Queer Romances I Have Read

…while being too sick to think. I may have forgotten one or two.

Erin Dutton, Officer Down. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

A perfectly cromulent contemporary lesbian romance between a cop and an emergency dispatcher. It has nothing in particular to recommend it, and nothing in particular to disrecommend it, either.

Tanai Walker, Rise of the Gorgon. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

Lesbian romance/spy thriller – with a plot that belongs in a comic-book, rather than a serious thriller. A journalist, a drug that turns people into zombies, mind control, and an assassin whose memory gets erased and reprogrammed in a manner reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s awful Dollhouse. Shaken, not stirred. It’s… well, laughably entertaining is a good way to describe it?

Amy Dunne, The Renegade. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

Post-viral-apocalypse lesbian romance. This? This is bad, structurally, logically, in terms of characterisation, in terms of worldbuilding, and the prose isn’t great either. Some rapetastic stuff about a post-apoc religious culty community, and a resolution that’s pulled out of thin air and makes the whole rest of the novel make no sense. (If religious culty community’s #2 guy is Sekritly On The Side Of Angels, why didn’t he poison/shoot/otherwise dispose of rapetastic murderous religious cult leader guy and take over long before? Or leave.)

Ann Aptaker, Tarnished Gold. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. eARC courtesy of the publisher.

At last. This is solidly decent work – the second book in a series about art smuggler Cantor Gold, where I haven’t read the first. It works on its own. Set in 1950s New York, it has a very noir tone: in fact, I’d say it is noir: murder, trouble from the law and the mob, a missing art masterpiece, a lot of beautiful women, some of them heartless. What makes it interesting – I’m not usually interested in American noir – is the fact that Gold is a lesbian.

Barbara Ann Wright, Thrall. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. eARC courtesy of the author.

A couple of years ago, I read Wright’s first novel, Pyramid Waltz, and I think I said it had promise. It definitely appealed to me. But she hasn’t lived up to that promise since. This is particularly noticeable with Thrall, a standalone novel in a new fantasy setting.

The prose is rough but serviceable, and the characterisation is appealing, but the worldbuilding lacks depth and detail – the world doesn’t feel properly lived in, doesn’t have the grit of telling detail – and structurally, the narrative feels weak and rushed. There are the bones of a good novel here, in a scattered, disassembled fashion, but they don’t hang together. And it doesn’t have enough meat.

Still, it does have normalised queer female relationships and interesting violence.

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