Between Girlfriends by Elizabeth Dean

Publisher/Date:  Kensington Publishing Corporation, May 2004
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  264

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Elizabeth Dean has become one of my favorite authors. Her uproarious first novel, It’s in Her Kiss, paired a contemporary theme with an intelligent storyline, and created a first-rate book.

And BETWEEN GIRLFRIENDS is no different.

This story is about the lives of four lesbians who are smart, attractive and very with-it. Gracy is the narrator, a freelance writer who meets Blair, Parker, and Leslie at a New Year’s Eve Party. The four become fast friends and soon share everything – their lives, their loves, their joys, and their pains. It’s touching to find a group of hip lesbians, but I’m not quite sure how realistic.

Lesbians do bond quickly; in fact, it’s the basis of most of our relationships: quick, quick, and quicker. Yet I’m not quite sure how often a group of this make up comes together. Let’s see. There’s Gracy, a writer (white); Parker is a rich, white businesswoman with a horny appetite; Lindsey (white) is a lawyer who doesn’t take many risks in life, and Blair is a black schoolteacher who is so prudent and prissy. Could this makeup really happen? I guess. I do applaud Dean for showing and embracing diversity. Some “authors” wouldn’t dare take that chance.

Beyond that, the novel was highly entertaining. I loved the jokes, the witty banter and the discussion of today’s lesbian lifestyles. A lot of their points I agreed with wholeheartedly, like how lesbians move fast in relationships, how to find a “single” lesbian with no issues, and how lesbians never quite seem to let go of their exes. I just really had a lot of fun with this book. The story was truthful in its observations of our species, but didn’t take itself too seriously.

In fact, I could call Between Girlfriends the lesbian Sex and the City.

Oh wait, we already have The L Word.

Reviewed March-April 2006

He Had It Coming by Camika Spencer

Publisher/Date: St. Martin’s Griffin, Sept. 2004
Genre:  Mainstream Fiction
Pages:  212

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Arrogant, misogynistic Marcus Brooks gets more than he bargained for in HE HAD IT COMING, Camika Spencer’s tale of sweet revenge by the hands of five fed-up women.

Marcus is a fiction writer who’s made best-sellers lists by creating books about sistahs being the black man’s burden. Haunted by memories of his own bitter mother, he believes women are no-good, manipulative creatures. How else could one explain the title of his next book, Bitches, which is inciting women to protest?

Raylene, Naomi, Gwena, Thelma and Latice, all members of the Second Pew Book Club, planned to stand with thousands of other disgruntled women. But when a chance meeting with Marcus leads to a horrible incident involving a homeless woman, the five friends hatch a better plan: kidnap him and teach him a lesson he’ll never forget.

The ladies, who praised Marcus Brooks’ first novel, now feel his attitude has gotten out of hand and he needs to be put in check. So they subdue him and take him to Thelma’s house where they handcuff him to pipes underneath the kitchen sink. At first, their plan is to make him write another novel to replace Bitches, but that plan is quickly abandoned. The ladies realize that holding Marcus is more difficult than they imagined, especially since they have to take shifts to watch him and he’s berating them at every turn.

And along the way, each woman is dealing with her own personal issues. Raylene caught her fiancé, a preacher no less, getting busy with another church member; Naomi takes her hard-working husband for granted, while Thelma’s substituting human love with the affections of a dog; Latice can’t deal with her wanna-be-grown son; and Gwena’s hasn’t told her girls that Marcus is a man from her past.

Then the worst happens. When they finally agree to let Marcus go, he’s already freed himself by breaking the handcuffs – and all hell breaks loose.

Spencer writes an intriguing book full of humor, suspense, and plain old fun. It also brings honest conversations about women and men. He Had It Coming is not a lesbian novel, but the camaraderie of the five women is one to be admired. It proves a black man is no match for a strong black woman – especially five crazy ones.

Reviewed November 2005