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: https://www.facebook.com/manee.chacaby

You can get A Two-Spirit Journey here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27276875-a-two-spirit-journey

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 www.kimbaldwin.com. 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 http://djordanredhawk.com/. 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 http://www.bellabooks.com.

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 http://www.gerrihill.com/index.php

 

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 http://jkoyanagi.com/.

The Caphenon by Fletcher DeLancey/Review by Morgayne Love

Can you imagine how your life would change if aliens landed on Earth?

I’m just going to say it, I think Fletcher DeLancey is a brilliant writer. I admire her writing, love her characters and am gob smacked by the story of The Caphenon. It is everything I’ve wanted to read in an alien arrival.

Ekatya Serrado is captain of the Caphenon. She is from Gaia, a planet with the oldest evidence of humanoids. They are part of a confederation called the Protectorate. Captain Serrado crashes her ship on Alsea after a battle with the Voloth, an Expansionists people who claim and dominate planets. All but a skeleton crew have been ejected from the Caphenon and they land on a planet with no FTL (faster than light) technology. But given that, they find a race of people with astonishing capabilities who have come far from the cave.

Lancer Andira Tal is the commander of Alsea. She reports to a High Council and the professions are divided into castes; warriors, healers, crafters, etc. They worship the goddess, Fahla, and the most amazing thing about them is that they are a planet of empaths.

When Lancer Tal learns that a ship has fallen through their atmosphere, she immediately organizes troops to confront the space ship after it lands. Aliens exit their ship but Lancer has the area surrounded and well-armed. With so much uncertainty there could have been an all-out battle on first contact. DeLancey writes, Death stood in the field, a hair’s breadth away from feasting.

But two womyn are in charge and cooler, compassionate heads prevail. I immediately fell in love with both of them. There are many injured from the battle and once everyone is treated Tal and Serrado have an opportunity to speak and we learn that they are both honorable.

Ekatya begins by expressing her gratitude. “We’re deeply grateful, and impressed by Alsean courage and compassion.”

“It seems you and your people make the greater claim to both this day. Why would you risk your ship to save a planet that is not part of your Protectorate?” The Lancer’s gaze was suddenly intense, and Ekatya had a feeling that she was being tested.

“Because it was the right thing to do,” she said. “Why would you risk your people to save a group of aliens?”

The Lancer smiled, “Because it was the right thing to do.”

Ekatya smiled back, drawn to this woman despite herself. Her experience as a Fleet captain told her one thing, but her instincts were telling her another, and Lhyn seemed to be in love with Alsea in general and the Lancer’s leadership in particular. Perhaps it was time to trust her instincts.

Once Lancer Tal learns that the Gaians saved her planet and the captain learns that these are a remarkable people with advance medical technology, they realize they have much to learn from each other.

And you’d think that they would be the perfect love match. But no. Captain Serrado is already partnered with an anthropologist named Lhyn Rivers.

This is not your short or easy read. It’s complex and there are many characters. But the story is so well written and the author flows easily in third person between many points of view. And she admirably navigates the culture, technology, morality and more, of these rich new worlds and species.

I highly recommend The Caphenon if you love science fiction or lesbian fiction. Though I wouldn’t say it is a romance, we get to see the relationship between the captain and Lhyn grow. One of the things that I love about this story is that the character arc and growth is so skillful.

But the best part is that there are three more novels in this Chronicles of Alsea series: Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge, Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge, and Catalyst. Book 5 is a novella called Vellmar the Blade. I was thrilled to connect today with the author herself and learn that book 6 is currently in her editor’s hands and will be released this fall. So much good news!

So do yourself a favor and immediately get yourself a copy of the first book in this amazing Alsean series, The Caphenon.

Sarah, Son of God/Review by Morgayne Love

I’m exquisitely distressed to write this review, because, a) It’s one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, and b) It’s all one big spoiler alert. So I’ll tread lightly in the reviewing.

Justine Saracen spends the entire book, excruciatingly, wonderfully, telling the mystery of the title. Sarah, Son of God is a story about a fedora-wearing professor who comes by ‘a collection of letters that are full of fear and longing’ and are over 400 years old. Upon reading, there are clues that lead her to Venice. There she and her assistant follow the many clues.This is a mystery of grand proportions with two brilliant sleuths.

Joanna Valois works at Stony Brook University. She celebrates with her colleagues as she heads off for The Venus Projects, following the trail of the letters. But before Venice she decides to take care of some unfinished business. She meets Monique, her ex, in Paris. In the beautiful Notre Dame her ex tells her that she has renewed her relationship with God. And that, “You’re a heartless rationalist who doesn’t believe in anything that isn’t in front of her nose. If you’d been less certain of things and a little more willing to believe, you might have been better at love.” And her parting shot was, “I don’t want to be loved with uncertainty ever again. I want love that won’t ever go away.” But Joanna couldn’t give that kind of love. So she was off to Venice to pursue her adventure.

Sara is Joanna’s assistant and this is the description of the first time Joanna meets her. A beautiful woman stood in the doorway. Not magazine-cover beautiful, but soul-beautiful. Superbly, yet inconspicuously made-up, with delicately mascaraed blue eyes that shone like beacons. Perfect skin with a hint of youthful vitality in the cheeks. Well-formed, lightly tinted lips that hinted at a smile. A face full of character and complexity and sensuality. Under a charcoal-gray blazer, she wore a form-fitting decollete black tee tucked into a tailored knee-length skirt, dark hose and low-cut suede boots. Everything about her whispered quality, seriousness, and class.

Whatever this woman wanted to talk about , Joanna wanted to talk about it too. As long as possible.

These are great characters and an amazing story line that’s well paced and excitedly, breathtakingly suspenseful. There are so many people who help Joanna and Sara, or appear to help them and likewise some who seem sinister but turn out to be allies. You find yourself rooting for them to discover their secrets and to be safe and maybe find love.

Justine has an elegant and an immersive style of writing that keeps the reader completely engaged. Her descriptions of the ancient architecture that is encountered throughout the story is exquisite.

For the most part the story is told in Joanna’s point of view in third person. But the author switches comfortably to Sara’s POV occasionally. There are so many layers to this book. In many ways the 1650 story parallels the more contemporary story of the 20th century which parallels the story that takes place in Jesus’ time. There are many minor characters that fill the stories in each of the three timelines and sometimes it is challenging to keep up, but so worth it.

The letters are written by a 16th century womyn, Lenora Barotti, who is dressed as a myn in order to travel on a ship and escape the Inquisition in Venice in 1650. On the long voyage Leonora writes letters to her lover Anne, who was her will to live. But along the voyage Lenora also processes what it is like to not only dress as a myn but what it might actually be like to be a myn. She concludes that there is freedom to it and, “Something in women, we only need britches to be a man.” In Sarah, Son of God, Justine deals with gender as a social construct as well as gender-bending issues as deftly as Shakespeare did in Twelfth Night.

Nothing is as it seems in this story. Not gender. Not allies nor enemies. There is talk of masks. There are parties with masks. Clothes that change the gender. Not even buildings in Venice are real but rather are hidden behind facades. Hiding and layers of stories. Characters and story lines intersecting, It was dizzying to sense all three at once, each contained within the other, like nesting dolls, was Sara’s take as she read the letters aloud to Joanna.

Justine deals nicely with character arc. In this passage she explains Tiziana Morosini’s personal growth. Tatiana is a minor character who works at the national library in Venice where Joanna and Sara do research. Upon meeting she appears to be an ally but then participates in keeping an important book from them.

“So why did you hand the book over to your uncle?” Sara asked softly. “If you’d had your doubts a little sooner, we might not have needed to go through that car chase with Morosini and his gang.”

“It was too big a decision to make in a single moment. I was struggling with centuries-old imperative and a new idea. It took time to see the folly of the old interdict.”

I highly endorse this story as a historical fiction and as a romance novel. I love that Justine has written members of the LGBTQ community into her books, including this one. It’s actually a feminists fantasy. Do yourself a favor and make your next lesbian fiction, Sarah, Son of God.