Girl in the Mirror by Alix B. Golden (Aug. 2012 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  I Bleed Ink Publishing, Aug. 2012
Genre:  Romance
Pages:   204

Rating: ★★★★½ 

You can’t run from your past, and you certainly can’t run from the GIRL IN THE MIRROR.

While the prequel to this novel, Girl, Shattered, is available now, Mirror is its full-length story from blogger turned book author Alix B. Golden with many layers – a surprise love, suspense, drama, parental woes – yet the center of them is Christen Calhoun. The by-day bank teller is uninspired by her job and only finds comfort in her camera; it doesn’t pay the bills, and it doesn’t suit her father’s dreams for her.

Neither does dating women. Especially the ones Christen involves herself with. Still reeling from her last burn with thieving ass Alicia, she decides a no-strings attached relationship is exactly what she needs in Kam, a writer she meets online with a girlfriend. Christen sees nothing wrong with the two having a fling. At least that’s how it begins. It ends just as badly.

*girl in the mirror shakes her head*

Christen could never tell her Pops about these dead-end hookups. Since a young girl, it’s always been just the two of them after her mother’s passing. He never understood her decisions – staying in Savannah after graduation instead of returning to Atlanta, why she couldn’t find a man and make him a “Grandpappy” – nevertheless he did want to see her happy.

The problem is Christen can’t please herself. She suits her personality to the women she dates, and every bad romance she gets her further away from whom she is. When she looks in the mirror, the truth stares back, but then loneliness sets in and fools her heart into thinking it’s love.

It’s only when the worst imaginable happens that Christen returns home to find the love she needs – and makes the girl in mirror finally smile back.

Golden’s Girl in the Mirror shines. What I liked most about Mirror is its dimensionality. The storyline took several twists and turns, tying nicely to make an enjoyable novel. In Christen, you see a woman with so much potential go from settling to avoid being alone to realizing her true reflection is what’s important.

Reviewed August 2012

Midtown by Alix B. Golden

Publisher/Date:  I Bleed Ink Publishing, June 2012
Genre:  Romance

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

MIDTOWN, ATLANTA — Four friends sharing a house in the gay-friendly, upwardly mobile area of downtown Atlanta contend with love and life and drama in this entertaining book by popular blogger Alix B. Golden.

You should know Golden from A Brown Girl Gone Gay (and if you haven’t, you should). There, she writes about her Southern lesbian lifestyle with humor and flair, and her first novel is no different.

Midtown follows four lesbians under one roof, so you know that means — drama.

But not in a scandalous way (well, a little scandal). Ed, Ash, Ki and Brie became best friends while attending Florida A&M University, better known as FAMU, who got into plenty of mischief at the school.

Now as cohabitating adults, the four are living, working, and sleeping together (literally and figuratively). That’s where the drama comes in.

Ed can’t stop her woman, Taylor, from being unfaithful, despite giving her a manager’s position in her bookstore.  Ki and Brie can’t seem to settle down and find the right women, but decide to gain a cuddle buddy in each other. Rounding out the crew is Ash, the straight friend, back into town and ready to declare her newfound sexuality, and hopes they accept her.

Between these women is an unbreakable friendship, but their romantic connections are definitely complicated.

Golden’s Midtown is a crazy ride in a fast car — in a good way. The characters are appealing, and feel like women you might have known during your undergrad years — and you’d still hang out with them now.

Reviewed July 2012

A Little Sumthin’ Sumthin’ by Imani True

Publisher/Date:  NCM Publishing, Feb. 2012
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  220

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: Tired of his manhandling ways, Fatima Strong leaves her husband of more than 20 years in A LITTLE SUMTHIN’ SUMTHIN’ by Imani True. Though Malcolm used to be sweet as pie, his brutal demands push her to finally choose herself. In doing so, she flourishes career-wise and meets Xiomara, everything Malcolm is not – loving, kind and generous. However, when he catches wind of his ex-wife’s new love, someone is going to pay dearly.

The Good: True’s book is fast paced and pretty straightforward. The writing is okay, suggesting a great moral: know your truth.

The Not-So-Good: As I said, the writing is okay, but the timeline between Fatima leaving Malcolm and getting with Xiomara is sketchy at best. The sex scenes could be hotter, as well. If the re-worked and edited better, Sumthin’ could be a much better novel.

The Bottom Line: Grab A Little Sumthin’ Sumthin’ as quick afternoon read.

Reviewed June 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

Crossroads by Skyy

Publisher/Date:  Urban Books, Jan. 2012
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  418

Rating: ★★★★☆ 


The cast of Skyy’s much-acclaimed series featuring Denise, Lena and Cooley is back for another episode of love and drama. We’ve been with them through undergrad beginnings in Choices, seen their Consequences unfold as upperclassmen, and now, Crossroads sees them travel paths in the real world – both joyous and painful – to learn just how difficult adulthood is.

After eagerly reading, it’s hard to write this review without giving everything away, but I’ll try. 🙂

Let’s begin with Denise. After graduating from Freedom University, she’s excited to sign with the WNBA’s New York Liberty, but a snag threatens Denise’s career before it begins, and it crumbles her. Feeling as if years of discipline, hard work and self-sacrifice have been in vain, she has to rethink what she wants for her life. While Denise tries to rebound, this setback makes her think maybe she should let go of some other dreams, namely Lena.

Speaking of Lena, last we saw of her, she was pregnant from Grizzlies star hubby Brandon Redding – and still in love with Denise. With her mind made up, Lena finally decides to get her woman. Yet seeing Denise is far from the welcome home she expected. Lena realizes from her parents, to Brandon then Denise, she’s never completely been on her own. Is it time to give up on Denise and figure out exactly what she wants?

And Cooley. The scarred stud hasn’t opened her heart since Misha’s betrayal. No worries, though. Her new job as an A&R rep at an Atlanta record label will keep her mind occupied and help get her swag back. Cooley is paired to promote rising R&B songstress Sahara, whose curves are dangerous temptations. Wisely, Cooley knows business shouldn’t mix with pleasure. Can Cooley resist, especially when Sahara can see past her damaged heart?

Y’all, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because Crossroads delves into much more. You’ll see the characters in a different light, along with new love interests and tests they have to overcome. Lena, Denise, Cooley and even Carmen (in a smaller role) have truly grown up.

That’s not to say the women don’t have their moments: Cooley still stumbles when things don’t go her way; Lena is indecisive at best; and Denise isn’t always aware of her worth.

Whatever shortcomings Crossroads has – grammatical errors, places where the writing could have been stronger – the engaging storyline more than made up for it. What I loved most was the Denise-Lena love story that kept me on edge, rooting for the pair at times and railing against them at others.

I will say this: it may be wishful thinking, but Lena and Denise’s chapter doesn’t seem over.

We’ll just have to wait for what Skyy has planned next.

Reviewed January 2012

Dream Team by Jaden Kelley

Publisher/Date:, Apr. 2010
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Pages:  168

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Abuse of any kind should never be tolerated. DREAM TEAM by author Jaden Kelley is proof of this – but it’s also shows there is a way out.

Heroine Anecia LeCroix is in this precarious situation with partner Teri Reynolds. Anecia’s story is told two years later through therapy sessions, recanting from the time she first met dashing architect Teri at a charity event. As in the beginning of most abusive relationships, everything between Anecia and Teri is perfect. Anecia, an assistant district attorney, begins to imagine their lives blending together – but never envisioning nights where she hands would choke or backslap her. After each angry outburst, Teri does and says all the right things – like proposing marriage – to keep Anecia happy.

Jordan, Teri’s best friend and co-worker, is a witness to the bullish behavior she inflicts upon her employees and to Anecia, so she becomes a shoulder for Anecia to lean on.

When Teri finds out, all hell breaks loose. Anecia recognizes her only option is to leave, but it’s much easier said than done, especially as she falls harder for Jordan.

Dream Team tells of a woman’s painful past with the one she loved. While the writing could use some editing, the plot is good. Kelley can definitely tell a story, and I’m looking forward to more.

Reviewed January 2012

Taking a Chance at Love by Kesha Pride

Publisher/Date:  Pride Books, Oct. 2010
Genre(s):  Romance, Drama
Pages: 216

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

“Aren’t doctors supposed to be refined? Classy?”

Drs. Tori Becker and Kenya Jackson are both those things, but they are also full of romantic frenzy as seen in Kesha Pride’s debut novel, TAKING A CHANCE AT LOVE, a black lesbian-Grey’s Anatomy tinged love story.

At 29, Tori has her to-do list covered. Graduate medical school. Finish residency. Become a partner in a medical practice. The partnership she accepts relocates her from Houston to Atlanta, and into a swanky new condo, where she runs into a gorgeous woman in her elevator. At her first day of work, that beauty turns out to be Kenya, who has to be Tori’s trainee for the next three months.

That makes things awkward, but they know to keep a level of strict professionalism. It’s hard, though, when Kenya is extremely attracted to how smart, sexy and intellectual Tori is. Kenya has had her share of liaisons – a long term and a few NSAs* – but can envision settling down with Tori.

Meanwhile, Tori and Kenya console themselves with other women, and that’s where the commotion comes in. Jealous lovers, ex-girlfriend entanglements, and criminal mayhem threaten what they don’t “officially” have.  And the more they date, the more they know true love is right in front of them; they’re just afraid of the repercussions if their fraternization is found out.

Taking a Chance at Love is a good, quick read. There are a couple things you’ll shake your head at, but other than that, the drama is plentiful. I enjoyed the medical setting, which Pride writes with realism. Every workplace has its own excitement, and Tori and Kenya’s Atlanta General Hospital is no different.

* no strings attached

Reviewed February 2011

Pulling Me Back by GStarr

Publisher/Date:  UrbanL Publishing LLC, Aug. 2009
Genre(s):  Romance, Drama
Pages:  261

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

There’s always a fine line in friendships between women, a boundary that when crossed the pair is never the same again. That’s the invisible line Bre Morgan and Jordan Powers find themselves straddling when they become lovers in GStarr’s PULLING ME BACK.

The debut novel from UrbanL Publishing, run by authors V. Bella and GStarr, is a dramatic page-turner. Bre and Jordan never thought they’d end up with each other, especially since Bre is in love with a man at the start of the novel. Spoiled and sheltered, Bre oversees her father’s successful real estate firm and pretty much gets whatever she wants – except a commitment from her always-absent boyfriend, Sean. Dating for four years, they only see each other three times a month supposedly because of his job. Their fly-by-night relationship doesn’t exactly fit into Bre’s plans of being married with kids – she’s 33 – and his infrequent visits make her wonder what Sean is up to when he’s not with her.

Jordan, on the other hand, is 35 and avoids commitment like a trip to the gynecologist. While she doesn’t call herself a playa per se, her motto is “to satisfy yourself…first.” She can pull just about any woman, but when the thrill is gone, Jordan simply moves on to the next. Mya is her latest conquest, but the long-distance nature of their relationship is tedious, especially when she has eye candy like Bre to hang out with: perfect petite figure, long luxurious hair, small apple bottom ass.

The friends both believe they shouldn’t cross that line, but it happens one night not so unexpectedly. The sexual tension building between Bre and Jordan came together so smoothly that it scares both women. Jordan feels herself falling in love, and Bre is just trying to deal with being intimate with a woman for the first time. Is she a lesbian? What does all this mean? She already has enough to worry about with her family falling apart at the seams.

While it was inevitable that their friendship could translate into a romance, no one but GStarr could have predicted how volatile it would become. Secondary characters weave their way into Pulling Me Back in the most interesting fashion, and drama ensues. That alone makes GStarr’s first novel unforgettable.  I was drawn into the “will-they or won’t they” commotion between Jordan and Bre, and the sex scenes are sizzling.

Pulling Me Back will reel you in – and keep you hooked for pages on end.

Reviewed August 2010

Nothing Short of a Rainbow by Kaution

Publisher/Date:  Big Works Publishing/CreateSpace, Feb. 2009
Genre(s):  Romance, Studs & Femmes
Pages: 298

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

With NOTHING SHORT OF A RAINBOW, writer/artist Kaution aspires to take urban lesbian storytelling to the next level. As such, you should be forewarned because her debut novel is a gripping story full of the twists and turns of betrayal between best friends.

Seniors Teren Ramsey and Ray Romero are dogs for life, seeing each other through women, basketball and more women at ASU. The studs have been best friends since meeting as full-scholarship freshmen at basketball orientation, admiring each other’s passion for the game, and eventually, their passion for pretty femmes. That’s where there similarities end. Teren, the more reserved of the two, has trouble finding sincere, lasting love, while Ray has too many girls to juggle. It gets Ray into trouble that usually Teren has to get her out of.

One woman Ray dogged is fellow teammate and good friend Nia Alverez, who long carried a torch for the womanizer. Ray never gave her the time of day, leaving Teren to pick up the pieces of younger girl’s broken heart. Soon Nia catches feelings for Teren, who’s had a crush on the thick-bodied beauty for a while. When their affair goes public, Ray is the one who has the biggest problem with it.

Seeing Nia with Teren triggers Ray to see what she was missing, and a restless night ends with Nia and Ray in a compromising position. When Teren discovers the deceit, she abruptly cuts both out of her life.

Five years later, Teren has moved forward, but she still holds on to the loss and daydreams of what could have been with Nia. When Nia reappears, Teren realizes that she has a second chance. However, the past is something she can’t let go of, especially because Nia reminds her of the hurt she endured from the two people she loved most – her lover and her best friend.

Let me tell you, Nothing Short of a Rainbow is chock full of delicious sex, drama and duplicity. Secret crushes are revealed, the women are mad hot, the sex is explosive and several relationships are tested. That aside, the writing is choppy in places and changes narration abruptly, which slows down the reader.

But if it’s excitement you want in a novel, watch out – Kaution’s gonna give it to you.

Reviewed November 2009

Re:Building Sasha by Renee Bess

Publisher/Date:  Regal Crest, Nov. 2008
Genre(s):  Romance, Drama, Mature Lesbians
Pages:  268

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

When love is new, it’s passionate, exciting and full of promise; the days are sweeter, the sex is abundant. When love goes sour, the hope of happily ever after evaporates, leaving an empty shell of what could have been.

This is the predicament of Sasha Lewis, the loyal protagonist of Renee Bess’ third novel, RE:BUILDING SASHA. At first captivated by the fiery nature of her lover, Lee Simpson, Sasha finds her four-year relationship becoming combustible. Lee is a jealous, controlling lover who berates Sasha to the point of insanity. The abuse and neglect at Lee’s hands wounds Sasha, yet makes her try harder to accommodate Lee’s extreme mood swings.

The mistreatment has also made Sasha push everyone out of her life, including lifelong friends. The only area it doesn’t affect is her work at Whittingham Builders, her sanctuary from Lee’s wrath. It’s where Sasha takes pride in being the manager of a successful construction firm, overseeing the building of houses to completion. One such project involves Avery Sloan, an attractive new client Sasha’s company takes on, rehabbing a group home for the non-profit Avery operates.

It’s not Sasha and Avery’s first encounter, previously meeting by chance on a business flight. Now paired on a professional level, the two are drawn together, but that’s where it ends for Sasha. Though there’s an attraction to Avery, Sasha remains devoted to Lee – and her hesitancy may cost her the chance to experience love without fear of what her partner may do next.

Bess is in fine form with Re:Building Sasha, a multi-dimensional story with well-drawn characters. Sasha and Avery’s romance is smoldering, burning into something that could be deeper and satisfying. What’s compelling about Re:Building is Sasha’s pain felt through Bess’ superb writing, where you both hurt and root for her.

Bottom line: Bess shows you the rebuilding of woman ready for genuine love.

Reviewed February 2009