Title: Best Lesbian Romance of the Year
Format: Paperback, 244 pages
Pub. Date: June 9th 2015
Source: Cleis Press
Book Description via Goodreads:
Ah. Lesbian romance. I'm a sucker for a good female/female romance, since my partner and I are happily in love and she is in fact a female. I was excited when Best Lesbian Romance fell into my hands. I love Cleis anthologies, I love lesbians, and I love romance- what's not to like? Overall, this was a really enjoyable book that offers something for everyone. There are different pairings that make each story unique- new lovers, old lovers, "straight" women, butches, femmes. There are tons of variations in these stories, and I think that's part of what makes this book a pleasant one to read. There are 18 independent short stories in this book, so it's easy to read either all at once, or in bite sized little pieces.
Since it's an anthology, the stories were hit and miss for me. I loved some, but didn't enjoy others as much. It's unprofessional and disrespectful to call out specific stories and why I didn't like them, in my opinion, so I'll be vague. There's a negative stereotype in the LGBT community that lesbians move too fast in relationships. It's a running joke. That's how I felt about some of these. These are short stories, so you only have a limited space to create love- I understand that. But a lot of them felt rushed, and not in a whimsical love-at-first-sight kind of way. I was also irritated at a story that kept referring to a girl as a nerd or a geek (I got it the first time) and a story where it closed with the main character saying "Love you too." "Love you" and "I love you" are two very different tones to this reader.
Now that the unpleasant bits are out of the way, I'd like to take my review space to highlight the good stories instead of going over all of the bad. I'd like to share with you my three favorite stories in this anthology. The following stories are in no particular order. The first story that I loved is called "Red Velvet Cake" by Tamsin Flowers. I've read Flowers' work before and loved it, and this story definitely lives up to my admiration of her. This story involves a barista, a loyal customer, and a flirty game of "do you like girls or not". The title drew me in first, admittedly, as I adore red velvet cake. But the whole coffee shop romance thing came off as steamy as a good espresso and sweeter than a frappe. The second story that stood out to me is called "Waterfall" by LT Masters. This tells the tale of a lover left waiting, a stranded and injured hiker, and a hidden cave in the woods. I thought this one was really sincere and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I'd really like to see it become part of a longer story arc, but that's just me being greedy, I'm sure ;) I love hiking and the woods, so this was an extra fun read for me. The last one that I'd like to highlight is called "Gargoyle Lovers" by Sacchi Green. This is another author whom I've read before and really enjoyed, so it's not at all surprising that this is one of my top picks. This story includes a honeymoon trip to Paris, a chained rendez-vous on a balcony, a fascination with gargoyles, and a trip to the local adult shop. This one was equal parts of dreamy and sexy, and honestly has created a whole new fantasy that I'd like to bring to life, s'il vous plait.
I tried to just do three, but I am giving an honorable mention to "Like a Breath of Ocean Blue" by Elizabeth Banks, and the story she weaves using the ocean, Kahlua, and a tourist-y t-shirt shop. It's summery and nice, and it's summery and nice while I'm reading it, so it was an extra nice treat.
All in all, I think that this is an anthology that blends together the sex scenes Cleis Press is known for, softened by the melty, warm feeling of falling in love all over again. I'd recommend it to lesbian readers, fans of F/F romance, or even just romance in general. I'm happy to display this on my shelf, and I'm sure I'll revisit some of these stories again.
I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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