Wild by Meghan O’Brien

wildThis year sees me doing strange things – readingwise. One is that I’m giving into a passion for the supernatural that I never before acknowledged I had. Shape-shifters, vampires and witches, oh my. Yes, it’s also research for my own future endeavor to write a supernatural story but it’s also natural inclination.

Of course, there’s always the romance to go with it and Meghan O’Brien’s Wild has plenty of that. Here’s what it’s about:

When pathologist Eve Thomas is attacked by a man in Golden Gate Park, a wolf comes to her rescue and runs the attacker off. But both the masked guy and the wolf are more than they seem on first sight. The man who attacked Eve is a serial killer in the making, obsessed with Eve who helped the police catch a serial killer before. The wolf is shape-shifter Selene Rhodes with whom Eve falls in love over the course of the novel.

Life and relationships get complicated when one has to hide a part of one’s person and while love hits both women fast and passionately, complete honesty is a hard concept to learn for gun shy Selene. And dealing with a psychopathic killer isn’t easy either.

O’Brien weaves an interesting story. She’s a good story teller, her style is easy and fluid. Eve and Selene are great characters with deep emotions and some insecurities. I also like the idea of the empathetic link between them. For all those reasons, Wild is a great read and I’m confident readers will also enjoy the steamy sex and there’s plenty of it.

At times I thought it was a little bit much but as it fits very well into the story about these two, well, creatures really it at least made sense.

Something I found more difficult to take are the moments of female domination, I want to call it. In a way, it makes sense, again. A shape-shifter is at least part animal and to feel terretorial and overprotective makes sense for Selene. But why Jac, Eve’s ex-girlfriend has to exhibit these traits even more aggressively to a point where she grabs and pulls and pushes Eve around, I just don’t get. And reading scenes like that are rather off-putting. Maybe I’m too sensitive but if a woman behaves that way toward me, I’m telling her off. The whole character of Jac felt too pushy somehow and I didn’t get why Eve would want to stay friends with her. I didn’t like Jac, at all, something I regret because female homicide cops are one of my favorite lesbian stereotypes.

And with stereotypes come clichés and I felt that O’Brien uses a lot of those. I cherish a good cliché, something to be showy about and also make a little fun of. The use of chlichés in Wild seemed overdone and not at all conscious but just in a way as if to say, this has to be so because it’s always been done this way. And using chlichés in that capacity is lame, because it’s exactly how they shouldn’t be used, why they have such a bad reputation, in fact. They make the plot predictable, the characterization suffers and they become annoying when overused.

I must say that it took me a good long while to read this. That was not due to the story but because I’m still not in my regular reading-mode. I’m incredibly slow these days, but it doesn’t reflect on the story. Wild is a good romance with believable thriller elements, and steamy, animalistic sex. O’Brien wrote a great story about a shape-shifter and her characters were well thought-through. I like it, but I don’t love it.

Devil’s Rock by Gerri Hill

Karin Kallmaker is usually referred to as the Queen of Lesbian Romance but Hill is my declared favorite. I think she is constantly better – of course, it is just possible that I have yet to encounter one of her novels that will disappoint me terribly. Devil’s Rock is not that novel. It is a solid if not her best work.

Deputy Andrea Sullivan has left L.A. to forget the horrors of a mission gone awry. In Arizona, her job as deputy usually constitutes of nothing more exciting than drunk drivers and domestic violence until a serial killer makes the canyons around Sedona his dumping ground. The FBI sends Cameron Ross, ex-military special ops, to help Sullivan and her team find the killer. While working the case together the women find themselves attracted to each other but do realize that their jobs may be as much of an unsurmountable obsticle as the man who soon kills one of their own.

I like Hill’s thrillers meet romance. While they are not the best within the genre of crime they certainly make for a good combination with crime fighting star-crossed lovers. The crime does not take center stage, the chemistry between the women does, but it is still important enough that we want to see the bad guy apprehended. Hill adds some very scenic background to the mix and it is simply a joy to read her novels.

Hill also understands a lot about human relationships and does not force her characters into situations. She is sure-footed and let’s her characters set the pace for the romance. Sullivan and Ross both have demons to fight – other than the serial killer – and they face them together. Ross may not be so terribly different from Hill’s other recluse crime fighter Tori Hunter but she brings her own history to the table. I find most of Hill’s characters very down to earth, sympathetic, easy to relate to though entirely different from my life and circumstances

As I have written in another post, lesbian romance is not a very innovative genre. Love in itself is always different but to convey this on paper is a difficult task. Hill understands that love is a meeting between two people and as the people vary so does the story that describes their love. I cherish that in Hill and this is what makes her my favorite among lesbian romance writers.