Saturday, January 22, 2011

REVIEW: The Night Before Red Satin Christmas by Giselle Renarde

Another review today for the lovely Giselle Renarde. Following up on her very lovely Red Satin (my review is available HERE), The Night Before Red Satin Christmas takes our young lovers home for the holidays.

***this review contains more spoilers that usual, but it's hard to explain why the story works so well without also explaining how***

For Maisie, this visit home is as much about coming out as it is coming home. While she's kept in touch via email, and has even sent photos, her mother and sisters have never actually met 'her' - the last time she was home, she was still living the lie of being a son and a brother. She's worried about how they'll react, and terrified of being hurt.

For Regan, this is something of a homecoming as well. As Mark's friend (and now Maisie's lover), she grew up around the family. She feels closer to their mother than to her own, and still harbors a long-standing crush on Mitts, her lover's older sister. To complicate matters further, Maisie is worried her family won't be able to separate sexuality from gender, so she has asked Regan to come along as a friend, rather than a lover. As much as the young lesbian understands and agrees with the approach, it's clear from the start that she is struggling with the deception.

While there is some initial awkwardness around names and pronouns, it's clear that Maisie's family is prepared to accept her with open arms. The occasional slip of 'Mark' or 'him' does hurt, but she knows it's not intentional. In order to give her time along with her mom, Regan follows Mitts upstairs to get unpacked and talk a bit about what's happened.

That's where things get interesting.

As it turns out, Mitts is a closeted lesbian, and Regan's crush is very much mutual. She locks the bedroom door behind them and immediately begins seducing the girl she still thinks of as her brother's best friend. Their extended bout of foreplay and seduction is almost heartbreaking in it's progression, with Regan fighting to remain faithful to Maisie, while also fighting her longing for the touch of another woman, all the while unable to explain the truth about her love for Maisie. Giselle does a wonderful job of mirroring that dilemma for the reader, as we struggle between wanting her to remain faithful, and wanting to share in her passionate realization of that lust.

By the time Maisie arrives on scene to discuss what happened, we feel as guilty and embarrassed as Regan does. It is here where Giselle so clearly demonstrates her love for these characters, and her understanding of the situation. Maisie is entirely understanding, but not in a clichéd erotic fantasy manner. Instead, she realises that part of being a lesbian is lusting after sexual experiences that she cannot yet provide. Until her transformation is surgically completed, she knows she can't be everything that Regan needs and, until then, her love is strong enough to allow room for compromise.

While she could have ended the story there, Giselle takes us back to the family, and allows us to share in Maisie's moment of bliss as mom refers to her as a girl for the first time. The story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger with the arrival of Maisie's brother, but the promise of a third tale is worth the pleasant bit of frustration.

1 comment:

  1. I've never read a f/f romance before, although I'm a huge fan of the m/m genre. This sounds like an interesting psychological drama with all this internal struggle that seems to be going on. Wonderful review! :)