Top Lesbian Romance novels part 3

As I look over my list, I’m struck by how many of them deal with loss and grief. 

 Lisa Shapiro’s Endless Love deals with the death of a young woman’s lover and how she climbs out of the abyss of that grief.   Andrea (I’m pretty sure it’s Andrea) in the first part of the book  is a college student in a New England college.  Andrea is a loner and a brain. She needs extra money so she starts to tutor, Ryan.   Ryan, is a jock theology student.They fall in love, and Ryan dies. 

 In the second half of the book, Andrea is working in an ad agency, writing copy. She is still a loner and her trust issues are worst then ever. Her parents are divorced and her sister is dealing with severe mental illness. In walks Gwen, her new boss. Gwen is very beautiful and accomplished and has had to start all over again after a massive heart attack nearly took her life.

Both of these women have lots of pain in their past, and don’t trust that love will ever happen again. In spite of themselves they fall in love. It is a very hopeful novel. Bad things, even tragic things, happen to all of us. Lisa Shapiro in Endless Love, helps us to believe that you can find your way back and that love will make it bearable. 

This book is about quirky, oddball types who make it. It gives hope to all the quirky oddballs out there and I know that represents legions of us. 

Watermark by Karin Kallmaker is also about grief. Rayann and Louisa have been together a long time , they are very happy. An accident takes Louisa, and Rayann must rebuild her shattered life. She has friends, she has family but, she no longer has Louisa, the love of her life. She takes a new job and meets Reese, a young woman who is nothing like Louisa. Louisa was much older, Reese is much younger. Rayann resists Reese, she is still in love with Louisa, but Louisa is dead.

Again this book is about grief and how difficult it is to surmount. It is beautiful and sometimes difficult to read because of the pain the characters are experiencing.

A good novel takes you on a voyage, both of these novels do that. They are not happy voyages but, voyages nonetheless.

You feel for and even with, the characters. Everyone has unresolved pain and issues. Reading about fictitious characters dealing with hard stuff  helps to put context and texture to your own baggage. It brings solace and you don’t have to open things up publicly. Novels are cheaper and more fun than psychotherapy, and for most of us, all that is required.

Later guys

BB

On Being Butch

This morning, I have been thinking about being butch and what it means.

I often experience strange reactions from people, mostly straight women, when I refer to myself as butch. It seems some of them think that I am putting myself down when I describe myself as butch, and try to tell me 

“You’re not so butch”

To which I reply  

 Of course I am.

Being butch, is not a badge of honour nor is it a source of embarrassment, it is what I am.

I have always seen a butch as a  gentlemanly woman.

I use gentleman because I can think of no feminine equivalent.

I like the word butch. I like the word queer. I like the word dyke.

 I believe they empower.

 I use them.

My friends use them.

Butch is not about macho or aggressivity.

 It’s  about style and philosophy.

 It’s about a code of conduct the unwritten,

 Book of Butch

A butch acts in certain ways,

 with class,

 with strength,

 with dignity.

She treats women well,     always.

 She accepts no for an answer, even if it pisses her off.

Butches are romantic, send flowers, remember birthdays.

They rarely dye their hair. They usually wear boots.

They like to appear stoic. Think Gary Cooper.

 Yep, Nope.

They would all like to be handy alas, some of them,

( us) are bookish and  hire other butches or even,

 men to renovate.

They like to think of themselves as the most considerate and accomplished of lovers.

Butches have illusions about themselves like everyone else.

It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s serious.

I like the aesthetics of butch.

All of this is my interpretation and how I see it. Your version might differ and that’s fine.

I just wanted to let you in on some of my thoughts on the subject.

later

BB

My top ten lesbian romances part 2

In the last post I talked about discovering Karin Kallmaker’s romance novels. What struck most about them is the humour—– Oh and the sex. That woman writes smoking sex scenes.

Paperback Romance has an irresistible heroine, Carolyn. She is a hopeless romantic who writes romance novels.

Carolyn has had nothing but  bad luck with men. Try as she might it never works (I wonder why?) 

Carolyn has a failed love life but, her career is out of control successful, thanks in part, to the guidance of her loyal

editor and best friend, Allison.

Allison plays softball and has never married—-You do the math.

Carolyn goes on a trip to Europe and meets Nick a powerful Maestro with a closely guarded secret.

This novel is very funny and very sexy. The novel manages to play with the conventions of Harlequin type romances without ever succumbing to them. It seems cliche and yet it defies all cliches, it is after all about woman in love and there is nothing cliche or formulaic about that. How good do you have to be, to make a reader believe she is reading a quasi bodice ripper. Takes a deft hand and Karin has it in spades. Of course, I didn’t see that on the first reading or the second one. The first reading I wanted to know what happens. The second I wanted to re-read the sexy parts.

Only when I sat down to think about my favorite romances and what they have meant to me, did all this come to mind.    What can I say? I’m slow.

 I could also be wrong but, that’s how I see it and I’m going with that.

Paperback Romance was my first Kallmaker novel and it holds a special place in my heart.

Wild Things is my favorite.

Like most of the best of my collection it has been on loan to a friend for a while now.

(I won’t name her she knows who she is)

The reason I mention this, I am rellying on my memory which is to be honest—-excellent.

Memory has it’s limits, kind of like eyewitness accounts, so please, bear with me and forgive possible errors.

Back to Wild Things.

This to me is the best of the best. I know that many of you might not agree, everybody has their favourite and we all have our reasons. I have many reasons for liking Wild Things best.

 The characters are mature, intelligent  and successful women. They both have a past that is full of shadow as well as light (don’t we all). They both fight this magnetic attraction  they have for each other because, they don’t want to hurt other people. They are noble, they are smart and you root for them. They play “name that quote” and read many books. They are charming. Sidney and Faith, I always imagined a young  Katherine Hepburn and Blythe Danner playing them in the movie rolling in my mind.

I love movies. Good old movies. This novel to me is like a movie, I see it so clearly. The descriptions are so clear.

I don’t mean long Victorian like  drawn  out descriptions of dew on stawberries. I mean descriptions of people you can practically smell, of gardens you feel  you have walked in. I would take this book on a desert island.

Complex beautiful women in love.  Sigh

Wild Things ROCKS.

more later

BB

My top ten Lesbian romances

Here are my top ten romances.

 They all have romance in them, although, some are not strictly romance novels.

They all have women loving women.

1-Wild Things by Karin Kallmaker

2-Curious Wine by Katherine V Forrest

3-Endless Love by Lisa Shapiro

4-Saving Grace by Jennifer Fulton

5-Landing by Emma Donoghue

6-Watermark by Karin Kallmaker

7-Paperback Romance by Karin Kallmaker

8-Love in the Balance by Marianne K Martin

9-Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon

10-Treasured Past by Linda Hill

The first lesbian romance I ever purchased was Saving Grace by Jennifer Fulton.

 I had read lesbian erotica—- well actually, I had read male fantasy masquerading as lesbian erotica.

 I feel confident I’m not the first dyke to have read Penthouse’s Forum with it’s adolescent  horny male idea of what two girls do when they “get it on”. They did seem to get the mechanics right but, as far as feelings were concerned they were on another planet.

 So, I decided to visit what was then our “local” gay, lesbian and feminist bookstore (L’Androgyne on St-Laurent) and see what they had to offer. It was a tiny place but, they had lots of Naiad books. Magazines like The Advocate had mentioned the pioneer work that Naiad had  done and was still doing —they contributed immensely to giving lesbians a voice.

 I bought Saving Grace, it had a nice purple cover and the back made it sound interesting. A flawed heroine, an innocent “straight” girl looking to hide from her life after a career altering accident makes her question what her life is about.

I remember thinking the dyke will sweep her off her feet(yeh, it’s romance, fantasy, right!)

I brought that book home and read it in a couple of hours and then I read it again–I ended up going to sleep around 3 am. I was mesmerised. I haven’t read it in years (I lent it to someone and haven’t gotten it back) and yet —

 I still remember the scene where Grace kisses Dawn and they fall to the ground in a passionate embrace and she reaches inside Dawn’s  panties and says to her “Mm you’re so slippery”. I thought that was really hot.

 Another scene on the beach, Dawn can’t walk because she is too noxious from the sun and the pain meds

( She overdid the nude sun bathing)

 under protest she let’s Grace carry  her  and Grace  says ” I see you’re a natural blond”.

This book has real erotic power(sure some of  it is a little bit sentimental—and what’s wrong with that– a little sugar never hurt anyone). This book is about the redemptive power of love. The love of a good woman. That meant everything to me —-the love of a good woman.

 It’s sexy and the setting is a beautiful tropical island –and bonus there is an evil capitalist sub-plot.

I’m sorry if I gave away too much of the plot but, I needed to illustrate what a balm this was to my young butch soul.

Curious Wine  by Katherine V Forrest made me want to read poetry and maybe even—-ski, OK maybe not (I’m no athlete). The characters quoted Emily Dickinson and made bone melting love for hours. They were smart and sweet and intense.  I was hooked.

I was off on a quest for romance novels extraordinaire. Some were OK, some were bad, many were forgettable and then I read Paperback Romance by Karin Kallmaker.  I had found the lesbian romance novelist who spoke to me.

In the next post I will discuss what her work has meant to me.

Later

BB

While awaiting new romance

I’ve been waiting to receive Anne Laughlin’s Veritas for review. I picked up a book that one of my customers

suggested it’s called The Secret Of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay. This is Sheridan Hay’s first novel.

My customer said he thought of me while reading it. I know why, the plot takes place in a used bookstore, well mostly.

Rosemary Savage is from Australia, Tasmania to be more precise. She is all of eighteen years old when she looses her mother. Her mother’s best friend, Esther Chapman, Chaps, knows there is no future for Rosemary in Tasmania so she buys her a ticket to the big city(Rosemary has always been fascinated by the big city) the biggest city—-New York.

She arrives in New York not knowing anyone and having very little life experience. She was raised by her mother over

the family hat shop. Rosemary has trouble meeting people and one day wanders in to The Arcade. The Arcade is strange eclectic used book store in Manhattan. She feels at home having worked in Chaps book store in Tasmania.

Maybe here she will fit in and begin living her adult life.

This novel is part coming of age, stranger in a strange land and literary mystery. I love it. Books as I’m sure has been established by now, are my passion. Sheridan Hay, has great pace, this novel really moves, and yet there is much discussion about books and their importance. I’m not finished but, I’m loving it. This book came out in 2007.

If you like to read about books and eccentric (but, not over the top) characters,  pick it up.

I’ll let you know what I think once I have finished.

later guys

BB

A few short appreciations

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had read seven romance novels last week.

That sounds like a lot

 it is a lot

 but, no suffering was involved just varying levels of pleasure.

I already said  how much I enjoyed Long Shot by D Jackson Leigh.

Also near the top of my list was Song Without Words by Robbi McCoy.

Harper is a librarian in a small liberal arts college in California. She likes her job

but, she really lives for the summer. Harper is a musician, cellist for the symphony orchestra,

during the summer she makes documentary portraits of female artists. A couple of summers ago she had a torrid affair with Chelsea a teacher/poet. Chelsea left Harper and Harper has been trying to get over it since.

She receives a message from Chelsea and although she really wants to speak to her, her friends, family and fears seem to get in her way. Will she call? Will they get back together? Will they live happily ever after?

This novel is interesting. It is a classic romance and yet, at the same time a novel about the nature of Art and creation.

It’s also about how sometimes random choices and events ultimately make us who we are.I don’t mean to sound simplistic but, this book touched me. The most important message I got from it, is we should talk things out and not jump to conclusion. These are things that we know but, sometimes(often) bear repeating.

If you want funny, intelligent and feel good buy Long Shot.

If you feel a little bit meditative buy Song Without Words.

Read them if you like Kallmaker, Martin and company.

Later

BB

Romance, why am I so attracted to it?

“Love, in a world where carpenters can be resurected, anything is possible”

  Eleanor of Aquitaine

 

Years ago I discovered Lesbian romance novels. I had never really enjoyed romance novels I didn’t find

them realistic. But, when I discovered the novels of Karin Kallmaker I didn’t really care how realistic they were, I was hooked.

You see,  I had read gay and lesbian theme books before, but, they always tended to end badly, to offer no hope.

It could also be that at the time I discovered Kallmaker I discovered the gay, lesbian and feminist bookstore

(the now dearly departed L’Androgyne.)

I wanted to read about women like me. Women  who were attracted to and loved other women. I was not suicidal

and I was not ashamed but, I was starving for representation. At the time, lesbians did not exist except in a pathetic

or derisive way in books or movies. Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes like a century ago.

It is in fact fifteen, twenty years give or take a year. The world has changed a lot since then. We went from kd Lang

and Melissa Etheridge coming out to the big splash of Ellen. In Canada, where I live it is legal to marry—- that my friends is progress.

It used to be that we would get excited about a movie where the lesbian(actually bisexual) character

was a vampire because there on screen were two beautiful women (Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in The

Hunger) kissing and topless.

Kallmaker and others represented lesbians in happy mode. Wooing each other, breaking up, getting back together and having hot and heavy sex. The sex was hot but, it always involved love and that to me is irresistible.

I’m a hopeless romantic. I love a happy ending. I know, from personal experience, that life isn’t like that

 but, so what, a girl can dream can’t she?

I’m attracted to romance novels  because, I’m attracted to hope.

Reading a lot of romance

Yeah, so I’ve been reading a lot of lesbian romance of late.

 I’m going to be writing  reviews for Kissed By Venus  http://kissedbyvenus.ca/a lesbian literary web page as well as some stuff for Amazon. I sometimes wonder what it is I like about lesbian romance novels. I guess the answer is— it’s all about hope.

None of us really believe that love and romance happens in real life the way it does in romance novels.

Here’s the thing—— it’s about fantasy, not reality.

 Not about the deep recesses of our soul(that place is reserved for Murder Mysteries which I will discuss another time)

romance novels are all about the sun bathed part of our secret fantasy life, the one in which we are smarter, sexier,

younger and practically irresistible. Not a damn thing wrong with that. It’s good to visit happy places sometimes.

So, in that spirit I have read seven romance books in the last week. Some I really liked, some really not.

I adored Long Shot by D. Jackson Leigh published by Bold stroke Books. The characters were irresistible. The butchy Vet with the heart of gold, the ambitious reporter who’s been trying to rise above her Fundamental Christian family.It has humour and romance— a winning combination. If you like Karin Kallmaker or even Fern Micheals with a gay twist, you’ll like Long Shot. (More details to come in next post)

The Larry Mcmurtry book I mentioned in my last post turned out to be as fabulous as expected. If you like and care about books, read it. I believe it is one of the books I’ll be re-reading periodically for a long time to come.

More on romance, gay style— soon.

BB

Some thoughts on a book I am reading

Right now I am reading a book that is very simply entitled Books  it is by Larry McCurthry ofProduct Details

Lonesome Dove fame. It terrific a book about a life spent in books. Reading them, writing them and selling

them. Larry has long been a book hunter and dealer. He says he started hunting books in order to read them.

This book is well worth reading for anyone who loves books. I’m only a quarter in and already I would highly

recommend it. Anyway more later. BB

What is a bookish butch?

What is a bookish butch?                                                                                                                                                                    

I don’t know about others, but this one is a softly masculine woman in her forties who can never seem

to get her nose out of a book.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about me and the aim of this blog.

As, previously stated I can never seem to get my nose out of a book

(this has been detrimental to my love life over the years, bookish people should

only be with bookish people or people who travel a lot)

I love the books of John Irving (especially The World According to Garp), the movies of Tarantino

and Frank Capra. I never wear black shoes. I think Kate Winslett is God’s gift to all of us dykes

(and guys as well!)

I read 2 or 3 books a week. This blog will be about lesbian themed books, but, not exclusively.

Sarah Schulman is to me a great underappreciated talent.

Soon, I post my first book review .

’til then

ciao

BB