When I Was Your Girlfriend by Nikki Harmon is a contemporary lesbian romance set in Philadelphia. Remember your first love? Your very first girlfriend? Dee Armstrong does. It’s the only thing she can think about these days. On paper Dee has a terrific life. She loves her career as a midwife and she’s successful, partly because she’s the only black lesbian midwife in the Philadelphia area. She has a lot of fun dating women, even if they are never “the one.” Until one night at a local bar with her girlfriend Dee notices two young girls trying to get into the bar. “They look like high school girls,” she thinks.
The sighting of those two girls propels Dee back to her high school days and memories of her first girlfriend Candace. Dee becomes a bit obsessed about finding Candace, believing she might be able to relive those days. But it’s not always a good idea to revisit the past. Our hopes and dreams live in the past, as well as our mistakes and missteps. On her journey into the past Dee reckons with her inner strengths and weaknesses and questions what she may have lost along the way.
The story is told from Dee Armstrong’s point of view and she’s funny, self-deprecating, and a little clueless as to her own motivations and desires. The reader is in Dee’s world, experiencing everything from her point of view, including her memories of how she came out because of an English assignment. The high school scenes are so touching and poignant as the author describes the very real fear of coming out in the nineties, especially for young black women. I love the full range of competence Dee has in her work life and her almost total lack of introspection about her actions in her personal life.
The Writing Style
The story is told in alternate chapters of Dee’s present life and her life in high school and relationship with Candace. I picked this one up at the end of a long day and I tried, I really tried to finish it in one night. The story moves along at just the right pace, I’m not speeding along toward some huge conflict and I’m not bogged down with long descriptions of internal or external space. It’s a page turner, but not in a suspenseful way. I loved reading about Dee and her journey.
I loved getting to know Dee. She is at times snarky, funny, aggravating, selfish, loving, romantic, contradictory and smart. Just like most of us. She let me into her life and showed me a story. She let me into her head too. Ms Harmon wrote so truthfully about what actually does go on inside someone’s head. I laughed out loud in recognition more than once, but especially on page – darn I read it on my Kindle – at eight percent.
The only con is why aren’t there more lesbian romance novels with women of color as main characters? The lesfic world needs these stories. I need these stories. Visit this site to find and support diverse authors and stories and read these stories.
Perfect summer read.
Excerpt from When I Was Your Girlfriend by Nikki Harmon
“So Dee, why are you still here?” she asks. “It’s a beautiful day. I figured you might have something fun planned for you and Pepper.”
I cringe. Right, Pepper. Let me say right now that I hate her name. I do. It sounds stupid. No, not stupid, ridiculous. However, I am an open-minded woman. How could I justify not dating someone just because her parents had no common sense and gave their daughter a stripper’s name or a dog’s name? Can’t blame the child, right?
We met at Marlene’s, the only lesbian club in Philly. It was dark, I was slightly drunk, and she was so sexy and funny. “Pepper” sounded good at the club. It sounded good that night, all night long, it even sounded good the next morning. I had Pepper with my eggs. Oh, it was all good until I had to introduce her to my friends a few weeks later, then, not so good. They made jokes, of course, and then I got defensive.
Now I’ve been dating her for six months. In lesbian terms, that’s almost married. I like her, but I don’t love her even though I told her I did. She’s a good woman. Smart, fun, kind, and she has a plan for her life. But for some reason, I just don’t see myself with her. I know this, I’ve known it for five and a half months. As if on cue, my iPhone rings. It’s Pepper, of course.
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Bits and Bobs
- ASIN number: B01A9T2NRO
- Publisher: Mt Airy Books
Nikki Harmon Online
Note: I received a free review copy of When I Was Your Girlfriend by Nikki Harmon. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.