Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories, edited by Astrid Ohletz & Jae (The Reader’s Edition)

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Here it is, Ylva Publishing’s Halloween anthology 2014 – which might include a short story by yours truly. But since this is the ‘reader’s edition,’ I’m not gonna talk about that. I have a different post for the ‘writer’s edition’ here.

Let’s talk about the anthology.

14 authors have come together to create 14 amazing stories for our Halloween pleasure. And a true pleasure it is. What I found really wonderful with this anthology is the wide range of (scary) topics these stories cover.

Andi Marquette writes about ghost hunters in a haunted house, May Dawney about a local urban legend seemingly come to life, and Eve Francis about a vampire cop falling off the blood wagon.

And where there are vampires, there are werewolves and hunters. There are also witches and ghosts. But there’s also a lot of attraction between women and some sexy times.

As a person who truly loves Halloween, I couldn’t help but love this anthology. It’s a great read to enjoy with your chocolate-y Halloween treasures or some hot chocolate on a cold October night before a toasty fire. Some of it is scary, some tragic, some erotic, and then there’s somethng for the romantic among you.

All stories are well-written, all are entertaining and some are even better than all that. My favorites? S.M. Harding’s A Winter Story, R.G. Emanuelle’s Strega, and after that all the other stories.

This is an anthology for all those of you who like a good scare, love Halloween, or maybe just enjoy supernatural stories. But even if you only want to read some really great stories about lesbians and their loves – read it. You won’t be disappointed.

All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance edited by Andi Marquette & R.G. Emanuelle

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In some ways, I was brought up rather conservatively and must confess that I’m sometimes sticking to self-imposed traditions tightly. One of those is that I rarely strike out to explore all the excellent, talented writers of the genres I prefer. While I pushed myself to not limit myself when it comes to genre, I usually stick with the writers I know.

I’ve been reading lesbian romance for… let’s see, about 15 years now and this is probably the first time I’m going on a wide search for new writers to read. I was most literarily stuck (not that I regret reading those I’ve read or the many times I’ve read my favorites; I just feel I could have been more adventurous). The reason is simple: I’m afraid to be disappointed. If I know that one writer and they write the way I like it, why would I pick up a book by a writer I don’t know who might not write the way I like? It may sound silly with all the amazing talent out there, but as I said – I’m a little conservative at heart, even though I would probably claim the exact opposite in a lively discussion held late at night among friends.

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors, new stories, new themes, even. And this anthology proved to be a well of all the above and I’m really glad I unstuck myself to read about love and food and the sensuous adventures that begin if truly amazing talents mix both.

All You Can Eat is a pleasure. It combines the sensuous with the unexpected, the intimate with the breathtakingly erotic, and then there’s food and love and it’s sticky and messy and delightfully diverse. Marquette and Emanuelle present a feast of capable authors’ culinary fantasies that will satiate even the most ravenous reader.

It’s difficult to pick favorites from among these luscious stories. While they all include food and eating, they’re still very different, unique. And, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a literary offering within these pages that disappoints. Still, not all flavors are for every reader and if I had to pick one among each dish I would recommend these: Rebekah Weatherspoon – Burn, Andi Marquette – Sugar and ‘Shine (with a very close second Cheyenne Blue – Tomato Lady), and for dessert Yvonne Heidt – Turn the Tables. But believe you me when I say, all stories are worth a read, all writers are worth checking out… you can never discover too many good, new writers (and I have already lined up the next anthology to find even more).

 

 

 

Something in the Wine by Jae

somethinginthewineOkay, this is the first book I read on my kindle. I’ve decided to use it mostly for lesbian romances but that may change over time. I’ve also already put some classics on there – for once I get them for zilch, for another I really do need Pride and Prejudice in every readable format available (the power of Jane Austen).

But let’s look at Something in the Wine:

Annie Prideaux has finally had enough of her brother’s practical jokes after he sets her up with his friend Drew – a woman and a lesbian. While Drew Corbin is as nice as they get, Annie is straight. The two women plot their revenge on Jake but get caught up in their own scheme: as they try to convince him that they’re falling in love, they slowly do and this unleashes a lot of deeply-buried emotions in Annie that finally burst to the surface. Because nothing is ever as easy as falling in love.

After having read Second Nature by the same author, this is certainly a more traditional lesbian romance. I like the premise and it actually made me think about how I would do it. That is never a bad thing, it’s only a little frustrating that you didn’t have the idea and won’t be able to write it.

What I really like about Jae’s writing is that she gives her characters time to develop their relationship, be it through friendship or attraction. Friendships play a big role and I find that important, in life as in reading material. The same goes for family and I like how Jae builds the relationships within Annie’s family and how they have affected Annie her whole life, how they have also stunted her.

There is a lot of detail in the story-telling, a lot of character development. I usually find characters more important than plot points but, of course, things are still happening. Watching a presumably heterosexual woman fall for another woman is certainly not new in this genre but I like how Jae handles it, the turmoil, the insecurities, the denial. Maybe there’s a little too much of the latter for me but all coming-outs are different and maybe I simply had an easier time admitting to myself that I liked women.

As with Second Nature, there’s a lot of descriptive text and we usually get inside into both Annie and Drew’s feelings, often on the same scene. I still feel like she overdoes it a little on that front but as it’s all well-written and comprehensible it doesn’t hem the reading.

Something in the Wine is a solid romance, though I guess there should be a word of warning for those of us who like their romance on the erotic side: there’s no sex happening. There might be some of that in the short story Seduction for Beginners (it certainly sounds like it) which is a sequel to Something in the Wine. I haven’t read that yet but will probably check it out – and so should you if you liked this one.

Second Nature by Jae

secondnature1My reading habits are all over the map right now and there’s no sense or order in what I read or don’t read these days. Luckily, this fit into my research about the supernatural. So let’s talk shape-shifters:

Jorie Price is writing a novel. Unfortunately for her, the dreams that gave her the idea for her newest story are not just Freudian seductions like Stephanie Meyer’s – they’re prophecies about a species that lives in secret: shape-shifters. When Jorie’s beta-reader who is also a shifter becomes concerned about the accuracy of the descriptions of her species, she informs the Saru, a secret police force of shape-shifters who start to investigate the writer and a possible informant.

Griffen Westmore is the investigator who is send to Michigan to find out where Jorie gets her information. She’s just as private and closed off as Jorie and the two find it easier to connect with each other than with their respective families. But when Griffen’s commanding officer Cedric Jennings pushes the shape-shifters’ council to issue a killing order on Jorie Griffen has to decide where her loyalties lie or be caught in the cross fire between humans and shifters.

Second Nature is a compelling read. It has a great story and Jae conveys it expertly. She weaves a tapestry of family relations, friendship and devided emotions and doesn’t waver in her pursuit of a fascinating and exciting story. The beginning is a little slow but that is to be expected when the supernatural elements are introduced and it is never boring. Jae combines facts and fiction so elegantly that it is a pleasure to read about her creatures, their living situation and culture.

I have stated before that I’m not a great fan of writers who make their main characters writers. Too often it ends in tedious descriptions of what we writers find endlessly fascinating – the process of writing and living as writer – but what everybody else must recognize as masturbatory self-congratulation. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen here. Jae doesn’t dwell on whatever might be her own philosophy about writing, instead she introduces us to a main character who is not defined by her profession only. Jorie is interesting and three-dimensional and thus a believable target for the affections of a liger shape-shifter such as Griffen Westmore.

The love story between these two characters progresses slowly and believable. Private people like Jorie and Griffen don’t fall in love at first sight and their developing friendship is actually a greater focus of the book than the sexual attraction which happens simultaneously but more subtle than in most romances. Jae leaves her characters with enough room to figure out their feelings in their own time and I appreciate that very much.

While I really enjoyed this story and could hardly put it down after the chase for life had begun, there’s something about Jae’s style that’s a little tiring. While her descriptions are all very good, there are simply too many of them. This is especially true during conversations where the constant interpretation of emotions hems the flow of the dialogue. Jae does not seem to trust the reader to interpret scenes by themself and sometimes her explanations are repetitive. Strangely enough, this does not ruin the fun of the book as it is part of Jae’s writing style and perfectly incorporated into the story. Still, I think I could have done with less of it as interpretation is a part of reading I really enjoy – but maybe that’s just me.