Laura reviews “Thicker Than Blood” by Avery Vanderlyle

Publisher’s Blurb:

When the Nanotech Plague began killing off the large population of America using the tiny, implanted robots, the so-called “normals” took it upon themselves to wipe out the rest to prevent the spread. Now, fourteen years later, performer Ayana is in a dangerous position. Her nanotechnology implants are impossible to hide, having been tattooed onto her skin. Worse, the nanobots in her brother James are malfunctioning and slowly killing him. The pair of them, along with Ayana’s lover Yan, are slowly making their way across the fractured country, hoping to find a sanctuary and a cure.

David was only five when his parents died in the Plague. It wasn’t until he was grown that he realized that he’d been born with his own ‘bots, passed down from mother to child. Now, his second generation nanobots may be James’ salvation, if only Ayana and Yan can convince him that the nanobots aren’t a curse or a disease, but the key to rebuilding their ruined society.

Some thoughts:

  1. For an 11,000 word short story, there’s an awful lot of exposition. I mean, there’s definitely a need for explanation when the setting is… what it is. But this format really struggled to accommodate it all. A little breathing room would have been nice.
  2. That said, I wasn’t exactly choking it down. I found the premise really interesting. If Vanderlyle wrote another piece set in this world, I’d probably pick it up.
  3. It totally took me by surprise when the characters started boning. Storm Moon Press is apparently an erotic fiction publisher — and I’ve read another story of theirs, so I probably should have known that coming in. But, uh, yeah. This is erotica.
  4. Regarding the sex scenes: there was a lot of shimmying. I wasn’t crazy about it, but… I guess it could have been worse? There’s no lesbian sex, although there are two women in a relationship together. There are explicit M/F and M/M scenes.
  5. What actually happens in this story is ridiculous. You think it’s going to be mediocre erotica, and then at the end… Well, it’s one of those things where it’s so bad, it comes back around again and is brilliant. And hilarious. On this basis (and this basis alone), I recommend it.

“Thicker Than Blood” by Avery Vanderlyle is available for $1.99 in eBook format.

Laura Mandanas reviews “Gigglepuss” by Giselle Renarde

I have to say: I was a bit concerned when, four paragraphs in, the main love interest was characterized as a “Japanese anime schoolgirl.” (Like, really people. Can we just stop with the racist Asian exotification and extraordinarily sleazy fetishization of teenage girls? That would be great.) Normally I would have stopped reading there, but with Lesbrary readers in mind, I continued on. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I expected; as it turns out, Mitsuki is 20, and Asian “othering” is actually mildly poked fun at in this story. So, yay for that. You’re free to read “Gigglepuss” by Giselle Renarde with a clear conscience.

Unfortunately, not having the above information, I found myself entirely unable to get into it on my first read through. By the time I got to the story’s climax, there just… was none. Stereotyping is super unsexy in my book, and though this one redeemed itself by the end, the initial turnoff was overpowering. Despite this, the engaging and cheerfully explicit writing eventually won me over – it just took some time. I quite enjoyed the story on my second read through a couple weeks later. So take that as you will.

Without giving too much away, “Gigglepuss” is an erotic romance about two queer women in a small town. It is not a love story, and it is not a lengthy dissertation with laboriously developed characters. It is short, sexy, and doesn’t take itself too seriously – which feels appropriate, coming from an author who began writing erotica on a dare.

The main highlight of the story for me was the main character: a sweet-talking lady-killer named Lorna. (Think Shane  from The L Word in print form.) I mean, that, of course, and the sex. Always the sex. Even when the occasionally overenthusiastic descriptions made me giggle.

 “Gigglepuss” is available to download for $1.49 at All Romance.

Kristi reviewed “Better With Age” by Beth Wylde

Olivia just went to pick up a birthday cake for her daughter Felicity, not to revisit the past. Yet when she discovers the shop owner is none other than her first — and last — love, Aleesha, everything comes back. As a kiss has Olivia thinking about her own mother’s actions which resulted in their parting, she faces a situation at home that, while Felicity may find hard to believe, Olivia knows all about. Will Olivia do the right thing by both the people she loves?

Beth Wylde presents a short story (only 42 pages) that packs a sweet and sexy reunion of two women separated by circumstance and a mother/daughter story that comes full circle. Twenty years ago Olivia and Aleesha were young lovers torn apart by Olivia’s mom. As both continued on with their lives, including careers and children, a chance encounter brings the passion back.  The secondary storyline of Olivia’s daughter, Felicity, and their meeting at home echoes what happened between Olivia and her mother, [spoilers] but with better results. A fast and cheerful conclusion to all, but who doesn’t want a happy ending? [end spoilers]

Laura Mandanas reviews “4 Stories, 4 Stories Up” by Sara Elizabeth

“4 Stories Down, 4 Stories Up” by Sara Elizabeth is a series of vignettes following the budding romance between two high school girls. Barely five pages long, it is brief, lovely, and tantalizingly well written.

As the story follows the ups and downs of the couple’s relationship, the first person writing is straightforward and the emotion is sincere. The beloved is adoringly described with a lover’s attention to detail, and the situations in each vignette are vivid and familiar. As the main character falls for Liz, the reader can’t help but fall for her as well; and when Liz breaks the main character’s heart, she breaks the reader’s right along with it.

I recommend this story with a glass of wine. Not for the buzz, but so that you have something to slow you down, to help make this delightful story last just a little bit longer.

4 Stories Down, 4 Stories Up” is available digitally from Untreed Reads for $1.50. For more of Sara’s work, check out her portfolio.