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‘Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance’ edited by Radclyffe

‘Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance’ edited by Radclyffe

Author: Rita Salner

February 11, 2014

Many of us grew up with stories which ended with the words, “and they lived happily ever after.” We never knew the rest of the story… how  they managed to live happily ever after. Love Burns Bright is a compilation of short stories which tell the rest of the story. These are mature couples who show, in the words of singer Judy Fjell, “love that goes the distance.” In the story “Sepia Showers,” author Andrea Dale writes, as one of her characters copes with her mother’s dementia, and wonders how she and her partner will age, “Someday, down the line, we might forget the person… but we can never forget the love.” In “Forever Yours, Eileen,” Rebekah Weatherspoon writes about two African-American women who are finally together again after nearly fifty years. Through all those years, they faithfully wrote to each other, staying in touch, but not able to touch each other.

Some of the stories are quite erotic, while others, such as Radclyffe’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” are sexily sweet. Some of the women are living the American dream with a house, jobs, and kids, and yet still working to find ways to keep their love and passion alive. In “Waiting For the Harvest,” Sommer Marsden’s characters successfully explore their passion for each other by using very creative and erotic tools.Chris Paynter’s “Full Circle” begins with two women meeting  at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969 and then returning to that special place in 2009, to celebrate forty years together.

Each of these eighteen authors is very skilled at creating characters who are fully developed, and have a compelling story to tell. Many times their situations are very real, as in Dena Hankin’s “Cooling Down and Heating Up.” Her two characters live in a lovely 180-year-old farmhouse  in North Carolina. They are restoring what they can, and going without what they can’t afford, including air conditioning. As the story begins, it’s summer, and one of the characters groans, “I love you sweetheart.  Don’t touch me.”  How they solve their sweaty situations is creatively funny. Catherine Paulssen’s “The Way to a Woman’s Heart” has her characters, Matilda and Olivia, finding some alone time by sending the kids to Matilda’s mother for a vacation.  How the two women handle their alone time is both creative and sexy! English writer Rachel Randall, in her story “Ravens,” gives readers a sex scene in the Tower of London! It happens  in the cell where Sir Walter Raleigh was housed. Randall plays with fantasies as well as a curious raven.

Author Derek Shannon’s two characters include one who is in the Army and deployed. Counting the days and hours until she returns, the couple keeps in touch via telephone calls, some of which are quite sexy! Again and again, the different authors show loving relationships which are held together by creative passion and caring. These are not couples in trouble, but couples who have stayed the distance and made their unions work. They are about women who are growing older together, and experiencing the physical changes that come with aging. In these well-written stories, readers are treated to mature couples who have made their unions work. As more and more states  recognize gay marriages, books that support and celebrate successful relationships are important to couples who are together for the long haul.


Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance
Edited by Radclyffe
Cleis Press
Paperback, 9781627780001, 242 pp.
December 2013

Rita Salner photo

About: Rita Salner

Rita Salner is a retired teacher, who has taught everything from preschool handicapped kids to teaching teachers how to integrate math and science. Salner taught for 42 years. Salner currently live in the high desert of CA. with her partner of almost 30 years. They enjoy life on a half acre with two dogs and three cats. Salner has been reviewing lesbian literature since she was recruited by Barbara Greer of the famed Naiad Press.

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