Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Jessie’s Girl by Amber Scott

Dear Ms. Scott,

jessiesgirlI’m so glad that The Powers That Be at Liquid Silver offered me a chance to read your novel. And so sorry it took me seemingly ages to get to it. But the book is more than worth it to read. I only wish the title didn’t bring to mind 80s heart throb Rick Springfield’s first hit song.

Jessie Hayes feels like she’s been hit by a thunderbolt when her twin brother Kyle introduces his new girlfriend at their older brother’s wedding. Sabrina French is hawt and most definitely not the wholesome girl Kyle seems to think she is. But Jessie fights her attraction for the slightly older girl since 1) she’s Kyle’s girlfriend and 2) Jessie assumes by that that Sabrina doesn’t bat for the same team as Jessie.

Turns out on her last night there, that Sabrina turns the tables on Jessie and initiates an encounter that will haunt both women for the next six years. Jessie still keeps quiet the next day but feels like shit when she learns that Sabrina has broken off with Kyle. She feels worse when Sabrina won’t answer her phone calls and sends Jessie a letter ending their relationship before it’s even begun.

Now it’s six years later and the two meet while Sabrina is having the final fitting for her wedding gown. It’s obvious that feelings still run deep but is Sabrina any more ready to accept the truth about her sexuality and her feelings for Jessie than she was then?

First off, the book is hot. The sex is hot and the feelings these two have for each other jump off the page. Some of my questions about why Sabrina turned tail and fled, then didn’t contact Jessie for so long were answered in her “appearances are everything” family. Plus, from what I gathered, Sabrina had never thought she might be a lesbian so the reality of her first encounter must have thrown her for a loop. But…she then had some experimentation with women so why did she never attempt to get in touch with Jessie?

Jessie, thank goodness, picks herself up and tries again for love in the intervening time though, of course, never finds anyone quite as good as Sabrina. I liked that she has the manners to quickly tell her current girlfriend that things just won’t work out. And that she’s still torn about her twin, and best friend, brother finding out the truth. She loves Sabrina but doesn’t want to hurt him.

The scenes with her sister-in-law and her brother Lawrence in the hospital for the birth of their child were a hoot. Birth plans, smurth plans – nothing stays the same once those labor pains really kick in. Plus I was relieved that at least some of them had suspected all along and were ready to help true love out.

Having read this f/f story, I find it hard to believe that this aspect of the GLBT genre hasn’t taken off as much as m/m. I very much enjoyed this one and hope to see far more. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in ebook format from Liquid Silver.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

51 Comments

  1. MB (Leah)
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 07:59:11

    Wow, this book looks good. I’m so glad that you took a chance and reviewed another f/f book Jayne. This one looks to be nicely and realistically written. I can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 08:23:02

    There’s a post over at Karen Scott’s blog about how Katiebabs is trying her hand at writing a f/f book. I skimmed some of the comments – and mean to go back and read them more closely – but the general feeling seems to be that f/f doesn’t sell, isn’t wanted by readers as much as m/m and that we won’t be seeing too many books in this subgenre of GLBT.

    ReplyReply

  3. MB (Leah)
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 09:28:48

    Jayne– yes, I’ve been there. I actually have a blog in which I review and discuss solely f/f themed books no matter what the orientation of the characters, lesbian, bi, or curious.

    http://bi-curious-romancenovel-chat.blogspot.com/

    I happen to enjoy reading it but don’t really think that it will become that popular. Who knows, maybe one day. It’s a genre certainly starving for better quality in writing and story telling.

    I like a good romance no matter who’s doing what to whom. But it’s nice when reviewers from larger, more professional review sites such as Dear Author take a chance and do review f/f books.

    Thanks

    ReplyReply

  4. kirsten saell
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 09:33:11

    I read this book what seems like ages ago and enjoyed it. The only thing that niggled a bit is the idea that because Sabrina’s true love (for lack of a better term) is a woman, that automatically makes her a lesbian. If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, I seem to recall she enjoyed sex with her fiance, and cared about him (and he wasn’t a total jerk). She was just more into women (or Jessie in particular). And that can have as much to do with where a woman is in her life and her specific needs, sexually and emotionally, at that point. And believe me, those can change over time. I kind of wish the author had explored that aspect of Sabrina’s character instead of automatically opting for the “she’s a closeted or latent lesbian” angle.

    It makes me wonder why we (general we) seem so focused on people being either gay or straight. Bisexuals don’t always opt for the “easier” het relationship–they’re as helpless to control who they fall in love with as the next person. Sometimes you can go either way and it just happens the person you really connect with is the same gender as you. Or that at a certain point, a same sex relationship is simply more fulfilling.

    I can actually see this idea that “I’m in love with a woman, therefore I must be a lesbian” actively turning off a lot of women who perhaps haven’t come to that place in themselves where they can feel okay with being straight or mostly straight and still having the hots for another woman. Not that every straight woman is at some point going to be attracted to women–just that fantasies about f/f sexuality are quite common among straight women. And the “either/or” mentality can make them very uncomfortable in light of that.

    What often appeals to me in books like Butterfly Tattoo is the ambiguity and fluidity of sexual orientation. Just because the MC was in a m/m relationship for years didn’t make him gay. We love who we love, and sometimes there’s nothing more complicated about it than that.

    But yes, the sex in Jessie’s Girl was hot, and I really felt for the two heroines. I wanted them to end up together and got a little misty when things finally fell out in favor of their HEA. And despite my little nitpicks, I’ve recommended it to friends who’ve asked for good f/f books.

    Having read this f/f story, I find it hard to believe that this aspect of the GLBT genre hasn't taken off as much as m/m.

    There a plenty of reasons. Most of them, IMO, are surmountable, and they’re explored quite in depth in that thread at Karen’s, which I feel anyone who’s interested in writing f/f ought to read. Thanks for taking a chance and reviewing another f/f. After your reaction to that first one, I can imagine you might have been leery. :)

    ReplyReply

  5. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 09:42:12

    Looks hot! Love the cover.

    ReplyReply

  6. Stevie
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 10:36:47

    Sadly it looks as if Amber Scott has lost faith in her own abilities as a writer of erotic romance, and decided to move on.

    Which is a shame, since what I have read of her books puts her in the upper echelons; I did some research reading following up on the dripless fuck fiasco, and concluded that for the most part the only organ throbbing was my head.

    Reading bad erotica seems to be an excellent migraine inducer…

    http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=147279086&blogId=471073632

    ReplyReply

  7. SonomaLass
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 11:17:30

    I agree that there isn’t enough good f/f romance out there. E-publishing helps some, but it’s still a neglected (by readers, as much as anyone else) branch of the romance genre. Which is a shame, because the nuances of a relationship involving two women are different from either m/f or m/m, and the possibilities for storytelling are wonderful.

    This book looks worth reading, although I’m sorry to hear that I can’t look forward to more by this author if I like it as much as you, Jayne.

    ReplyReply

  8. Stevie
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 12:34:02

    SonomaLass

    I too am baffled as to why the f/f romances are so thin on the ground; the Blace Lace advice to potential authors simply says that it doesn’t sell, and it seems that many other publishers feel the same way.

    The question of why it doesn’t sell is a PhD waiting to be researched and written, but in the meantime I wonder whether it’s fantastic enough to be satisfying as a fantasy…

    ReplyReply

  9. Mary M.
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 15:21:32

    It was very interesting t read that review, it looks like this is a good story, but I’m the first to admit I’m uncomfortable at the idea of reading a full book of F/F, especially one with explicit content. I’m okay with the romance – I read romance 95% for the males, but once or twice I could probably deal with the lack of testosterone if the plot and feelings are nicely told – and I can deal with an occasional F/F scene in an M/F erotica book, but I’m not ready, or even interested, in reading a book with several explicit scenes of lesbian sex. M/M sex I think I understand better, because I like male bodies too and find them sexy, and there a “giver” and a “receiver”, like in M/F sex. I think there might be other people like me and that could be why F/F isn’t as popular a genre as M/M.

    ReplyReply

  10. SonomaLass
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 16:05:03

    I think I would also like f/f romance that wasn’t explicit, but that’s even harder to find! I think the dynamics of woman-to-woman relationships are wonderful, and I’d like to see those explored in “traditional” romance style (with the development of the relationship at the center of the plot, and with HEA).

    ReplyReply

  11. Jayne
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 17:32:08

    I agree the cover is very nice and am bummed that I can’t look forward to more erotic books from Amber Scott. Has she stopped writing or just stopped writing erotica?

    ReplyReply

  12. Jayne
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 17:35:55

    I didn’t think the sex was that explicit – certainly I’ve read het and m/m books that were more explicit. Most of the book is devoted to their personal relationships outside of the bedroom. There were (trying to remember here) I think 4-5 f/f scenes and one f/f/m scene.

    ReplyReply

  13. Maili
    Apr 22, 2009 @ 23:51:40

    I had no idea that a such sub-genre exists. After Smart Bitches uploaded one hilarious cover of a gay historical romance, I talked about the possibility for lesbian romances with romance reader bloggers years ago.

    The majority didn’t believe it’d take off, due to the reader identification (or “place holder”) issue. With m/m novels, readers are observers and with f/f novels, readers might feel uncomfortable because they are in the woman’s place.

    Since I never read a lesbian romance (only read a couple from Black Lace erotica anthologies), I have no idea if their concern has any validity. To be honest, I don’t believe in the “place holder” issue. Anyroad, I didn’t think it’d ever appear in Romance.

    I’ll try to get this book to see how it goes. I think I’ll enjoy it because it’s a spanking new sub-genre for me (except for food, I love trying everything and anything new).

    ReplyReply

  14. Maili
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 00:04:47

    Just remembered. One of Catherine Coulter’s historical romances features a lesbian couple. Forgot about that. But even then, their relationship wasn’t explored.

    So my “Didn't think it'd ever appear in Romance” comment still stands. :D

    ReplyReply

  15. Mfred
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 07:25:58

    I’m super excited to see f/f reviews on Dear Author.

    I’m in the peculiar position of being a gay woman who loves “straight” romance — historical, paranormal, urban fantasy– I read it all. I’m obviously not turned off by f/f in real life (HAR HAR) but I find a lot of lesbian fiction of poor quality and a lot of erotica too “mmm, boobs!” caveman-esque.

    I think part of getting f/f into the mainstream is getting reviews of these books on sites like Dear Author.

    ReplyReply

  16. kirsten saell
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:40:27

    but I find a lot of lesbian fiction of poor quality and a lot of erotica too “mmm, boobs!” caveman-esque.

    I think women in general like the hero/heroine dynamic, and in a lot of f/f it’s simply not there, and in others, it’s so exaggerated it’s kind of off-putting.

    I love f/f and f/f/m personally, and it’s still really hard to unearth the kind of stuff I like. For women who aren’t as into it as I am, I can’t really blame them for not wanting to pick through the coal to find the few diamonds hiding there. Especially if they’ve already tried, and all they’ve ended up with is coal. Or worse.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:45:03

    Just remembered. One of Catherine Coulter's historical romances features a lesbian couple. Forgot about that. But even then, their relationship wasn't explored.

    Is that the “Pembroke” something or other book? I’ve never been able to track down a copy of that.

    ReplyReply

  18. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:48:11

    Someone suggested – or mentioned – or something – a publisher called “Bold Strokes Books” that appears to specialize in f/f books. I looked at their website and was interested in some of their books but – ye Gods! – the prices. My question is: has anyone ever tried any of their books? Opinions?

    ReplyReply

  19. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:49:35

    Mfred, can you recommend any particular authors who write f/f? Any publishing houses?

    ReplyReply

  20. Giselle
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 12:16:07

    After reading all of the wonderful comments about this book, I went to amazon.com to look for it. I was disappointed that it did not come up on any search there. Perhaps this book is a victim of censorship?

    ReplyReply

  21. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 12:23:01

    I don’t think there is a print version yet. Or I didn’t see one mentioned at the Liquid Silver website.

    ReplyReply

  22. MB (Leah)
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 14:28:05

    Jayne- I read a book from Bold Strokes Edge of Darkness by Jove Belle who’s a lesbian author. It’s a very well written suspense story with lesbian romantic undertones.

    I loved that book. You can get Bold Strokes books on Amazon way cheaper than their web site.

    That’s one of the unfortunate things. A lot of publishers that do publish specifically Lesbian/ Gay literature are very expensive to buy from directly.

    I’ve come across several publishers, ebook and otherwise, which are Lesbian material oriented and I guess I should list them on the side bar of my blog. New project for me to do since I’m always on the look out for such things.

    ReplyReply

  23. Maili
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 14:50:17

    Is that the “Pembroke” something or other book? I've never been able to track down a copy of that.

    Can’t remember. Could only remember it was set in Regency England. Will track it down (because unsolved mysteries drive me batty).

    I recall the portrayal of the couple was quite sympathetic, which surprised me at the time because I was used to romance authors demonising gay and lesbian characters in their stories. Am not a fan of Coulter, but she won a few stars in my books for not going down that route.

    ReplyReply

  24. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 14:53:42

    It’s “Pembroke Park” by Michelle Martin. I love Google….

    ReplyReply

  25. Maili
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:08:49

    It's “Pembroke Park” by Michelle Martin.

    I remember/forgot that one. The one I was thinking of is a Coulter. Half of the lesbian couple was engaged to the hero who knew and kept it a secret with all intentions of marrying her in name only.

    ReplyReply

  26. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:11:11

    You can get Bold Strokes books on Amazon way cheaper than their web site.

    That’s good to know that the books are cheaper elsewhere but I’m not buying from Amazon due to them selling items I relate to animal cruelty.

    That's one of the unfortunate things. A lot of publishers that do publish specifically Lesbian/ Gay literature are very expensive to buy from directly.

    You’re not kidding! Holy WTF is with some of the prices I’ve seen? There’s no way I’m dropping that kind of money on authors I know nothing about.

    ReplyReply

  27. Jayne
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:13:32

    I recall now that in one of Balogh’s “Bedwyn” series, the Duke was originally engaged to a young woman who is revealed to be a lesbian. Was it in the Disney Whores book – um, I mean the 4th one?

    ReplyReply

  28. Maili
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 15:15:50

    I recall now that in one of Balogh's “Bedwyn” series, the Duke was originally engaged to a young woman who is revealed to be a lesbian. Was it in the Disney Whores book – um, I mean the 4th one?

    :D Haven’t read any further books after the first Bedwyn.

    It’s Coulter’s book. Published during 1990s. Am trawling through her backlist.

    ReplyReply

  29. Evecho
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 17:17:51

    Lesbian fiction and lesbian romance have taken leaps forward in terms of quality since the um old days. There are awards such as the Lammies that bring the best to light every year.

    For those interested in lesbian romance, check out publishers such as Bold Strokes Books, Bella Books, Regal Crest, Intaglio, PD Publishing, Virago, Bywater Books, Spinsters Ink, Alyson Books and Cleis Press – to name a few. You won’t be disappointed.

    Yes, those prices are real. Spare a thought for readers who pay those prices to support their specialised genre. I do, and it’s worth it to keep lesbian fiction viable. Because unlike heterosexual romance literature which is read mainly for entertainment, LGBT romance is read for escapism and empowerment. The value of LGBT literature is immeasurable for the effect it has on our lives.

    ReplyReply

  30. jmc
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 18:23:51

    Holy moly — I just checked out a couple of ebooks at the Bold Strokes website. $12.95 for the ebook version of a book I could buy in paper format for $15.95….or for $5 used? I don’t think so. Which is a shame, because I read the first book of that series via the library, and I would like to read the rest of the series. But not at that price.

    ReplyReply

  31. Evecho
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 20:19:35

    I'm happy to inform that the quality and diversity of lesbian romances published today is very high indeed. There are dedicated lesbian publishers as well as dedicated LGBT literary organisations and awards that are worth checking out.

    For those interested in lesbian romances and their sub-genres (eg paranormal, crime, thrillers, erotica etc), take a look at these publishers; Bold Strokes Books, Bella Books, Regal Crest, Intaglio, PD Publishing, Virago, Brisk Press, Alyson Books and Cleis Press – to name a few.

    Yes, those prices are real. Spare a thought for readers who have been paying them for years. I myself continue to support LGBT publishers because the value of LGBT literature is immeasurable to our lives.

    p/s this is my second comment in this thread. The first was lost to the ether.

    ReplyReply

  32. Janine
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 20:24:13

    In one of Amanda Quick’s earlier historicals, the heroine had an aunt who lived with another woman. It was hinted that the two older ladies were lovers.

    ReplyReply

  33. kirsten saell
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 22:25:58

    Yes, those prices are real. Spare a thought for readers who have been paying them for years. I myself continue to support LGBT publishers because the value of LGBT literature is immeasurable to our lives.

    So is electricity and the mortgage, and food and clothes and school supplies for my kids, and all those other necessities that prevent me from purchasing products manufactured with philosophical, political or environmental ideals in mind when they cost two or three times what their less PC counterparts do.

    I don’t buy ebooks because they’re environmentally sound–although that’s a nice side benefit. I buy them because they’re less expensive than print (or should be).

    When I purchase a book, I want a great story at a decent price–and I will never EVER pay more than $8.00 for a book I’m not legally allowed to share, resell or give away, especially when the costs of production/distribution/returns are next to nothing compared to print. Whether it’s a small press or a big NY publisher, I’m sorry, but I just won’t, and I know I’m not alone. I could buy more than three novellas or two full length novels from Samhain or LSB for the price of one ebook from the presses you listed. I could buy two big fat fantasies in Sony format from Orbit, and if I get burned, hey, I only wasted between $3.50 and $7.99.

    As long as those books are so ungodly expensive, supporting LGBT publishers and authors will remain a luxury for the wealthy. I’m not in a position to support my local hospital by attending a $200/plate dinner, and I’m not in a position to pay $12.95 for an ebook–an ebook!–by an author I don’t know, just so I can feel warm and fuzzy that I did my part for the cause.

    To LGBT publishers (and NY pubs, too, grr): Bring the prices down a bit, and you might find a lot more support out there that you never realized you had. For ebooks at least, this should not be too much to ask.

    ReplyReply

  34. Jayne
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 06:03:46

    Kirsten I have to agree with you. Those ebook prices are outrageous. And why should they be that high just because we’re tallking about a subgenre? Is this suppose to be like buying shade grown coffee or chocolate from small African national co-ops? At least with those, I’m assured I’m going to like the product. Here – it’s a crapshoot. I can understand – just slightly – that print copies would be more since the run is not as high as with major publishers but ebooks for that price? No fucking way.

    I’m going to look at some of the publishers other than Bold Strokes which Evecho mentions and hope that they include excerpts so I can get some clue as to whether or not I might enjoy the authors work. Give me that at least, Lesbian Publishing houses. But until the prices come down, I’m not in a financial position to just wing it and randomly try different authors or publishing houses.

    ReplyReply

  35. Mfred
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 08:52:43

    Mfred, can you recommend any particular authors who write f/f? Any publishing houses?

    Its true, I confess, I’m a lesbian and I don’t read lesbian press or lesbian books.

    I’m going to be honest here– I don’t read books for empowerment. I don’t read books to support causes. I’m not interested in paying a lot of money for a book that is more than likely not going to be very good. Messages and morals annoy me as a reader, and living as a gay woman is hard enough that I really don’t feel like curling up with a book about it at the end of the day.

    Kirsten Saell basically hits the spot:

    For women who aren't as into it as I am, I can't really blame them for not wanting to pick through the coal to find the few diamonds hiding there. Especially if they've already tried, and all they've ended up with is coal. Or worse.

    The only difference being, I am really into it and I still don’t go hunting for these books. That’s why I’m happy to see reviews at Dear Author– yay, doing the work for me!

    I did enjoy the first Aud Torvingen novel, The Blue Place, by Nicola Griffith.. its not really romance, but the f/f relationship is unselfconscious and excellent. Sadly, I did not like the following Aud books as much.

    A lot of people recommend Sarah Waters for the non-lesbian f/f reader. I can’t say as I really like Waters. I finally sat down and read Tipping the Velvet and found it just ok. I also tried Karen Kallmaker but couldn’t get into her super-emotional, “on a life journey” heroines.

    On the f/f erotica front, I enjoyed Macho Sluts by Pat Califia– its f/f BDSM and it definitely pushes the envelope. I mean, seriously, if you’re BDSM-squeamish, don’t even think about reading this book. I also just picked up M. Christian’s Speaking Parts — apparently, he’s a dude who writes lesbian erotica for a lesbian press. Some of the stories are quite excellent, particularly one set in a apocalyptic future where people sell body parts for robotic replacements.

    ReplyReply

  36. Jayne
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 09:58:09

    Here’s something that supports what you said way up in comment # 4, Kirsten:

    OPRAH.COM) — Lately, a new kind of sisterly love seems to be in the air. In the past few years, Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon left a boyfriend after a decade and a half and started dating a woman (and talked openly about it).

    “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon and her partner Christine Marinoni, left, at a 2008 reception.

    Actress Lindsay Lohan and DJ Samantha Ronson flaunted their relationship from New York to Dubai. Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl” topped the charts. “The L Word,” “Work Out,” and “Top Chef” are featuring gay women on TV, and there’s even talk of a lesbian reality show in the works.

    Certainly nothing is new about women having sex with women, but we’ve arrived at a moment in the popular culture when it all suddenly seems almost fashionable — or at least, acceptable.

    Statistics on how many women have traded boyfriends and husbands for girlfriends are hard to come by. Although the U.S. Census Bureau keeps track of married, divorced, single, and even same-sex partners living together, it doesn’t look for the stories behind those numbers.

    But experts like Binnie Klein, a Connecticut-based psychotherapist and lecturer in Yale’s department of psychiatry, agree that alternative relationships are on the rise.

    “It’s clear that a change in sexual orientation is imaginable to more people than ever before, and there’s more opportunity — and acceptance — to cross over the line,” says Klein, noting that a half-dozen of her married female patients in the past few years have fallen in love with women. “Most are afraid that if they don’t go for it, they’ll end up with regrets.”

    Feminist philosopher Susan Bordo, Ph.D, a professor of English and gender and women’s studies at the University of Kentucky and author of “Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body,” also agrees that in the current environment, more women may be stepping out of the conventional gender box.

    “When a taboo is lifted or diminished, it’s going to leave people freer to pursue things,” she says.

    “So it makes sense that we would see women, for all sorts of reasons, walking through that door now that the culture has cracked it open. Of course, we shouldn’t imagine that we’re living in a world where all sexual choices are possible. Just look at the cast of ‘The L Word’ and it’s clear that only a certain kind of lesbian — slim and elegant or butch in just the right androgynous way — is acceptable to mainstream culture.”

    That said, of the recent high-profile cases, it’s Cynthia Nixon’s down-to-earth attitude that may have blazed a trail for many women. In 1998, when “Sex and the City” debuted on HBO, she was settled in a long-term relationship with Danny Mozes, an English professor, with whom she had two children.

    They hadn’t gotten married: “I was wary of it and felt like it was potentially a trap, so I steered clear of it,” Nixon said in an interview with London’s Daily Mirror.

    In 2004, after ending her 15-year relationship with Mozes, Nixon began seeing Christine Marinoni, at the time a public school advocate whom she’d met while working on a campaign to reduce class sizes in New York City. Marinoni was a great support when the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Far from hiding the relationship, Nixon has spoken freely in TV and newspaper interviews about it not being a big deal.

    “I have been with men all my life and had never met a woman I had fallen in love with before,” she told the Daily Mirror. “But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. It didn’t change who I am. I’m just a woman who fell in love with a woman.” Oprah.com: Cynthia Nixon’s new life

    Over the past several decades, scientists have struggled in fits and starts to get a handle on sexual orientation. Born or bred? Can it change during one’s lifetime?

    A handful of studies in the 1990s, most of them focused on men, suggested that homosexuality is hardwired. In one study, researchers linked DNA markers in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome to gay males. But a subsequent larger study failed to replicate the results, leaving the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association to speculate that sexual orientation probably has multiple causes, including environmental, cognitive, and biological factors.

    Today, however, a new line of research is beginning to approach sexual orientation as much less fixed than previously thought, especially when it comes to women. The idea that human sexuality forms a continuum has been around since 1948, when Alfred Kinsey introduced his famous seven-point scale, with zero representing complete heterosexuality, 6 signifying complete homosexuality, and bisexuality in the middle, where many of the men and women he interviewed fell.

    The new buzz phrase coming out of contemporary studies is “sexual fluidity.”

    “People always ask me if this research means everyone is bisexual. No, it doesn’t,” says Lisa Diamond, Ph.D, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah and author of the 2008 book “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire.”

    “Fluidity represents a capacity to respond erotically in unexpected ways due to particular situations or relationships. It doesn’t appear to be something a woman can control.”

    Furthermore, studies indicate that it’s more prevalent in women than in men, according to Bonnie Zylbergold, assistant editor of American Sexuality, an online magazine.

    In a 2004 landmark study at Northwestern University, the results were eye-opening. During the experiment, the female subjects became sexually aroused when they viewed heterosexual as well as lesbian erotic films. This was true for both gay and straight women.

    Among the male subjects, however, the straight men were turned on only by erotic films with women, the gay ones by those with men.

    “We found that women’s sexual desire is less rigidly directed toward a particular sex, as compared with men’s, and it’s more changeable over time,” says the study’s senior researcher, J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D. “These findings likely represent a fundamental difference between men’s and women’s brains.”

    This idea, that the libido can wander back and forth between genders, Diamond admits, may be threatening and confusing to those with conventional beliefs about sexual orientation.

    But when the women she’s interviewed explain their feelings, it doesn’t sound so wild. Many of them say, for example, they are attracted to the person, and not the gender — moved by traits like kindness, intelligence, and humor, which could apply to a man or a woman.

    Most of all, they long for an emotional connection. And if that comes by way of a female instead of a male, the thrill may override whatever heterosexual orientation they had. Oprah.com: Meet women who are making the switch

    By Mary A. Fischer from O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2009

    ReplyReply

  37. JenB
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:32:51

    I'm going to be honest here- I don't read books for empowerment. I don't read books to support causes. I'm not interested in paying a lot of money for a book that is more than likely not going to be very good. Messages and morals annoy me as a reader …

    Wow, you could’ve pulled that quote straight out of my brain. I think I’m in love! :D

    Thank you for being honest.

    I don’t read for causes either. I keep my charity and my reading separate. I read for entertainment and nothing more.

    I like the idea of supporting f/f authors, but I still don’t feel comfortable funneling money into a subgenre that is, for the most part, barely mediocre. Money doesn’t produce good writing. Good writers produce good writing. And so far, very few good writers are writing f/f. Giving my money to the mediocre (and just plain bad) writers isn’t going to make the good writers start crawling out of the woodwork.

    ReplyReply

  38. kirsten saell
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 10:37:48

    Messages and morals annoy me as a reader, and living as a gay woman is hard enough that I really don't feel like curling up with a book about it at the end of the day.

    I think that’s what annoys me about a lot of contemporary gay and lesbian romance. The primary external conflict so often revolves around whole issue of homosexuality and how being gay impacts the characters. I can enjoy that in a historical or a historical fantasy because the implications of being gay way back when were so universally dire, and the temporal/moral distance of the setting makes those implications feel more visceral and less political.

    And again, there’s the either/or, straight vs lesbian aspect of so much f/f romance. I’m not “either” or “or”. I resent being expected to choose. And every time a character in a f/f romance is presented as “being a lesbian” (sometimes after a long, loving, sexually satisfying het relationship), simply because she falls in love with a woman, it gets my hackles up.

    There are aspects of my personality right now that would make a same-sex relationship more generally appealing to me than a het one, mostly pertaining to the type of relationship I’d like to have. That doesn’t preclude me from the possibility of falling for a man if he satisfied enough of those needs that seem to have come to the fore in my life. That wouldn’t stop me from enjoying sexual intimacy with a man as much as with a woman–although I will admit, the two can be very different.

    What I personally would love to see more of is f/f romance that is bi-oriented. And f/f/m where the man is not at the center of the relationship–that reflects a woman’s fantasy (or MY fantasy, really) of getting to have my cake and eat it too. And every time f/f love is characterized as a rejection of the penis rather than an embracing of same-sex desire, it annoys me. In my own life, f/f love is about opting into something, without necessarily opting out of another.

    There were a lot of people chiming in about Butterfly Tattoo, and the fact that though the MC had been in a monogamous same-sex relationship for years, he didn’t define himself as gay. He just loved who he loved. That really works for me, and I wish there were more of it in f/f romance.

    but the f/f relationship is unselfconscious and excellent.

    That really hit the nail on the head. Unselfconscious. Give me that and I’ll gobble it up like popcorn. Unfortunately, I rarely find it in anything other than erotica.

    ReplyReply

  39. kirsten saell
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 11:04:18

    Oh, thank you for digging that up, Jayne! I was just in the process of posting a long comment that pretty much said exactly that, and it got gobbled up.

    I’ve always known I was sexually attracted to both women and men, although it wasn’t a conscious awareness until I hit my late teens and actually met a few women who pushed my buttons just right. But what I needed out of a relationship back then was more possible with a man–not necessarily the whole marriage/kids/acceptance in society thing, but my personality at that point was more likely to mesh with a male partner than a female one.

    As I’ve grown as a person, what I need from a relationship has changed, and frankly, I’m more likely to get that in a same-sex relationship. But that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t fall for the right man if he comes along and meets enough of those needs. Sex with the right man is still zing-pow-kablooie! And even though I’m enormously attacted to the soft, curvy, beautiful female form, I’m still equally turned on by big, muscular, masculine bodies. My embracing of same-sex love and desire isn’t a rejection of men or maleness or the penis.

    That seems to be lacking in so much f/f fiction written by women. And most of the f/f written (or filmed) by and for men isn’t about the women’s needs and desires at all, but geared toward a male fantasy that doesn’t appeal to me. I’d love to see more f/f romance that is bi-oriented, and f/f/m where the man isn’t the center of the relationship. That’s my fantasy. That’s what I want to read, and it’s what I choose to write.

    If only ten percent of us are 100% gay, pure lesbian romance is only really going to appeal to that ten percent. And if half of those women would rather read m/m than f/f? Niche indeed.

    ReplyReply

  40. Janine
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 12:23:44

    A lot of people recommend Sarah Waters for the non-lesbian f/f reader. I can't say as I really like Waters. I finally sat down and read Tipping the Velvet and found it just ok

    I read Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith several years back. It is a Victorian-era literary thriller with an f/f romance at its center. I can’t say enough good things about Waters’ prose, but I still did not enjoy Fingesmith at all because several of the characters were con artists and I saw the book as being more about the betrayal of trust than about love. No question in my mind that Waters is an excellent writer, she can make me feel intense emotions, but unfortunately, they are not emotions I enjoy feeling. I did buy Tipping the Velvet a few years ago to see if I would enjoy that, but so far, it has languished on my shelf.

    On the upside, I am reading the f/f anthology Tangle Girls right now and so far, two stories have been very good and one story just so-so. I plan to review the anthology when I finish reading it, though it may take me a while since I’m interspersing the stories with other books. I bought Tangle Girls on my own dime because I’ve enjoyed the m/m Blind Eye books offerings I’ve read (Wicked Gentlemen especially) and because I heard there was a story by Jesse Sandoval, who wrote the fabulous “Los Conversos” in the original Tangle anthology, in Tangle Girls.

    According to the Blind Eye Books website, Tenea D. Johnson is writing what I believe is an f/f novel for them for release in 2010. It’s described on their site this way: “The as yet unnamed novel is a science fiction story involving wormholes, art and beautiful women.” I have hopes for this book, since Johnson has a way with words and so far, Blind Eye Books has put out good stuff.

    ReplyReply

  41. kirsten saell
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 13:11:32

    I have hopes for this book, since Johnson has a way with words and so far, Blind Eye Books has put out good stuff.

    That does sound awesome. But I seem to recall when you guys reviewed Wicked Gentlemen, that BEB didn’t do ebooks. Is that still the case? And if it isn’t, are they out of my price range?

    ReplyReply

  42. MB (Leah)
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 14:13:16

    The new buzz phrase coming out of contemporary studies is “sexual fluidity.”

    “Fluidity represents a capacity to respond erotically in unexpected ways due to particular situations or relationships. It doesn't appear to be something a woman can control.”

    This!!!!! totally. This is what I want to read in a f/f book. This is what I’m starving to read. It’s just totally not out there.

    Anne Rainey’s Burn had it. There was a very easy sexual relationship between two friends in that one, which was no big deal.

    It was the same with Bonnie Dee’s story in the book Three. Again, two friends who are very comfortable around each other and move into a sexual relationship without it being a big deal.

    My favorite books with f/f in them or as a main theme have that quality. Where the character/s are fluid in their sexuality and respond according to the person and not so much the gender.

    I wouldn’t even like to put the label of bisexual on that kind of character because bisexual implies an equal attraction to both men and women sexually, when the type of character I would like to read is attracted by a person’s attributes or qualities, which can easily morph into a sexual expression.

    And as far as that whole post you wrote, #36, Jayne, there was also an article in More magazine about how it’s becoming more of a trend that much older women are finding themselves attracted to women sexually for the first time and are leaving their marriages or having a sexual relationship with another women. There are no empirical stats to prove why that’s happening, but it’s a trend on the rise.

    http://www.more.com/sex-dating/over-40-and-gay/?page=1

    I find that very interesting and it goes with some of the statistics that you provided in your post that women are more fluid and that because alternative sexual lifestyles are more accepted, maybe women feel more comfortable about exploring those feelings that they might have ignored in the past.

    ReplyReply

  43. Janine
    Apr 24, 2009 @ 14:14:47

    Yeah, Blind Eye Books is a print publisher. They put out very nice trade paperbacks at trade paperback prices. Tangle Girls and Wicked Gentlemen are both priced at $12.95, and the longer, thicker books are more expensive.

    But some of their stuff is really, really good. I was on the fence about Tangle Girls until I found out it contained a Jesse Sandoval story, and then I didn’t even think twice about paying $12.95 for it. I am looking forward to the Tenea D. Johnson story in Tangle Girls too (I haven’t gotten there yet).

    I saw on their site that The Archer’s Heart, which Jia reviewed, and Turnskin (both m/m books) are also both finalists in the LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror category of the Lambda Literary Awards, and it occurred to me that the finalist list for the awards, esp. in the romance and fantasy categories, might be a good way to find some wheat in the midst of the chaff.

    Also, if you can’t afford them, another option is to try interlibrary loan or ask your library to consider purchasing them. I don’t know if they would, but it’s worth a try.

    ReplyReply

  44. Evecho
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 02:00:57

    With due respect to the readers who are more comfortable with bi-characters, the presses I mentioned are lesbian-positive and publish stories that are almost always about lesbians, with, perhaps, bisexuality as part of the growing process.

    As for lesbian romance suspected of being stuck in the coming-out scenario or being preachy, the reality is quite different today. Lesbian romances cover a wide wide range of characters and situations – name it and one has probably been written.

    Off the top of my head, I can recall detectives, doctors, lawyers, mobsters, pirates, psychics, security officers, gypsies, punks, brokers, politicians, mothers, vampires, bartenders…and romances in any sub-genre be it historical or thriller/crime or gothic or contemporary or speculative fiction. There are stories about second-chances, whodunits, undercover cops, victorian gothics, adventurers, fantasy fights… really too many to list.

    If you’re unsure where to start looking for lesbian romances, might I suggest checking the finalists of the Lambda awards (http://www.lambdaliterary.org), the GCLS awards (http://www.goldencrown.org/awards.html), the Publishing Triangle awards (http://www.publishingtriangle.org/awards.asp) though they aren’t always about romance, and the occasional lesbian book that makes it to the IPPYs and the IBPA finals.

    Interestingly, non-US writers tend to submit their books in the genre category rather than the LGBT category.

    As for the prices of LGBT books, I live outside the US and UK. I’m used to paying higher prices in addition to regular expenses.

    ReplyReply

  45. MB (Leah)
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 08:12:54

    As for lesbian romance suspected of being stuck in the coming-out scenario or being preachy, the reality is quite different today.

    I agree with this. Totally.

    The stories I’ve read that have lesbian protagonists are written with the character being human first, their profession, like detective second, and “lesbian” last. Those stories have been written by lesbians and don’t have any preachy factor to them.

    Kirsten and I had a long discussion about this as well one time wondering if straight women might be turned off by or fear reading the whole “gay” lifestyle that might be portrayed outside of a straight up f/f romance or the sub genre plot in a story.

    So far, I haven’t really read any romances or books in general written by lesbians or with lesbian protagonists in which the whole “gay scene” was predominant or even present in the story. As I’ve said, the characters are detective, lawyer, Dr. first and they just happen to be in love with a woman instead of a man.

    ReplyReply

  46. kirsten saell
    Apr 25, 2009 @ 11:22:43

    As for lesbian romance suspected of being stuck in the coming-out scenario or being preachy, the reality is quite different today.

    I would suspect that most of the f/f romance I’ve read has not been written by lesbians, because lesbian writers tend to write for LGBT presses and I just can’t afford them. Perhaps the preachy factor (or the all male characters are jerks phenomenon, or the full metamorphosis from 100% straight to 100% lesbian with associated angsting) is more prevalent in f/f written by straight women for the epresses I can afford to purchase from.

    That said, I want to read f/f love and eroticism, but I don’t necessarily want it presented in a purely lesbian context, which is what most LGBT presses publish. I don’t want characters to only be bisexual as part of their “growing process” from ostensibly straight to card-carrying lesbian. A 15 year marriage to a man didn’t make me straight. A sexual relationship with a woman is not going to make me a lesbian.

    Bi-female romantic fiction is unbelievably hard to find (erotica is a different story, especially the type that appeals to men). I’ve been pressured in my life to choose, the “either” or the “or”, and that pressure hasn’t come from the straight community, so when almost all the f/f I can find (other than porn for men) is centered around characters who are 100% lesbian, it almost feels preachy, even when it isn’t. That reaction is partly on me, yes, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that it’s so rare to stumble across a female protagonist who reflects my reality–loves men, loves women, loves sex, embraces love.

    If I had to apply a label to myself, I’d call myself bisexual. I adore female-centered f/f/m menage romance, and there just is so little of it out there, and less still that is decent (although there’s a huge selection of material with two men and one woman). Going by my memory of reading it more than a year ago, the f/f/m scene in Jessie’s Girl didn’t quite push my buttons, because there was no romantic connection (or even friendship) between Sabrina and the other woman, and her feelings for her husband were conflicted and centered more around pleasing her parents than being in love (or lust).

    Give me a book like Home by Treva Harte, or a The Courage to Love by Samantha Kane, or a Butterfly Tattoo by Deirdre Knight, and center it around a woman or women who are bisexual or whose sexual orientation is defined by love rather than body parts, and I’ll gobble it up.

    Perhaps I just want too much? If that’s the case, I’ll have to content myself with writing it.

    ReplyReply

  47. Edie
    Apr 27, 2009 @ 06:30:35

    A bit random.. but seriously.. I have to celebrate..

    by Mfred April 23rd, 2009 at 7:25 am Reply to this comment

    I'm super excited to see f/f reviews on Dear Author.

    I'm in the peculiar position of being a gay woman who loves “straight” romance -’ historical, paranormal, urban fantasy- I read it all.

    I am not the only odd duck in the world!!
    yyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    PS. To throw another random comment in, I actually haven’t read that much lesbian romance, the first few I came across were way too heavy for me on the moral dilemma and heavy on the trauma, and not enough escapism for me.
    Escapism probably being the wrong word, maybe not that entertaining? And have also been turned off by prices.. ebooks and print

    ReplyReply

  48. Tina Burns
    Apr 28, 2009 @ 17:33:13

    I’m glad you enjoyed Jessie’s Girl. Honestly I was hesitant to read it, not because I squick at f/f, but because the majority of the submissions I’d received that were f/f in the past were preachy, militant, and just not fun or interesting. Amber did a phenomenal job of writing a character driven love story, not a Lesbian driven plot. The emotions I felt for the characters was real and deep, and I expressed as such to Amber when I offered contract. I’m surprised to see that she’s put herself on hiatus as a writer. I’m going to have to see if I can move her closer to the edge of the bookshelf to give us readers more of her wonderful work.

    ReplyReply

  49. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 18:03:09

    Amber did a phenomenal job of writing a character driven love story, not a Lesbian driven plot. The emotions I felt for the characters was real and deep, and I expressed as such to Amber when I offered contract. I'm surprised to see that she's put herself on hiatus as a writer.

    What you said!

    I'm going to have to see if I can move her closer to the edge of the bookshelf to give us readers more of her wonderful work.

    Please do. I would be interested in reading more of her work if you can pry any out of her. ;)

    ReplyReply

  50. Amber Scott
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 10:44:29

    Thank you so much, Jayne, for reading Jessie’s Girl and for your review. Thank you also for all of these wonderful and provocative comments.
    I did take a small break from writing this spring. I wanted to take a moment to evaluate where I’d been and decide where I want to go with my writing. The break became a phoenix-like rebirth for me and I returned to my lifelong love with new perspective. As part of that, I began a little experiment in publishing that I am sharing through a blog, http://amberscottproject.wordpress.com.
    Jessie’s Girl is not only my favorite, it is a reader favorite, too, which means the world to me. Right now I’m working on converting Jessie and Sabrina’s story into a screenplay as well. I look forward to the day when gay fiction is mainstream. I hope I will be able to be a part of it. I believe love is love and we all live it’s story.
    Yours,
    Amber Scott

    ReplyReply

  51. Jayne
    Jul 18, 2009 @ 11:49:28

    Amber, good to hear from you and best of luck on your writing and future plans.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: