Turn Me Out: The Novel by T. Ariez

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turnmeoutnovelPublisher/Date:  Amazon Digital Services LLC, March 2016
Genre(s):  Stud 4 Stud, Romance
Pages:  199
Website:  https://www.facebook.com/T.Ariez3

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Angel and Ace are best friends who happen to both be studs. When Angel realizes that she has developed feelings for Ace, she devises a plan that will go against everything she’s ever known and believed in. She is tired of the traditions and rules that make her feelings taboo and decides to risk everything. When she finally decides that she can’t take it anymore and throws caution in the wind, will it all be worth the risk?

In 2013, T. Ariez’s short story, Turn Me Out, introduced studs Angel and Ace who found themselves in the precarious situation of being attracted to one another. Two studs in lust? Where they do that at? Though it’s oftentimes inconceivable in our black lesbian community, Ariez made the romance between two best friends believable through her writing and characters in such a brief tale.

Fast forward to 2016, and T. Ariez has expanded her earlier quickie into TURN ME OUT: THE NOVEL, and this version is meatier than I imagined it would be. It broke me in several places. The novel pretty much follows the same basic premise as the short story, but focuses more on the “where do we go from here” aspect and explores Angel and Ace becoming a couple. This is where shit gets real.

Now I’m not a stud. So I don’t fully understand what it’s like be a masculine woman in a man’s world.

But it’s hard not to empathize with Angel as she contemplates her feelings for Ace, who’s as hard as they come. We’re in her head as Angel as she grapples with being in love with her best friend, the person who showed her the ropes of stud life and sheltered her during their teenage years. The lengths she goes through to tell Ace how she feels are real and moving and hard to read at times, but the affection they have for each other is hard-fought and raw. Their love scenes were some of the hottest because of this masculine, loving vibe between them.

My biggest concern, though, was how Angel felt she had change herself to what Ace wanted. Ace, Ace, Ace. It was all I could take not to slam her hand in a car door, mostly because of how she dealt with loving Angel. Her hangups, based on what people would think, about loving another stud were going to be the death of her friendship; I just wanted her to wake up and see what was in front of her. Ace was also spoiled, a stud used to bedding a different femme almost every night, and being in love was something she envisioned as a last resort. Until Angel.

I was so invested in Turn Me Out: The Novel. The resolution Ace comes to, and the fight Angel goes through to prove her love, is what makes this book special. I hope this book will help our community let go of the rigid stereotypes we place on each other and ourselves.

T. Ariez, I’m ready for the next one.

Reviewed March 2016

About T. Ariez

T. Ariez is a Texas native currently living in Dallas. He has been writing since the second grade but only started exploring writing for an audience a few years after graduating high school. He enjoys reading in his spare time, playing board games with his family and watching football.


Interview & Review Chat | Turn Me Out by T. Ariez

Posted on

turnmeoutPublisher/Date: Amazon Digital Services, June 2013
Genre(s): Romance, Stud 4 Stud
E-Book Short

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

interviewreviewchatlogoAfter reading T. Ariez’s TURN ME OUT, I had thoughts — and questions — about the characters and Ariez’s motivation for writing this book. This resulted in an interview/review chat, and the transcript follows below:

Sistahs on the Shelf: Hello 🙂

Author T. Ariez: Hello!

Sistahs on the Shelf: How are you??

Author T. Ariez: I’m great and yourself?

Sistahs on the Shelf: I’m lovely.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Thank you for agreeing to this interview/chat.

Author T. Ariez: oh no problem at all, thank you for thinking of me.

Sistahs on the Shelf: You’re welcome. I did enjoy your book.

Author T. Ariez: Cool. May I ask where/how you found the book at?

Sistahs on the Shelf: I was searching Amazon.com for black lesbian books (as I often do) and came across it there. I purchased it that morning.

Author T. Ariez: Oh okay. That’s cool. I know I haven’t done as much advertising as I should, so I was really surprised when I saw that you were reading it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Well, I troll for new books, so… 🙂

Sistahs on the Shelf: Okay, I have a few questions for you…

Author T. Ariez: Okay, shoot

Sistahs on the Shelf: Give readers a small background about you as an author.

Author T. Ariez: Well, I like to think of myself as someone who is not afraid to talk about the hard issues. I pick things that can be considered taboo or away from the mainstream because I know the real world, at least my real world, doesn’t work that way. Also I have been writing all my life, but it only been in the last 5 years, that I began to write for an audience.

Sistahs on the Shelf: What other books have you written or been featured in?

Author T. Ariez: Zane’s Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 and Stories in the Key of Erotica, which will release November 25th.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Sounds like you’ve been very busy. What does writing mean to you?

Author T. Ariez: Yes, I stay busy. Writing is like breathing for me. Even when I am not physically writing (or typing) I am always in my head thinking up another story. I have one project that I hope to have published by the end of this year and another that I am currently working on as we speak.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Is it a sequel to Turn Me Out, perhaps?

Author T. Ariez: Hmm, well… There is not a sequel, but I do bring the characters back in another book. It was important for me to let readers know what Ace and Angel are up to.

Sistahs on the Shelf: I definitely agree. I feel like Angel and Ace’s story has not ended yet.

Author T. Ariez: No it hasn’t. These characters mean a lot to me because they live a life a lot of people cannot live in peace. They have a conflict within themselves that many of us will probably never explore solely because of the “rules” in this game.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Very true. I really felt the conflict Angel felt in not fitting into the femme/stud box. But tell readers more about Turn Me Out. What’s it about?

Author T. Ariez: Turn Me Out is about a lesbian stud or a masculine of center female, Angel, who is starting to realize that she has developed feelings for her best friend, Ace. Ace is also a stud and for the two of them, their relationship has always been strictly platonic. When Angel realizes that her feelings are more than she should have for a best friend, she decides to risk losing it all and go for what she really wants, regardless of what anyone else might think about it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: And she does go for it. 🙂

Author T. Ariez: She definitely goes for it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Lol.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Yet she does have reservations: about being in a relationship with her best friend, but mostly, being with another stud.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Stud-4-stud relationships are becoming more common, but we still have a way to go to acceptance of any relationship that doesn’t look like the mold not stud/femme model.

Author T. Ariez: She does. I don’t know if it is as bad now, times have changed, but 1, it could have been a really dangerous situation for her, and 2, being with another stud, for Angel meant doing things in bed that she wasn’t used to.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Did you think about this while writing TMO?

Author T. Ariez: Yes, I did. Writing TMO was honestly, a hard, but very exciting write. It was difficult writing from a first-person POV and having to put myself in the role as Angel. Initially I thought about what others would think of me, if they would think that I was also S4S. But by the time I finished I realized that it didn’t matter what others thought of me. The only thing that mattered is that maybe I could help someone who might be having these conflicting stories. When I first wrote it, I sent it out in an email to about 10-15 people. Most told me how good it was, but one said the story made her cry because she had struggled with being a stud and feeling more like she was fem.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Wow.

Sistahs on the Shelf: One of the things that I thought while reading was how true this story was, and how many “studs” struggle with their roles like Angel did.

Author T. Ariez: Yes. There are these unspoken rules that I have only noticed in the African-American lesbian community. It is really sad that we constrict ourselves to what I know now is hetero-normative roles, and we are, simply said, NOT heterosexual people. So why follow their gender and relationship roles?

Sistahs on the Shelf: Very true. It’s still hard for some black folks to see, and our own black lesbian community can be judgmental at times.

Author T. Ariez: Yes, we are extremely judgmental and that needs to change. We need to learn to be more open and accepting so that we can be a more happy people.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Shoot, we could be happy if we just minded our own business and lived by the expression “to each his own.” Or in Angel’s case, her own.

Author T. Ariez: Right! You will get no arguments from me on that one. Lol

tariezSistahs on the Shelf: So here’s the million dollar question: How much of yourself did you put into character Angel?

Author T. Ariez: Lol, that a good one. A sprinkle here and there. Even if I try to mold a character completely after me, they end up taking over and telling me who they are. So, probably just the stud part LMAO

Sistahs on the Shelf: You mean the stud-on-stud part??

Author T. Ariez: No, I mean the stud part lol. I am not stud-for-stud, and in a great relationship of 8 years tomorrow. She couldn’t be stud if she tried lol

Sistahs on the Shelf: LMAO…well, that answers my next question! j/k

Author T. Ariez: haha, really, I think my personality alone may be way too dominant for another stud, even that of a soft stud.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Speaking of personalities, what are your perceptions of what a stud really is?

Author T. Ariez: Well that depends because you have a whole range of studs, from soft to the very hardcore and touch-me-nots. I think that what I have learned over the years is that there really is no one perception or description really. Now when I think of another stud, then I usually expect them to be masculine of center and more “masculine” personalities and dress. But again, that isn’t the hard and fast rule anymore so there is a wide variety.

Sistahs on the Shelf: There are so many variations of both studs and femmes, and everyone has different definitions. I just wish people would accept that.

Author T. Ariez: I agree.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Okay, final question. What do you think a story like Turn Me Out does for lesbian visibility?

Author T. Ariez: Well I hope that it would bring much more visibility to the community and at least on a positive note. It certainly sheds a light on stud-for-stud relationships that that is something to me that can be akin to down-low brothas. We know about them, but we don’t talk about them much. I want people to start having that conversation and at the end of it, realize and understand that one person’s choice does not make or break you. Just let people live and let them be happy!

Sistahs on the Shelf: AMEN!

Sistahs on the Shelf: Well, thank you so much for this interview/review/chat.

Author T. Ariez: Well you are welcome and thank you. It was really a pleasure.

Sistahs on the Shelf: For me, as well.

Sistahs on the Shelf: And early Happy Anniversary! 🙂

Author T. Ariez: aww thank you.

Sistahs on the Shelf: –End chat–

Reviewed/Interviewed July 2013

About T. Ariez

T. Ariez is a Texas native currently living in Dallas. He has been writing since the second grade but only started exploring writing for an audience a few years after graduating high school. He enjoys reading in his spare time, playing board games with his family and watching football.


Still Strapped by Sharon D. Smith

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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


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