It’s not often that I put down a book of lesbian fiction and feel completely uninclined to pick it up again. But no matter how much I tried to finish Better Off Red, by Rebekah Weatherspoon, it was simply not my cup of tea. The story concerns college freshman Ginger Carmichael, who has big plans to study hard and earn her degree in exercise science when she gets to school. Her roommate Amy, however, co-opts her into scoping out rush week for the local sororities, including the exclusive and mysterious Alpha Beta Omega (ABO). The members of ABO are universally diverse, gorgeous, and fascinating, and Ginger and Amy find themselves, after a whirlwind courtship, facing a decision to join something that is much more than what it seems.
Ginger finds herself, in the process of rush week, increasingly obsessed with an ABO-affiliated woman whom she has only caught glimpses of during events. This woman, Camila, turns out to be the leader of the eternal vampire ladies who are recruiting college students to keep them fed. In exchange for eternal loyalty and regular blood-giving, the initiates will receive career placements and support beyond graduation. Ginger doesn’t care about that at initiation, however, and neither does Amy, who has herself fallen hard for an ABO sister. As the plot progresses, Weatherspoon explores the cautiously growing relationship between Camila and Ginger–who herself turns out to have some vampiric powers–against the backdrop of the sorority, the larger campus, and Ginger’s family. I can’t tell you more, because I stopped about halfway through the novel.
The part that tripped me up was both the sheer speed at which all this happened, and the improbability of the scenario. I can almost get behind “love at first sight” for Ginger and Camila, but Amy also immediately leaped into a relationship, leading me to wonder if there was some pressing reason for everyone to be paired up so quickly. Usually I can suspend my disbelief as well as the next SFF reader, but something about the lesbian/vampire/sorority concept had me rolling my eyes instead of eating it up. I don’t know if it was the speed of the exposition . . . or perhaps I was feeling particularly realistic that day? I didn’t have any objection to the writing itself, and the sex scenes were well done. I guess some books just aren’t for me, no matter how many nubile young ladies may populate them.