The Little Red Barn by Dorothy Rice Bennett, Review by Morgayne Love

High praise for Dorothy Rice Bennett’s tightly woven adventure/romance, The Little Red Barn: An Olympic Romance which is set in the stunning Pacific Northwest. You’ll fall in love with the gorgeous landscape and views. To this natural beauty the author brings Kate Brighton, Cornell educated and a larger than life wild and wealthy, world traveler.

Kate sails into the Strait of Juan de Fuca headed for Seattle, leaning into the wind like Cleopatra headed up the Nile on her barge. Kate and her sailing companion, the owner of the sloop that she met in Hawaii who was looking for a crew mate to help sail his vessel home, stop in Sequim, Washington first. It’s a small farming community between the foothills of the Olympic Mountains and the waters of the Strait just south of British Columbia, Canada.

To Kate’s pleasant surprise she realizes an old school mate from Cornell lives in Sequim. When she stops by to visit Marianne and her partner, Jake, the womyn tell her what a magnet the town is.

“Well, you are in for a treat. People come up here, take in the scenery, and become hooked. They either return later or just never leave. It’s become kind of a coastal mecca, especially for retirees, including lesbians.” And my favorite line of the book, “There are probably more lesbians here per capita than anywhere outside of New York City.”

Angie is one of those lesbians. She is the polar opposite of Kate. No adventure in her life, Angie is devoted to her children. Younger than Kate, she is a single mom living from pay check to pay check and a barista at The Little Red Barn where Kate finds her that first day looking for a cup of coffee after walking into town from the marina where they docked the sloop.

When Kate meets Angie she has been traveling around the world since her parents died years ago and she had given up her dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer. She wants what Angie has, stability and family. Being so different, their adventure is finding a life together with Angie’s two kids.

Angie has recently come to terms with her sexuality and is immediately drawn to Kate and later invites her to the pool at the apartment complex where she and the kids live. “Angie’s mouth (had) dropped open at the vision of Kate posed to dive, tall, broad shouldered, with small breasts under her tank suit, wind-blown blond curly hair.” Both Angie and her daughter see Esther Williams when they look at Kate.

But Kate is a product of a rich family; a lonely, only child who never did the dishes or cared for her own horse after riding. She has the money to change Angie’s and the kids’ lives but doesn’t see anything wrong with abandoning them at crucial times to pursue a dream of creating an Olympic Training Center in Sequim. Angie’s dream is to go to school to become a nurse. Kate buys them a new home and promises to help with the kids so Angie can pursue that dream.

Will Angie’s need for a responsible partner to share her load in life eliminate Kate? Can Kate change her spur of the moment wandering ways?


I’ll be honest, I’m one of those womyn who found her way back after visiting Sequim one autumn weekend. My love for this story comes not only from the well-constructed characters and how well the story flows; I’ve walked the same streets, mountain trail and sandy beaches as Kate and Angie. But you don’t have be from the Northwest to be drawn into this Olympic Romance. I highly recommend The Little Red Barn.

You can connect with the author on twitter @AlicelMcCracke1, or find her online at

The Artemis Adventure by Dorothy Rice Bennett/Review by Morgayne Love

I had the pleasure of meeting Dorothy Rice Bennett recently at a book reading and signing for her new release, The Artemis Adventure. The local author talked about the efforts it took to recover a manuscript from a format no longer supported by current operating systems and the challenges of publication. And I’m glad it’s out now and available to read!

The Artemis Adventure is a journey of self-discovery for the protagonist, Kiki Rodriguez. Kiki was open to every experience and that curiosity served her well. Her tumultuous beginnings in the South Bronx had her focused on a blinking star that she found in the heavens and called Artemis from Greek mythology.

Kiki dreamed of being a college student even though she hadn’t finished high school. Nevertheless she followed that star across country and found herself at the gates of Montrose, a womyn’s college. Talk about a lucky star!

What I loved best about The Artemis Adventure is that it represents a universe that supports and wants us to succeed. What are the chances of an 18-year-old leaving the Bronx alone with very little money and no visible support, and successfully negotiating a cross-country journey to find her dream and not come to harm? One hundred percent!

It’s practically a how-to guide on how a teenager navigates our culture to achieve young womynhood! In order for that to happen, one has to encounter responsible adult allies.

Sal is a trucker that Kiki encounters when the bus she was on left her behind. The trucker not only gives Kiki a ride as far West as she is going but Sal and her partner become ‘Aunties’. They continue to support Kiki long after she leaves them to continue her journey.

From there Kiki finds a posted message for a car of young folks looking for a rider to help with gas. They drop her after dark at the gates of a college in California and she is able to safely spend the night there on campus. When she needed a job she found one nearby and the owner turned out to be a kind and good friend. He invited her home and introduced Kiki to his teenage daughters when she had no place to go for the holidays. Over and over a series of serendipitous encounters leads Kiki to a college degree and the perfect romantic partner.

Here is a quote.

“So, after a year, how do you feel?” (Sal asks.)

“Well, I still feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven, if you know what I mean. All the things I’m learning, all the things I’m exposed to, that I could never have experienced if I’d stayed at home—it’s so amazing that it’s almost unbelievable. I’m still awed by it. At times, I also get scared, lonely, and homesick and, when I’m tired, I just don’t think I can keep it up for three more years.”

“But you’re going to try, aren’t you?” Sal asked with a bit of apprehension.

“Oh, yes. I won’t quit. I’m just fearful that one day there will be a challenge that’s bigger than I am and I won’t make it. That scares me a lot. However, as long as I can see a way through the problems, day by day, I won’t give up.”

“So far, when you’ve needed something, it’s been there, hasn’t it?”

Kiki nodded. “Money, jobs, housing. Everything. Not fancy, not easy, but enough. Each time I thought I was at the end of my rope, I got an idea or something opened up. It was really unexpected. People have been so good to me.”

Sal smiled. “Perhaps they have been so good because you have given them reason to be.”

From the title of the book to its romantic conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend The Artemis Adventure. It is very well written and flows nicely. While it is lesbian fiction it is so much more than that, including age and racial diversity. It has just been published in October 2017 and is available online at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and at Outskirts Press.

You can connect with the author on twitter @AlicelMcCracke1, or find her online

She is currently at work on her next literary project which has a working title of Love in the Olympics that is set right here in Sequim!


A Two-Spirit Journey The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder is a rare and stunning first-person account by Ma-Nee Chacaby who was born and raised in Canada. Although difficult to read at times, it is an inspirational story of courage, resilience, recovery and healing. “My earliest memories are of gathering kindling, making snowshoes, and hunting and trapping in my isolated Canadian community, where alcoholism was widespread in the 1950’s. In 2013, more than half a century later, I performed a healing ceremony and then lead the first gay pride parade in my city, Thunder Bay, Ontario. This book describes the extraordinary path that led me to that place.”

Her story begins in 1950 in Thunder Bay where she was born in a Tuberculosis Sanatorium. Ma-Nee was immediately adopted out to a French couple but her grandmother found her and brought her back to Ombabika where she raised her in the old ways. Her grandmother called her Ma-Nee because the name reminded her of a French painter whom she admired. “More than anything else, though, my grandmother said she named me after a beautiful miinika (place with many blueberries) because I had been born in the blueberry season.”

Leliilah, Ma-Nee’s grandmother, was a storyteller from the prairies of Saskatchewan and she was over 100 years old when she died. When she about three her village was burned by another Native group who needed children. Leliilah and her brother were discovered and adopted by a traveling Cree family. Although she had no formal education, she spoke Cree, Ojibwe and French.

She told Ma-Nee about the importance in the community of the two-spirit people and how their acceptance had changed. Leliilah was prescient in telling Ma-Nee that she would have a long and difficult journey and she would have to have courage. “When you grow up, you’re going to be a great teacher of our people. You will help others. You will become a medicine woman.”

Her mother returned to the small village remarried with step kids when Ma-Nee was five or six. Though Ma-Nee stayed with her grandmother, her mother lived next door and was involved her life, and not in a positive way. “I think she hated me sometimes. I have never understood why. Maybe my being born made her life worse. Once she told me she wished I had been a boy, because then her life would not have been so difficult. She may have been ashamed that I was a girl who acted like a boy, wearing pants and playing out doors as a small child, and later working with machinery, and trapping and hunting.”

Like many in the village, her mother was an alcoholic; and beat her often, leaving physical and emotional scars that lasted a life time. The sheer amount of physical and sexual abuse was absolutely shocking. Even the so-called ‘good guys’ such as uncles, school mates and Ma-Nee’s stepdad who took her hunting and taught her to make things that boys made, like snowshoes. As horrific as the assaults are it was a cultural taboo to speak of it. “Many other girls in Ombabika learned to keep heavy secrets like this.”

When she was fifteen her mother told her that she had arranged a marriage for her to a man who was twenty years older. Ma-Nee had two children by Gus. He beat her brutally breaking bones and doing damage that took years, surgery and therapy to repair. But she finally got away from him and moved with the kids to Thunder Bay.

There she became involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and got sober. Sadly the abuse was a constant throughout her life. She was raped by senior members of Alcoholics Anonymous who preyed on the vulnerable that had newly joined. And later she was assaulted by a doctor she went to for eyecare. She was going blind.

But she persisted in her recovery and one of the twelve steps of AA is belief in a higher power. Ma-Nee’s sponsor suggested that she attend a twenty-eight-day residential program that focused on the twelve AA steps. She had a break through during the program.

“My kokum (grandmother) told me that, If I didn’t believe in the Great Spirit, that I should find a tree growing on a wide, flat rock and ask myself who made it grow there. That day in 1976…I began to have faith in a higher power that created and sustains the world. Today I believe in a Great Spirit as my grandmother explained it to me, which is a gentle, loving, and healing creator who lives within us and all around us, and is neither man nor woman, but both. Over the years, the AA program has helped me to be sober and to live a healthy, balanced life, but my faith in a higher power has been even more important.”

Ma-non went on to attend a year-long training course to become an alcoholism counsellor. She participated in the translating of the AA Big Book into Ojibwe and Cree. And she traveled to remote communities to participate in AA events.

After a second marriage she learned of AA meetings for lesbians and gays and began to be more aware of her sexuality. She was still living with her husband, Nate, and invited him and the kids when she learned of a large womyn’s music and cultural festival in Winnipeg. At one point they came upon a performance that was womyn-only and Ma-non chose to stay.

“The women-only performance was mainly attended by lesbians but I did not realize that at the time. At first I just sat and listened to the musician, whose songs drew me in right away. Listening to her, I felt like I was coming alive in ways I had not felt for a long time…I felt like I was no longer alone.” There were several womyn in that circle who would become her friends and one who would become her lover.

She moved to Boston to be with Leah and got a job in a half-way house working with pregnant womyn in recovery. After her time with Leah, Ma-non was single for ten years until she met Grace. A relationship that lasted for 20 years.

I highly recommend A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder. I read it in a single day, in a few hours. It spoke to me of the social and cultural markers that we share with our Canada cousins: the incredible ongoing violence against womyn; gender as a social construct dictating how womyn are supposed to behave, dress, wear their hair and makeup; Tuberculosis; and the introduction of AIDS to the Native population. But also the risk of coming out, potlucks and womyn’s festivals. I related to her story on so many levels and truly believe that you will too.

You can follow Ma-Nee Chacaby on Facebook:

You can get A Two-Spirit Journey here:

High Impact by Kim Baldwin/Review by Morgayne Love

When I was reading High Impact by Kim Baldwin I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be anywhere else or doing anything else at that moment. A story about a group of lesbians who love the Alaskan wilderness is my idea of a great Sunday afternoon read. Add a plane crash and daring rescue high in the mountains, and a dash of romance and you’ve got the riveting factor!

Pasha Dunn lives in Bettles, Alaska where she and 35 others reside. This tiny village includes a small group of lesbian friends. It really adds a nice layer to the story and made me wish I lived there. Pasha works for Edison Eco-Tours as an outfitter’s assistant and wilderness guide. My favorite thing about Pasha is that she is psychic and sees rainbow auras when she meets someone who will be consequential in her life.

Emery Lawson has taken a year off from work to travel and her itinerary includes seeing Alaska with Edison Eco-Tours and Pasha as her guide. Emery was a courier of documents, a job which required extensive travel but no time for sightseeing. She imagined a life where she could experience local restaurants and museums in the places she traveled to for work. A life-threatening accident actually made that happen following her recovery. Emery is hesitant to let anyone close enough to see her physical and emotional scars. She says, “I’m just not wired to fall in love.”

For me, one of the leading characters in High Impact is Alaska herself and Kim does an excellent job of bringing the landscape to life.

Pasha Dunn pressed her face against the window of the Cessna and gazed at the small settlement coming into view, the first sign of civilization she’d seen since they left Fairbanks earlier. The journey over endless stretches of empty swampland, taiga forest, countless lakes, wide river valleys, and snow-peaked mountain ranges had driven home just how isolated her new home north of the Arctic Circle was.

The village of Bettles didn’t look like much from the air, just a scattering of buildings along the Koyukuk River, set in dense green forest. More impressive was its backdrop; the endless Brooks Range, one of North American’s most magnificent and desolate stretches of high mountains.

Of all the places she’d lived, this would certainly qualify as the most unique.

As in all good love stories, there is no certainty that the lovers will come together in the end. So the push and pull of romance is a big part of the story which is well written and moves along nicely. I adored both Pasha and Emery and found them to have warmth and integrity. Emery went to one of the womyn in the group who was interested in her and told the womyn that she had feelings for Pasha.

Turned out Pasha had feelings for Emery as well.

Pasha rose from her chair and looked at Emery. “I’ll miss getting this kind of time with you until we go rafting,” she said in a low voice the Fillmores wouldn’t hear.

“No more than I will.” The intensity in Emery’s eyes ignited the embers of bliss into a bonfire of longing, so painfully sweet Pasha’s breath caught in her throat.

            No way on earth she could deny any possible opportunity to be close to Emery.

A fascinating aspect of the story is that there is an energy connection between Pasha and Emery that has something to do with Pasha’s psychic abilities.

The only issue I had with High Impact was the recurring use of the word ‘man’ in a book that has predominately all female characters. “A high school girl would man the office.” And “two-man tents.” As well as, Pasha had to “man the phones.” And while that was annoying to my feminist sensibilities, it doesn’t stop me from giving Kim Baldwin high praise for High Impact.

You can find Kim at Her latest novel with her writing partner, Xenia Alexiou, Blood is Thicker than Water is available at www.boldstrokesbooks. It is the final book in the Elite Operative series.

Alaskan Bride by D. Jordan Redhawk/Review by Morgayne Love

In the late 1800s gold fever struck the lower 48 states and to entice womyn to the wilds of Alaska ads were placed for mail order brides. This is a time when womyn still weren’t fully accommodated in public spaces. And yet ‘New Women’ existed who believed in equality of the sexes and were the founding mothers of our suffragettes.

D. Jordan Redhawk tells a wonderful adventure story in her novel, Alaskan Bride. She had me at the cover art! The rich greens and blues of remote Alaska with a large-antlered moose dipping its nose in the reflection of the waters of a creek and snowy mountains made me want to be there. The language is stunning and captures the time in which it is set.

Clara Stapleton is a strong and independent womyn in her thirties who lives with her parents as social norms dictate. Nevertheless, she answers an ad for a mail order bride. Her journey begins in Boston where she tells her best friend about the ad she has answered. Very soon she receives a reply asking her to come and be married. From there she takes a train across country to Seattle where she boards a steamer bound for Alaska. On the ship she meets some of the ‘New Women’.

In retrospect, her fears had been absurd. Female passengers were as plentiful as their male counterparts. Many were relations following husbands and brothers and fathers into the wilderness, bringing much needed supplies and feminine stability to a new homestead. But there were also a handful of hard-looking women that Clara had noticed smoking cheroots in front of the shipping office as everyone waited to board. New women they were called. She’d secretly read books about them with Emma, illicit novels of romance and tragedy where women eschewed men and strove to build lives for themselves. These women that shared the ship with Clara evinced such a masculine aura that she was both appalled and intrigued, unable to keep from staring at their obvious confidence and wise-cracking laughter.

When Clara arrives in Alaska she discovers that her husband-to-be has been killed by a bear, but his sister is still living in the cabin and is in a state of grief. Callie Glass is a bit surly with Clara and doesn’t want her to stay. Her brother’s “demise had dashed her.”

Even on a good day, Callie wasn’t social. She felt she lived a half-life and would have been better off born a boy. She preferred staying on their isolated property and trapping. But sometimes she had to go to town to sell fur and purchase supplies. Her most recent trip to town, “had been about as bad as she’d expected. The people there had never cared much for her, seeing her as unnatural and strange in men’s clothes.”

Clara had come to Alaska as much for the nature experience as she did to get married and was determined to get Callie to let her stay. So she made herself indispensable and Callie finally caved.

For Clara, the attraction comes as a surprise. “I think I love her. The thought brought a rush of both pleasure and confusion to Clara. She’d spent her life accepting the social precepts of her status.”

However, it comes as no surprise to Callie. She knew that she was attracted to womyn. And to Clara. But Clara came to marry her brother. There was no way she returned Callie’s attraction.

And although they both came to be drawn to each other they’d have to figure out if they could actually live together. Or not.

I found Alaskan Bride to be well written and an excellent journey and adventure where womyn, as well as non-traditional womyn, are placed back into historical context. Many of Redhawk’s expressions are lovely, like, “amorphous wondering” and dolorous tears”. So I highly recommend this book with one caveat!

Heads up! The violence committed against Callie and Clara by some of the myn in town is difficult to read but certainly reflects the lawlessness of the time and place.


This is the first book by D. Jordan Redhawk that I’ve read but now that I know she writes speculative science fiction, I’ll be back. You can find the author and her other writings at She has a new book that is coming out in August and is entitled Pixie. It looks like a must read. You can pre-order it at

The Roundabout by Gerri Hill/Review by Morgayne Love

Have to say, I’m a huge fan of Gerri Hill who is a skilled and talented writer. Her stories are a pleasure to read and she has over 30 novels to her name. Her recent romance comedy, The Roundabout, is a fun tale of a womyn new to Eureka Springs; a small town where there is a large diverse community.

Newly retired from the technology industry and coding, Leah Rollins opens a shop in the small town and is immediately drawn into the drama that is Eureka Springs. Right next door to her shop is the Phenix Grill which is owned by a pair of sisters who both happen to be lesbian.

It has been eight years since Leah has been with a womyn. Her ex left her for a myn. So… Years ago she had given up on finding someone to share her life with. She had resolved to be alone. She’d accepted it and was content. Hell she was over fifty. At what point do you admit to yourself that you’re not going to meet the love of your life?

Megan is the younger Phenix. At 39 she is immature, bad-tempered and deflects responsibility. On her last birthday her girlfriend broke up with her so she has sworn off dating. Both Leah and Megan are at a place where all they want is to be left alone. They don’t want the womyn from the large dating pool to hit on them.

So, after Megan and Leah meet they decide to pretend to date and throw all the local ladies off their dating trail. But this plan turns out to be complicated. Megan’s sister, Nancy, is attracted to Leah and doesn’t believe they are dating. Mary Beth is attracted to Megan and actually has nude photos of her threatening to post them on Facebook if Megan won’t go out with her; so she doesn’t want to believe that they are really dating.

Finally, the pretending to date plan itself gets complicated because Leah and Megan need to ‘act’ more like a couple which leads to kissing, and there wasn’t supposed to be any kissing.

But then something wonderful happened (for Leah). A fiery, grumpy, beautiful young woman walked into her shop and threw a wadded up note in her face. She smiled remembering their first encounter. She should have recognized it then. Megan had stolen her heart that very day. And they decide they weren’t so sure about the plan.

Gerri tells this story in the third person and the point of view streams easily between the main characters. The writing style is light and breezy and the story flows delightfully and the characters all seem real and genuine. I highly recommend The Roundabout. It was a joy to read.

And finally, a small excerpt:

Megan’s mistake was meeting Leah’s eyes. Smoky gray or smoky blue—it didn’t matter which. They were dark with desire, and even though Megan tried, she couldn’t look away from them.

“Oh…crap,” she whispered as she moved closer, sliding her hand up Leah’s shoulders and around her neck. The gentle, almost playful kisses of earlier were chased away, replaced by such a passionate kiss, Megan would swear she felt the earth shake. Leah, only slightly taller than she was, pulled her in tight, their hips meeting and then their thighs. She lost herself for a moment as Leah’s tongue brushed her own, causing her to moan, an embarrassingly loud moan which made her feel like a sex-starved virgin in a cheesy romance novel. The embarrassment wasn’t enough, however, to make her pull away from the kiss. Quite the opposite, she pressed her body even closer to Leah, her mouth opening fully, her tongue trying to slip past Leah’s and into her mouth. Yes, she felt utterly sex-starved—and she supposed she was—and later, she might be thankful to whoever was knocking on Leah’s door, stopping her from ripping her clothes off.


Gerri Hill has a new book coming out any day now. It’s called Sawmill Springs.and you can find it at


Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi/Review by Morgayne Love

Set. In. Space. When it comes to science fiction, those are my three favorite words.

And Jacqueline Koyanagi doesn’t disappoint. In her debut novel, Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel, she skillfully weaves together words and characters that create a story of magic and light.

Alana Quick is a sky surgeon on the planet Heliodor, and as the main character, Ascension is told in the first person from her point of view. She and her Aunt Lai run a struggling business repairing spaceships. They both have Mel’s, a neurological disorder that has a cost-prohibitive cure offered by Transliminal, an evil corporation.

One day a voluptuous womyn shows up looking for Nova, Alana’s sister. Nova is a spirit guide and has been out in the Deep Quiet of space for six years. Alana is drawn to the ship that brought the womyn looking for her sister. It is an old Gartik transport and Alana can hear the ship’s song. It is her gift. Unable to resist that song, Alana sneaks aboard and stows away.

The ship, the Tangled Axon, and her diverse crew are an integral part of the story. And Alana discovers that she not only wants very much to be part of the crew but she also has feelings for the captain.

Cpt. Tev Alia Helix is a fiery womyn, and Alana likes fiery womyn. But Tev is also compassionate and wants to help her pilot, Marre, who is literally losing a grip on reality as her body parts fade in and out. Somehow Alana’s sister is the answer.

Captain Helix intrigued Alana. “Her abrasive personality went way beyond her protectiveness over Marre. Who was she? What kind of person mods a Gartik transport vessel, employs a disappearing pilot and a man who acts like a canine, and fancies herself capable of manipulating a powerful othersider with nothing more than one spirt guide?”

But Alana has emotional baggage. Her wife left her because she puts work first. And the captain is clearly involved with someone else. Can they find each other?

The other two members of the crew are the ship’s doctor, Helen Vasquez, whom they call Slip, and Ovie, the sky surgeon.

Ascension is a fast-paced, well-told story that delighted and left me hoping that there will be a sequel. Alana gets to know the crew as the plot twists and turns, planets blow up, and her sister joins the crew to help save Marre.

Alana realizes that all she has forever wanted was to be part of a crew and this one is special. “In return for our devotion, Marre and the Tangled Axon lifted all our brilliance to the surface and let us be who we really believed we were. Out here, we lived in the flush and ecstasy of being exactly where we were meant to be, unafraid to open the door to our souls to reveal our highest truths. There is no greater love than that.”

I highly recommend Ascension for science fiction lovers and all who love a well-told story set in space.

You can find Jacqueline Koyanagi and her other writings here