Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

Book:  The Dark Wife
Author:  Sarah Diemer
Publisher:  Self-Published

There’s no other way to say this than to be perfectly blunt:  Zeus is a super-size male member, Demeter is a textbook enabler, Hades could use some lessons in more effective personal communications, Pallas is a netherworld stalker, Charon is stuck in a job that he hates, and Persephone has underlying anger management issues.

In other words, the Gods and Goddesses aren’t crazy; they’re just like our own messed up extended families . . .

In Sarah Diemer’s self-published, YA novel, The Dark Wife, we follow the dawning of Persephone, first into teen angst, then first love, disillusionment, bitter hatred, self-imposed emotional exile, awareness, awakening, adult love, and finally into an unavoidable yet mature compromise between those that love and hurt her so much. 

While the book generally follows the outline of the classic Greek myth, it is a very different story altogether.  Persephone is a teenage lesbian, Hades is a woman of quiet power, and Cerberus is an adorable, three-headed, floppy-eared, big-pawed puppy.  Zeus is an absent father until he wants something from his daughter; and Demeter is a loving mother, but one that doesn’t want to rock the boat called Mount Olympus

The only thing missing is the tough and chewy Gorgon with a gun.

Sarah Diemer writes some truly beautiful and lyrical prose, and at moments seemed to show flashes of a much older soul.  She captured the confusion, loneliness, and torment of a teen in a seriously dysfunctional family that is saddled with high parental expectations; as well as Persephone’s struggle to understand who she really is and what she really wants in and from her life.  At times, Persephone seems almost like a petulant child throwing a tantrum, and at others she is remarkably mature and perceptive.  She shows outward distain toward one parent, and skirts the fringe of passive aggressive behavior with the other.

How very much like a typical teenager . . .

I have to admit, though, the relationship between Persephone and Hades is a bit of a mystery to me.  While I understand that there is a mutual fascination from the moment they first meet, I can’t say I really picked up on the heat between the two of them.  Persephone melts every time Hades speaks to her, but Hades is a woman of few words.  In fact, it appears for a bit that Pallas might be the one making the move on Persephone instead of Hades.  But, of course, Hades is mysterious, has the cute puppy, the cool horses, and those smoldering good looks. 

Ah, but the whole sexy Lord of the Underworld vibe is the cherry on top . . .

The Dark Wife is a fairly short book, roughly 100 pages.  It starts off a bit slow, has a few too many gratuitous ‘cavorting with Nymph’ scenes, and could use a little more emotional and physical foreplay between Persephone and Hades to firm up their deep and abiding love.  However, it recovers nicely and packs a bit of a punch towards the end.  I’ll even admit that it gets a little hot and steamy.   

Pun intended . . .

But, of course, this is a book intended for the Young Adult audience, and it is meant to reflect a very different flavor of thoughts, fears, issues, conflicts, hopes, emotions, and feelings.  In that, it succeeded, because there are some truly wonderful moments in this book.  And, while the storyline and the writing style of The Dark Wife won’t capture all young adult readers, it will speak strongly and clearly to others. 

Those are the ones this book was written for, and that’s why books like this are worth their weight in gold.

As an author, Ms. Diemer has chosen a path that suits her by self-publishing, and offering the book free to the audience that it was written for.  Of course, it’s also available at Amazon, Barns and Noble, and Smashwords for $2.99, or you can donate whatever you believe the book is worth to you via her website: http://oceanid.org

Make no mistake, Sarah Diemer is not quite like any other author in the Lesbian Collective, and that’s most definitely not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s something special.  She lives the message she’s been given: be true to yourself, don’t be afraid to love, things will get better.  Her next book, a YA paranormal yarn called Ragged:  A Post-Apocalyptic Fairy Tale, is scheduled for release later this summer. 

I’m giving The Dark Wife a 4.5 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.  It’s not easy taking a Homeric Hymn, adding in a dose of teenage angst, a little good, old-fashion lesbian lust, and a grumpy Ferryman who would rather be an Accountant, and still have it be palatable.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Ride to Remember by Sacchi Green

Book:  A Ride to Remember
Author:  Sacchi Green
Publisher:  Lethe Press

Sweet cracker sandwich!  It’s been a while since I tucked into Sacchi Green’s erotic shorts!!!          [Insert long suffering groan]

On second thought, maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase that.  Let me try a do over:

A Ride to Remember is a spicy compilation of erotic short stories by one of the genre’s most honored Madams, Sacchi Green.  [Ah, much better, proceed now . . .]

In these thirteen stories, we meet a wide array of sexy women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to wrap their long, lean legs around her.  Among others, we’re treated to the likes of a lusty backwoods romp, a catty Salchow, a feast of Faeries and fresh fruit, a transgendered three-way, a taste of sweet cream, and a salacious seduction on the dusty trails of the Grand Canyon.

Don’t forget the garlic sausage and the girl from an alternate dimension!

The beauty of this juicy little collection is that there’s something for everyone, no matter what makes your pupils dilate or your mouth water.  It’s like a tasty little literary snack of girl-on-girl dim sum, accompanied by a flight of tangy, zesty, earthy, and downright savory dipping sauces.

Yup, mouth watering.  Definitely.  Mouth watering.

Seriously, Ms. Green is very much the classic artist, poet, storyteller, and naughty little vixen.  I tease, but throughout the entire collection, I was amazed by the machine gun dichotomies.  She showcased the ability to craft a gorgeous, breathtaking sentence or scene that leaves the reader murmuring, ‘Wow! Amazing! Beautiful!’ Then before you’ve recovered, you fall headlong into a wishing well of rounded buttocks, fleshy breasts, whipping tongues, long fingers, straining clits, and slippery cunts.

And once again, you murmur, ‘Wow! Amazing! Beautiful!’  But, it has a whoooooole different meaning the second time around.  Wink!  Wink! Nudge! Nudge! Know what I mean?

For the record, that’s not a criticism, it’s acknowledgement of the rare and special talent it takes to develop a saucy little story, draw stunning scenery, and breath life into sensual, red-hot characters in ten pages or less.

As noted earlier, this is a compilation of thirteen unique and artfully written stories.  Eleven were previously published, and two are new to this book.  My personal favorites are the leadoff, “To Remember You By”, and her sister story, “Alternate Lives”.  Both are rich, beautiful, sexy, sad, and stunningly triumphant; and these women will be a part of me for a very, very long time.

Of course, I also loved “The Outside Edge”, “Of Dark and Bright”, “Bright Angel”, and the funky little number, “Feeling Blue”. 

Ah, what the heck, I’m easy, I loved all of ‘em!

I’m always on the lookout for anything new from Sacchi Green, and she has delivered the goods in this lusty volume of erotica that sparks and sizzles from the cover all the way through to the end.  On the Rainbow Scale, I’ll give A Ride to Remember a 5.1 out of 6.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some alone time . . .

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two for the Show by Chris Paynter

Book:  Two for the Show
Author:  Chris Paynter
Publisher:  Blue Feather Books, Ltd.

When I found out that Two for the Show had hit the bookshelves earlier this month, I pulled out my happy little Snoopy dance, and shook my moneymaker until even the Husky puppy looked at me like I’d peed on one too many bushes.

[Insert brusque throat clearing]  Suffice to say, I was quite pleased.

See, I’ve always been a firm believer that while it may only take a few hours or days to read a book, the really, really good ones percolate inside of you for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. 

In all honesty, I only read Playing for First, the series kickoff, in April, so I’m still mentally playing pitch and catch with the story elements and the characters. But, I’m happy that the timing worked out, and Two for the Show was published when it was – it’s allowed me to quickly become reacquainted with Chris Paynter’s well-drawn characters, and to put some active thought back on this storyline, which explores a variety of issues, not the least of which are vulnerability, trust, and empowerment.

Two for the Show focuses on the lives, loves, and careers of Lisa Collins and Amy Perry.  These friends and former lovers are both in good places.  Their careers are on a well-deserved roll, and they both have met the loves of their lives.  Within a matter of weeks, both Lisa and Amy get called up to The Show.  Lisa takes over the coveted role as the MajorLeague.com reporter for the Cincinnati Reds, and Amy is called up from Triple A to take over as the starting First Baseman.  Of course, Life is never fair, and soon Lisa and her lover, Frankie, are facing a possible recurrence of Frankie’s breast cancer; while Amy and her partner, Stacy, are dealing with the failing health and passing of Amy’s mother. 

Both Frankie and Amy withdraw from their partners and their friends as they fight their personal demons, and struggle to control and ignore overwhelming feelings of loss and abandonment.  Of course, Two for the Show addresses several themes, and one of the most powerful is that of friendship and trust.  It’s hard work, but both friends and couples eventually come to realize that while love isn’t always easy, it is worth the bare-knuckle, bench-clearing brawl to save it.

Oh.  Okay.  I thought the book was, uh, about baseball . . .

The book is about baseball.  However, Ms. Paynter really uses the game as more of a zippy little helmet-shaped cart to shuttle the characters between various points in the narrative .  Earlier, I mentioned that I considered the story more a study on the issues of vulnerability, trust, and empowerment in life, love, and careers, than anything else . . .

Hold on, let me grab a chair and a cold drink, sounds like this is going to take a while.

Not really, I don’t want to go into a dissertation on the subject, because I could never do justice to this artfully drawn storyline.  However, my point is, raise your hand if you’ve ever started a new job, moved to a new city, faced your own mortality or that of someone you adore, or been in any relationship where you didn’t feel just the teeniest, tiniest bit exposed. 

Yup, thought so. And that’s why the book works on so many levels.

The characters in this series are brilliant.  Lisa is smart, solid, loyal, and knows more about baseball than anyone I’ve ever met.  Amy is quiet, shy, humble, and a total jock.  Frankie has an inner strength and confidence, but a fear that is deep and raw.  Stacy is honest and sweet, but will not compromise herself or her needs.  Nick Sanders is the wily veteran, and a quiet rock when Amy’s world starts to tilt.  And, then there’s Sarah, the Press Box Yoda, who really just needs a good woman in her life. 

And speaking of Sarah, for such a rich, interesting character that has been so vital in such subtle ways in both Playing for First and Two for the Show, what really is her ultimate role?  Will she always be the bit character that swoops in when none of the other main characters can complete the scene?  Or, are we being set up with the odd and occasional pieces of her back story for more down the line?  Just wondering, because I always find myself enjoying her role and wanting more, more, more.

I’ve developed a huge respect for Chris Paynter.  There is so much to like about her simple, careful and well-conceived themes; the way she sprinkles subtle bits of humor and pathos into the mix; the story behind the story, and the very human, un-superhero characters.  The book is about more than women in love, breaking the gender barriers in the last great bastion of manliness, the creased, ugly faces of discrimination and hatred, or the crushing pain of fear and loss. 

The book is about learning it's okay to be vulnerable with your friends and yourself, to trust even when you can't see where you are, and to do whatever you have to do, no matter how hard it is, to get where you want to be.

And I love that most of all.

This book had me smiling, swiping away tears, feeling proud to be a woman, and ultimately anxious to find out what happens in the third book. I’m giving Two for the Show a 5.3 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale. 

More, please.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bingo Barge Murder by Jessie Chandler

Book:  Bingo Barge Murder
Author:  Jessie Chandler
Publisher:  Midnight Ink

I’ve come to the conclusion that the little known, über-secret League of Lesbian Super Heroes must have sprayed a little “somethin’ somethin’ special” onto the pasture lands grazed by all those Minnesota milk cows about twenty years ago, because there sure has been a surprising bevy of death-defying, north star dykes zooming about the literary airspace. And, make no mistake; Jessie Chandler is the newest Girl Wonder to buzz our bookshelves, righting wrongs, and making the Twin Cities safe for all.

Seriously, who knew that Minnesota was such a lightening rod for crime?!?

Bingo Barge Murder introduces us to Shay O’Hanlon, co-owner of a funky little coffee shop, best friend to a chain-smoking, environmentalist drama queen, and honorary daughter to a hip, 60-year old bat-welding, poker playing, knitting circle Ringmaster.  Life is good, if not a little stagnant, when Coop, her buddy hauls her into the grimy garage behind the coffee shop to tell her that his boss, a slime ball of a man named Kinky Anderson, has been killed by a bronze plated bingo dauber that Coop had been handling the night before when the Kinkster fired his butt.  The police are looking for Coop, and he convinces Shay to help protect him because everyone knows “what happens to vegetarians” in the Big House.  Shay and Eddy, her pseudo-mom rally, and hide Coop in the hidden loft above the garage.

Of course, the cops are looking for Coop, and in walks the ‘tough and chewy butch with a gun’, JT Bordeaux.  There seems to be a hint of chemistry between Shay and JT, but Shay is firmly into her “Tenacious Protector” mode with Coop, and evades JT’s questions while acting a bit like a squirrel on acid.  JT knows something’s up, but isn’t quite sure what.  Shay, Coop and Eddy embark on secret mission to find evidence to clear Coop, but instead find themselves firmly in the thick of a mystery that involves not only clearing Coop’s name, but finding a truckload of stolen nuts, outsmarting misanthrope mobsters, and besting bingo patrons that have gone over to the dark side.

Oh, and then there’s the jowly, misunderstood, Renaissance dog, Dawg . . .

Bingo Barge Murder was a fun little story that was surprisingly complex for it’s length.  Ms. Chandler created a long list of loonie, but loveable characters, and kept the pace moving without sacrificing the detail necessary to grab you by the collar and take you along for the ride.  I loved the absurdity that was deftly sprinkled into the story:  The Pig’s Eye Bingo Barge, Kinky’s badly bronzed, phallic dauber, murder and mayhem all for a truck load of almonds, neon-green tennis shoes, and a handy fungo bat.

Ooh!  Ooh! I also loved when Shay got tingles at all the wrong times in all the right places . . .

One of the best parts of the book, to me, was Rocky, the high functioning, developmentally disabled, savant with a photographic memory.  I thought the character was beautifully written, and kept true-to-form.  His special intellect was the hidden key to the mystery, but he was also vulnerable and child-like. 

And, anyone who can score that much free Popeye’s extra spicy chicken is officially ‘okey dokie’ in my book!

Try as I might, I can’t think of another book in this genre’ where we see a character like Rocky, and I loved that.  Most of us, at some point in our life, have met a Rocky, and it’s about time we see him (or her) showing up in our literature. 

So, extra props for originality!

Now, one thing I have to bring up is the whole Shay/JT thing.  So, we get the early impression that Shay thinks JT is hot.  And then we learn that JT is a wee bit flirtatious with Shay.  Then we discover that they suffer from mutual tinglies, and some sort of relationship is on the horizon.  Okay that works.  In fact I was rooting for it from the first chapter.  However, during all of this, Shay lies to JT about knowing where Coop is.  Then she lies to JT when Eddy gets pilfered by the bungling mobsters.  She finally needs JT’s help to get out of a big pickle, but then takes off without telling JT what was going down with the nuts. 

Whoa, help me out here, but if I were JT, I’d probably be really ticked off in spite of the warm tingles Shay evoked in my damp, happy places.

Still, I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt, because we’re only in Book One of the series, and I’m sure Shay and JT will have a few more of these pesky little occurrences, and plenty of time to work things out on the whole trust and honesty front.

For a first effort, Bingo Barge Murder was a frisky little whodunit, chock full of loveable, whacky characters, and enough juice to drive a solid series.  I’m looking forward to hearing more from Shay O’Hanlon and the Rabbit Hole regulars, so be on the lookout for Book Two, which is currently scheduled for release in the May 2012 timeframe.  I know that’s a long time to wait, but I have a suspicion it will be well worth the effort.

On the Rainbow Scale, I’ll give Bingo Barge Murder a 4.9 out of 6.  Give Jessie Chandler and Shay O’Hanlon a read, it will put a goofy little smile on your face.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sweet Turnaround J by P.V. Beck

Book: Sweet Turnaround J
Author: P.V. Beck 
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing

This is Part 2 in my, “I’m in a giant, sucking women’s basketball vacuum” series.

In 1996, Madeleine Blais wrote the nonfiction basketball classic, In These Girls Hope is a Muscle.  Her story followed a Massachusetts high school basketball team with great promise, but a history of not going all the way.  At the time, there were two schools of thought regarding her book:  On one side she was pinged mightily for exaggerating gender issues and gushing sentimentality; but on the other side she was lauded as the author who almost single handedly reduced the phrase “female athlete” to the more apropos “athlete”.

About damn time the world figured THAT out!

Ms. Beck’s 2009 basketball classic, Sweet Turnaround J, reminded me in sooo many ways of the Blais book. That’s not a knock against the author, the subject, or the story; it’s just something that occurred to me.  As many similarities as there were, I can also point out contrasts.

Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, then?  Fantastic idea, I think I will.

In the Blias book, we are introduced to a team that, for the most part, is a single, solitary unit that has the one goal of winning.  They are typical, but exceptional high school girls.  They have trials and triumphs.  They laugh, cry, struggle with their school work, love lives, and families.  They get sick, hurt, and mad.  And, they find ways to work through problems and stay focused on their goal: The State Championship.

As with most any high school team, every year a few players leave and a few new ones join.  In Sweet Turnaround J, though, we see our narrator, Janey Holmes, returning from playing club ball in California and finding out that her small school, with what was a successful team, closed.  In its place, she finds not just a new high school, but one that inexplicably combines her old school with a bigger school that didn’t have much of a ball team. 

Instead of her respectful, winning coach, Janie and her old teammates are introduced to the angry, ill-prepared, and resentful “Kelly the Belly”.  

For the record, this part of the book hit home like a tidal wave.  My “Kelly the Belly” was a despicable, psychotic, mind-f^*k of a woman not so lovingly nicknamed, “The Trog”.  Yes, as in troglodyte.   At 13, she was my first introduction to a living, breathing dyke, and it almost ruined it for me . . . almost.  Thank God for teenage hormones, and high school basketball crushes!!!!

Thankfully, Kelly the Belly and the creepy JV coach are dismissed after several girls, including Janey, are kicked off the team and the parents finally get involved.  Then, in walks Coach Berro, a former player who has a vested interest in the success of the team.  She whips the girls into shape, and slowly teaches discipline, basketball, trust, and respect.

Game-by-game, the girls improve, both as individual players and as a team.  They overcome injury, academic problems, poor decision-making, and teenage love.  While we don’t see if the girls make it all the way to the State Championship, or whether any of them get named to the All-State Team, we do see them work to overcome the odds and the naysayers.

So, um, did you like the book or what?

Well, frankly, I loved the book.  I’ve read it twice, and can’t really find much that wasn’t well conceived, well constructed, or well considered.  Ms. Beck is patient with the story and her characters.  We get to know Janey and most of her family, as well as an entire basketball team, a few parents, and the Coach.  This is a huge list of characters, but by the end, we know each of them well.

Which is worthy of much gratitude and genuflecting, in my humble opinion.

Ms. Beck was able to portray the hopes, fears, confusions, and thought processes of teenage girls with amazing precision.  She was also able to show us adults with strengths, flaws, and insecurities.  She took special care in presenting the appropriate music, vocabulary, and intricate relationships of the young women.  And, introduced gay and straight; outgoing and introverted; religious and secular; black, white, Native American, Latina, and mixed characters.  Some of the girls came from broken homes and others from solid homes.  One girl lost her parents.  Another has an abusive father.  Janey has a mother that is a functional alcoholic.

I always feel a little weird when I read a book that features lesbian teenagers. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is a MUST that girls and young women have these resources as they’re learning who they are and that they’re not alone.  Still, as an adult, I don’t want too much detail about what goes on between the sheets.  Thankfully, Ms. Beck addressed the burgeoning love affair between Janey and Alejo with supreme skill, good taste, and respect.  When they ‘kissed and everything’, I knew what likely happened, I was so, so, sooooo happy for them, but I didn’t feel like a 44 year-old letch. 

Thank you for that, by the way!

Now, since I’ve yet to come across a perfect book, I can only think of two things in Sweet Turnaround J that needed work:

(1)  Did we really need the brother, Noam, who is out on a boat in the Pacific?  He didn’t really add anything to the story or the family dynamic; and
(2)  Janey called her mom out on her drinking habits, and mom finally figures out that Janie is really good at basketball and becomes more involved with her daughter.  However, after Janey calls her mom on the drinking about halfway through the book, it’s never mentioned again.  Did mom change?  Not a big point, but so much was made early in the book about it, I just kept wondering.

Really, Salem, that’s all you can come up with???  Yup.


Bottom line on Sweet Turnaround J – this was a book that needed to be written.  Ms. Beck has produced an amazing concept, well-rounded and complex, yet tight story, and ultimately a great read.  Writing about teens, especially if you’re not one, can be a task that goes horribly wrong very quickly.  Make no mistake, it didn’t.  By the end of the book, I was one of the players, part of their family, and in the stands screaming at the top of my lungs.    Everything about this book is good, and if I were a coach, I’d make it required reading, before the first liner was ever run, for my team.  Whether they were in high school, college, or the pros.

On the Rainbow Scale, Sweet Turnaround J gets a 5.7 out of 6, because this Sweet Turnaround J hit nothin’ but net.

As an added feature, Ms. Beck has a website for the book, that includes some of the great music featured in the story, as well as a few excellent basketball-related links.  When you get a chance, take a few minutes to drop into http://www.sweetturnaroundj.com/ 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Full Court Pressure by Lynn Galli

Book:  Full Court Pressure
Author:  Lynn Galli
Publisher:  Penikila Press

For some curious reason, people find it strange that I have a dashboard statue in my trusty little Subaru.  Of course, it isn't the Madonna it's Pat Summitt in her infamous orange final four pantsuit.

Hey!  I see you smirking out there!!  Don't be hatin' on my girl . . .

I have a serious love of women's basketball, and now that we're in that sad and barren wasteland between March Madness and the start of the WNBA training camps . . . well I thought I'd infuse my deflated soul with a little "literary rock" and read both Lynn Galli's Full Court Pressure and P.V. Beck's Sweet Turnaround J.

Ah, that's nice.  Feels like my mojo is coming back.

To keep things balanced in the universe, I'm going to do a two part basketball series so I can give each author her just dues.

Full Court Pressure was published in early 2010.  It's not exactly a new release, but it was new to me when I picked it up and gave it the ol' one-finger spin.  

No!  Not that kind of one finger spin!!!!  The Harlem Globtrotters kind . . .  sheesh!!

In the story, we meet Graysen Viola (long 'i'), who is tricked into leaving her George Washington University women's team and taking over the helm of the depleted and sanctioned Lake Merritt University men's team by her best friend and LMU Athletic Director, Tavian.  Gray and Tavian go way back to their college days at UNC.  Both played in the Olympics and both played professionally.  Knowing that her future at GWU was jeopardized just by "testing the waters", she reluctantly takes the position.  Her young team, which has been decimated by graduations and transfers, isn't completely on board with having a female coach.  In fact, while she gives it her best, she's even a little unsure about the position herself.  She's helped along in her transition to the Bay Area by Kesara, Tavian's kind, resourceful, competent and attractive Executive Assistant; Kesara's large and talented pool of cousins; and by Darby Evan, the women's volleyball coach at LMU.

Darby has harbored a crush on Gray for twenty years, and throws herself into claiming the woman of her fantasy.  Gray, of course, has been so focused on playing and coaching, that she's rarely dated.  Men or women.  Darby pulls out all the stops to make Gray hers.  Yet as hard as she tries, Gray just doesn't feel that "spark" that she always expected.  And, of course, love isn't the only thing on Gray's mind.  Her primary focus is to take a bunch of reluctant young men, and turn them into a team.  It's a struggle, but things finally start to gel, and the team takes baby steps in the right direction.  That's when Gray wakes up to the fact that Darby isn't the one she wants.  But there is someone out there for her, and she's a lot closer than Gray ever realized.

I don't want to spoil the fun, but Gray gets the girl she's been waiting a lifetime for, her ragged team becomes a winner, and she finally gets furniture.

Full Court Pressure was a really solid read.  I liked the lead characters and thought they were well developed, and the story progressed tightly without too many leaps in logic.  Far too often an author inserts a "one-scene-wonder" into the story to advance a certain piece of the plot, but Ms. Galli introduced a wide range of secondary characters that fit appropriately into the progressing storyline, and added to the appeal of the book.

The only character that didn't really add anything was Gray's mom.  Any number of existing characters, including Tavian's wife, could have been used for that little bit of 'spilling the beans' drama.  There was also only one 'scene' in the book that didn't really advance the story.  At one point, Gray is babysitting Tavian's daughters and Kesara is babysitting her sister's daughters.  The girls want a sleepover, so Gray gets the honor.  I thought this would be a great place to show Gray and Kesara deepening their friendship, but it sort of went like this:

Kesara:  Okay, we're set.  My sister will pick the girls up in the morning.

Gray:  No need, I'll take everyone to breakfast and drop them off.

Kesara:  I thought you'd say that.  By the way, are you sure you're up to a sleepover with four girls?

Gray.  Well, yeah.  You'll be here until they go to bed.  In the morning I'll just take them to breakfast.  It will be a snap.

M'yeah . . . I kept waiting for the next scene, where the girls drive Gray insane by flushing her whistle down the loo, she's forced to call Kesara to the rescue, then they spend the night drinking cheap red wine and talking.  Or something.  Anything.

Anyway, one superfluous secondary character and one throw away scene does not a bad book make. 

I thought one of the strongest aspects of the book was Gray's dedication to teaching the student athletes.  She instilled discipline into the wayward program, and stuck to her guns.  The young men on her team went to classes and did their school work - it was the price of playing the game they love (and keeping their scholarships).  They learned to respect her, each other, and themselves.  They committed to her game plan, and to becoming a much fitter team.  They also learned important life lessons that gave them the tools and the knowledge to grow into better men.

Now if only the real coaches and fans of men's college teams levied that sort of unwavering expectation and determination into the sport . . .

I did want to point out a few other little things that made me gnaw on my bottom lip: 
  • Darby was described as outgoing, gregarious, and well liked, but she sure seemed pushy, boorish, and unstable.
  • Of all the lesbians in the Bay Area, Gray just happens to hook up with two that share the same ex. 
  • The men's team had all those NCAA violations and they still got to play in the tournament? 
  • A former ESPN commentator and the first women's coach of a men's Division I  basketball team, and only a handful of local reporters showed up for the first game? 
  • And, really?  40, never interested in sex,  and wholly unsure yet whether she's straight, gay or bisexual?  
I thought only I dated those women . . . she types, dryly.

All those little things aside, I really liked this book, and there's no hesitation that I'll add a few more of Lynn Galli's works to my cyber bookshelf.  I absolutely loved her approach to the story, and the biting humor her characters displayed.  She showcased the sweet ability to capture friendly banter and inner dialogue, and dropped her reader into the sweet spot of the story with a deft touch.

She shoots . . . she . . . . SCORES!!!!!

On the Rainbow Scale, I'll give Full Court Pressure a 5.0.