Cream by Christiana Harrell

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creamPublisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Aug. 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Sexuality
Pages:  230
Website:  https://www.facebook.com/girlnovel

Rating: ★★★★★ 

CREAM is my first Christiana Harrell book. *hangs head in shame*

But it definitely won’t be my last because Harrell, whose Cream was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist, truly proved her talents with a book surrounding the life of a character I loved and rooted for the entire way.

Cream is her stage name, a strip club performer with an androgynous appearance and a beautiful body. Dancing for men became a means to an end after being in a foster home after her parents’ abandonment. The first few pages introduce this past and her take-no-shit personality that serves her well as a stripper.

Lambda-Medal2014

2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist From http://www.lambdaliterary.org

But it also gives credence to why she moves from city to city. Why she’s never befriended hardly anyone since her group home days. And why, even with the fights she’s had (and won), there’s still there’s an innocence about her.

Cream’s sexual naivety is the meat of this book. It’s shown in the way she was drawn to her friend Kitty – until she suddenly left Cream’s life. In the way she latched onto Payton, the daddy’s girl who shows her being a stud is her real meal ticket – both professionally and romantically. And when finally she finds unconditional love, she almost runs in the opposite direction.

And this realness is what I loved about Cream, both the book and the character. This gullibility Cream owns is not a Mary Sue plot device, it’s a journey Harrell writes so we can take this journey with her main character. You feel as if you’re a newbie right along with her, from Kansas City to Atlanta, and everywhere else in between.

Just the way Cream drops her boxers on the stage, Harrell’s writing leaves it all on the page. There’s very realistic dialogue, the sex is on fire, and Harrell’s voice is loud and clear through Cream without muddying the two voices. Her supporting characters also play a big role in the book, to the point where I thought Cream molded herself to any woman who offered her a hand.

That leads me to my next point that one of the most interesting aspect of Cream hinges on the sexuality of the characters. Though Cream dressed and performed as a stud based on Payton’s advice, it should be noted that Cream sometimes questions defining herself as a stud. Until meeting Payton she wasn’t aware of what a stud was, which at times I did find a skeptical. I could say it was because of her upbringing and her singular focus on survival, but never thinking about who you are sexually was a small part of the book that nagged at me. But her exploration of who she is was genuine.

Cream definitely fulfilled my expectations. The love she found and the book’s conclusion were so fulfilling, and worth the learning curve Cream took to find what I think she was always looking for – whether she could admit it to herself or not.

There’s a reason why Harrell has more than 10 books to her name. I plan to read every one of them.

[rating-report]

Reviewed June 2014


8qqlogo8 Quick Questions for Christiana Harrell about Cream

Tell us about your book, Cream.
Well, in as few words as possible, Cream is simply a story about a woman who learns some hard lessons about love and money, while discovering her identity and sexuality along her journey.

Who is Cream?
I want to say that Cream could be any of us, but she’s just too unique to be categorized. She’s carefree, she makes her own rules, she has tunnel vision, she just is.

One of the things I enjoyed about your novel was it felt as if you put yourself in the head of Cream: being on the stage, discovering her sexuality. How did you create her as a character? Any research involved?
Oh, there was plenty of research (lol). If you noticed, in the novel I mentioned real stud strippers like Face and Juicebox. I watched every video that I could find, but this time for “research,” rather than enjoyment. I watched their moves carefully and their facial expressions. I had to pay attention to costumes and audience reaction. Basically, none of the things I would normally pay attention to. We tend to forget that during the fantasy they create, they are people and they have lives outside of those neon lights. I try to be my characters in my real life when I write them. The people around me get some great entertainment.

Is Cream based on a true person or situations?
Cream is part fiction and part non-fiction. I don’t remember how this person came up, but my ex-partner and I were talking/gossiping like most couples do and she was telling me about a “stud” that lived the same lifestyle as Cream. The little bit that I learned made me want to give her a story. I didn’t know this person myself so I had to fill in the blanks. Literally, all I had to go on was a dancer who danced for both men and women because she was “about her money.

The gist I took away from Cream is that sexuality can’t be defined by roles or labels. Was that your message?
That was definitely one, the biggest one. Roles seem to be a big deal in our community when they really shouldn’t be. If people can read about Cream and accept her the way that she was, then they can accept anyone.

Will you continue Cream’s story?
I thought about it, but if I did that, I’d have to continue so many others. I couldn’t stand the pressure

What’s next for Christiana Harrell?
At the moment, I’m working on the second stud in the “Stud Life Series.” Her name is Magic. There are three others that have to come after her. That should keep me busy for the next two years or so. Hopefully, one of them will get an award. I won’t complain.

Cream was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian General Fiction category. Congratulations! How did it feel to be finalist?
Aw man. I literally almost fell out of my chair. The day that I submitted the novel, I honestly did not expect to hear anything back. You’d be surprised how much I doubt myself. Being a finalist definitely gave me confidence, but now I have to top Cream and I’m not sure that’s possible. Either way, I’m happy and humbled for the experience.

Want to know more about Christiana Harrell? Read her Sistahs on the Shelf interview A Sistahs Favorite Things interview.

About Christiana Harrell

“I write about heterosexuals, I write about lesbians, I write about transgenders… I write about people.”

Christiana Harrell is a 27-year-old writer from New Orleans, LA., that got her start in writing at six-years-old. She published her first title Girl: a Story for Every Les Being in 2009. She currently has more than 10 titles to her name. She is currently working on her next novel.


Books 2 Check Out – Nov. 2012

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Looking for something new to read? Here’s a round-up of a few novels you should check out (the titles are linked to Amazon, but most are available for purchase at Barnes & Noble, as well):

Cream (Stud Life) by Christiana Harrell

Cream, an androgynous beauty, knows what it’s like to be abandoned, broke, and used. Left to the state by her parents and taken under the wing of her selfish foster mother, Cream sets her focus on one thing: money. She dives head first into the exotic lifestyle of stripping. Starting out in gentlemen clubs, drama seems to follow her wherever she goes. Instead of facing the turmoil, she moves on to the next city, causing more chaos than what she left behind. She thinks she has life all figured out until she crosses paths with Payton, a daddy’s girl with lots of cash and a lust for women. Payton makes her learn things about herself that she never saw possible and with her new discovery comes a big change in her look and personality. Cream is at the top of her game, surrounded by money and beautiful women. Then, one wild night forces her to discover yet another truth about herself and face the reality of her lifestyle. Will she continue to dwell in her unstable comfort zone? Or, will she finally open her eyes?

Full Figured 7: Carl Weber Presents by Nikki Rashan and Ni’chelle Genovese

Sassy, sophisticated and sensual are the three adjectives Sugar uses to define her personality, her style, and her shapely curves. Fiercely confident about her luxurious, full-figured body, Sugar sashays through Chicago’s nightlife, belting high notes as a well-known singing sensation. Idolized by many, only few know her secret: she and her long-time manager Ace share more than a common passion for Sugar’s career. They’re lovers. At Ace’s insistence, Sugar has always agreed to secrecy for the sake of her career, but now she’s tired of hiding just to maintain her spotlight. Sugar is ready to reveal her true love for Ace. Too bad Ace would rather keep Sugar right in her place—as a sweet scoop of sugar on the side.

Alicia considers herself nothing less than a survivor after escaping years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her high school love. Now she does whatever is necessary in order to maintain the picture perfect image she thinks she needs to present as a female working for the Virginia Beach Police Department. Tia is Alicia’s polar opposite. She’s an enticing con-woman who’s broken every law, deliberately searching for cracks and loopholes in the system. Tia’s main goal is to live the lavish lifestyle she adores without having to work an honest nine to five to achieve it.

When their worlds collide, it’s everything but ordinary. Alicia finds herself drawn into a world she swore to defend against. They say opposites attract, but Alicia starts to wonder if her fascination with Tia is because they are actually birds of the same feather.

In Full Figured 7, Carl Weber brings together two literary divas to give readers what they’ve been asking for: empowering and entertaining stories about big, beautiful women.

Love After Miami (Love After Series) by Samantha Underwood

Not written as a sequel, the 2nd novel in the Love After Series (read the SOTS review of Love After Atlanta) features two characters that are full of explained angst, graphic passion, and suppressed anger. The slow burn of the content quickly heats up as these women are pushed to their limits and begin to question themselves.

Alexandra Lyon, caught in between a love triangle with a co-worker and a stranger gets in her feelings and falls for a killer love. Crippled by self-deprecation and alcoholism this Creole, English Professor struggles to stay sane after finding out the truth about her lover.

Blonde bombshell CIA Agent Talen Elliot, appears again, this time assigned to a case in Miami. The Spy soon has her hands full while protecting the French Ambassador’s daughter and stopping a terrorist plot while tip-toeing the line between love and duty. As the terrorists’ plot unfolds our favorite couple, Agent Leah Fiento and Dr. Carla Ward make guest appearances to inspire love and save the day.

Niya: Rainbow Dreams (The Dreamers) (Volume 1) by Fabiola Joseph

Do you know who you are? Are you comfortable in your skin? Outed by her best friend in front of the whole neighborhood, Niya is trying to come to terms with being a lesbian, and it isn’t easy. Although everyone around her seems to know the secret she is trying to hide, she is still battling the fact that she likes girls. Filled with dreams of becoming a rap star, she must first learn to accept who she really is before taking over the music industry.

Jamilla is drowning in the reality of her home life. Forced to face a real life monster on a daily basis, the shame of her past is slowly killing everything beautiful about her. Just when she thinks life isn’t worth living, she befriends Niya. Armed with a pen, journal, and true friendship, this writer will find the courage to overcome her past.

With Jamilla’s self-imposed restraints and label of being straight, feelings will emerge, but will also be stifled. Both of these women will be confused by an extremely close unconventional friendship and high sexual tension. Afraid of disrupting their budding friendship, Niya fights to keep her true feelings for Jamilla under wraps. How long can this game of friendship last when love is the stronger opponent? How will these ladies triumph over pain, murder, and so much anger? The secret lies within the pages of Niya… Rainbow Dreams. The story of forbidden love, friendship, music, and destruction.