Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lesbian Book Review: In Too Deep by Ronica Black

Back Cover Copy: When undercover work requires working under the covers, danger is an uninvited bedfellow... Erin McKenzie, a newly promoted homicide detective, lands the assignment of her career when she is chosen to investigate Elizabeth Adams, the number one suspect in a slew of serial murders. Adams, elusive and devastatingly beautiful, is not only an accomplished seductress but also a lesbian. Erin, straight and married, needs a crash course in more than just undercover detecting. With Patricia Henderson, a fellow homicide cop and Adams's former lover as a mentor, Erin embarks on the journey of her life...with love and danger hot on her heels.

In too Deep, by Ronica Black, looked out of place on my bookshelf with its bold, in-your-face, yes-I'm-escapist-but-you'll like-it cover. It earned me more than a few odd looks on the subway. Crime novels aren't my usual reading fare, so I'll admit it languished unread for well over a month before I finally "got around to it." It came with this high recommendation from a friend: "You'll hate the beginning. You'll devour the rest."

I did not hate the beginning, but it didn't win me over either. The premise - recently separated super-hot lady cop is forced to go undercover as a lesbian to catch a super-hot lesbian possible murderer, and, obviously, discovers her own lesbian orientation - felt uncomfortably contrived, and just too easy to be any good. I also cringed at the opening scene - our lesbian murder-suspect as a child witnessing the rape of her young sister plays too easily into the homophobic assumption that lesbians swear off men simply because they've been victims of male violence.

If you feel that way as you're reading In too Deep, keep going. You'll get over it.

Black's writing style is tight but lush. The phrasing never takes front-stage - this isn't the kind of book you'll quote in conversation - but as an author, Black knows her stuff. Her writing is enticing, and not just during the steamy sex scenes. Once you're hooked, there's no turning back or putting the book down - you MUST know what happens next - and what happens next is almost never what you'd expect. And as much as I tell writers I've had my fill of the coming out story in lesbian literature, this book perfectly captures the heat, passion, and runaway desire inherent in those first kisses, touches, and encounters.

As the cover implies, this book is adventure escapism, pure and simple. It's not written to be great literature, but you'll have a damn good (and hot) time with these characters, and, more than likely, you'll find yourself passing this perfect summer read onto your girlfriend or friend with this note: "You'll hate the beginning. You'll devour the rest."

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