Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Desire by Starlight by Radclyffe

Book: Desire by Starlight
Author: Radclyffe
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

It was inevitable that I would get around to the Grand Dame of Lesbian Literature at some point. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to launch a Radclyffe review.

Um, kiddo, maybe you're a wee bit intimidated that the collective Lesbian Literary Universe will come down on you like a Patchouli downpour if you say something stupid - which you probably will, so get on with it!

I've actually read two Radclyffe books in the last few weeks, Desire by Starlight, a romance's romance; and Blood Hunt, which is a Werewolfie/ Vampiro romantic thriller, penned under the nom de plume of L.L. Raand.

Kind of hard to believe both stories came out of the same twisted brain - twisted in a wonderful way, of course.

Desire by Starlight focuses on the lives of two women, Jenna Hardy/Cassandra Hart and Gard Davis. JennCass grew up in a trailer park, ran away to the big city at 17, and became a powerful and popular lesbian author. She's hot, needs to be in control, and has no desire to connect with anyone any closer than arm's length. Gard Davis, grew up in a wealthy, not-so-nice family, broke all ties and ran away to Vermont to tend to horse testicles and boar's teeth as a home-towney vet. They meet when an unknown relative of JennCass's passes and leaves her everything. JennCass, fresh from a post-coital fainting spell, flies off to Vermont to tend to these affairs and is greeted by uber-vet, coroner, and strikingly hot butch, Gard at airport. Sparks fly where neither wants them. They push. They pull. They push and pull some more. They're drawn to each other, but are afraid of getting too close.

They eat a lot of calorie-laden food, talk around the subject without getting anywhere, and finally jump in the pickup truck called happily ever after.

As I read this book, I thought it was definitely one of Rad's best pure romances. Mind you, all of her books are romances, but some of them are Action, some of them are Thriller, and some of them are the literary equivalent of a Bootie Call. This was a good old-fashioned romance, and we all need that in our lives.

When in the City, we saw JennCass building her walls, working too hard, not eating, not really talking with her only friend (and Manager, Alice). She's devoted to her readers and her writing, and has a night of passionless, but great, sex with a one-night stand. When in the country, we saw JennCass's walls didn't really protect her, she worked but allowed distractions, she ate diner food, and she found herself noticing Alice as a friend and a woman. Most of all, we saw her start to open up. Once that started, whether she knew it or not, those walls started to crumble one brick at a time.

Gard is well liked, friendly, hard working, and respected. In many ways, she's the less-stressed, small town version of JennCass . . . same walls, doesn't sleep enough, has friends but doesn't let anybody inside.  For some strange reason, she didn't want to play cops and doctors with Rina the smokin' Sheriff.

I liked Beam the dog, she was a total riot!

I was pleased that JennCass stepped in cow dung, then went out and bought some shit-kickers.

And, I was thrilled that the old lady died a happy woman.

A few things, however, made me shake my head a few times:

Why didn't Alice and Rina hook up? Perhaps there's a second book out there that will focus on them. Alice was certainly attracted to Rina. Rina kept chasing down the little red Audi convertible and giving her tickets. Rina was hot. Alice was hot. They annoyed each other.  Perfect recipe for delicious tension.

I say "small town, get it while you can".

Why, oh, why, did JennCass and Gard have their first soul-shattering orgasms in the rain, on a hill, under a double rainbow? Maybe I'm just getting old and practical, but wet sex is hot, soggy sex is messy no matter how lovely the view.

While I love that Diane Bleeker from the Honor Series, made an appearance, why was it only a token appearance? I get that the little old dead lady painted some nice pictures, but Diane drove up, we learned what she was wearing, she went to the dance, and was done. I think she only said a handful of words. Diane's character is rich and wonderful, and could have been used to put a little tension in the air between Alice and Rina. 

Could someone explain to me why every small town but mine is chock-full of lesbians or women who want to take one out for a spin?

And lastly, it was almost amusing how JennCass and Gard opened up to each other about their pasts. I mean, it was almost like this:

JennCass: "My birth mom disappeared, my dad died, Darlene the tramp took me in, I lived in a mobile home. I ran away before she turned me into a skanky Ho."

Gard: "My family was one step removed from the mob, I was becoming like them. I ratted them out to the Feds. I'm a bad, bad person."

JennCass: "I love you. You're not the bad person. They are bad. I love you."

Gard: "I love you, too. You are strong, and a wonderful person. I love you. Move to Vermont and live happily ever with me."

JennCass: "Well, I'll have to travel now and then, but okay."

Gard: "Cool".

The end . . .

Seriously, after reading for 200 pages about their sordid pasts and how it made them physically and emotionally distant to everyone . . . it juuuust seemed to wrap up a little too neatly.

Just sayin'.

But, you know what? I don't really care that much. I loved the book, really liked the characters, smiled every time Beam the dog hurled her body towards her mamma, and wanted to move to a farm in Vermont. In the end, that's the test of any satisfying book.

I'll give Desire by Starlight a 4.9 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.

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