Publisher/Date: Bold Stroke Books, May 2013
Genre: Bisexual, Romance, Drama
Leave it to Fiona Zedde to come up with a tantalizing theme for her latest book – polyamory – a subject that black folks might do, but don’t talk candidly about. Being a part of a couple that openly allows the other to have sex with someone outside their relationship is usually left to whispered conversations. Zedde shows us in BROKEN IN SOFT PLACES that it’s not only possible, but there may be a reason why people engage in or stay away from this type of coupling.
Sara Chambers could never resist the enigmatic Rille Thompson since their first meeting at a college party, Sara as an innocent freshman to senior Rille’s big-lesbian-on-campus status. Sara spent a good amount of time wishing Rille could be hers only, however, Rille resisted being tied down to anything singular in nature, including her lovers – be they female or male. Sara and Rille attempted to find freedom in each other for different reasons, but their feverish connection proves combustible right before Rille graduates.
Fast forward to present day, and the pair found their way back to each other, despite the many wounds Rille inflicted on Sara way back when. Much hasn’t changed, except now Sara is an attorney and Rille is a physics professor. And they have someone else occupying their bed. A man named Steven.
Sara never liked this arrangement from the start, and it weighs on her, never having Rille to herself, a situation Sara has allowed since their college days. The good thing is Sara recognizes why she stays with Rille, a woman with no self-control, and why being with Rille makes her feel somehow feel whole. Or does it? Can she untangle herself from Rille’s dominance as she allows monogamy to pass her by? Will she keep allowing her heart to be baby-sat by a woman someone who doesn’t know what love is?
Layers upon layers disintegrate the more you get to know the people in Broken in Soft Places. I can’t say enough about the flawless writing Zedde endows the reader, words coming together seamlessly and alluringly like Zedde knows how to do. She also dug deep in her portrayal of the war-torn Sara and Steven, and to a smaller extent, Rille. *sigh* Rille is so callous and as I read, she just got under my skin (the sign of a good character). I couldn’t stand how she treated Sara, and really anyone who stood in the way of her pleasure principle (Freud would have a field day with her on his couch). Yet, I did feel some sympathy for her that she couldn’t open up herself to love. And frustrated that Sara couldn’t find the love she wanted and deserved.
Reviewed June 2013
5 Quick Questions for Fiona Zedde about Broken in Soft Places
Polyamory is such a taboo subject in the black community. And you’ve written Broken In Soft Places, such an invasive book about it. What was your motivation? Is it a taboo subject? I didn’t realize that. I know it’s not overtly accepted in most mainstream spaces but I think many people live it. There are women who know about and accept their wife or husband’s other lover. Couples that regularly have threesomes or identify as swingers. Groups of friends with benefits. My motivation for writing Broken In Soft Places as I did came from needing to talk about one of the elephants in the room; something we all know about but seldom explore in fiction. These polyamorous relationships exist but discussing the truth around what happens with the people involved is what can be considered taboo.
What do you say to readers who are surprised by the three-way relations in your novel? That’s a good question. I’ve already had readers express a certain amount of shock by the plot and characters of the novel. My response is that I wanted to write something different, true and challenging. I don’t exactly think of it as controversial, but it could be thought-provoking. I’ll always write lesbian characters (like Sara) but their sexual relationships may not always be monogamous or even easily defined by the constructs of accepted social behavior. And their stories, just like in real life, may not end as expected.
Sara is a fractured soul and Rille is a free spirit if I’ve ever seen one. What did it take to write both characters who seem polar opposites? I started off writing about Sara and all the pain she was suffering. And it was through her “broken” spirit that Rille’s character was born. I wondered what type of woman would Sara be attracted to and why? When the answer came to me, it wasn’t about how this woman would look and identify, but about her attitude in the world. This attitude is what Sara wants to embrace for herself. She desires freedom. She wishes she didn’t care what the world thinks. She wants to be stronger. Rille is the embodiment of all these yearnings.
Have you ever been in a poly relationship? No, I haven’t. I’ve been approached about being in one; it isn’t for me.
If you could have a threesome with any celebrities, whom would they be? Michelle Rodriguez and Eve, but Michelle would have to be tied up. I’ve heard she gets violent.