend of murder
b. hire her a top-notch attorney who begins stalking you after your affair goes sour
c. begin your own investigation that almost gets you killed
d. all of the above

If you picked D, you’re one step ahead in Nikki Baker’s debut, IN THE GAME, a mystery starring Virginia “Ginny’ Kelly as an amateur detective trying to piece together a crime of passion.

What begins as a romance through the personals for Ginny’s best friend, Bev, ends as a homicide. Bev meets Kelsey through the newspaper, and they do the whole U-Haul thing after only a month of dating. Ginny is skeptical of the whole arrangement, always having a soft spot for Bev and detesting the way Kelsey took advantage of her. The last straw is when Ginny discovers Kelsey is being unfaithful to Bev, and she has to find a way to tell her friend that her lover is no good.

But she never gets a chance to – Kelsey winds up dead shortly thereafter. Despite their differences, however, Ginny never wanted Kelsey to be killed.

On top of all this, Ginny has her own fish to fry with Em, her white lover of three years. They’ve reached a plateau in their relationship where it’s neither good nor bad, but just is; the lesbian bed death has hit their household and Ginny can’t find a cure — until she meets Susan, the attorney enlisted to help Bev in her sticky situation.

Aside from these issues, Ginny doesn’t want to see her friend framed for this heinous crime. The two have remained tight since their days at a lily-white business school, depending on each other in a world that caters to the white majority. They need each other for strength and that familiar, unspoken comfort that comes being sistahs. It’s only right that when Kelsey is murdered that Ginny try to track down her killer. What Ginny uncovers, though, is way more than she bargained for, cause Kelsey has way more skeletons in her closet than is allowed.

Baker manages to engage with In the Game, providing an interesting picture of an upper-scale, professional black lesbian. Ginny knows the game well enough to play it with finesse, and has a great sense of whom she is. The story was a little predictable in parts, but I will be glad to read more in this mystery series featuring a great sleuthing sistah.

Reviewed March 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

Orchids II Reality or Fantasy by The Lesbian Goddess

Publisher/Date:  Women of Choice LLC, May 2007
Genre:  Erotica
Pages:  56

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Can you tell the difference between fantasy and reality?

The Lesbian Goddess straddles the distinction between these realms in ORCHIDS II REALITY OR FANTASY, a short but sweet collection of bonafide bedroom bliss. This second in a series is the sequel to Orchids: African American Lesbian Erotica One Night Stands, and this time it’s every woman’s desires on display.  Ranging from poetic lovemaking to kinky sex shop romps, seven unique stories make up this compilation and every one is well worth the read.

It begins with “Sensual Exploration,” a picturesque, sensory escapade between two very sensual women. Their lovemaking is described in such graphic language that one can visualize the romantic rendezvous with the unnamed women. Then in “Making My Rounds,” a nighttime security guard finds her job to be much more stimulating when she sees a sexy co-worker in a compromising position — with herself. While her job requires her to take action, the voyeur in her can’t resist wanting to join in the festivities.

Everyone has got a certain “Weakness,” and a sexually uninhibited woman Mil meets at a party is hers. The two hit it off, but Weakness wants the sex with no strings attached; the issue is can Mil handle that. And there’s always that special someone you can’t seem to shake, even when it’s over. That’s what an anonymous woman faces when she begins feenin’ for her former lover in “My Ex.” Can she break the hold her ex has over her?

Naughty walks this way in “Get Yo Freak On,” as a stud tries to find just the right sexual items to turn her girl on and gets a very hands-on lesson from the adult store worker. Trust, she leaves there with more than just a bag of goodies. Then a femme turns the tables in “Shangri-La,” taming three seemingly aggressive women with her feminine wiles. It’s all a part of her game and she loves the thrill it gives her to doiminate a stud.

Finally, Natalie takes a first-class plane ride and falls for Vanessa, her flight attendant. Lucky for her, the stewardess pays extra special attention to the stud passenger, and they finally hookup when the other customers have been taken care of. Then Natalie gets more service than she ever expected.

The Lesbian Goddess creates this world of sensual adventures that gets you every time. This was a more enjoyable outing than the previous one, as it seemed the author turned up the heat on this second pleasure trip. Even with only a few pages per story, I was very aroused — and relished it. The tawdry tales are hot and you will enjoy every one of them.

I know my girlfriend did.

Reviewed March 2008