Tuesday, July 19, 2011

LJ Baker, Lesbian Fantasy and Romance Author

Promises, Promises: A Romp with Plenty of Dykes, a Unicorn, an Ogre, an Oracle, a Quest, a Princess, and True Love with a Happily Ever After
If you're looking for some lesbian romance, or just a great fantasy with a lesbian main character, you would be well rewarded by checking out L-J Baker.

L-J Baker is definitely emerging as an author to keep an eye out for - all her books are well written (though Lady Knight had a few issues and felt unfinished), and so far, I've happened to read them all in order - the first book was Broken Wings (review here) and the second was Lady Knight (review here). The third is Adijan and Her Genie (review here), and the fourth is Promises, Promises: A Romp with Plenty of Dykes, a Unicorn, an Ogre, an Oracle, a Quest, a Princess, and True Love with a Happily Ever After (review here).

She has also written a chapter in Lavender Ink - Writing and Selling Lesbian Fiction, along with Fran Walker, Nann Dunne, Sacchi Green, and Andi Marquette.

And they're all very, very different. I can pick out some common threads, but they just demonstrate the range and variety of the stories. 

All her main characters have real personality and/or health issues (physical deformity caused by injuries and the inhibition of these injuries on their self esteem - especially during sex, drunkenness, pride, being overly honourable, gullibility...) as well as real 'life' issues (mostly lower class, struggling to get ahead types - although where one is a hard working self-educator, another is a dreamer and a wastrel).

I really like the way that she works in real issues for real people, aside from the more generalised ones of poverty and intolerance - the knight of Lady Knight has a chunk of breast missing, vividly reminding me of women with mastectomies; Adijan's wife appears to have Down's Syndrome and Adijan is an alcoholic, Rye from Broken Wings has literally broken wings, rape trauma and independence issues, and her little sister is meddling with drugs. And while these are all major, to the characters, they're also part of the stories.

They all have fantasy elements, intolerance (in varying amounts, depending on the setting - Adijan has a single character, Lady Knight has almost everyone), a fairly butch character and a fairly femme one. They all have a bit of humour running through, and they're all (not perfect - but definitely good). And getting better and better... along with the cover art! (Started out awful, gets much more decent as (I assume) the publisher decided that they really worth paying a real artist for).

Her worlds are vivid and well realised, and - very importantly - I don't forget characters names! Yes, these books have contextual (e.g. fantastic/medieval/Middle Easternish) names that are easy to keep straight!

And they're all romances, so far - either about getting the girl, or getting the girl back. There's no cheating or drifting apart, just emotional turmoil and forced separations that they spend great plot effort in overcoming.

Promises, Promises: A Romp with Plenty of Dykes, a Unicorn, an Ogre, an Oracle, a Quest, a Princess, and True Love with a Happily Ever After   Adijan and Her GenieLady KnightBroken WingsLavender Ink - Writing and Selling Lesbian Fiction

Broken Wings was an urban fantasy love story about poverty, class, immigration, and semi-parental responsibility.

Lady Knight was a medieval fantasy about chivalry and love, crusades and a bit of mysticism.

Adijan and Her Genie is a highly engaging adventure that screams Arabian Nights, with a poor girl chasing around with a genie-like figure, trying to rescue her wife. It lacks the sex - but mainly because they spend almost the entire story apart. There's plenty of thinking about it.

Promises, Promises looks like it a much more magical medieval fantasy with a great deal of silliness and miscommunication, questing and heroics.

L-J Baker was an Alice B Lavender certificate recipient in 2008 for Broken Wings.

Reviews of L-J Baker's books

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