Saturday, December 14, 2013

In My Skin (e-novella) by Cassidy Ryan

In My Skin is a contemporary f/f romance story. It's approximately 20,800 words long and is published by Torquere Press.

Review:

Anna is a 28-year-old lawyer with an unexpected crush on a coffee shop owner named Chaise – “unexpected” because, up until now, she'd always believed herself to be strictly heterosexual. She and Chaise begin dating and are happy together, but one worry stands out in Anna's mind. She's already a bit of a black sheep in her family because of her choice to pursue a career in law rather than a family. Can her traditional Catholic family accept that she has fallen in love with a woman?

I've read several “gay for you” books and stories, but I think this is the first “lesbian for you” one I've come across (strike that, Olivia Stowe's By the Howling might count – it was just focused way more on the mystery than the romance). So, that aspect was a surprise. I'm not sure it was a welcome one. Because the story was written in the first person, from Anna's perspective, I got to see exactly how much this shift in her life did not bother her. She fretted over being good in bed, but that was about it. She didn't even worry about what her family would think until she was waiting outside her parents' house to introduce Chaise to them for the first time.

First person POV works best for me if the narrator's “voice” is different and interesting. Anna's unfortunately wasn't. I felt like I barely knew her better than Chaise, and all I knew about Chaise was that she was one of the owners of a coffee shop, she rode a motorcycle, and her parents accepted her sexuality.

Chaise and Anna's relationship had an insta-love feel. Anna's reaction to Chaise was so intense that I found it hard to believe that she had only just realized she was attracted to her – supposedly, she'd visited the coffee shop several times prior to the start of the story, just to see Chaise. The two of them got along perfectly, right from the start. They never argued, the sex was always fantastic, and they fit into each other's lives like they'd always been together. It was incredibly boring. The only rough spot in their relationship was Anna's mother's lack of acceptance of them.

A lot of the story was “tell” over “show,” which contributed to my boredom. The sex scenes were probably the most vivid parts, and, since I'm not a fan of dirty talking, I tended to skim those. There were pages and pages about Anna meeting Chaise's friends, Anna and Chaise hanging out together, and Anna having a meal with her family, all with less dialogue and fewer descriptions of people interacting than I would have liked. This was most true during the first part of the story, before Anna broke the news about her girlfriend to her family. Some of the later scenes were a bit better – the christening Anna attended comes to mind – but it still felt like much of the story was summarized. It also made it harder to connect with the characters and, as a result, some of the scenes I was probably supposed to think were very emotional came across as being a bit preachy.

In the end, this story didn't really work for me, and I have no plans to seek out any of Ryan's other works.

This is not the best read-alikes list I've ever put together - I haven't read anything on it and don't know what any of it is really like. If you have better suggestions, feel free to bring them up in a comment.

Read-alikes:
  • Uncommon Emotions (e-book) by Lynn Galli – I haven't read this, but it came up during a search I did for more “lesbian for you” romance. The main character is a turnaround specialist for corporations.
  • Awakenings (e-book) by Susan X. Meagher – Another one I haven't read. I'm listing it because it came up in a search for more “lesbian for you” romance. The main character enrolls in a course called “The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience” and meets and becomes attracted to an “out” lesbian. This one has me quirking an eyebrow a bit, because the main character has a fiance. Hopefully she breaks things off with him before things get serious with the woman she meets.
  • Nice: Happy Commitment (e-short story) by Berengaria Brown – I haven't read this. It's a very short f/f story about a couple having commitment issues and, by my guess, is probably almost entirely composed of a sex scene or two. I came across it while looking through Torquere's catalog for other things that might appeal to fans of Ryan's story. I'm thinking it would work best for those who enjoyed In My Skin's sex scenes most.

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