The Highest Price for Passion by Laurinda D. Brown (Oct. 2008 Pick of the Month)

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Publisher/Date:  Strebor, Aug. 2008
Genre(s):  Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages:  272
Website:  http://www.ldbrownbooks.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

The past comes back to haunt in Laurinda D. Brown’s fifth solo title, THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR PASSION. Beginning in the volatile pre-Civil War era, her latest novel follows illicit exploits of slaves and masters as their lives intersect in the most perilous ways. Several characters narrate the story filled with infatuations and horrors that arise during a time when blacks were no more than tortured servants for white masters.

The fiery tale begins from the eyes of Amelia, a slave who recounts her life and the terror she endured escaping her master. Amelia, born from a white mother and slave, grew up knowing she wasn’t like the other workers around her. Yet because of the time and place she inhabited, she had to keep the appearance of being like the other black folks around her. One night her lineage is discovered, and it eventually leads to her disappearance.

But Amelia’s roots trace back far before her birth, tied to a shaky family tree with unspeakable secrets. Passion explores her heritage from her descendents and to a host of other characters from three generations ago – ones whose desires lead them to destructive behavior. There’s Massa Gray, who after years of rumors, can’t deny his attraction to the male form, including his own slaves; McKinley Wellsworth, whose notoriety as a hard-nosed master, is essentially a product of his tortured upbringing; and then there’s her own father, Josiah, whose attraction for Amelia’s mother couldn’t be contained and produced a love child he had to abandon.

Amelia, as she tells her life story, is aware of the passions that consume those around her, including her master and mistress. Both have strong connections to the beautiful slave, and she’s treated somewhat better than other blacks on the plantation. But Amelia knows her destiny and that there’s something more out there for her than a life of servitude.

Brown has a tackled a novel with historical significance with Passion, a book worlds apart from the contemporary novels she’s written such as Fire & Brimstone, UnderCover,Walk Like a Man and Strapped. The drama is still there, only from an earlier time and place. Brown has done her research with this story, and offers something different for black lesbian readers with Passion, a tale we should read not only for its compelling subject matter, but so that we can gain perspective with how far our race has come.

Reviewed October 2008


Walk Like a Man by Laurinda D. Brown

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walklikeaman2Publisher/Date:  Q-Boro Books, Sept. 2006 (Reprint)
Genre(s):  Short Story, Erotica
Pages: 305
Website:  http://www.ldbrownbooks.com

[xrr rating=5/5]

Mind-blowing is the best way to describe WALK LIKE A MAN, Laurinda D. Brown’s first foray into erotic fiction. Brown compiles 11 tempestuous tales featuring the whole gamut of Black lesbian lust. Her writing is sharp, and the message is clear: exploring sexuality uninhibited.

In the prologue, Brown explains the book’s title and sets the tone for what’s between its pages. It begins with an unnamed narrator describing what it’s like making love to another woman-feeling like a man underneath the exterior of a female.

After the prologue, Brown puts it down. In “An A For Ashley,” Dee falls hard a pretty girl with a playa mentality, and goes so far as to tattoo an “A” on her arm. Once Dee finds out she’s been used, she seeks her revenge and shows Ashley who wears-or owns-the panties.

Next, Monique becomes “Mo,” in this tale of a girl abandoning her prissy ways and adopting a stud persona after to deal with being assaulted by a neighborhood store owner. Then in “Natasha,” an employee mixes business with pleasure when she embarks on a trip with her sexy boss.

Brown tackles sexual roles in “Dom and Dommer,” which humorously describes the relationship between two dominant women. Who wears the pants? Who pumps the gas? They can’t decide, but know that their love encompasses more than their sexual personas. Even including a little politics, Brown writes with heart in “Dress Right Dress,” about an older lesbian falling in love with an army lieutenant who abides by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality.

Humor is also interspersed in these sexy stories, as evidenced by the next two tales. “Tastes Like Chicken” amusingly captures Iris as she finally savors the flavor of woman’s nectar. In “Pimp,” a womanizing stud gets beat at her own game by a sneaky one-night stand; she forgot to abide by Pimp Rule 1: Never leave your cell phone lying around.

Brown revisits Mo years later in the story “Strapped,” while in “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” Frankie doesn’t get to share her feelings with the woman who stole her heart-her wife makes sure of that.

Finally, the bonus tale, “Caught Up,” ironically features four sides of a love triangle. Everyone has her own version of how things went down, including the wife, the cheater, the mistress, and her girlfriend.

Every story in Walk Like a Man is enjoyable. Brown has done an outstanding job creating these stories of passion and pain. It goes a lot deeper than simply getting you off, but touches on every aspect of sexuality. It also features an assortment of lesbian characters from the roughneck stud to the professional femme.

Definitely read at your own risk, as these tales will leave you craving more.

Reviewed November 2005


Undercover by Laurinda D. Brown

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undercovernewPublisher/Date:  Strebor Books, Nov. 2004
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Pages:  384
Website:  http://www.ldbrownbooks.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

I wanted to give UNDERCOVER five stars. I really did.

After all, she is the author of Fire & Brimstone, a great lesbian novel for today’s generation. The drama that ensued in that book was simply off the chain! Chris and Gayle kept it real.

Undercover is another story. This sequel of sorts continues with Chris, with even more drama this time, and has enough characters and twists to keep your attention. Yet what kept it from being a 5-star review was simply the timeline of the plot. There were times the plot jumps from one year to another with any transition to know what was going on. Some parts were cohesive, others came out of place.

But despite that, I still resumed my infatuation with Chris, the intelligent, determined woman confident in her sexuality. She reintroduces old friends like Rudy and Gayle, with whom Chris finally makes peace with, while presenting new faces, like Amil and Nathaniel.

This time around, Chris has gotten herself involved in an online affair with Amil, a doctor engaged to a successful entrepreneur. The ladies began with a friendship that turned into something more even without having met. Chris has a feeling it’ll never work, as her instincts warn her that Amil will never leave Manney and the comfortable life they’ve made. Only in a chance business meeting do they finally see each other face to face–and the fireworks begin.

Iyesha, Chris’ sister, has problems of her own. Lil sis is married to Nathaniel, a former drag queen who gave up the life after his lover Patrick leaves him for the Lord. The two become friends after his glorious heyday (or gayday), slowly falling into a relationship. In the beginning of their marriage, Nathaniel has convinced himself to become a heterosexual, faithful husband. He tries to be what Iyesha wants for a while. Pretty soon, though, he’s back to his former life (on the down low), and their marriage is never the same.

Every character’s life intertwines in this enjoyable novel about love and self-acceptance. Chris definitely has come a long way from the chaos of Fire & Brimstone.

Well done, Ms. Brown!

Reviewed October 2005


Fire & Brimstone by Laurinda D. Brown

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firebrimstonePublisher/Date:  Strebor Books, March 2004
Genre(s):  Contemporary Romance, Religious
Pages:  240
Website:  http://www.ldbrownbooks.com

Rating: ★★★★½ 

FIRE & BRIMSTONE is the tragic story of Chris and Gayle, two “bag ladies” carrying heavy sacks of unresolved issues.

In the beginning, there is Chris, an intelligent woman with two degrees – in English literature and French – from Howard University. Just as she was set to take the world by storm, she becomes pregnant. While waiting for boyfriend Trey to grow up and become a man, she moves home to Memphis to raise her daughter. Chris thinks it’s only a matter of time before he proposes and she has the perfect life: a doting husband and father (unlike her own deadbeat dad) and a beautiful baby. It doesn’t quite work out that way, and Chris begins to explore an attraction for women she’s harbored for years.

Chris first begins seeing Carol, a white-trash woman with a penchant for dark meat on the side. While that ends sourly, Chris meets Gayle.

Gayle is a story and a half. She’s got some deep-seated issues from her childhood. Totally opposite from Chris, Gayle is impressed because Chris is unlike anyone she’s ever dated. Never has she been with a college graduate or a woman so confident. It boosts Gayle’s morale, especially since she’s been in and out of trouble with the law and acts as if the world owes her something.

They begin dating seriously, and everything is cool at first. Gayle moves in quickly with Chris and her daughter, getting to know each other but not knowing the real story behind their facades.

Then things turn ugly. Really ugly. So much drama transpires in the novel from this point. Gayle began stealing from her job in order to get the things she thinks Chris deserves. When both ladies get caught up in unwise schemes, Chris finally realizes who Gayle really is, and the women twist in and out of each other’s lives like a tornado, leaving one another destroyed in the wreckage.

As the title Fire & Brimstone suggests, religion plays a part in the women’s relationship. Gayle, the minister of music at her church, spends a lot of time in the Lord’s house and moving the masses with her heavenly voice. What bothers Chris is that Gayle can run up and down the aisles on Sunday, then raise hell throughout the week. Not one for attending church, Chris doesn’t understand what religion is about. It’s only when the unexpected happens that she figures out what God’s been trying to tell her – Gayle’s not the one.

The message of the dramatic story is one of redemption. Both women had to be freed from the shackles of their pasts in order to claim their future. Whether homosexuality is acceptable is not the crux of the novel, but about accepting oneself.

Brown’s Fire and Brimstone reveals heart and soul, and the wayward routes we take to salvation.

Reviewed September 2005