Publisher: Brisk Press
My name is Avery King and I’m probably a lot like you. I’m a 34-year-old single lesbian and my heart belongs to my rescued mutt, Steve. I work as a graphic designer and my life is quiet and comfortable. All in all, I’m a pretty regular girl and for the most part, I lead a pretty regular life.
Things I look forward to: baking goodies and then sharing them; spending time with my grandmother; reading anything I can get my hands on; enjoying dinner with my friends; a quiet evening and a glass of wine; hiking new trails and exploring nature with Steve. Things I’d like to avoid at all costs: in-depth discussions with my ex; dealing with children; online dating; babysitting; falling for somebody’s mom; taking my perception of myself all the way back to square one.
See that list of things I’d like to avoid? Yeah, guess who’s going to hit every single one of them this year… What happens when your life takes an unexpected turn? What happens when you need to protect the one you love from the one you want to love? What happens when you lose something you never knew you wanted?
Lambda and Golden Crown Literary Award-winning author Georgia Beers brings to you her long-awaited seventh novel, Starting from Scratch, a story where learning, laughing, loving, and baked goods are just a few of life’s basic ingredients.
Starting from Scratch…where life is what you make it.
[Originally posted on Amazon on 8/25/10]
I don’t hand out 5 star ratings very often, but this lesbian romance was pretty much flawless. That’s not to say this is one of my favorite romances I’ve read, because it’s not. It was a very solid story, but it’s not one that is near and dear to my heart. (Which stories touch us the most deeply is extremely subjective.) So that means it was Beers’s writing that stole the show with this one.
I usually try to write balanced reviews, but I’d have to deconstruct Starting From Scratch sentence by sentence to look for some nitpicky weaknesses. Yeah, I think it was that well-written. About the only thing I can really come up with is that I thought the Epilogue was superfluous and it would have been a stronger ending without it.
The two main characters are rather typical for lesbian romances. They’re professional women in good paying jobs. They’re thin and beautiful. They wear makeup. (Sometimes I wonder where the “real dykes” are in lesbian romances, but that’s a whole different topic.) One of the women is the mother of a young son, and having children is a major theme in the book.
These aren’t things that are innately appealing to me, especially kids. But the characters are interesting and sympathetic and the first person point of view works surprisingly well. The secondary characters are also interesting, including the little boy. What really makes this novel take off right from the start is the humor. I was grinning quite a bit at the start, then chuckling out loud through a good portion of the novel. But it’s not all happy, happy. The last quarter of the book takes a more serious turn, with a few tears shed on my part, and the writing in that portion is just as strong. And, while I know this is of little interest to lesbian romance readers (wink, wink), the sex is really hot too.
One thing that I really liked is the slightly different pace at the beginning as the main character gets established. She has a mad crush on a manager at the bank, but nothing happens with that for a while. Instead we learn things about her past, her friends, and where she is in her life. There’s a slower build-up than usual to how the characters meet for real and begin to be involved. Then all sedateness is cast to the side and the romance takes off like a space shuttle.
I had read one other Beers novel previously, Thy Neighbor’s Wife, and it was a pretty good story. But there was an amateurish quality to some of the writing that prevented that book from being as good as it potentially could have been. Some of the blame goes to not having a stronger editor who should have caught some of those problems. That book was published seven years ago, and I think it’s obvious that in that time Beers has been working on perfecting her craft. I also suspect that part of the reason Starting from Scratch is so good is because the venerable Katherine V. Forrest was the editor.
I’m very glad that when I came into an unexpected Amazon gift certificate and was looking for lesbian books to spend it on that I decided to take another chance on a Beers novel. I highly recommend this one to any lesbian romance reader.