by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer
Judging from the cover photo, the reader will think they are in for a really stunning book – they would be right! If the sensual eye make-up and slick lipsticked women are anything to go by it will be a riot.
With such famous names in Cleis Press circles as Delilah Devlin, Christine D’Abo, and Adele Dubois among many, these are some of the most interesting and engaging lesbian fiction out there right now. Don’t you just want to go out and get it as soon as possible? Well, it’s due out in September of this year, so you can wait just a little longer…
These vampires are as different as anything readers have ever seen, and they are from all walks of life and all world myths, so this adds a nice twist to what could have just been another series of random, everyday vampire stories. There is nothing random about these 15 delightful insights into the different kinds of vampire, the ones we aren't likely to meet on the street or at the bar, no these are original, sometimes devastating, and at other times unusual and brilliant.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Night at the Wax Museum Delilah Devlin
Krista Pike is having a difficult time with some nasty invaders at the wax museum she is looking after. Rats aren't her favorite thing, not at all, but with everyone else out, there is only her who can track them down and get rid. On her way around the place, she is still trying to find the rat when she is mesmerized by one of the exhibits - a female vampire trying to resist the end of her life at the hands of a vampire hunter hell bent on exterminating her life. She exudes all the elements of femininity that make her instantly attractive; she just can't take her eyes off of her for a second, even though she has to.
Several months out of Afghanistan after serving there, she has to undergo therapy, and is on tablets for what she saw there for her depression. She knows it doesn't ease her mind any when she is on them, but they do help her perk up a little, though even with her training in being a part of security at the museum, she starts to feel on edge about not being alone in there. She thinks someone is playing tricks on her - but when she discovers it's someone she has seen before who is alive and well and even talking to her, she thinks she must be losing her mind - or needs more tablets!
There is an excellent humor value in this story, and one many will notice straight away, the Night at the Museum references to the movie starring Ben Stiller will make the reader remember the layout of the museum, and how its many exhibits came to life. In this case, only one exhibit gets to come to life, and that's a rather sexy vampire rendered in wax, and craving the blood of anyone it can get its hands on - mainly security guards.
She is afraid at first, but as she gets to know the vampire, she finds out she can be the woman she wants, and feel alive again. Humorous parts of this are the fact Mina sees her as a boy when she first comes in contact with her, and when she groped her as she fed.
Beloved by Shayla Kersten
Get your books on Egyptology out, this one is a really in depth tale of one Goddess who isn't like the others, she has changed over the years, or at least that is what she wants you to think. She is Sekhmet, an aspect of the gentle goddess Hathor, but that is what she might call rumor, and for her it doesn't hold true. She knows her full nature, her calling and what she once was - a ravening beast of a woman, one who was meant to fight, to drink the blood of others, her enemies; and she secretly misses the hands on experiences she once had. Yet Sekhmet and Hathor are two different people, they are sensual and seductive, and lovers.
Sekhmet loves her most of all, yet she is unwilling to totally surrender to her as she might be there one minute, then gone the next. She wants a woman for eternity, not a woman who lives for right now, and doesn't realize the consequences of her actions. She will always be unsure as to whether she will stay with her, and that kind of life is not for her. She needs a sense of permanence, she has lived to long a life to be alone most of the time with only Hathor to comfort her when she wants some company.
In the story there is a good amount of sensuality, as Sekhmet has needs that are to be fulfilled, yet if that happens she will go on the rampage wanting blood from everyone - and Hathor would have to try and sedate her in some way. There is a great amount of passion and eroticism that runs through it, and gives the reader enough of a sexual performance between the two of them to satisfy.
Bound Love by Christine D’Abo
Depressed at her circumstances, Maili hits out at the one thing that can't hit back, the wall of her hotel room in the darkness - no one can see her, yet that isn't the issue, she is a vampire with an increasing bloodlust that she must seek to control, rather than letting it control her. She is an old vampire and needs to feed - now, but her use of her control is having too much of an impact on her. Her wants and needs are many, and yet she doesn't know anyone at all.
She has to have a grasp of her human side or she will leave it behind and the evil monster in her will seek to come out and destroy whatever humanity she has left. She knows it would-be so easy to let it happen, and easier still to feed as she hears two humans outside fucking and it instils the desire within her, fueling her bloodlust even more.
She is the sort of vampire who doesn't want to lose her humanity, and would hate herself if she degraded to become a hopeless, ravening monster. She thinks she is alone with her fate waiting for her to lapse into oblivion, but she isn't, not i n the night. Someone is out there, and she thinks they might want to kill her. Boy, could she ever be wrong....
The Crystal Altar by Adele Dubois
Morgan and Rosa spend some quality time together in a cave in Pennsylvania, but it's a little creepier than they had imagined. Still they have each other, and all the time in the world to enjoy it. The real motive for them being there is that they are waiting for a tour of the cave, and using it as an excuse to have fun while the others are away. Morgan tells her the caves are historical, and people come from far and wide to work their way around them. The rumor is they are very old, a millennia possibly. The story changes from history and caves to her sister, Angela who went on a tour of Europe with a woman called Lilith and with her help came back not only a Goth girl, but with night vision too. She couldn't believe the transformation in her, but there is something else that she hadn't taken into consideration - but while they wait for the other sight seers to come, they have at least an hour to burn so they do what any self respecting girls would, they make love.
Readers will find this story a welcome addition to the rest, as it plays on popular culture of Goths and how they like to emulate the vampire lifestyle and general look. Angela might be just play acting the part, but as her other friends look like they have had laser eye surgery too, she wonders if she is the real deal - a true vampire.
You could say that there is something for every reader with this compendium of short stories. There are many for every taste, from Egyptian mythical tales about goddesses who actually live on earth and mull around with humankind, Gothic girls who can see perfectly well in the night, a shape shifting vampire who has a chance encounter with the woman she has always wanted, a Mexican salt-eater, a witch who uses her spell on another - then it backfires, and other such brilliant stories and numerous erotic scenarios. There is more than enough for the reader to sink their teeth into, and what better stories can they be but lesbian ones where the fairer sex gets what she wants, and makes the other pay for it with their love.