Beggars Flip by Benny Lawrence book reviewBeggars Flip by Benny Lawrence is an epic sequel to one of my favourite books ever, Shell Game.

Darren is an exiled noblewoman turned pirate queen and Lynn is her partner in all things and often the smarter of the two. In fact, they make a perfect pair and it’s so beautifully described in the synopsis that I will share it – Darren–socially awkward, exiled noblewoman turned pirate queen–and Lynn sorta kinda Darren’s slave girl, sorta kinda Darren’s life coach, and altogether the bossiest backseat helmsman that ever set foot on a pirate ship are at it . . . again.

The main story starts when Darren’s dying brother washes up on the shore where they are burying treasure and cleaning barnacles off the hulls of their ships. She gets to him just as he is taking his last breaths and he tells her that she has to warn her family about a traitor.

Darren feels conflicted. On the one hand, she has been disowned by her family and that means that there is a ransom on her head. She was left without anything and exiled from her home. On the other hand blood runs deep and she feels a responsibility to help and save her family.

Lynn doesn’t like the idea of returning to the very people who exiled her lover and she senses danger ahead.

What follows is a story about outwitting, surviving and the choices that we have to make for our loved ones.

It’s funny, brilliant and entirely unnerving as you realise that Benny Lawrence may just be more cunning than you thought was possible.

The Characters

I loved the characters in this book perhaps even a little more than I loved them in Shell Game. This book exposed them in a way that I truly didn’t think was possible after the first book. And when you pair that vulnerability with moments of wit then you get an impossibly good combination that resonates right into my soul.

Here’s a beautiful example of what Darren is like, as seen through Lynn’s eyes:

Darren, the only person on board ship who couldn’t sew for toffee, stomped around the deck making suggestions which we all pretended were helpful.”

The Writing Style

If I were an author then I would aspire to be half as brilliant as Benny Lawrence. And even then it would be a high aspiration. Her use of language, pacing of events and revelations and her insight into the darkest parts of humanity open me up in a way that few books ever do.

Here’s a moment from the book that shows just how gorgeously she writes:

Violence is like a liquid, in the way it spreads, and stains, and spills.”

The Pros and Cons

The pro is that this book will make you feel all sorts of things. The con is that this book will make you feel all sorts of things.

It is a truly magnificent read.

The saddest thing for me is that this book will never get the kind of reach and exposure that it should. It will remain obscure in lesfic with few people daring to read it. And honestly, it should be out there winning awards. It is brilliant. It is the kind of book that should be nominated for all the big book awards.

Heads up that there is violence against women. A lot of it. And while it’s never exceptionally graphic and the good guys win in the end, it does make you feel a lot of things. It’s such a necessary part of the story and the commentary that I wouldn’t change a word. But for those who want to be warned, consider this a warning.

My only real con is the cover.

Sheena's favourite novels - reviewed on TheLesbianReview.comThe Conclusion

Read it.

I started this site so that I could share some great reads with people because it was difficult to find good books. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to experience novels this good. A story so well written, so beautifully crafted and so poignant that I was shell-shocked after reading it and kept finding myself thinking about the characters and events for days afterwards.

Benny Lawrence, if you ever read this review then thank you. Thank you for writing this book and making me feel things I didn’t know was possible.

Excerpt from Beggars Flip by Benny Lawrence


Darren, formerly of the House of Torasan (Pirate Queen)  

I WOKE UP as soon as Lynn woke up, of course.

If you’ve ever had your slave girl kidnapped from you by a couple of brutal sadists, then you know that the experience is not good for your beauty sleep. It had been five months since we rescued Lynn from the island of Bero, and, in all that time, I hadn’t slept through my watch below. Five or six times a night, I woke halfway and poked around on the bunk beside me to make sure Lynn was still there.

I never slept through her nightmares anymore.

After the tent flap swung shut behind Lynn, I scooted carefully over and peered through a crack. She was trudging barefoot through the sand, towards the shoreline.

We had spent the day scrubbing the Banshee’s hull. Careening is a long job and not an enjoyable one, unless, for some reason, you have some special fondness for barnacles. Lynn had been on the jump from dawn to dusk, and I knew she was exhausted. But I also knew she wouldn’t come back to bed for hours, if she came back at all.

I don’t learn from my mistakes the first time I make them. I don’t even learn from my mistakes the seventeenth time I make them. But somewhere around the thirty-second go-around, I start to get wise. And after two years with Lynn, I was finally figuring out how to act when she had a bad dream. She didn’t like being crowded too closely, but she would lapse into gloom if I just left her alone. That meant that I had to be patient.

I am not remotely patient.

I let the tent flap fall shut again, took a deep breath, and began to count to one thousand. I’d had to do this far too often since the day of the escape.


HERE’S THE THING about being a pirate queen: It’s damn hard to take a vacation.

Five of us escaped from Bero: Lynn, her sister Ariadne, my first mate Regon, my bosun Latoya, and me. We were not in good shape as we began the journey south. Lynn had just spent twelve days as the Lady Melitta’s punching bag, taking pummelling after pummelling as Melitta tried to break her of the habit of independent thought. Regon and Latoya and I were better off, but we’d suffered quite a few knocks and scrapes in our various feats of derring-do. Ariadne wasn’t injured, but she had just killed her mother and been banished from her homeland, so I think it fair to say that she wasn’t at her best.

The wounds didn’t seem to matter that much in the first flush of our victory, when we boarded the Badger and set sail. But the euphoria wore off fast. It was cold, and we weren’t dressed for it. Regon had a lump the size of an apple on the side of his head. Ariadne puked her guts out the first time she tasted salt beef.

The sea was choppy and our little boat leaked like a sieve, and the sailor in me was screaming that we ought to head for shore. But I refused to give the order, because I could see the colour grow stronger in Lynn’s cheeks the farther away we sailed from Bero.

Somehow we managed to hold the boat together and keep it on top of the waves. It was mainly thanks to Regon, who came from ten generations of sailors and was himself (I firmly believed) part duck. It still took a series of minor miracles, and for a very very short time, I rediscovered the habit of prayer.

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Shell Game

Beggars Flip

Bits and Bobs

If you enjoyed this book then you should also look at

The Ghost And The Machine by Benny Lawrence







Note: I received a free review copy of Beggars Flip by Benny Lawrence. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born