Rose from the Bayou by Teryn Williams

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rosefromthebayouPublisher/Date:  Teryn Williams, Sept. 2012
Genre:  Romance, Suspense, Supernatural Fiction
Pages:  220
Website:  http://scarletroselaveau.wix.com/rose

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Enfant, l’amour est fou…

In other words: chile, love is crazy. Nothing says this better than ROSE FROM THE BAYOU, the bewitching novel from Teryn Williams, also the author of Be the Sun Again.

Set in 1990s New Orleans, the story follows the friendship of Scarlet Rose Laveau and Koral Baptiste. Soul sisters and neighbors since childhood, the women are now 24 and long-time lovers. Their relationship is deeply befuddling, especially to their families. Whereas Koral is sensitive and loving, Scarlet is cold and selfish. Her practices in what some folks call voodoo or black magic, passed down from her mother’s side of the family, constantly label her a bad seed.

Scarlet relishes her otherworldly abilities, channeling spirits and cavorting with the afterlife, which makes her an asset to people who need her assistance. But she what she uses for good, she also exploits to her advantage. Scarlet is a hedonist with a cause.

“My appetite was fierce and something not of this world. I was not born to be slaved beneath a relationship. I wanted to love freely. Love has no face and love had no color and love was androgynous. Or maybe I was speaking of sex because my heart was a deep dark hole that I often searched for a feeling but there was nothing but space looking for more of that same feeling. A space big enough to hold whatever and whomever I wanted to occupy it.”

However, Koral is the solitary soul she allows into her realm, mostly because Scarlet knows she has Koral’s heart on a string. She dominates the dark-skinned beauty, and because Koral doesn’t know her worth, she lets Scarlet control her. Talks her into doing heinous things, anything to keep Scarlet’s love and attention. Besides her grandmother, Nana, Scarlet is the only family Koral has. Their connection is powerful, and Koral wants nothing more than Scarlet’s “undying” love. With the thoughts Scarlet has, that could be the only way for Koral to win her heart.

Koral should be careful what she wishes – she might just get it.

Rose from the Bayou is one of those books with rich character development that pulls you in. You will either find yourself loving and/or hating Scarlet and Koral and the eccentric personalities in this book. Williams’ book could use more editing, but if you’re into dark stories, Rose will be a book that’s just as sweet.

Reviewed February 2013


Stud by Sa’id Salaam

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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

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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


Nightshade by Fiona Zedde

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Publisher/Date:  CreateSpace, Mar. 2012
Genre(s):  Romance, Suspense
Pages: 144
Website:  http://www.fionazedde.com

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The life of contract killer can be solitary. Just ask Brownwynne St. Just in Fiona Zedde’s NIGHTSHADE.

After losing their parents at 12 and 15, Wynne and sister Celeste harden into career women: an assassin and a pimp. Wynne admires her older sister as a role model of sorts, but even she can’t help her when love has stolen Wynne’s heart.

From the beginning of this novella, one would never think Wynne was capable of love. Pleasure, followed by the thrill of death, is her modus operandi, and there have been women whom she could have fallen for – if she wasn’t hired to kill them.

Time for love is something Wynne doesn’t see as important. Though she’d never admit it, she’s lonely, but her job fulfills her, something I don’t think she could quit even if she tried. She’s so good that her inbox is flooded with requests. It usually doesn’t catch up with her, until the past of one of her previous hits resurfaces in the form of a woman Wynne could easily off – or get off on.

Will Wynne kill love before it begins?

We’re used to the dazzling and tantalizing love stories Zedde provides, as well as the exotic lush locales and electrifying erotic adventures – Bliss, Every Dark Desire, and Taste of Sin are just a few – but Nightshade is a little bit different. More dangerous. More sinister.

Reviewed July 2012


Tongue Love by Ebony Reese

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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