Goslyn County by A.M. McKnight

Posted on

goslyncounty
Publisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Nov. 2015
Genre(s):  Mystery, Romance, Crime
Pages:  320
Website: https://ammcknight.wordpress.com/

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

 

A mostly black community with its roots in farming, Goslyn, Virginia lay just south of the State’s Capital. The once small, close-knit county had grown rapidly in the past two decades and boasted a population of just over fifty thousand. But the county’s crime stats had grown as well, and the latest offenses included several break-ins and rumors of a meth lab. Time had brought many changes, and many of the longtime folks of Goslyn no longer recognized their community and longed for days gone by. Goslyn PD Detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston loves her family and friends and shows it through her sense of humor. Just like her neighbors, she too worries about the recent events, and it’s her job to find out who’s behind the crime spree. While investigating three burglaries, Olivia meets IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries who is pursuing a tax fraud suspect. Their cases are connected, and both soon discover they have much in common, personally and professionally. 

Last year, I was really into cozy mysteries. Quick and satisfying reads, I was enamored by the kind of mysteries set in sleepy towns where everyone knows your name, and the crimes always wrapped up nicely.

That’s why I was so drawn to GOSLYN COUNTY by A.M. McKnight, a story set in a predominantly black community in Virginia. This mystery-romance featuring detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston finds her trying to unravel the recent break-in of a local tax filing office and the theft of its customers’ personal information. Ollie is good at what she does – rising from beat officer to detective within 10 years – but her small town’s department doesn’t have the technological capability to track down the offenders; that’s where Ollie depends on best friend, Pat Henley-Rice, owner of an IT service provider, to assist in the case. Down with each other like four flat tires since elementary school, Ollie and Pat have this friendship that’s more like sisters, and Pat is refreshingly funny.

Ollie also has help from the feds in this criminal matter, namely IRS special agent Maureen Jeffries, who is investigating a tax fraud case in nearby Atlanta that could be related to Ollie’s break-in. When the two begin comparing information is when *ta-da* sparks begin to fly. Shy around each other at first, the professionals slowly cultivate a relationship with lunches and long conversations. Everything about it is old-fashioned, but not stuffy, and it’s a grown-woman romance.

To tell the truth, the entirety of Goslyn County is grown-folk relating to each other. The richness of the town and the characters are what really drew me in. Every chapter is a revolving look into why people do what they do, including the criminals themselves. We get to know why Ollie and Maureen are hesitant about love, and why Ollie should really watch her back when it comes to her job. That’s one of the things what A.M. McKnight does best with this novel.

Like with any mystery revolving around detectives, the behind-the-scenes of an investigation is important. I got that message clearly in Goslyn County. McKnight places you there, right along with Ollie and Maureen as they both chases leads separately and together. While I think the ending did wrap up a little too quickly, the ride – and the exciting car chase – is what’s important.

I’m glad McKnight is planning a sequel, because I’m raring to see what else little ole Goslyn County can cook up next.

Reviewed March 2016

About A.M. McKnight

A.M. McKnight grew up in the south and practices law as a first profession. She decided to try her hand at writing after getting hooked on reading lesbian crime and romance novels.


Stud by Sa’id Salaam

Posted on

studPublisher/Date: G Street Chronicles, Aug. 2012
Genre(s):  Bisexual, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 142
Website: http://www.gstreetchronicles.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

What we know as a masculine lesbian takes on an entirely different definition in STUD, the book from street lit author Sa’id Salaam.

Stud apparently has many descriptions, but Salaam portrays protagonist Andrea “Dre” Coleman as a drug-dealing, gun-toting young woman with an identity crisis.

It wasn’t always this way, though.

Tomboy Dre never wanted to wear pink or ribbons. Dressing like a boy for protection, she emulates her hustling older brother, Bernard, and prefers beating up the boys and playing lookout for big bro. Bernard is her hero, and when her brother is killed, it’s up to Dre to take over the game in Bernard’s honor.

Easier said than done. Dre finds it hard to gain respect when you’re a girl filling in bigger shoes.

Luckily, Dre’s best friend Ramel, is her partner-in-crime. The two make a great pair, and when things get rough, or somebody needs to become a nobody, Ramel is in the trenches with her. Doing the kind of work they do, it bonds them without many words being said.

This attraction between Dre and Ramel is what throws the reader completely off when reading Stud. You’ve been introduced to Dre the stud and her romps with women, but you end up knowing Dre the bisexual. And if that’s what she wants to be, that’s fine. But the book’s title seems misleading. Was the author trying sending a message or creating a confusing character for entertainment value?

As entertaining as it may be, it’s also a head-scratcher. What Stud has in its corner is that the writing is decent, and some may like this urban tale. But what Salaam is writing about brings about the issue of what defines a stud. Do clothes or attitude make a stud, or is it a combination? Who’s to say what a stud is?

Sadly, you won’t find out by reading Stud.

Reviewed February 2013


Inside Out by Juin Charnell

Posted on

insideoutPublisher/Date:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Oct. 2011
Genre(s):  Romance, Suspense
Pages:  148
Website:  http://juincharnell.blogspot.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Being a black lesbian prison investigator ain’t easy. Ask Lieutenant Perri Stone.

Between the rape of a prisoner at the maximum-security Dexter Correctional Facility and her home life exploding, she can’t catch a break in INSIDE OUT, the first in the Perri Stone series by Juin Charnell.

In addition to the rape, Perri also has to figure out why her inmates are being murdered. Of course, the convicts aren’t talking, and a couple of the officers are proving their incompetence. Perri’s worked in this system for 12 years, enough to know who to trust. Back then, as a 5’4”, Afro-wearing, 20-year-old officer, she gained the respect of the male prisoners and fellow employees alike by taking her licks and not being afraid to get dirty. Now at 32, there wasn’t much you could get past Perri Stone.

Her homelife, though, is a different ball of wax. Perri’s partner, Cassidy, is somewhat in the closet, and on top of that, has issues with her ex-husband who is determined to kidnap their daughter because of her relationship with Perri. It also doesn’t help that Cassidy’s mother meddles in their affairs.

Through it all, Perri stays cool as a cucumber; it seems nothing fazes her. It’s part of her charm – and what makes Inside Out interesting.

Charnell herself is a 10-year veteran in Corrections, writing Inside Out with authority and no-nonsense flair. Based on her novel’s realistic and gritty view of prison life, I’m motivated to read the sequel, Quiet Riot.

You will be, too.

Reviewed December 2012


Love After Atlanta by Samantha Underwood

Posted on

loveafteratlantaPublisher/Date:  Lulu.com, Apr. 2012
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  204
Website:  http://loveafterseries.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: Sometimes a bullet can give you clarity, make you view the whole world differently. That’s Leah Fiento’s opinion after a being shot in action in LOVE AFTER ATLANTA, author Samantha Underwood’s debut novel. Leah, a 31-year year old Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer, leaves Atlanta for FBI in Washington, D.C., where she’s paired with a top-notch team that includes the lovely Dr. Carla Ward. The sparks fly as soon as they are introduced.

The Good: Leah and Carla’s attraction is searing – and forbidden, if anyone were to discover the colleagues’ affair. Carla’s feminine charm and Leah’s bravado captivate this fast-paced tale with crime and intrigue thrown in the mix.

The Not-So-Good: Some of the situations the agents find themselves in didn’t seem totally realistic. And the writing could have been tighter.

The Bottom Line:Love After Atlanta is a page-turner worth the sex and romance. Who can resist an FBI agent?

Reviewed December 2012


Still Strapped by Sharon D. Smith

Posted on

stillstrappedPublisher: Lulu.com, Dec. 2011
Genre(s): Romance, Suspense
Pages: 160
Website: http://www.facebook.com/authorsharondsmith

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

The Plot: It’s Silk’s turn to narrate the story, STILL STRAPPED, about her relationship with fellow stud, Taz. Lovers from the previous Strapped, Silk and Taz’s bond has grown and become more organic, but it doesn’t sit well with others. All the couple wants is to share their lives, and interlopers from Silk and Taz’s past want to do them dirty – Zodiac, Silk’s former pimp; Reece, Taz’s femme ex who’s still irked she was left for a stud; and Nic, a relic from Silk’s gang-banging days she’d rather forget. Can’t they just let these studs be great and in love?

The Good: The plot moves swiftly. It’s a good portrayal of stud-4-stud love. I enjoy Taz and Silk’s interaction. I hope their portrayal helps to break down the negativity surrounding this type of relationship.

The Not-So-Good: There are a few twists that come off implausible, like the revenge scheme against Silk and Taz, but it’s easy to roll with the story.

The Bottom Line: Read Still Strapped for Taz and Silk’s love story and allow it to show you another side of black lesbian love. And another installment, Strapless, is soon on its way.

Reviewed December 2012


Jazzy Ladies Productions by Ericka K. F. Simpson

Posted on

jazzyladiesproductionsPublisher/Date:  Xlibris Corp., Dec. 2011
Genre(s):  Romance, Suspense
Pages:  576
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Remember Alice’s much-hyped chart used on The L Word to graph relationships between her friends and the women they knew?

In reading Ericka K. F. Simpson’s latest novel, JAZZY LADIES PRODUCTIONS: NOTHING IS AS SWEET AS IT LOOKS, it needs its own chart to keep up with all the characters and storylines.

And you will want to track every single hookup or association in Simpson’s ambitious work, cause it’s just that engrossing.

First, begin with Dionne, an open mic poet who has several female admirers and desires a real relationship; her best friend, Vincent, a hardcore playboy who can’t give up the women even for the one he really wants; and Dionne’s live-in, college-age niece following in her aunt’s lesbian footsteps.

Then there’s Logan, the MC at Dionne’s open-mic events, who has her own crew: the forever funny Beverly, rowdy realtor Logan, and conflicted Sonja torn between two women.

And finally, Lena, a Virginia teen taken in by her aunt, Vanessa, after her father and grandmother pass away. Her older cousins, Gabby and Mercedes, show her the ropes as sorority girls and help her acclimate to Middle Georgia life.

In the center of all these connections are Jazmine and Karen, life partners and owners of Jazzy Ladies Productions, a local lesbian entertainment company. They host the open mic nights that Dionne performs at, that Logan hosts, and that bring all the ladies (and Vincent) together in love, sex and friendship. But Karen and Jaz – with pasts to run from – also have more sinister links to one character in particular.

Can you guess which one?

At 576 pages, Simpson’s Jazzy Ladies Productions is a big but pleasurable read. The pages fly by as you get into each plot, and you’ll want to see how all the ends tie together.

Simpson, as always, captivates.

Reviewed June 2012


Tongue Love by Ebony Reese

Posted on

tongueloveGenre(s):  Romance, Crime
Pages:  92
Website:  http://tonguelove.me/site.htm

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Some people take that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love way too seriously.

If you read TONGUE LOVE, the debut novella from Ebony Reese, you’d understand what I’m talking about.

This  ride-or-die story begins with Jersey, a bartender extroidennaire tired of meeting the same old females in the club. You know the types: the stuck-up sistahs; the desperate types; the every-week attendees; the “I-got-a-man-at-home-but-I-like-a-female-on-the-side” women. It bothered Jersey that couldn’t find a decent love of her own, someone bringing just as much to the table as she would.

Yet, looking out her window was all it took to find this perfect woman when she catches sight of Tropicana. A hairstylist in the salon across the street, the dimepiece enthralls Jersey with her not-so-subtle curves, but she’s too shy to make a move.

The time comes when they meet, and Tropicana is everything Jersey wants: smart, ambitious and ready for a serious relationship. More importantly, Tropicana is fiercely loyal. Considering Jersey’s track record of betrayal from her ex and her recent one-night stand, this is what attracts her to Trop.

Jersey even likes the dark, jealous side of Tropicana – who’s willing to fight anybody getting to close her lover. Especially this one chick, Kim, who doesn’t want to let Jersey go.

When Kim goes missing, Jersey is curious and concerned. Could Trop – who has serious legal and underground connections – have something to do with Kim’s disappearance? How much does Jersey really know about this beauty she intends to wife?

In a small amount of pages, Reese packs a lot of drama and suspense in Tongue Love. Is it believable? I guess, if one could accept that true love can overcome criminal acts that are Law & Order worthy.

Reviewed August 2010


Keeping Secrets: A Gianna Maglione Mystery by Penny Mickelbury

Posted on

keepingsecretsPublisher/Date:  Kings Crossing Publishing, 2003
Genre(s):  Mystery, Crime
Pages:  193
Website:  http://www.nghosibooks.com/Inkwell/pennymain.htm

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Girl, watch out!!!

There’s a killer hunting the gay community in KEEPING SECRETS, the first in the Gianna Maglione series from mystery writer Penny Mickelbury.

But no worries, Gianna is on the case. A top-notch lieutenant in the Hate Crimes Unit with the Washington, D. C. police department, she’s trying to find out who’s been targeting prominent, in-the-closet inhabitants of the nation’s capital.  Not only is it a matter of who’s been killed but how, as the victims are shot in the gruesome fashion. It’s racking Gianna’s brain and what’s worse is that could be only a matter of time before she or someone she knows could be on the hit list.

On the other side of the case is Mimi Patterson, a black investigative reporter. Gianna won’t let Mimi get anywhere near the case, for fear that the journalist will turn the investigation into a media frenzy. All Mimi wants is some answers, and with good sources on a high-profile case like this, she won’t rest until she gets discovers who’s behind the crime. Even if it means dealing with hard-nosed Gianna.

At odds, the two women are just trying to do their jobs—and trying to fight their growing attraction to one another. Their blossoming romance can’t be good for the case. Especially when they know that one false move could jeopardize any luck they have in trying to find the serial killer.

Mickelbury has created an excellent first novel in a series you will want to read more of. Keeping Secrets kept me on the edge of my seat, and the romance between the two enhanced the story of a cop and a reporter trying to do good. I must admit I had a clue about the killer half-way through, but it was still gripping to see how they would get the sick bastard. And I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes work of the detectives, as well. I definitely plan to read more of the Gianna/Mimi mysteries.

Cause it also doesn’t hurt that the women are hot, too.

Reviewed Aug-Sept 2006