I am Your Sister: Season 2 by Ericka K. F. Simpson

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iamyoursister2-2Publisher/Date:  EKS Books, Apr. 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Religious, Family, Stud’s Point of View
Pages:  287
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Forgiveness. An 11-letter word whose concept is hard to give and even harder to do.

It is also Symone Holmes’ Achilles heel, and the emotional theme flowing through Ericka K. F. Simpson’s I AM YOUR SISTER: SEASON 2. The college basketball star is all grown up in the sequel to the previous I am Your Sister, but she learns life gets harder out of school and off the court.

At the novel’s start, Symone has a female b-baller’s dream: she’s the top draft pick for the WNBA,  about to graduate college, and considering forever with the love of her life, Regina. Nothing could make the point guard happier. Then she gets a phone call that her mother has had a stroke – and it brings her unhappy history with her mother front and center.

The relationship between Symone and her mother Paula became rocky the summer before her sophomore year in high school when it was “discovered” that Symone liked girls. Through flashbacks, a flood of painful memories continue to haunt Symone, reliving her mother practically disowning her. Paula refused to acknowledge her daughter’s lesbianism, and their bond disintegrated to zero contact. Moving on with her life, it took being away at school for Symone to put the past behind her but she never forgave her mother or herself.

This guilt takes its toll on her relationship with Regina in ways Symone didn’t realize. It’s the answer to why she is never able to fully open up. Why she feels she couldn’t bring Regina home to her family. Why never she allows Regina to share in her past hurts. Really, Symone could blame her generational curse for her inability to share her emotions, passed on from the male elders in her family, but she knows she can’t rely on excuses when both her mom and her future wife need her. It’s time to truly play ball, and this time, she needs this victory to heal her heart.

I’ve mentioned before that I am Your Sister is one of my favorite books, mainly because Symone is such a complex character. Simpson puts her everything into Symone, and after reading her memoir, Living With 3 Strikes (which you should definitely pick up), I understand how Simpson is inspired by her own experiences in IAYS2. This gives Symone the touch of realism that I’ve come to expect from this writer.

Symone is deeply-drawn, far from perfect, and trying on her adulthood with the help of God. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not and doesn’t apologize for whom she is. There’s also a down-home appeal to this Virginia-reared stud, one I found refreshing.

I am Your Sister 2 does have its minor flaws –  the ending left me flabbergasted – but between the laughter and the “wows” I had while reading convinced me that I will always have a soft spot for Symone Holmes.

Now I’m ready for another season.

Reviewed May 2013


Strapped by Sharon D. Smith

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strappedsmithPublisher/Date:  Lulu.com, June 2010
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  126
Website(s):  http://www.strapped2009.ning.com, http://7stagespublishing.com/

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

If you’re a stud, you’re not supposed to fall in love with another stud – right?

Who says? This is the premise of Sharon D. Smith’s STRAPPED, a fast-paced novel following the attraction between masculine-appearing women, Silk and Taz. The pair have well-worn identities as dominant females, and typically date feminine women accordingly. This stud-femme dynamic is turned on its head when Silk – rocking baggy jeans and a Black and Mild between her lips – moves into Taz’s neighborhood.

Taz notices her next-door neighbor’s swagger, and they quickly become hanging buddies. While they watch sports and hit the clubs, their friendship grows despite not knowing that much about each other’s pasts. It all comes out in a game of basketball when Silk reveals her true feelings. Taz is taken aback by this admission of affection. She can’t believe her homeboy is attracted to her. Silk knows she has a girlfriend — a curvaceous beauty at that — and that their friendship is simply platonic.

Silk feels differently, though. She has always had a thing for butch women. And while Taz tries to understand her friend’s seemingly-odd attraction, she eventually succumbs to it when the pair is thrown into a crisis situation.

Taz and Silk find themselves in love and in trouble. Taz believes she’s losing her edge and doesn’t  know if she can handle the type of love that dare not speak its name in the lesbian community, while Silk’s past comes back to haunt her new relationship with Taz.

Smith’s Strapped shows the conflict some black lesbians experience with labels. Femme, stud, stem, bisexual – it all means nothing when it comes to how one feels inside.  Taz and Silk had to leave the pressures of sexual roles behind to discover a comfortable home in each other. Their affair is unpeeled layer by layer, realistically so. With that being said, while Strapped does a good job getting in Taz’s head, but doesn’t delve enough into why Silk loves studs. I guess that will be explained further in Smith’s next novel.

So get ready because Strapped will challenge all your perceptions of what love and labels really mean.

Reviewed August 2010


Nothing Short of a Rainbow by Kaution

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nothingshortrainbowPublisher/Date:  Big Works Publishing/CreateSpace, Feb. 2009
Genre(s):  Romance, Studs & Femmes
Pages: 298
Website:  http://www.kaution-online.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

With NOTHING SHORT OF A RAINBOW, writer/artist Kaution aspires to take urban lesbian storytelling to the next level. As such, you should be forewarned because her debut novel is a gripping story full of the twists and turns of betrayal between best friends.

Seniors Teren Ramsey and Ray Romero are dogs for life, seeing each other through women, basketball and more women at ASU. The studs have been best friends since meeting as full-scholarship freshmen at basketball orientation, admiring each other’s passion for the game, and eventually, their passion for pretty femmes. That’s where there similarities end. Teren, the more reserved of the two, has trouble finding sincere, lasting love, while Ray has too many girls to juggle. It gets Ray into trouble that usually Teren has to get her out of.

One woman Ray dogged is fellow teammate and good friend Nia Alverez, who long carried a torch for the womanizer. Ray never gave her the time of day, leaving Teren to pick up the pieces of younger girl’s broken heart. Soon Nia catches feelings for Teren, who’s had a crush on the thick-bodied beauty for a while. When their affair goes public, Ray is the one who has the biggest problem with it.

Seeing Nia with Teren triggers Ray to see what she was missing, and a restless night ends with Nia and Ray in a compromising position. When Teren discovers the deceit, she abruptly cuts both out of her life.

Five years later, Teren has moved forward, but she still holds on to the loss and daydreams of what could have been with Nia. When Nia reappears, Teren realizes that she has a second chance. However, the past is something she can’t let go of, especially because Nia reminds her of the hurt she endured from the two people she loved most – her lover and her best friend.

Let me tell you, Nothing Short of a Rainbow is chock full of delicious sex, drama and duplicity. Secret crushes are revealed, the women are mad hot, the sex is explosive and several relationships are tested. That aside, the writing is choppy in places and changes narration abruptly, which slows down the reader.

But if it’s excitement you want in a novel, watch out – Kaution’s gonna give it to you.

Reviewed November 2009