Publisher: Bella Books
Jacqueline Keys was ostracized from her small hometown of Pine Springs, Texas when she was seventeen, sent away because she was gay. Her family was the largest employer in the county, owning Pine Springs Lumber, and her father was mayor of this small town. Her mother could not accept the fact that her only child was gay, could not tolerate the gossip about her family. So, with a hundred dollars in her pocket and a one-way bus ticket out of town, Jacqueline was told not to come back until she had come to her senses. And that included being prepared to marry the son of a business associate of the family.
Fifteen years later—long after she’d hitch-hiked to Los Angeles, long after she’d worked nights to put herself through college, and long after she’d written her first best seller, No Place For Family—Jacqueline is persuaded to go back to the tiny town of Pine Springs after her father’s death.
The quick trip she’d envisioned for the funeral turns into weeks as she learns her father’s business is suddenly hers to manage. And she is also again face-to-face with the woman who, as a teen, had been Jackie’s first crush. She and Kay had been inseparable as kids, and later as teens. They find themselves falling back into their old habits, and Jackie is soon fighting the same feelings she’d had when she was seventeen.
But living behind the pine curtain, Kay is afraid of her love for Jackie, afraid of what her family will say, afraid of how the town will react. Jackie refuses to hide, refuses to crawl back into the closet, so once again, she leaves Pine Springs . . . alone.
[Originally posted on Amazon 10/18/07]
I have a very small list of lesbian romances that I enjoy so much that I go through and re-read them each fall. Until now there were only four books on that list, all of which were written in the 1980s. So while I still enjoy reading new lesbian romances, most of them haven’t really stuck with me any longer than it took to get to the last page. However, Behind The Pine Curtain has become the fifth book on that list.
Why any particular book has made my list is difficult to say. After all, there are limited themes found in romance novels for the most part and plots are typically quite predictable. Aside from Pembroke Park (the only lesbian Regency romance I’m aware of), the others on my list fall into those typical themes and predictable plotlines, yet I love the books anyway. So it has to be something about the talent of the author in making me connect with the characters and their story.
What resonates with me most in Behind the Pine Curtain is the connection that Jackie and Kay have, where despite a fifteen year separation, they are able to pick right back up where they’d left off. I’m also a sucker for the “finally getting together with your childhood love” theme. Having my own experience with a longtime relationship with a special connection that allows us to take up where we left off no matter how many years it is in between contacts, that part rings especially true. And also having one of those “I wonder if things could have been different” type deals in my past, this book allows me to vicariously live out how that might be.
Ms. Hill’s writing is smooth and never awkward. Her characters in this book are vividly portrayed, even most of the minor characters. Kay’s family especially is wonderfully drawn and makes one wish that everyone could experience such a warm and welcoming situation when growing up. I like that while the book is primarily from Jackie’s point of view, you also are allowed to get glimpses of Kay’s thoughts and feelings so that you experience the story through both perspectives and can relate equally to both of them. And to cap it off, I really like that the book is a bit longer than the norm, so it feels like meatier fare.
So if any of these things are what you enjoy or relate to most in lesbian romances, do yourself a favor and get this one next. At the least you’ll have an enjoyable read. At the most, if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a book that becomes an old friend for those rainy fall reading days.