Lesbian Funk: A Journey Into the Oblivion by The Lesbian Goddess (Nov. 2009 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Women of Choice, Apr. 2009
Genre: Erotica
Pages:  149
Website:  http://www.womenofchoice.com 

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The road to pleasure is paved with great sex, and The Lesbian Goddess is your chauffeur with her newest novel, LESBIAN FUNK:  A JOURNEY INTO THE OBLIVION.

The third installment of the Orchids series is narrated by Kaili as she discovers what makes her tick through a roller-coaster orgasmic journey. In each episode, her hidden fantasies become real, those desires she never thought would surface. Her first adventure involves a woman, and Kaili is bewildered by what this means. Coming from a failed, sexless marriage to being seduced by a woman – her therapist, nonetheless – leaves her gloriously spent but confused.

Following this, Kaili changes venue and relocates to Arizona. She thought leaving everything behind would suppress her lesbian tendencies, yet moving only magnifies her problems; she ends up in more relations with women, each exploit more captivating and hotter than the last. Kaili can’t believe what has become of herself; it’s as if she’s someone else.

And it’s somewhat true. Throughout her romps, Kaili is led by an unknown female voice taunting her psyche, there from the initial affair with her therapist. Who is this mysterious spirit directing inner-most desires, telling her how and where to get off? That’s what Kaili wants to know, and her search guides her to a sexual height she’s never known.

The Lesbian Goddess is known for her poetic raunchiness, an erotic wordsmith who’s not afraid to go there. Just like her previous collections, Lesbian Funk is no different. It paints a vivid picture of a woman enjoying the pleasures of the female form, and celebrates it through prose and poetry, the latter introducing each chapter. While the metaphysical aspect of the book may throw some readers, it’s unlike anything you’ve read before.

After all, everyone has a sexual alter ego. Sasha Fierce, anyone?

Reviewed November 2009

Losing Control by Cheril N. Clarke

Publisher/Date:  Dodi Press, June 2009
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  216
Website:  http://www.cherilnclarke.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Brianna Anderson knows love and politics oftentimes lead to scandal, so she’s covering her bases in LOSING CONTROL, the latest from revered author Cheril N. Clarke. The author of best-sellers Intimate Chaos and Tainted Destiny has delivered another captivating novel, this time following Brianna and her bid for City Council.

In case you forgot, Brianna is the go-getter in Tainted Destiny who left Sadira to pursue a career in the public sector. Brianna is now running for office in Rockville, New Jersey, a depressed city marked by unemployment, homelessness and political corruption. Brianna’s intentions, while she doesn’t have much experience, are pure and motivated by lifting the fog of hopelessness blanketing the city’s poorest residents.

Her opponent, however, is a woman led by pure greed. Three-term incumbent Colleen Smith, the councilwoman elected for three consecutive terms, wants to defeat the green candidate at any cost. Colleen could care less about her impoverished community, but rather reaping the wealth her position has afforded her on the backs of the people she serves.  With the stones Colleen’s throwing, Brianna cannot allow her deepest secret to be uncovered and therefore denies her sexuality – even as her attraction is growing for city treasurer Pam Thompson.

The pair meet somewhere along Brianna’s campaign trail, and are instantly drawn together. Brianna can’t help but feel something toward Pam, an intelligent, gorgeous woman, but indulging their feelings would mean Pam would have to deny something, also: her husband. And imagine the scandal that would erupt if Brianna’s opponent were to find out. She’s worked too hard, and there’s too much at stake for both her and Pam to lose.

Clarke’s Losing Control combines an involved love story with the behind-the-scenes action of a campaign. The romance between Brianna and Pam builds slowly, and takes a while to reach its peak – figuratively and sexually – but is worth reading to see how it ends. Clarke is proficient when it comes to the agony of love, and Losing Control shows what happens when the sacrifice is worth it.

Reviewed November 2009

She Slipped and Fell by Shonda

Publisher/Date:  Authorhouse, Oct. 2008
Genre:  Romance
Pages: 263
Website:  http://www.shondasbookshelf.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Love can blossom in many ways: a knowing glance between women, a friendship turned love affair, stumbling and collapsing on top of someone. All these things can lead to love – especially the latter – as witnessed by author Shonda’s SHE SLIPPED AND FELL, a romance developed between best friends Tina Jones and Kendall Long.

Meeting in the foulest circumstances in the ladies’ room, the girls become fast friends despite having contrasting personalities. Kendall is a reserved and quiet beauty, where Tina is the more outspoken charmer. Both are sexy and intelligent, with men falling all over them. Their friendship survives through high school, boyfriends and the usual teenage misadventures. However, it was during their undergrad years that Tina and Kendall come into their own and are closer than ever, even while attending separate schools and pledging different sororities.

But it happens one night that they are left to their own devices after a party and a slip – literally – leads Tina and Kendall to fall hard for one another and share a passionate encounter. Because they have boyfriends, their affair is kept secret. Soon it becomes clear, though, that Tina wants to be out and open, something Kendall can’t handle. It breaks them apart, and once they graduate, all their years together can’t stop them from losing touch.

Tina soon lands at an Atlanta university, pursuing a medical degree. She meets someone new, opening herself up to new experiences. She can finally admit being gay to her family and lives her life accordingly. In contrast, Kendall moves back home with her parents, simply working for a living. But tragedy strikes Kendall’s family, and it leads her straight back to Tina. It’s not long before she admits the love she had for Tina never left. Does Tina, however, feel the same?

Shonda’s She Slipped and Fell is the love story that can happen between two friends who didn’t see it coming. Their love is heartfelt and built on a foundation of admiration and trust – the way most relationships should be. Shonda has a good tale on her hands, even with some plot devices that seem to come out of nowhere. Slipped is a book you can breeze through and be content by the end.

Reviewed June 2009

What Goes Around Comes Back Around by C. D. Kirven (Feb. 2009 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Outskirts Press, Nov. 2008
Genre(s):  Coming of Age, Coming Out, Identity, Self-Love
Pages:  224
Website:  http://www.cdkirven.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Karmic retribution allows the universe to make things happen the way the world intended. Yet we still have some control over our destiny, to shape the future based on our experiences and goals. C. D. Kirven’s debut novel, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES BACK AROUND, builds on this premise as we follow the coming of age of Kingsley Ross.

As the novel begins, Kingsley can be best described as passive, a 14-year-old girl who believes her grandmother’s words of what goes around comes around. She and her best friend, Tanya, spend their days doing typical teenage mischief, which returns to bite her in the ass. When it comes to getting what she wants, Kingsley doesn’t aggressively pursue her desires, and by adulthood, she’s living with glimmers of regrets.

One decision she laments is not allowing herself to fall in love. Uncomfortable with her blossoming lesbian tendencies, Kingsley fails to pursue a relationship with a woman she meets through a set-up, the drop-dead gorgeous Emery, who has the swagger to make Kingsley swoon despite her trepidation of being with a woman. They spend a glorious night together, leaving Kingsley more confused than ever. When Kingsley sees her months later – with another woman – it devastates her that she never told Emery how she felt. She let her fears prevent her from the love she could have had.

Seeing Emery moving on with her life, Kinsley vows to take charge of her own, experiencing everything the world has to offer. It helps her to see things clearly, to see that she was living by other’s standards – her family, society – instead of her own.

“I realized that all this time I had been thinking that I was no one on my own but everything with someone else. This was a lie that became my way of life. I am everything now…”

Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, What Goes Around Comes Back Around captures a woman’s passage to herself. Through Kirven’s writing, it’s refreshing to see Kingsley grow from her antics as a teenager to a woman of her own. The transformation, described in colorful detail, is engrossing on many levels: Kingsley becoming an adult, accepting her sexuality, and discovering herself. Kirven allows you to take the ride with her character, and while a little bumpy, it leads to a place of self-fulfillment and love.

Reviewed February 2009

Re:Building Sasha by Renee Bess

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

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

You Think You Know by Fina (Dec. 2008 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Seven Stages Publishing House, June 2008
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  132
Website:  http://www.finasflow.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

What you don’t know about YOU THINK YOU KNOW, the debut novel from author Fina, is that you can’t possibly know just how good it is to read a work of black lesbian fiction as passionate, honest and explosive as these 15 tales of love between women.

Each story electrifies with carnal desires and insatiable lust, while caressing the heart in sincere reflections. Nothing has ever felt this easy when it comes to describing  our lives and loves.

Take for example, the confusion expressed in “The Lesbian Circle of Destruction,” which revolves around the scandalous relationships we have as women-loving  women. Monogamy is a dirty word with these women, whose almost incestuous ties can be found in any small lesbian community. For instance, your best friend is sleeping with your ex, while you’re still pining away over your first love, who’s now your best friend. Talk about complicated.

What you see is what you get in “She Finally Let Me Have a Femme All to Myself.” Who can ignore a story that begins with, “Have you ever just wanted to eat some pussy?” It gets more uninhibited from there, in a way that grabs your attention and won’t let go.

Balanced with the hardcore fantasies of You Think You Know are thoughtful works about love, expressed in “You,” pinpointing the exact moment a woman falls in love, and “Family Night,” a piece portraying the life of lesbian parents finding time for each other when the kids aren’t around.

Fina points out that you’ll wonder what happened to “good old fashioned wholesome ladies,” and it’s true when you read “An Eye for an Eye,” wherein a stud finds herself caught between a wife and a mistress. You may think you know how the story ends, but trust me, you can’t envision this ending.

The assorted tales of You Think You Know are riveting, able to draw you with their simple, sinful sentiments. Grammatical errors aside, simply put: Fina can tell a story. What she’s also able to do is depict our relationships for what they are – both beautiful and ugly at times.

And that’s what you should know about You Think You Know.

Reviewed December 2008

Iridescence: Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica by Jolie du Pre (Editor)

Publisher/Date:  Alyson Books, June 2007
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  240
Website:  http://www.joliedupre.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Iridescence can be defined as “a play of lustrous, changing colors.” In Jolie du Pre’s own IRIDESCENCE: SENSUOUS SHADES OF LESBIAN EROTICA, she definitely plays with the lines of color with a mélange of ethnic women seeking pleasure.

A writer featured in several erotica anthologies, du Pre has compiled a collection of stories featuring females of African American, Caucasian, Asian, Latina and Indian descent in varying sexual rendezvous and compromising situations. Every tale has its own flair, and the rainbow of races shown in the pages of Iridescence present a multicolored hue not often seen in lesbian literature. That’s what makes Iridescence all the more special.

The book begins with Fiona Zedde’s “Night Music,” a melodious romance budding between Rhiannon, a shy orchestra lover, and Zoya, a dreadlocked violin player. They meet after Zoya’s concert at the symphony hall, realizing their attraction could create a harmony all its own. “Lick ‘Er License” offers a glimpse into a Latina nightclub,  where a bartender serves drinks with a passion for her clients, and ends up finding her own love in the club.

While romance is on display in Iridescence, the same can be said for clothes-ripping, steamy encounters, such as the tantalizing “Shopping in New York,” where a boring wait for a friend in a dressing room turns into a naughty scene for a Latina butch; she’ll never look at miniskirts in the same way. In “The Portrait,” an artist asks a  beautiful Asian woman to be her model in an attempt to capture the rich colors of her luminous skin, and finds herself desiring more than what’s on her easel.

Iridescence, in its fervor to bring something different to the table, also attempts to break down stereotypes. For example, a patron desires both the curry chicken and the exotic waitress at her favorite Indian restaurant. While Sasha is turned on by the authentic dress of the hostess, she gets her own surprise when she sees the woman sans sari and bindi – and realizes her Indian fantasy is nothing compared to the real woman behind the costume. Sasha learns is perception isn’t everything.

The final act, written by du Pre, is simply titled “Monisha,” a tale involving two Black women who meet at a coffee shop. How typical, until Monisha invites the patron into her world, finding passion like she’s never known. Too bad she has other obligations.

Iridescence is vibrant, giving the reader so many shades of love that each one stands out. We get to know more about different cultures, from the way they interact to  how they live. What makes the book so cohesive is that desire knows no race, but looks into the heart of the woman. That’s what du Pre conveys in Iridescence, and it  shows in every connection and every infatuation.

It’s time we had a book like this.

Reviewed December 2008

Lookin’ For a Lover by Zaria

Publisher/Date:  New World Publishing, May 2008
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  30
Website:  http://www.freewebs.com/zariajones

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If that’s true, the characters in LOOKIN’ FOR A LOVER are sure to have a spot saved just for them.

Lookin’ For a Lover, the debut novel from author Zaria, follows the path leading to love, one that had such high hopes but doesn’t necessarily end on that street. The main character, Zaria Jones, thought her long-desired dreams of being with a woman were finally fulfilled, but, like life, doesn’t always work out as planned.

Zaria is a thoughtful, no-nonsense day care director by day, and a true freak at night. Her fantasies are of the woman variety, and are so vivid that she begins to question her sexuality. Despite what her dreams suggest, Zaria denies her passion, believing that it’s just because she hasn’t found “a good man” yet. She’s looking but hasn’t had any luck, except for her maintenance man, Blade.

Her luck changes when she discovers her perfect mate is a woman, whom she meets by chance at a local bookstore. Zaria is instantly entranced by Charmaine’s hazel eyes and bodacious frame. They hit it off and soon begin seeing a lot more of each other. It gets real serious real fast. Zaria couldn’t have imagined her all dreams could have come true with her first lesbian relationship.

From there, Zaria’s ready to tell the world how happy she is. Everyone’s not exactly thrilled with the couple’s new-found love. It takes a strength Zaria’s never known to face the fact that she’s in love, and to get past the rejection from her family and friends. Zaria knows her relationship with Charmaine is worth the pain – or is it?

Lookin’ For a Lover is an intense but enjoyable novel. The book is filled with Zaria’s sugar-filled fantasies taken to the next level. Those moments alone will keep you enthralled, but the novel’s supporting characters and their storylines take the cake, as well. I definitely plan to read the sequel. With that being said, some of the book’s more outrageous situations will lead one to believe being gay is a catalyst to being crazy.

This makes for a more exciting read, but a sad one, nonetheless.

Reviewed August 2008

Hersband by Christina Batista

Publisher/Date:  BookSurge Publishing, Dec. 2006
Genre(s): Romance, Hispanic Fiction
Pages:  254
Website:  http://www.hersband.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

What starts in the 1960s and ends in the 1990s is the basis for HERSBAND, the semi-autobiographical, debut novel from Christina Batista. Protagonist Dena Vargas is a Brooklyn-born lesbian searching for true love, but instead discovers all kinds of misadventures with women.

With her light skin, curly hair and green eyes, Dena endured being a tomboy and having crushes on girls. She had always been honest with herself and her family about her sexuality, but finding someone to love proved to be the harder task.

After coming out at 20, she begins her foray into the gay world, along with her lesbian cousin Hilda. The women share the experiences and drama of falling and out of in love. Dena’s first encounter occurs when she becomes enamored of Marcy, a woman she meets at a party. Like the story of Cinderella, the pair share one dance, but due to unforeseen circumstances, don’t cross paths again. Dena spends months trying to find Marcy, turning down other available women to find the one she’s meant to be with.

And they do finally come together. And fall in love. And break up. And get back together. And break up yet again. Two years of this leads to the demise of their relationship, and dumps Dena back into the dating pool. This time though, she finds only quick or dead-end flings – and Dena never settles for the status quo.

Yet Dena’s story is far more than just her journey to love. It’s also about parties, dildos, fights, family, and simply a typical coming of age for a lesbian. Dena’s saga culminates when she realizes it’s time to settle down and become an adult – a transition we all have to make one way or another.

Hersband is an amiable novel, written by Batista with a flair for chronicling the life of a Hispanic lesbian. Here’s a character you’ll follow in her passage from a child and to a grown woman. Though slow at first, Hersband builds to a satisfying, cliffhanging finale.

What happens next with Dena, you never know – but you’ll want to find out.

Reviewed June 2008

Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology edited by Zane

Publisher/Date:  Strebor Books, May 2008
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  320
Website:  http://www.eroticanoir.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Doesn’t matter what the color, all undergarments come off just as easily in PURPLE PANTIES, the newest book from renowned erotica writer Zane, author of best-selling books Addicted and Chocolate Flava. This time, she focuses her view strictly on the ladies in this anthology of 26 lesbian tales of passion.

As Zane says in her introduction, “You might need a few drinks when you read this book, definitely a sex toy or lover, but you are in for one hell of a ride.” Truer words were never written as you peruse story after story varying from tender romance to rip-your-bra-off sex. Not one author fails to ignite a spark with each page.

Take for instance Laurinda D. Brown’s “It’s All or Nothing,” which finds housewife Meena realizing she gave up too much for her husband, and it took another woman’s kiss to cut the apron strings. Then a pleasure-seeking vacationer looks for “Island Goddess” at a paradise resort, and toy-shopping takes on a whole new meaning at with an adult store proprietor taking advantage of her own products in “Miss Julidene’s Sexy Items.”

One of the highlights of Purple Panties is women discovering the delights of the female sex for the first time. This is portrayed in stories such as “The Finest Man,” wherein a feminine security guard is tantalized by the masculine individual at her workplace, even after realizing he’s really a she. Syreeta then ponders what her attraction to the stud says about herself, because she’s ready to give it up – no matter what the gender.

As expected, Purple Panties has the no-holds barred escapades that blaze with undeniable chemistry. That’s provided courtesy of “The Purple Panty Revue,” as Jay meets the faceless neighbor that’s haunted her fantasies for the past few weeks; the surprise is where they finally encounter one another – and what happens next.

Zane’s own novella is saved for last with “In My Mind,” a tale of a nude art model who poses at local university. One particular co-ed catches Emile’s eye, and she wishes to depict her feelings with the shy undergraduate – if only she could break the student’s aloof exterior.

Purple Panties proves more than provocative, worthy of getting your underwear damp. The only objection is that some stories seem to stop abruptly, and I was left wanting more. Yet I love the fact Zane is bringing lesbian literature to a mainstream black audience; in fact, she’s planning to publish a sequel to Panties early next year.

And I, for one, will be happily waiting – because Zane always knows how to put it down.

Reviewed June 2008