the other by amir

Publisher/Date:, June 2012
Genre(s):  Romance, Transgender, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  320

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot:  Three best friends – Alex, Tyrell and Jewel – confront issues in their lives while holding on to their friendship in the other. It ain’t easy, though. Writer Alex, who made the transition from woman to man years prior, attempts to work through the tumultuous relationship with his late father – and then a new love steps into his life. Jewel has a new love, as well, but can’t put doggish ex Kyree out of her mind. Speaking of canines, compulsive cheater Tyrell has a gorgeous fiancé, Samantha, at home – and many others behind her back; he chalks up his behavior to being a “man” and Sam not giving him what he wants sexually. Despite the friends’ internal and romantic dilemmas, the one thing they never let go of is each other.

The Good:  The friendship is the best thing about the other. No matter what crazy situations the friends find themselves in, one is always there to be the voice of reason. the other also has a great voice in Alex, the deepest one of the trio, and Jewel is a diva with heart. Tyrell on the other hand…

The Not-So-Good:  Tyrell is a mess. How can one man be so heartless? I guess you’ll find out just how much. And at 320 pages, I think some pages could have been trimmed to make a neater story.

The Bottom Line: the other is for you if you like a thoughtful, drama-filled, character based story.

Reviewed April 2013

If You Love Me, Come by Claudia Moss

Publisher/Date:  Mariposa Publications, July 2011
Genre(s):  Romance, Mature Lesbians, Self-Love, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  376

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Following your heart is one thing; listening to spirits is divine in IF YOU LOVE ME, COME, the lovely novel by Claudia Moss.

Spirits are what led Freenonia Roberts to the Techwood Home projects one March night, nearly striking a boy named Mookie with her gray Mercedes, and sends her on a different path than she ever imagined. The owner of a thriving bookstore, Free’s life seemed enviable, with a small circle of friends and book club members, a doting mother and a head chef boyfriend. The night she meets Mookie’s sometime baby-sitter, Miz Too-Sweet, it begins a new relationship that only the spirits could align.

Seeing it as her personal mission, Free brings the Atlanta housing project an experience they wouldn’t forget, while Miz Too-Sweet spins life stories that provide the young woman, and, eventually, those around her, light in darkness. Free contends with whether she made the right decision to leave her boyfriend, J.T., even with his demanding ways. Rhonda, her baby sister, covets Free’s storied existence and doesn’t think her own is as fulfilling as a teacher, mother and wife. Sharmayne, Free’s best friend, leaves her dreadful marriage to Vince behind, shedding her closeted sexuality. Pinky, Mookie’s mother, attempts to find love through her three baby daddies, but nothing could cure the longing for the woman who abandoned her after childbirth.

All four women have crosses that seem too much to overcome. And all four discover, through spirits sometimes unknown, that love is the answer.

If You Love Me, Come is a beautiful book. I savored every page, where the story shifted from various points of view, as well as the Southern wisdom within its pages. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Mama Day by Gloria Naylor.

Mostly though, I was enamored by the many examples it showed of what love truly is.

Reviewed January 2012

Love Lust and a Whole Lotta Distrust by DeiIra Smith-Collard

Publisher/Date:  AriSiri Publishing, May 2008
Genre(s): Bisexual, Romance, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  276

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The ladies of Synergy Wireless are off the chain. Never has a group of scandalous employees been introduced than in LOVE LUST AND A WHOLE LOTTA DISTRUST by author DeiIra Smith-Collard. They love, they fight, and basically wreak havoc on own their own lives – just another day at the office.

Co-workers Nicole, Kendra Carmell and Natina play a lot harder than they work, bed-hopping and game-playing with the best of them. Nicole is the woman who refuses to take no for answer when it comes to fellow employee, Jason. Disregarding the fact that Jason is a player, she is determined to make the playboy settle down, even if it means tricking him and making a fool of herself – or destroying her relationship with her best friend, Kendra. Seeing Kendra and Jason together, she vows to do anything to push her friend out of the way to have Jason.

Meanwhile, Kendra’s not even studying Jason. She has her hands full with her own affair with Gia, a woman she met online. She chats with the Atlanta native every single day, exchanging poetry and photos. Soon the mental affair becomes a physical when Kendra is sent to Atlanta for work. They hit it off in, and Kendra is torn between the most passionate affair of her life and her dutiful husband.

While that drama unfolds, Carmell and Natina are new employees who extend their work endeavors to after-hours fun, hitting the town hard. It’s all fun at first, but there’s a misunderstanding when Carmell crosses the line with Natina. Believing Natina is sending her mixed signals, Carmell vows to make the woman her own, while humiliating her in the process and possibly destroying Natina’s new relationship with Louis.

And it just gets more outrageous from there. Smith-Collard keeps your attention with the antics of these amorous employees, where work takes a backseat to drama. The characters are fleshed out, and Smith-Collard is definitely a story-teller; it’s a rush just to see what will happen next.

But with all the going-ons going on at Synergy Wireless, I don’t see how the ladies get any work done.

Reviewed October 2008

Sister Girls 2 by Angel M. Hunter

Publisher/Date:  Urban Books, Mar. 2008
Genre(s):  Contemporary Fiction, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  288

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sequels usually take off where the last novel begins, hopefully with the characters wiser than they were before. This is the case with SISTER GIRLS 2, but author Angel M. Hunter offers a twist from its predecessor by adding new women to the mix.

Wrestling with her sexuality in the last book, Elsie is back with a new job and different goals. She begins Essence of Self, a non-profit organization to benefit young women, and spends most of her time thinking about being a mother. While her biological clock ticks away, Elsie begins realize she made a mistake by letting go of her ex, Summer, and her young daughter. If she hadn’t broken it off, Elsie cold have had the family she wanted. Can she finally make things right between them?

Faith is the counselor employed at Essence, who might need a therapist of her own. She advises women on their issues, but comes home to an empty marriage with her husband Raheem. He saved her from the destructive path she once lived, and will never let her forget it. When she meets a man who loves the new woman she’s become, is it too late for her to save her marriage?

Harmony, the new receptionist at Essence, sees her job as a fresh start. Tired of working dead-end jobs, she wants to make something of herself, and give her three children a better life. Though they all have separate daddies, her boyfriend Shareef has been there for all of them. He wants to give Harmony the world, but she can’t appreciate all he does for their family. Will she figure out that Shareef is truly there for her?

Last but not least is Pastor Bella Gold, who provides a spiritual influence for the center. She struggles with her own demons from her past. Running a church is a responsibility she takes seriously, and feels if her congregation will never accept whom she was before. It gets more complicated when a face from her former days shows up in her pews. Has he come to ruin her chance for redemption?

Hunter’s Sister Girls 2, just like its original, presents readers with four women with pasts they can’t run from. They have to face the truth about their lives, no matter how painful. Unlike Sister Girls, though, it seemed as if the women were more disjointed, but they pull together by the novel’s close. Hunter dug deeper into her characters this time, and it made the experience a little more sisterly.

Reviewed May 2008

In the Company of My Sistahs by Angie Daniels

Publisher/Date:  Dafina, Jan. 2007
Genre(s):  Contemporary Fiction, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  448

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The tomfoolery of four females in Jamaica is at the center of IN THE COMPANY OF MY SISTAHS, written in fun and all seriousness by romance author Angie Daniels.

Sistahs reads like a black soap opera with all the drama consumed in its 488 pages. The book is mostly narrated by Renee Moore, the wild child of the women, who has been through two failed marriages. It will soon be three if Renee can help it. And what her current husband doesn’t give her, she finds in frivolous flings. Going on this trip with her sister and two friends was just what she needs to make a decision about her marriage – if she can manage the time between her many suitors on the island.

Her big sister, Lisa, is using this trip to break some heart-wrenching news to her younger sibling. Figuring the sun and surf of Jamaica would provide a relaxing backdrop to reveal her devastating confession, she only hopes that the secret will help Renee realize that life is too short to take granted.

If anyone needs that lesson it’s their friend Kayla, who has resorted to being the mistress of a married man. She spends most of her time catering to the illicit ills of a Baptist preacher whom she’s sure will leave his wife and soon make her a minister’s wife. Kayla can’t see beyond her weight that she is a woman worthy to be loved. A man she meets on the island hopes to change her mind.

Last, but certainly not least, is Nadine, a closeted lesbian who has a great relationship with her lover, Jordan. She knows Jordan is exactly what she needs in her life, but familial obligations won’t allow her to reveal the woman she’s in love with – even to her closest friends.

I could turn the pages fast enough with Sistahs, and I didn’t want to because I was afraid I would miss something. The plot is so detailed and the characters’ flaws were so undisguised. Daniels wrote the novel in a candid and honest fashion, almost the point you wanted to knock some sense into the ladies. She also provided enough background of the characters that you could understand why they do what they do. And by the book’s end, you realize that they are far from perfect.

I would definitely recommend Sistahs for anyone who wants a quick and entertaining story with heart.

Reviewed February 2008

Sister Girls by Angel M. Hunter

Publisher/Date:  Kensington Publishing Corporation, May 2006
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Straight Books with Lesbian Characters
Pages:  304

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Interracial dating, drug abuse and lesbianism run rampant in SISTER GIRLS, the novel written by Essence best-selling author Angel M. Hunter. These four distressed sistahs have their problems cut out for them in this cookie-cutter plot that comes out a little flat.

Crystal, Susie, Elsie own the New Jersey law firm where Jewell works as a secretary. Although not exactly enemies, the ladies aren’t really that familiar with one another outside of work. But each has her own problems that eventually lead them to create a fast friendship.

Crystal is the former rape victim still holding on to the pain of that unfortunate act. Her nights are sleepless, and when she does lie down, her nightmares begin. By all appearances, she seems put together, but her pain leads to destructive behavior like drinking and dating a married man.

Hard-nosed Susie knows she has a drug problem, but doesn’t know how to stop. It’s all she can do to make it through the day without a hit. But when her fiancé returns with a marriage proposal, she knows she has to give up the white horse.

Elsie, the most easy-going of the four, is trying her best not to move in with her lesbian lover, Summer. It’s not that Elsie doesn’t love Summer; it’s just that she loves her privacy more. And now that Summer’s daughter has come to stay with her permanently, she definitely doesn’t want to step into a ready-made family. Her decision is made all the more complicated when her ex, Jenay, returns to town.

And single-mother Jewell finds herself uncomfortably dating a white man for the first time. But does her discomfort come from being with him or the fact that she still has feelings for her baby daddy?

Hunter’s characters and problems were the center of this sordid tale, but they didn’t exactly shine. Although you could easily relate to their problems, the women seemed one dimensional. And the ending leaves you hanging at the end. You could tell Hunter left it open for a sequel, but I wanted a better conclusion than what I got.

Sister Girls is an easy read, one you could probably finish in a few hours on a lazy afternoon.

Reviewed June 2006