I read A LOT of Lesbian Romance books. I thought that I'd 'try' a collection, but I found that with a few of the stories I was sorry that they ended so quickly. Other stories weren't always very good, sadly.
Somehow I was under the impression that these stories would be more along the line of erotic stories. However, there is very little eroticism. I honestly haven't made it through a single story, and the one I read the most of...well I only read it because a friend and I were making fun of it :/ I suppose if you are looking for fairly tame stories with some kind of lesbianism in them, then you might like this, but don't mistake this for an erotic typical romance novel type of book like I did!
Anthologies are always a mixed bag and what we love most can often be based on our tastes and personal experiences. Even so, you can tell when a story is still mediocre and this compilation is just full of AVERAGE. There were a few good stories here that I enjoyed, but I wouldn't call this the "BEST" mix of romantic lesfic stories. Just a compilation of lesfic short stories, period. Rad's own work was easily the best story there, in my opinion.
A couple of interesting things I noted overall. Most of the stories are done in first person. All but a few. So tiresome. Just makes for a repetitive style on the whole. Erotica short stories are even worse that way... almost always in first person. WTF. Change it up a bit more, people!!! It's also interesting to consider the definition of romance. I like the really emotional stuff myself. If it's not erotica, I like it emotional-hot... as is Rad's "All In" and Shannon Dargue's "The Letting Go." Or just plain emotional as Jacqueline Applebee's lovely "I Never Thought of Love." Without the emotion and intimacy there isn't much to like for this reader.
Romance is not always about sex. Some stories here are erotic-romances. Some fade to black on the sex or have none at all. Some stories here involve partners who have been together for years and some of the leads are quite young. There's one for sports fans, historical fans, and one for paranormal fans. One story out of 16 had a woman of color. And no trans (some do ID as lesbos ya know). The one story with butch on butch was interesting because you just don't see that too much. _________________________________________________
Here is a bit about each of the stories within:
Evan Mora.... "When We Almost Met".... A first person contemplation of why timing matters in meeting your partner. This author is a favorite of mine when I read anthologies, but this is not my favorite of hers. 3.5 .
Anna Meadows.... "Coming Out Party".... YA story. New England teen preps for her sweet 16 party while re-evaluating the secrecy of her secret girlfriend. Cute ideas but kind of juvenile for my tastes. Point of the opening??? YA seldom interests me unless it's exceptionally written and I wasn't expecting to find any in this anthology. Will say that I'd like to see this author's work with grown up leads. 3.3 .
Sommer Marsden.... "The Only Girl I Want".... Woman throws a reunion party and old college friends show up, including the lez who wanted her bad. This went from potentially romantic to clumsy porn. No real longing. How about a little romance, eh? Four fingers-... What? And who "barks" with pleasure?? lol. 1.5 .
Cheyenne Blue.... "Five".... Girl is dumped by the local player and obsesses over her in 5's (it's been 5 weeks, 5 hours, etc etc). Will there be a reconciliation or a new beginning? (and a new way to obsess with 5??). Only the bagel mistress knows for sure. Point of view was kinda weird here. It's one of the few stories not actually written in first person. I think it was a limited 3rd person and just had this really repetitive feel. Maybe the sentence syntax. 2.5 .
Sacchi Green.... "The Outside Edge"... Two world class athletes turn partner skating into the language of love. Not a big sports fan but those of you who are may like this one more. Full of acrobatics from beginning to end. The romance is in there somewhere. Watch out when one says, "spin me" in the sack, lol. I hope that sex scene was supposed to be funny... 3.3 .
Pamela Smiley.... "You are a Full Moon Without Clouds".... set abroad, this one is about an expat lez and her love for Chiang Mai, a city in Thailand. Her love for her new girlfriend has her reflecting on how this will change her feelings for her beloved city (as it has been her long time lover). And perhaps a particular way of life, hmm? Fellow travelers may appreciate this contemplation of exotic relations/culture/landscape... but not much human/human romance to be found here. 3.3 .
Hannah Quinn.... "Firsts".... Infidelity and obsession here. Very short work among this bunch that caught me off guard and was surprisingly gripping in its emotions and honesty. I had to read it twice to really appreciate it. About a woman seduced by a woman who's with someone else. It's not really a typical story but a first person contemplation of every mounting turn in their connection. But boy did it hit those primal buttons. Raw truth. Now this is the pure essence of what stories about passionate infidelity should entail. 4.0 .
Erin O'Riordan.... "Soaked".... rain-soaked girl in college connects with her big crush. When things don't move as fast as she'd like, she loses a bit control. Nothing says college and being under 22 like being drunk in all the wrong places. 3.0 .
Jacqueline Applebee.... "I Never Thought of Love".... Very emotional-sweet. Black Londoner falling in love with a white school teacher with 5 kids from the north. Despite being very different, and despite her own past, she seems to have found a new family of her own. Very touching. 4.0 .
Renée Strider.... "Girls and Their Cars".... What do two butches do when they're in between femmes and obsessed with their cars and outdoing each other?? They get it on, of course!! If this was a romance... it's out of my comprehension. I'm just not masculine enough to get pool and car racing and attitude as foreplay, lol. Like Brokeback Mountain I can't be with you taboo. Even so, it got sexy and I enjoy the rare lesfic cameo of butch on butch hookups when I come across them... not my thing, but still a bit like spotting a unicorn. 3.7 .
Kris Adams.... "Hard to Hate Her".... Delicious! lol. Ex-wife and cheating ex-husband's new wife really hit it off in this one. I was sure it was going to be a cheesy frat boy fantasy... but it turned out to be much more sensitive, sensual, and engaging and promised so much more. Loved it. Wish it were a novel because the ending was rushed. This is the simple, fun, sexy stuff with a catchy premise that makes for the best kind of escapism and would be a solid hit as a novel. 4.0 .
Andrea Dale.... "Queens Up".... historical/western about the tomboy daughter of a ranch owner and her lover maid/cook who step up to save the day when the ranch is threatened. I love all things lesbo in the old west... but this was a bit average. Cute ideas, though. NOTE: This one is also published in the anthology Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures. 3.0 .
Nell Stark and Trinity Tam.... "Reclamation".... Vampire and her human lover seem to rediscover their need for each other... not really my thing and didn't find it particularly sexy or romantic. Boring paranormal. 2.5 .
Shannon Dargue.... "The Letting Go".... Two Canadian women (butch/femme) headed for a divorce fight fight fight. There is some sexy steam underneath it all. I liked this one. That whole breakup/makeup sex is always to die for stuff. 3.8 .
Dalia Craig.... "The Last Dance".... Two women meet in 1958 at an anniversary party while avoiding hetero matchmaking schemes and basically hook up. I didn't really understand 'the last dance' part 50 yrs later... not the most engaging story for me and I wasn't feeling much chemistry here. No idea what these two even look like. 2.5 .
Radclyffe.... "All In" .... We get to revisit Saxon Sinclair and Jude Castle from Passion's Bright Fury in this one for an emotional reunion. I really liked this couple so it was a real treat. Even a quick cameo from Quinn (Fated Love). Once I got beyond chuckling over Saxon's commentary that people say her and Quinn look alike (don't all her butches?!) and then trying to justify how different they are, ahahaha... it was pretty sexy to see Jude and Sax reunite after a long absence. Sexy-emotional. Love the begging... love it. Only Rad can incorporate nasty scars and hot sex... 4.5
A truly enjoyable collection with a wide range of authors from Scotland, Canada, the US and England. There really is something for everyone in the collection.
Nell Stark & Trinity Tam have an erotic vampire first time story, Pamela Smiley writes about her city Chiang Mai, Sacchi Green has a terrific Olympic Ice Skating story, Hannah Quinn has an erotic story of Firsts, Renee Strider (always fabulous) has a fun story about butches and their cars, Kris Adams has a unique entry about a divorced mother of two making nice with the her ex-husband's new wife, Andrea Dale has a sexy western, Dalia Craig has a beautiful romance set in 1958,
Also stories of falling in love & gaining a family; a couple about to divorce; missed connections; butch and femme; college students; make-up sex, and more.
The collection concludes with a powerful story from Radclyffe featuring surgeon Saxon Sinclair and journalist Jude Castle. WOOT!
Best Lesbian Romance, 2010, has sixteen top notch stories which include everything from new love, breaking up, hot sex, making up, etc. There is a story for everyone, written by some of the best writers around. This is definitely a book every woman loving woman will want on her bookshelf.