My Lady Lipstick by Karin KallmakerMy Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker is a wonderfully written romance with a really cool storyline.

Paris Ellison is hiding from the world. She has carved out a comfortable, safe place for herself as an author. I mean, sure, she writes under Anita Topaz, queen of the Bodice Rippers and the photo of Anita doesn’t resemble Paris at all, but it keeps her safe from a past that she worked hard to escape. When we first meet her she has just received a letter from the company that bought out her publisher. Not only do they want to meet the mysterious Anita Topaz but they want her to talk at a conference. This request turns her world upside down. She will be exposed as a fraud – Anita Topaz can’t possibly be a butch lesbian – and even more terrifying is that she will have to appear in public again.

Diana Beckinsale has many masks. In fact, she finds it a little too easy to become someone else. She is beautiful and charming and is used to getting anything she wants even if the means aren’t always legal.

Shaken, Paris drops her letter and Diana returns it to her. This chance encounter leads Diana to a plan where she and Paris can both get what they really want. Paris can remain anonymous and Diana can gain access to an artefact that she longs for. Paris rejects the idea but Diana is persistent and will do anything it takes to get what she wants. What neither woman bargain for is the attraction they both feel.

My Lady Lipstick is one heck of a ride and I loved every page.

The Characters

Sheena: Paris is a butch woman who hides in her romances. She creates worlds where women find adventure and love and yet she is barely more than a recluse herself. Who can blame her, though, with the past that she has had?

When the letter from her publisher shakes her out of her quiet life she has some tough decisions to make and when she puts on the armour of her dapper new suit and tie, she becomes a woman to be reckoned with. At least, she hopes so.

Diana is beautiful, athletic and determined. Using acting as a cover she travels the world slipping in and out of personas. Lying about who she is has become second nature so when she meets Paris and introduces herself by her real name, it is a surprise for her. And when she gets to know Paris she realises that she doesn’t want to keep anything hidden from her. But the truth can be brutal and after everything that Paris has been through, can Diana take a chance that Paris will see beyond the facade?

Both characters are expertly draw and easy to love. I appreciated that Kallmaker made one a wonderfully complex and relatable butch. We need more butch women who are more than just one dimensional characters.

April: I adore butch women who love to create scrumptious goodies in the kitchen and Paris definitely captures my heart with the lovely desserts she whips up. Paris possesses so many awesome talents and I must admit that I was drawn to her because of the walls she puts up to protect her tender heart.

Now Diana is a force to be reckoned with! Diana breezes into Paris’s world with flair, poise and charm to alter her life forever. She has never felt the need to let anyone know the real Diana, she never settles down long enough to allow this as she wanders from country to country. Diana cannot help but wonder about her change of heart—Why on earth should she allow Paris to know who she really is? Why is Paris’s opinion of her that important?

Both women are loaded with their own personal baggage but they are also so endearing and I couldn’t help but love them in equal measure.

I agree with Sheena, the author did a fantastic job of crafting down-to-earth, relatable and flawed characters who do not subscribe to the typical butch/femme roles.

The Writing Style

Sheena: There were so many lovely touches that added layers to the story. I especially loved the gaming references, the baking and cooking and the depth of the characters.

There is also something particularly special about this book. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but there is no doubt that this going to be one of my favourites.

April: The picturesque description of the Boston landscape stole my heart from the beginning. I can always count on Karin Kallmaker to provide me with a new destination to put on my bucket list, vibrant characters and vivid descriptions of culinary delights!

The Pros

Sheena: I loved the characters. They were both so unique and gorgeously done. I loved how they related to one another and the research into anxiety was evident.

I also appreciated the complexity and uniqueness of the story. 

A fun touch is that we also get a glimpse of what happened to Lisa after Warming Trend.

April: I really enjoyed reading about a lady of mystique who has a serious case of wanderlust and I was happy to have a peek into the life of a reclusive romance author. 

The Cons

Sheena: I am not a fan of the cover. Having said that, I don’t hate it and it does look like a romance.

April: There is nothing about this story that I did not love!


taras favourite lesbian books

sheena's favouriteaprils favourite books




The Conclusion

Sheena: Reading a Kallmaker book is like eating a really good chocolate, it’s delicious and makes me a happy girl. Well, this book is like getting the expensive chocolates. You know the ones you get someone for their birthday? It’s still chocolate but it is complex and delightful. It has the creaminess and flavour just right and it leaves a wonderful aftertaste.

Get this book. It’s so worth it.

April: Be prepared to fall into the rabbit hole of awesomeness! Karin Kallmaker’s books should come with this warning—Do not turn the first page unless your calendar is clear and you’ve got nowhere to go once you start reading! You’ll be annoyed at any interruption and I can guarantee that you’ll be anxious to get back to reading as soon as possible! (I kept sneaking a read here and there while I was at work, waiting for my class to start and a few other places…)

Excerpt from My Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker

Intrigued against her will, Paris temporarily abandoned her plan for a quick goodbye and heading home at full speed. “It’s true. I’m not personally a heaving bosoms kind of woman. On book covers, I mean.” She didn’t add how annoying it was that since Reynard had assumed control the covers had become increasingly pink, the gowns even more low-cut, with the woman dwarfed by a man who looked like he could snap her in two. Her first three books had been taglined, “A Smart Bodice Ripper.” Under Reynard the word “smart” had disappeared, as well as the nuance that the phrase was ironic— her books didn’t have bodices and clothing was only ripped when the person wearing them thought it a dandy idea.

She added truthfully, “The covers are chosen by marketing pros, and they seem to know what people want to see.”

“When people see what they expect to see it makes them comfortable.” Diana pulled on supple leather gloves. “I have to get back to rehearsal. Could you tell me where the nearest postal box is?”

Surprised Diana hadn’t seen the building that lay between Mona Lisa’s and the Playhouse, she began, “The post office is a few blocks—”

“A drop box is fine.”

“It’s pretty well hidden from the street by the hedges, but I know they pick up from it at three. It’s not on your way.”

“I like diversions.”

It might have been the whack on the head earlier that made it hard to focus on anything but those impossibly green eyes. Paris heard her own voice offering, “I’ll show you.”

“That’s perfect.” Diana cinched up her scarf and declared, “Master, go on, and I will follow thee.”

“To the last gasp with truth and loyalty?”

Diana blinked in surprise. “Have I found someone who likes Shakespeare as much as I do?”

“I don’t know how much you like Shakespeare, but my mother loved Romeo and Juliet.”

“Hence, Paris for your name?”

“That and Casablanca.”

“We’ll always have Paris,” Diana mused as they left the bar. “She sounds interesting, your mother.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781594935688
  • Publisher: Bella Books

Karin Kallmaker Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of My Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker. 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

About the author

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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

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My name is April Adams and I am an accountant at a civil service office. Even though I read a wide variety of lesbian fiction, I enjoy mystery and thriller books the most because I love the state of suspense the stories have me in until the end and I find out “who’s done it.”