I’ve been asked a couple of times to recommend some lesbian themed fantasy books – ranging from traditional fantasy to urban fantasy.
Below is a list of books/series which I would recommend for the genres.
Werewolves & Vampires
Midnight Hunters series (3 books to date) – L.L Raand
Radclyffe writing under a pen name has published 3 books so far in the midnight hunters series. Written very much in Radclyffe’s style, so if you like her other works, you will probably like these. The characters are aggressive (as some would expect from werewolves) and this does translate into the sex scenes which are quite heated. The stories primarily center on a specific pack of weres, but the romantic story changes focus in each book, with one particularly focusing on a human/vampire relationship.
Kassandra Lyall series (3 books to date) - Winter Pennington
Pennington’s stories are seated in a deep understanding of gothic themes and paganism. The characters are well developed, smart and very likeable, and the plot (while straightforward) is entertaining enough to enjoy the series. first book reviewed.
Everafter series (3 books to date) - Nell Stark & Trinity Tam
The central characters are deeply intertwined, with very passionate love scenes. first book reviewed.
Garoul Series (3 books to date) - Gill McKnight
While the series is not meant to be a comedy, McKnight has a very dry sense of humour and I did find myself laughing quite a bit whilst reading the first two books in this series. Very entertaining to read with a decent plot.
Darkness Embraced – Winter Pennington
Another book by Pennington, exploring themes of submission, and focusing entirely on vampires.
Better off Red – Rebekah Weatherspoon
Weatherspoon is the newest author in my list, and while initially I was put off by the series name (Vampire Sorority Sisters – urgh) the book is well written and very entertaining to read. I have to say though, her pace is somewhat off; the story seems to happen almost over 3 months, but it feels more like 2 weeks to me. Still, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Balance of Forces: Toujours Ici – Ali Vali
Ali Vali has a very particular style in which she writes, which makes all her central characters across her books seem alike. I could rename Kendal to Cain and it wouldn’t feel out of place. Luckily that is the only criticism about the book I can make. Vali writes excellent tales which always keeps me coming back for more, and this is no difference.
I will follow this up with a section on shapeshifters, fae, and general fantasy next week!
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Urban Fantasies are really popular at the moment. I promised myself I wouldn’t read another for quite some time, but it’s like telling a chocolate addict to stay away from the Godiva – she’s going to fail every now and then, and sneak a truffle here and there.
I have read O’Brien’s work previously, and do enjoy her writing style – she knows how to write passion really well, and I do not recommend reading her books in public (unless you want everyone to know exactly what you are reading).
Wild is no different. It’s very steamy, and the sex scenes are frequent, and quite erotic to say the least. Storywise, I can’t say it’s original but O’Brien writes well, and you can forgive this since the story is quite engaging.
Be warned, there are scenes of attempted rape and serial killing is a theme explored in this book as well as victimization, but it all lends to the drama and tension in the story.
The ending is tied up neatly, but I can see it open for a sequel. With urban fantasy being such a huge market at the moment, I would not be surprised at all if O’Brien follows it up with a sequel. This was a good read for me, and if she did decide to follow it up, I am interested enough in the characters to want to read it.
This book came out October of last year, and when I initially read the blurb, it didn’t interest me so I decided to pass buying it ’til later. In fact, to criticise the blurb on the publisher’s site, it does not even do the book justice and misses the point entirely about what this book is about.
Lets get this out there first – this is not a romance story, the fact that the main character is a lesbian completely escaped my mind ’til a sex scene. I’d even push the envelope further and suggest that this book does not even belong in the lesbian book section, and should go straight into the section where the Andy McNabb usually sits (don’t ask me what its called, I never venture to that part of the bookstore, but I will make a point next time I visit one).
This is a story about survival and resilience as a young soldier in the army, thrust into marine basic training, and then into war. The central character is wonderfully drawn by Hagin, and convincingly portrays the vulnerabilities a self doubting young woman, and the pressures and responsibilities she faces as more and more is asked of her. There is grit in the telling of events, and Hagin sets a blistering pace in the action, that at points I could hear the gunfire going off in my head.
There is alot of military jargon which Hagin slowly eased the reader into, as if you were learning what it was to be a marine grunt at the same pace as Jamie; had the discussions of military strategy happened earlier in the book, I probably would have put the book down and rubbed my temples to ease the impending headache I know would have set in.
I do have one criticism of the book, and that is the inclusion of a romantic subplot. I wonder if this was at the request of the publisher, as I felt it spoilt the effectiveness of the story somewhat, and slightly spoiled the integrity of the characters of Jamie and Rhys. BSB is known for it’s lesbian romance stories, and I would not be suprised at all if the romance was added as a safety net for the lesbian staple. I go back to my initial criticism that the blurb for the book was entirely wrong. What I would have liked to have seen more of was the development of familial love between Lynn and Jamie (but then, I am a sucker for those super happy endings).
Fantastic love story? god no. Fantastic story? god yes. Makes me wonder whether or not I should be including Bravo Two Zero in my reading list next month.
Incidently, this book is nominated for two GCLS awards for 2011, and I wish Hagin all the best.
edit: 2011 GCLS winner for Lesbian Dramatic/General Fiction
… I am doing another vampire book (and it won’t be the last I fear!) the fact is, lesbians and vampires are such a sensual combination, it isn’t a surprise that they are such a hot topic for authors at the moment.
Stark & Tam’s addition to the collection is intensely passionate.
The story is written from two points of view, firstly Valentine’s, and then Alexa’s. This is purely speculation, I would like to think either author wrote each half of the book themselves to give each character’s perspective a distinct feel and style.
Even if this proves false, the romantic in me is going to blindly hold onto that notion since its common knowledge that the authors are also partners, and thinking they they assumed the personas of their characters to write the book, just adds an even intimate edge to the Val and Alexa’s relationship.
One thing rather amusing that came out of this book, was the sudden interest in lesbian fiction from my straight female friends. I have since lost my original copy of everafter (sob) to the ravenous girls at work who are now demanding lesbian erotica off me like I am some drug peddler with their latest fix. If anyone told me I would be peddling lesbian erotica for the pleasure of straight women, I’d have told them it was a step closer to heaven. Now its a case of a healthy fear of getting between a single (straight) woman and her lesbian erotica fix.
To summarize the collective opinion of the Kay straight gang, if you are looking for intense passion and steamy sex scenes that blow your lid off, this book is for you.
Lets not play down the rest of the book’s other good points. The story is excellent; it adds elements of the detective genres well without losing the integrity of the romance aspect. The support characters are also memorable which is a good thing since this book is one of a series (2nd recently published, and the 3rd out later this year), and am presuming that these characters will be recurring most definately. It does leave you on a small cliff hanger and a few open questions at the end, which I personally hate since I want everything given to me yesterday. Dammit.
Author: K. Simpson
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink
ISBN (1): 9781934452240
ISBN (2): 9781934452264
ISBN (3): 9781934452370
Available in print and digital formats.
The daily train commute to work is a sacred time for many of people. It is usually spent by most people buried in a some sort of reading material, a personal stereo, or thumbing through their phone. The silent agreement by all is that you do not encroach on each others’ precious solitary time, NAY COMMANDMENT: Thou shalt keep your gob shut and mind your own bloody business.
Every now and then, someone will break the rule and will be met with hard stares and great breathy huffs from other passengers, and the offender will cower, and back down into their corner having been silently chastised.
Thus, one of the unwritten agreements between passengers, is never to read a funny book on the train.
I don’t own many funny books – but I usually know they are funny in advance, so that I can read them by myself in peace, and laugh however I like and without worrying if I laugh like a hyena, or burst out like a fog horn.
If I was going to have any initial criticism for these books, it would have been nice to know that they contained humour, so that I didn’t make an utter tit of myself on the way to work trying to unsuccessfully suppress my giggles like an idiot and ingraining myself to my fellow passengers as “that awful woman who won’t bloody shut up”.
And god did I laugh. Once I realised how much I was laughing, I tried to stop reading but my willpower is shit, and within 5 minutes I had resumed reading with the resolve that I would stifle any laughter before it escaped. Unfortunately when you are trying to hide a grin and suppress a laugh, you look constipated. At least I got more room on the train.
What makes the books so funny are the character interactions and the thick black humour that is present throughout the books. Our lead female protagonists are smart, cynical, office hardened women, who’s verbal sparring could be likened to dagger throwing (dangerous, especially if you come to the fight unarmed). The characters make no apologies for being high-heeled bitches and annoying bastards, and acknowledge that whilst relationships that sail along smoothly are wonderful, having some volatility often adds a little spice to love.
The story is character driven, and sometimes I found it to be messy, but I didn’t really notice that on my first read through (was too busy choking my laughs and unsuccessfully suppressing a snort or three), but the second read through did make me wonder where Simpson was taking us with the plot. Book 1 and 2 are essentially one story split into two books although it isn’t necessary to read book 2 (no annoying cliffhanger to hook you into buying the next book). I actually enjoyed book 3 the most, with the simplest of stories of going to the in-laws for the holidays (let the dysfunction commence!).
The books themselves are very short and I was able to read them all within three commutes to and from work. I do recommend you buy them together (shipping and all) but thankfully, if you do decide to buy them separately you won’t be left hanging between books.
Absolutely brilliant reads; I haven’t laughed so much since Ellen’s Hawaiian Chair incident.