Best Lesbian Romance 2012 published by Cleis Press opens with Anna Meadows’ story and gives a glimpse of what I found to be an overarching theme — that of patience. Radclyffe’s decision to put this tantalizing tale of “Vanilla, Sugar, Butter, Salt” first was an excellent one as it sets the pace. Meadows eloquently describes a slow bloom set over seasons of how eventual lovers become sweet on one another.
As I’ve come to expect, Anna Watson delivers, this time with a tender love story in “A Time and Materials Job.” An observant (some might go as far as to say overly curious or even voyeuristic) electrician enchanted by a beautiful, sad-eyed mother of two. A few months after the job is finished is when they get their chance to spark.
The ending of Sheree L. Greer’s piece is truly captivating: “It rushed over me in great oceanic waves, lifting me up, higher and higher and higher, carrying me away into the seductive expanse of the mysterious, the magical, and the unknown.” Greer’s words swept me up in that familiar, almost indescribable feeling — the beginnings of lust and love.
Theda Hudson’s contribution starts off promising to be hot and dirty. I thought it was going to a quick and kinky (just how I like it), but Hudson delighted me (and the protagonist) with something else entirely. Unexpected twists and turns. This is romance, after all.
Many tales in this collection required patience from the reader. Interesting to note was that I found those with a slower pace were the ones I favored most. Quite the compliment coming from this self-identified instant gratification whore. And, yes, there was even a story or two that might appeal to the instant gratification whore in all of us; such as Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Parisian seduction of a tourist whose mouthfuls are pure sex or the somewhat melancholic blaze between the couple in Angela Vitale’s scorching tale of “Leaving.”
One of the greatest critiques I face in my writing is that often times I don’t paint much of a picture of my characters. This is purposeful on my part — I want readers to be able to see themselves in my stories, to place themselves in the characters’ shoes. I fear that if I describe who they are in too great of detail, that might prove distancing in some ways. Despite not being able to exactly identify with some of the characters in this anthology, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of them bit by bit. Seeing more of who they are through a clever line or a telling move.
Like in Evan Mora’s “A Love Story” — the last in this collection — the characters so believable (and lovable), I could’ve sworn I had dated Mora’s Kate. The protagonist whispering a fictional saga of how they first met. Radclyffe closes the book with a story within a story. Storytelling: One of the oldest great romantic gestures. One of my favorites. One in which Best Lesbian Romance 2012 really delivers.