Shira Glassman reviews Date with Destiny by Mason Dixon

date with destiny mason dixon

Date with Destiny is a Black lesbian thriller–written by a Black woman, prolific author Yolanda Wallace writing under the name Mason Dixon–set in the banking industry of Savannah, Georgia. Rashida, the lead, is a driven, frugal Black bank executive who has risen to the top of the bank her grandmother once cleaned as a janitor. Her work-oriented but lonely life is headed for a collision course with the unemployed, blue-collar Destiny, who she meets at a coffeeshop one morning. Is finding Destiny a job at her bank a worthy act of kindness or a dangerous temptation? After all, the bank has strict policies against workplace dating–but Destiny’s sexuality is practically a force of nature.

There’s a lot more going on here than I can even describe without spoiling the plot, so this is a good bet for you if you like twists, suspense, and intrigue. I’d even say it’s reminiscent of movies like Memento and The Usual Suspects, including the way Dixon employs the device of showing the same scene through different character’s eyes. (Some readers may find some of the repetition tedious, so feel free to skim through it looking for the new information.)
As a beautiful old city, Savannah makes a wonderful backdrop for the story’s dramatics. This obviously won’t apply to readers outside the coastal South but it’s fun getting to read an adventure and recognize all the places from real life instead of from other works of fiction–Richmond Hill? I can picture the highway exit. I know what I-16 is.
I found the prose well-paced and easy to breeze through; I read the book pretty rapidly over a weekend and never got bogged down or bored. There’s some negative messaging about closeted vs. non-closeted queer people that I didn’t agree with — we still live in a world that sometimes necessitates closets, sadly — but it wasn’t a loud enough message to significantly tarnish my reading experience. There’s representation of lesbians who have endured family rejection and moved on, recognizing the event without wallowing in it as tragedy porn.
I’m not sure how I feel about the ultimate ending of the book; I do want the ending the author gave us, but I would have preferred being more convinced about it. That scene in particular I think would have been more effective on film. However, I do like the fact that Rashida was finally enjoying herself after a lifetime of workworkwork and having to overachieve to overcome misogynoir. She deserves it after working so hard and what the plot put her through.

Date with Destiny is full of sensuality between women and eventually love but it’s not entirely a romance; it’s a thriller that will be more fun for the reader if they go in expecting a wild ride.

Katie Raynes reviews Rum Spring by Yolanda Wallace

Rum Spring by Yolanda Wallace is the story of Rebecca, an Amish teenager, and Dylan, a girl from mainstream American culture. The novel chronicles Rebecca and Dylan’s romance as it shifts in intensity over several years; it’s also a coming-of-age story that follows Rebecca’s journey toward her decision whether or not to join church and become a member of her Amish community.

I knew very little about Amish culture going into this novel, and I feel that I finished it not only knowing more, but having read a respectful treatment of it that doesn’t harshly judge or take strict sides. Rumspringa is a term in Pennsylvania Dutch for a period in the lives of some Amish teenagers when they temporarily leave their communities to experience the mainstream world. At the end of this period, young Amish people choose whether to join their community as a full-fledged member of the church or to join mainstream society. The conflict of the story revolves around this choice. The love that Rebecca and Dylan share is passionate and deep, evolving from a close friendship, but Rebecca is extremely conflicted about her future. She sees only two choices: be with Dylan and give up any hope of interacting with her family and community for the rest of her life, or reject Dylan, the person she loves most, and live a life with her family but without a partner, forever hiding the fact that she’s a lesbian.

Rebecca’s development as she navigates her own feelings and goals makes up the main story arc, with Dylan’s progress taking a bit of a backseat. I was impressed, though, by how realistically their shifts in self-understanding were addressed. Dylan struck me as pretty transparent the whole time, but Rebecca’s feelings, motivations, and how well she understood them at various times made her more complex and compelling. There was also a sub-plot involving Rebecca’s family that tied nicely into the romance between Rebecca and Dylan.

The only complaint I have with this novel is that the writing was often less subtle than I’d like. There were several instances where I’d understood the implication of something that took place – for example, Rebecca and Dylan shifting away from each other in the front seat of a car – and then the narrative went on to explain that this motion symbolized the rift that was growing between them emotionally. Sometimes the dialogue was like this as well: a little too expository, the characters saying things they’d never say to one another for the sake of giving the reader information. This didn’t mar my enjoyment too much, though. I wanted to know what would happen so much that I sped through the book. I thought it tackled a lot of issues respectfully, and although it was sometimes cliched, I came to love the characters and was very satisfied at the end.

[Check out Danika‘s and Anna‘s reviews of Rum Spring as well!]

Hannah interviews Yolanda Wallace about her book Month of Sundays

Being somewhat of a foodie myself, a review of Month of Sundays by Yolanda Wallace on Goodreads caught my attention as it mentioned ‘the delicious dishes that Yolanda described’. I soon read the book and sure enough enjoyed the description of the numerous meals the two main characters delight in throughout the novel.

When she realises that her best friends have set her up for a blind date, Rachel is appalled. She certainly does not feel ready for another involvement after an eight-year relationship which ended in a disaster. Besides she finds that famous chef Griffin is totally out of her league.

In fact both women are attracted to each other but neither wants to get involved in a solid relationship, albeit for different reasons. Griffin suggests a Month of Sundays so that they might get to know each other better without rushing things.

‘One date each Sunday for the next…’ She paused while she did the math in her head. Seven and a half months. I get to know you while I peel the onion one layer at a time. I woo you not with my body but with my mind. Something, I have to say, would be a first for me.’

Yolanda Wallace’s book is a yummy and feel good novel and, rather than offer spoilers, I have chosen to interview the author. Thank you Yolanda for your time and availability; it has been a pleasure to interview you.

Yolanda Wallace, can you introduce yourself in a few words?

As I say in my bio, I am not a professional writer, but I play one in my spare time. I am a banker by day and a writer by night. The night shift is much more fun!

As a child and teenager what were the books that made an impression on you?

As a child, my favorite book was Pippi Longstocking. I loved her feistiness and independent spirit. As a teenager, I borrowed my teacher’s copy of Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, which introduced me to a world I had only just begun to imagine.

What are your favorite authors today and do you think their writings influence your own?

I don’t have any favorite authors, per se. I read anything that strikes my fancy. When I was younger, I adored Stephen King and I think his style rubbed off on me a bit, but I think (I hope) I have developed my own over the years.

Who are your favorite lesbian authors?

I love the work of all my lesbian contemporaries, especially Radclyffe, Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou! Nothing’s hotter than a sexy lesbian super spy.

Is Month of Sundays your first novel?  

Month of Sundays is my fourth published novel with Bold Strokes Books, following In Medias Res, Rum Spring, and Lucky Loser.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write my first novel In Medias Res by a news article I read while in vacation in Key West, Florida. The article detailed the travails of a man who claimed he had been mugged and had lost his memory. He said he couldn’t remember anything about himself, but he knew he was gay. I wanted to explore what makes a person who they are–how they feel or what they learn.

Would you say that you write lesbian fiction or novels where lesbians are the main characters?


I would say I write novels where lesbians are the main characters. I make sure my characters interact with society as a whole instead of segregating them to one insular community. My way, I suppose, of letting straight readers know our “worlds” aren’t separate and frequently intersect.

Did you know right from the start that you wanted to write this sort of novels?

I have dabbled in writing since I was eight years old and always dreamed of writing my version of the Great American Novel one day. I didn’t know lesbian fiction novels existed until I was 17. When I got to college, I wrote my first short story that featured two female characters. I liked it, but I didn’t think I had enough life experience at that point to tackle my first full-fledged Sapphic novel. That came many years later. Now the ideas won’t stop coming!

How did you conceive the plot for Month of Sundays?

Month of Sundays actually began as a short story that featured an early version of the first chapter and ended at the chapter that takes place on New Year’s Eve. When I finished, the characters wouldn’t stop talking to me and I decided to expand the short story into a novel. I am a major foodie, so the premise of a culinary trip around the world came from one of my personal wish lists.

Did you draw your inspiration for the main characters (i.e. Rachel and Griffin, and to a lesser extent their friends) from real life? Or did you totally invent them?

I drew my inspiration for their surroundings from real life. Rachel’s apartment, for example was owned by friends of mine named Jane and Colleen, who my secondary characters are named after. The characters themselves, however, are products of my imagination. I wanted to feature a character who was a bundle of insecurities as most of us are, so I thought of a character struggling with issues of weight and self-esteem who meets a sexy, confident chef.

Do you have a favourite character in this novel? Which one?

My partner adores Jane because she says Jane is the quintessential best friend who pushes you to do all the things you say you don’t want to do but really do.
I’m partial to Griffin because her musical tastes are my own and she’s probably the most well-rounded character I’ve written so far.

How has the novel been welcomed so far?


I have received more positive feedback from this novel than any other. Its themes are universal and appear to have struck a chord with readers.

Danika reviews Rum Spring by Yolanda Wallace

I have to be honest: many of the “lesbian fiction” (really more like lesbian romance, but they’re typically labelled lesbian fiction) books I have read don’t have the best writing. I’m not saying that the writing has to be lyrical or award-winning, but most of the lesfic books I’ve read have had writing that was, at least at times, distracting. For instance, this review so far seems to have a distracting writing style, at least to me. This is one of the many reasons I don’t write novels.

That being said, I found Rum Spring a refreshing change. The writing didn’t distract from the story. It didn’t seem clunky, or over-descriptive. It served exactly its purpose, without drawing attention to itself. I really, really appreciated that.

The subject matter was also interesting. Rum Spring is about a romance between an Amish girl and an English (non-Amish) girl. The romance seems to jump suddenly sometimes in terms of how their emotions develop, but the physical romance (not just sex, but dating, etc) seemed to move at a pace that made sense for the story.

I do have some minor complaints, however. [minor spoilers] At some point the couple gets named prom king and queen, even though it’s a same-sex couple, even though they’re not even officially together, even though they were a write-in couple, and most importantly, even though one of them doesn’t even go the school (and spends almost all of her time in the Amish community, so… I’m not even sure how they would know here name). That seemed pretty unbelievable. [end minor spoilers] Also, [vague major spoilers] the ending seemed a little unexpected and neat. [end major spoilers]

Overall, however, I enjoyed Rum Spring. The writing was possibly the best I’ve seen for the modern lesfic genre, and the premise and setting was intriguing. I would recommend this one.

Anna reviews Rum Spring


Rum Spring, by Yolanda Wallace, was published last December by Bold Strokes Books. I have read zero of those extremely popular heterosexual Amish romances, so I have no idea how Rum Spring stacks up, but when I read the tagline of the blurb (“Love or tradition? Which path will she choose?”) I was intrigued. The title refers to “rumspringa,” the Amish tradition of having teenagers venture into the modern world for several years before they commit themselves to the church.

Rebecca Lapp has been friends with Englisher Dylan Mahoney for most of her life, getting to know the other girl despite a language barrier and the restrictions placed upon her by her rigid faith. She knows quite well that her destiny is to marry an Amish boy and spend the rest of her life in her small Pennsylvania town, despite her interest in Dylan and the outside world. Dylan has been in love with Rebecca for years, and has been waiting impatiently for the Amish girl to turn sixteen and begin her rumspringa, hoping that the long list of activities she has created for them (which has enough items to span a lifetime) will help persuade Rebecca to choose Dylan over her family and the only life she has ever known.

The conflict between Rebecca’s feelings for Dylan and her conservative upbringing feels very real, and the consequences are serious. If Rebecca is caught with Dylan, or chooses to leave the church to spend her life as an outsider, she will lose her parents, her other family members, and the religion that has shaped her entire life. Although she admits her love for Dylan to herself and consummates their relationship on her rumspringa, after Rebecca’s sister Sarah is shunned for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, she believes that she must remain with her family and commit to the church to fill the void left by her sister. As Dylan struggles to accept that they must forever remain only friends, Rebecca comes to believe that she must be true to herself, no matter the consequences.

Rum Spring feels a lot like a YA novel, not just for the high school and college scenes (Rebecca and Dylan go to the prom!) but because of the themes of growth and change and “coming of age.” The few sex scenes are well and tastefully done–logical extensions of Dylan and Rebecca’s feelings for one another. Rebecca is definitely a more sympathetic character than Dylan, whose determination to woo Rebecca comes off as a bit controlling (see the aforementioned list, which does not seem to allow Rebecca a great deal of independent thought). And her life is, seemingly, less fraught; Dylan’s family is perfectly accepting of who she is, despite being Catholic. [spoiler] One of the disappointing things about Rum Spring was its relatively easy denouement, which lessened the impact of the narrative buildup with its sweetness. This kind of rose-colored glasses perspective appears elsewhere in Wallace’s narrative:

Dylan had to admit her Catholic faith didn’t have the greatest track record when it came to gays and lesbians, but she thought the tide was slowly beginning to turn. Her parish priest, for one, was incredibly understanding and accepting. Perhaps the pope would eventually share his progressive views (148).

Perhaps this is simply reflective of Dylan’s naive optimism where sociopolitical issues are concerned, but I believe it is reflective of Wallace’s overall message, which seems sweetly unrealistic. I would have preferred a bittersweet ending–in which Rebecca has lost everything she thought she needed, but gained a lasting love (which would have been the best payoff for the dilemma Wallace set up)–to one in which they are able to kiss openly in a room that contains all of their family members, both Amish and English. Apparently I am an incurable cynic. [end spoiler]

Aside from the letdown at the end, I found the book well-written and the characters interesting. If you are fascinated by the Amish and rumspringa, looking for a story of young love triumphing over obstacles, or interested in lesbian romance with strong young adult overtones, Rum Spring might be just the book for you.