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'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing


The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More


Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
Equations
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story
Rewriting




'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction


Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Emerald
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
Bait
The View from Gallows Hill


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

Best Lesbian Romance 2010

edited by Radclyffe

Book Review by Jean Roberta

 

Best Lesbian Romance 2010

Love, as they say, makes the world go 'round. Or at least it inspires a lot of fiction. This annual anthology is full of the stuff of lesbian dreams: two women who are just right for each other meet unexpectedly and fall into each other's arms. Some of these stories would fit equally well in erotic anthologies—where, in fact, several of them first appeared. Theoretically, literary erotica focuses on sex as an essential plot element, while romance focuses on a developing relationship. Realistically, there seems to be a thin line between the two genres.

I am certainly not opposed to love, but descriptions of sex usually seem more convincing to me; sex is physical and it lasts only as long as it lasts. Love is a trickier thing to show, especially in a short story which focuses on the beginning of a relationship, when the attraction is still new and untested. The most realistic stories in this collection focus on fascination in the present, with cautiously hopeful endings. The first story, "When We Almost Met" by Evan Mora, follows two women in the same community who narrowly miss meeting each other over and over. When they do meet, of course, they are amazed to learn how much they have in common. There is an age difference between them, but the narrator makes it clear that both women had to mature by acquiring emotional experience before they would be ready for each other.

Another notable story is "Coming Out Party" by Anna Meadows, which plays on the parallels between the modern concept of "coming out" as a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered person and the traditional upper-class ritual of "coming out" as a marriageable woman at a debutante ball. The life of a young lesbian in the genteel South has rarely been this well shown since Rita Mae Brown's novel Rubyfruit Jungle broke barriers in 1973.

"The Outside Edge" by Sacchi Green is a literally dizzying look at the world of professional skating and the danger of "coming out" to a large audience of fans. "Girls and Their Cars" by Renee Strider is also physically intense, and it centers on an illegal butch-against-butch car race that resembles a scene from the movie Grease. Both these stories originally appeared in Girl Crazy, an anthology of lesbian "coming-out" erotica. "All In" by the editor, Radclyffe, is a similarly intense tale about a journalist who has been on the front lines of a war zone and her lover, a medical doctor who recognizes a war wound when she sees one. Love in a dangerous time is shown to be fierce and deep.  

"You Are a Full Moon Without Clouds" by Pamela Smiley is about the first real-life meeting of two expatriate American women in an exotic Asian setting. The city of Chiang Mai is described as a seductress, and the central characters seem unable to know whether they are spellbound by each other or by the city. "Queens Up" by Andrea Dale, first published in Lesbian Cowboys, also takes much of its flavor from its setting. It is a rollicking story about a young woman who gambles for her life in the Old West.

The most moving story in the book for this reviewer is "I Never Thought of Love" by Jacqueline Applebee. Several factors make it seem unlikely that the two central characters could really form a couple: the narrator is a childless Londoner who describes herself as "brown." Her pale girlfriend Caitlin lives in Scotland with her five children, and she is described as "real book-smart, not like me at all." Yet love takes the narrator by surprise:

"I've been in love before, but falling for Caitlin was different. Love soaked into my skin, flooding me. I never knew that I was drowning until my breath faltered whenever I lay in her arms."

Another British story, "The Last Dance" by Dalia Craig, is about a fifty-year relationship that begins in 1958, and it is harder to believe in as a slice-of-life. This story comes closest to fitting the traditional definition of "romance" as wish-fulfillment. Among the shameless fantasies in this collection is "Reclamation" by Nell Stark and Trinity Tam, in which the girlfriend of a newly-turned vampire must help her to accept her new nature.

"The Letting Go" by Shannon Dargue is a thoughtful look at the implications of legal same-sex marriage in Canada. (As someone said before it became legal in 2005, "a vote for same-sex marriage is a vote for same-sex divorce.") This story is told mostly in dialogue, and conveys both the pain of betrayal and the resilience of hope.

These stories approach the possibility of Happy Ever After relationships between women from various angles, with various degrees of success. For readers who are interested in lesbian love in the real world, this anthology is worth reading.

Jean Roberta
August 2010

Best Lesbian Romance 2010
(Cleis Press, January 2010; ISBN 157344376X)
Available at: Amazon | Amazon UK

______
© 2010 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written

About the Reviewer:†Jean Roberta is the thin-disguise pen name of a writer who teaches mandatory first-year English classes in a Canadian prairie university and who writes fiction (erotic and otherwise), research-based articles, opinion pieces and reviews. She joined ERWA in December 1998, and has never looked back. Several of her stories can be found in the "Treasure Chest" gallery. Over sixty of her erotic stories have been published in print anthologies, and Eternal Press has released her single-author e-collection of erotic stories in various genres and flavors, Obsession (2008).
Jean is a staff reviewer for the monthly reviews site, Erotica Revealed (edited by D.L. King). She blogs on Livejournal as "Lizardlez" and at www.goodsturdyjeans.blogspot.com. Her website (www.JeanRoberta.com) is a work in progress.
Read Jean's full bio at Erotica Readers & Writers Association.



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'10 Book Reviews

Anthologies

Apocalypse Sex
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Bare Souls
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Best Women's Erotica 2010
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canít help the way that i feel
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Coming Together...M Christian
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Three In One Blow
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Erotic Novels

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Gay Erotica

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Silver Foxes
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A Sticky End
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