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Yeva Wiest

REVIEW: Apache Eyes by Yeva Wiest

REVIEW: Apache Eyes by Yeva Wiest

Dear Ms. Wiest,

“Apache Eyes” is the second novella from you I’ve read. And it’s totally different from the first one. Not just because it’s a f/f historical but because it lacks the black humor that made “Practical Purposes” such a joy to read. But that’s okay, as it shows that you’re not just a one note author.

The novella starts strongly with intense descriptions that put me in the heart of the action. Jenny Barden is alone, in the heat of a blazing Arizona day, burying her slime of a husband who was killed during an Apache raid on the Barden homestead. Jenny, raised in the area, had been aware of the fact that an Apache band was watching the place and had hidden, thus escaping her husband’s fate. But she knows she’s still being watched and senses it’s a woman doing the watching.

Miakoda, daughter of Cochise, saves Jenny a second time by tending to her heatstroke before both yield to the intense attraction between them. But they have to overcome many barriers to their long-term future since there’s no love lost between the Apaches fighting to retain their homeland in the face of White aggression to wrest it from them.

“Apache Eyes” formatted to 103 pages on my ebook reader (Microsoft Lit 128 kb), so you don’t have a lot of space to work with in which to deal with the complexities of the plot. And thus, though I was disappointed that you resorted to a number of tried and true Romance cliches/stock characters, it’s understandable.

1) Jenny’s husband is a no good slime. He courted her for her homestead then treated her like dirt. Thus when we learn the Apaches tortured and killed him, he’s no great loss and no impediment to Jenny falling for one of his killers.

2) In most of the Native American historical romances I’ve ever tried to read, the white heroine (and I see Jenny as the heroine and Miakoda more as the hero) is treated badly by her own people and, after an initial getting-to-know-you period when she learns all about her new Indian people and maybe is tested by them, well by the Indians. Jenny’s lived a lot of her life in the Arizona Territory, seems to have always lived among white people and never even had any Indian acquaintances much less BFFs but within a few days, she’s batting for the other team. In fact, she makes it her goal to wreak havoc on an Army fort by allowing her new lover and Miakoda’s Apache band access.

3) Of course this isn’t supposed to bother the reader since you’ve painted most of the white people as mean, greedy, savage bastards and the Indians as pure defenders of their Homeland. I suspect the truth lies somewhere between these extremes but with the exception of one bad Injun and two nice white women, we see little of that.

4) Everybody loves Jenny – or at least wants to shag her. Her no good husband shagged her – with little thought for her pleasure, the bad Injun wanted to rape her, two bad white men wanted to rape her, the hero(ine) Miakoda wants to shag her, and another white woman wants to shag her too. Gosh, everyone wants in Jenny’s knickers and how many times should the heroine avoid rape in one story?

5) Most of the men in the story are terrible. The one exception is the store owner who helped Jenny after the death of her husband. The rest? Cruel bastards. Yeah, I know this is a f/f story but not all men are Evil.

I also noticed some historical details that made me pause and consider whether or not they were correct. The army fort sounds like something out of a John Ford western movie. My impression is that most western army forts, and especially those in Arizona where there aren’t that many trees, didn’t have stockade walls so Jenny’s whole “sneak in the fort to open the gates” plan was unnecessary. Second, why would a General be in charge of a frontier fort? And why would you say a Colonel is his superior officer? Not in any army I’ve ever read about.

Fictionwise lists “Apache Eyes” as erotica instead of romance and I tend to agree with that. Most of the f/f scenes are hawt erotica. You make the effort to incorporate a HEA and show that Miakoda and Jenny genuinely love each other. Yet, since for most of the novella they can barely communicate vocally, by necessity it becomes a case of actions needing to speak louder than words. As I said in my other GLBT reviews, erotica generally doesn’t work as well for me as romance and since in this case you don’t supply Miakoda’s POV even to Jenny, it’s hard for me to see as much romance as erotica in the story. But the novella is clearly labeled as erotica so I’m not taking off points for this.

Finally, I wasn’t impressed with the deus ex machina aspect of the supernatural elements. Jenny can’t speak to Miakoda to convey some plot point? Just sprinkle magic dust on a fire and it’s better than a cell phone. Jenny is gravely injured? No worries since Miakoda is some kind of a moon witch and can call on magical snakes to heal her.

And thus, the book is going to get a D grade. It’s not because it’s a lesbian story or erotica, since it is clearly that way and I knew it going into the story, but mainly due to the cardboard secondary characters, historical details that I question and contrived magical stuff. I’m still interested in trying more f/f books but except for the romance aspect, I can’t recommend this one.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Books on Board (or other etailers).

REVIEW: Practical Purposes by Yeva Wiest

REVIEW: Practical Purposes by Yeva Wiest

Dear Ms. Wiest,

I have Mrs. Giggles to thank for clueing me in to this black comedy. Though I don’t think it’s quite as side splittingly hilarious as Mrs. G finds it, it is quite funny. I do agree with her statement that it’s the Coen brothers meets small town Texas meets gay comedy. As well, it’s best to check your PC hat and coat at the door before settling down to read it.

The opening scene is one of the funniest, as well as one of the most descriptive, I’ve read in ages. Little 84 year old Miss Odessa, camped out in her brown recliner with her shotgun laid across her lap as she waits for the sorry ass bastard who’s trying to sneak up on her in the dead of night to steal her Social Security money. Her dog Bucky snapping and snarling as he yanks at his chain to get loose. Miss Odessa calling out, "You want my check, you white mother-fucker? Then you better have the balls to come and get it!" right before she blasts away with the double barreled shotgun and, uh, puts an end to Jeff Lawton’s career in crime. I was truly sorry to have her presence in the book end with the collapse of her roof after Bucky pulls the porch column loose in his attempt to nail the second thief.

But then things got really interesting as Odessa’s brother, a cold bastard if there ever was one, notifies his disgraced son, the doctor, of her death. But James Cole, MD turns out to be just as strong a character as his father, the Ag teacher at the local high school. James faced up to his father’s disapproval of his gay lifestyle years ago. He’s quite happy with his transplanted NY Irish Catholic lover Zachary O’Boyle though not happy at the thought of the funeral to come. What with having 14 Baptist ministers in the family (“Fourteen Black Baptist Preachers! Someone could either get saved or he could get himself killed, and Leopold Pricewater had a good idea which fate might be awaiting James Cole, Jr. and his queer doctor self.”), he knows he’s in for a hell of a lot of censure yet even he can’t imagine what’s in store for him when he arrives in Salem, Texas.

Yes, indeed. James Cole, Sr has a welcoming party waiting for his son, even if he doesn’t bring “that white boy” with him. And it’ll take the combined skill and bravery of Tallulah Pricewater – who can fix any plumbing problem and yearns for the driver of the weekly Dollar General delivery truck, Donnie Burke – who’s highest ambition ought not to be more than a store manager at the Dollar General, Mrs. Dollie Cole – who has the strength to love her son and be happy he’s found his soul mate as well as a keen aim with a gun and Zach O’Boyle (“Zach rarely called his mother, but on Thursday morning he decided it was high time. For one thing, he needed fashion advice. What did an upwardly mobile homosexual Irish Catholic wear to his black lover’s aunt’s funeral in a small East Texas town called Salem?”) who has the foresight to buy a handgun – for Practical Purposes – even if he doesn’t know how to load it.

She pulled Zach into a hug and patted his back like he was her little boy.

"Calm down, son," she said in her soft southern lilt. "We can’t find James if we lose our minds, now, can we?" She shushed and patted. Finally, Zachary calmed down.

He looked around the room and at his companions. They were certainly a motley crew. A retired schoolteacher with a gunshot wound on her shoulder, a weird guy with coke-bottle thick glasses and very yellow teeth, a butch lesbian with an attitude, and himself-’Mr. Fashion with Gucci shoes and a gun he didn’t know how to shoot.

"Lord, look at us. James is going to die," he said.

"He is not," Tallulah declared. "Let’s go find him."

There are some POV shifts that might have been better handled, though I was never at a loss as to which characters were in a scene, and some other technical issues listed by Book Uptopia Mom that it would have been nice to have had cleared up and taken care of. But as a rip roaring, nonstop tear through small town bigoted USA of 1977 – plus guns – I’ve never seen its equal. But one question. Did Tallulah ever hook up with Lena Mae?

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in ebook format.