Danika reviews Silent Heart by Claire McNab

Silent Heart Claire McNab

When I visited New York for the first time, I knew had to take a look at The Strand. It didn’t disappoint, but I probably got the most enjoyment out of perusing the sale racks out front of the store. When I found an old lesbian romance for a dollar, I couldn’t resist, especially given the premise: an up-tight professor’s academic book on Victorian erotica becomes an unexpected bestseller. (And when she’s interviewed by a pushy, maddening, lesbian reporter–sparks fly!) I picked it up during the 24 readathon thinking that a fluffy, cheesy romance would be just the thing for a light read. That is probably true, but Silent Heart is not that.

The story begins as Victoria starts her book tour, and what amused me about her interviews is that although this book was written in 1993, it predicts to some extent the surprise erotic bestseller that did happen: 50 Shades of Grey. The media’s reaction is fairly similar to the book’s depiction, though it was more fanfic that academic.

What I wasn’t expecting from this book, though, was the darkness and complexity. Victoria is unaware of her own queer desires in the beginning of the novel, but she does acknowledge her lukewarm relationships with men. They don’t use the word “asexual”, but she is uncomfortable with sexual contact with any gender. It begins to come out that she has repressed some trauma in her childhood that makes any sexual contact triggering.

The romance between Reyne–the reporter–and Victoria wasn’t something I was completely sold on. At the outset, Reyne seemed more pushy sexually and romantically than I felt comfortable with, though she becomes more understanding by the end of the novel.

I don’t think Silent Heart got a fair chance with me, because I was expecting (and hoping for) something light and enjoyable, and this narrative can be bleak and unsettling.


To give proper trigger warnings for this novel means also giving spoilers, but I’d rather do that, so trigger warnings for rape, child molestation, incest, and child pornography.

Megan Casey reviews The Wombat Strategy by Claire McNab


Kylie Kendall, newly arrived in L.A. from a small-town in Australia, is a fresh catch compared to cold-fish, Sydney-based Carol Ashton, the protagonist of McNab’s first lesbian mystery series. To expend the metaphor, The Wombat Strategy is a pretty good catch.

Kylie has grown up in Australia, working in her mother’s pub in Wollegudgerie. But when her American father dies and leaves her his 51 percent of a private investigation business in Los Angeles, California, Kylie jumps at the chance to jump ship and head for the states. Of course, having been dumped by her girlfriend for a hairdresser might have helped, too.

When the junior partner of the business politely tries to buy her out, Kylie refuses and decides that she wants to be a PI too. The fact that this junior partner, Ariana Creeling,, is a bombshell, might have helped in Kylie’s decision, too. But Ariana agrees to sponsor her and Kylie’s nationality comes in handy almost at once when a famous Australian self-help guru hires Kendall and Creeling to solve a mystery involving the disappearance of highly confidential patient records—records that might be used to blackmail certain famous clients.

The mystery is believable enough, especially with the strange Hollywood types who seem to flock to the quack doctor for therapy. Kylie proves herself to be not only smart, but able to take care of herself in dangerous situations—criminal or sexual.

Unlike the relatively lifeless Carol Ashton, Kylie brings health to these pages with her enthusiasm and her Australian euphemisms, which McNab lays on maybe a little too thick. Kylie is a quick study and catches onto the PI business in short order. Ariana is mysteriously aloof and professional, and the rest of the staff are interesting in their own ways. Fran, the office manager, is pretty, dour, and a relative of Ariana’s. Melody, the receptionist, is less at her desk than away at casting calls. There are also a few other members of the staff with their own areas of expertise.

Although I hadn’t noticed this in McNab’s Ashton series, the names she gives certain things are often excellent. The self-help guru has a system he calls “Slap slap Get on with it.” And the movie titles of a couple of filmmakers make me want to go out and watch them; I mean, if they really existed. A TV reality show has incognito angels competing with humans for viewer votes.

I like the title, too, which is a spoof on Robert Ludlum titles. Kylie is kind of like a wombat, small but determined and feisty.  I think that what sets this book—and this series—out from most lesbian mysteries is its lightheartedness and its ultimate disposability. In other words it’s a perfect novel to pick up when you can’t decide what to read.

Bottom line? Kylie is refreshing not only compared to Carol Ashton, but compared to most other lesbian sleuths as well. A good beach read that you may want to keep instead of throwing away. And here’s another thing: if you have a stack of books that is so large as to seem imposing, then the next Kylie Kendall mystery may be the one that works its way into your hand. Call this one a 3.7–closer to a 4 than to a 3. Fair dinkum.

For other reviews by Megan Casey, see her website at http://sites.google.com/site/theartofthelesbianmysterynovel/  or join her Goodreads Lesbian Mystery group at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/116660-lesbian-mysteries