Sex and love and the whole damn thing
Karin Kallmaker heats up the lesbian romance genre
By Loren King
BAY WINDOWS: New England’s Largest Gay & Lesbian Newspaper
Popular lesbian novelist Karin Kallmaker’s first full-length erotic novel delivers the goods for fans of the author’s trademark romantic couplings. But In All the Wrong Places, published under Bella Books’s erotic division, Bella After Dark, Kallmaker adds plenty of heart-stopping, toe curling, multi-orgasmic sex to her erotic repertoire which has until now mostly appeared in the author’s anthologized short fiction. In this novel, not only does the heroine enjoy lust filled nights with her lover, she rises to make breakfast in the morning for her, too.
Kallmaker is a writer deft and experienced enough to invigorate her formulaic story with sexually explicit scenes that generate real heat, because she also knows how to create characters with some depth, even within the confines of the romance genre. And fans of her dyke romances won’t be disappointed as the author allows her heroine to lose her heart, while fans of hot sex on the page won’t be bored – Kallmaker’s efforts here are plentiful, wholly sex-positive, credible and varied.
The setting is a Florida resort where 26 year-old Brandy Monsoon is a fitness instructor. She can’t resist the bi-curious girls that vacation at the resort; just a few pages in, we’re treated to one such dalliance in a ladies locker room. But these trysts don’t prove all that satisfying, so Brandy and best friend and fellow instructor, the sexy, straight Tess, become “f*ck buddies,” and that they do with zest. But soon Brandy begins to feel more than the heat of their couplings. Kallmaker wisely withholds the inevitable payoff. She plays with the ups and downs of the women’s emotional stages: the confusion about their feelings, the jealousy and the mixed messages of two sexually compatible women for whom even great sex may not be enough. It’s no surprise where the plot will turn, but Kallmaker is skilled enough to pleasantly distract us until we get there.
In the meantime, we’re entertained by a horde of vacationing lesbians who descend on the resort. Celine Griffin, a “famous comedian” who oddly doesn’t utter one witty line, does teach Brady a thing or two about adventurous sex. There’s no shortage of sex toys, graphic talk, and occasional domination – all done in consensual, mutually satisfying, passionate fun
A family crisis drives Brandy off the resort in a rented car. Her soul-searching journey back to the family home in Baltimore is more than a little clichéd and melodramatic, complete with an abusive father, a distant mother and a boorish brother who spews Leviticus in his sister’s face. For good measure, Kallmaker even throws in Brandy’s now straight teenage sweetheart who blatantly disses her. It’s enough to make a girl hightail it back to the Sunshine State and back into her best friend’s arms. Brandy’s eventual reunion with Tess manages to deliver both suds and sex; kudos to Kallmaker for a novel that transcends the limitations of both the lesbian romance and erotica genres.