Book: Better Off Red
Author: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Today is Valentine’s Day, traditionally a day in which we take a few minutes to tell that special person in our life how much we love and adore her. It’s also the perfect day to pull out The Rainbow Reader Top Five.
Today’s question: Why do lesbians love romances?
#5. The sketchy cover art. Hot women on motorcycles, hot women with tantalizingly bared skin, hot women kissing, hot women scowling, hot women with pouty lips, hot women with tool belts…a veritable all you can eat buffet for the eyes, what’s not to love?
#4. The thinly veiled porn. As Gloria Leonard, publisher of High Society, is fond of saying, “The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.”
#3. The sex life surrogate. The vast majority of lesbian romance novels are rife with hot and heavy ninky pooh. If the rest of us had as much sex as the lesbians in romance novels, we wouldn’t be able to hold down a full-time job. Think of it as career clitoral damage.
#2. The other thinly veiled porn. This time, I’m talking about the emotional porn – jilted women, broken hearts, unrequited love, sick pets, kidnapped children, and lost memories. The higher the ratio of uncontrolled sobs, the more invested we are in a happily ever after.
#1. The heroine. Let’s face it, whether she’s a tough and chewy butch with a gun or an ad executive with a push up bra and a large trust fund, she inevitably is most everything we want to be (save for the occasional Too Dumb to Live Heroine). And, because try as we might, we can fall a little bit in love every time we open a book to read.
In the world of Lesbian Romance, every day is Valentine’s Day.
Better Off Red: Vampire Sorority Sisters Book 1 is the debut novel from author Rebekah Weatherspoon. Freshman Ginger Carmichael is a good girl with a high GPA from a solid, well-adjusted family. Perky roommate Amy wants to rush the sororities at Maryland University, and drags her reluctant friend along for moral support. Of course, Ginger doesn’t really care much about the cliques and the great parties, but her interest is suddenly peaked when she encounters the women of Alpha Beta Omega (ABO). The ladies are diverse, gorgeous, strong, smart, and sexy as hell. That last part is an added bonus, since red headed Ginger, has come to accept that she’s a lesbian.
When the invitation to ABO arrives, Ginger finds it interesting to note that she and Amy aren’t given a choice to accept or reject. But then, it’s an honor to be asked to join ABO, so both girls happily move into initiation. However, initiation with ABO isn’t like it is with other sororities, and Ginger and Amy learn that their pledge is more than a bond of sisterhood, it’s a lifelong pact to serve a pack of demon vampirii with healthy appetites, and even healthier libidos.
Ginger learns that because her birth mother drank from a demon, she isn’t able to be a feeder to the Sister Queens like the other pledges, but she is warmly welcomed into the nest. None welcomes her more than the beautiful, dark, and mysterious immortal Queen, Camila. Ginger and Camila are sexually attracted to each other, and begin an emotionally confusing yet sexually satisfying relationship. Soon, Ginger begins to realize that her feelings for Camila are real, but that telling an immortal demon you love her is a little harder than studying for midterms.
As the semester progresses, relationships grow stronger, secrets are revealed, and darkness descends upon ABO and its brother fraternity. Lives are forever altered, and life and death decisions have consequences that change everything Ginger, Camila, Amy, and the others think they know.
In Better Off Red, Rebekah Weatherspoon has crafted a feisty little debut that forever changes the image of sororities in lesbian literature. Her protagonists are strong, smart, sensible, and surprisingly human, for all the demon blood surging through their veins. Within the first few pages, she is able to develop characters of depth and veracity, and create an atmosphere in which the reader is as willing and able as the characters to accept this totally unexpected, new reality.
Her sorority girls have supple lips, support each other, go to classes, meet curfews, bake cookies for charity, and shop for crotchless panties, all the while feeding demons and having amazingly intense orgasms on a regular basis.
Perhaps, one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of Better Off Red is Ms. Weatherspoon’s fresh take on Vampire Mythology. Forget the Mesopotamian precursors and the hackneyed modern interpretations of vampirism, these blood-sucking demons don’t turn into bats, don’t sleep in coffins, don’t get staked in the heart, and don’t have a problem with sexually active coeds.
And, while they are extremely photosensitive, they drive nice cars and pay union wages.
Better Off Red is a fast read, with equal bits of humor and pathos sprinkled throughout its pages. I appreciate the moments of subtle juxtaposition where demons are portrayed as good, just, and fair, while the humans struggle with anger, frustration, and selfishness. This isn’t completely true throughout the story, but is true enough to keep the reader guessing about who is good, and who is evil, to the very end.
Paranormal romance is a growing and much loved niche in Lesfic, but I struggle with this as the proper classification for Better Off Red. The story is 288 pages long, but includes 46 uses of pussy, 52 of clit, 32 of moan, 22 of soak, 20 of slit, 51 of nipple, and 35 of wet. In addition, numerous pairs of panties were harmed because of overly sharp fangs.
Then again, now that I think about it, if any two normal women had as much sex as Ginger and Camila, their relationship really would be classified as a "paranormal romance."
Besides the excess of eroticism, my only concern with Better Off Red was the pacing. I found that the first 30 or so pages were used to set up an interesting and engaging story, the next 180 pages focused lightly on the story and heavily on the sexual relationships, and the final 80 pages saw a full throttle return to the story of good versus evil, and the relationship between action and consequence.
Overall, Better Off Red is full of lush and memorable characters, sexy coeds, moral demons, and low lighting. The author was masterful in setting up a world where demons and feeders are feasible, and a good pair of flip-flops is worth going back for. Not all fans of romance “get” stories that take place in the paranormal plane, but I’m giving this fun little debut a 4.7 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.
Note that an extra 0.1-point was awarded to Ms. Weatherspoon because she valiantly resisted the urge to use the word “turgid” anywhere in this novel.