Substitute For Love by Karin Kallmaker is the story of Holly and Reyna. This is one of the slightly older Kallmaker novels but it is without a doubt one of my favourites. You see, I love a good dilemma. I adore characters who are wounded or trapped by circumstances and Kallmaker delivers this in spades with the angst driven story fuel by passion and pain.
Holly is in a dead-end relationship with an older guy. He is always correcting her and taking time to do his yoga while she cooks and cleans for him.
One evening Holly’s friend takes her to a women-only dance where she meets Reyna, and the mutual attraction is immediate. The mysterious stranger stirs passions in her that no one else ever has and the two women leave together and go to a motel.
After their night together Reyna leaves Holly with this – Call me whenever you want me to make love to you. There can be nothing else.
Holly doesn’t understand the ultimatum but can’t stop herself and ends up meeting with Reyna again. The two women are caught in a whirlwind of forbidden romance that threatens to break Reyna’s carefully constructed world. For Reyna being closeted is a life or death choice and when her feelings for Holly threaten to end her life of quite suffering she has to make some really tough choices.
The Writing Style
The first piece of the book is told from Holly’s point of view. This is shear brilliance because you start to wonder what is going on with Reyna.
You get a feel for Holly’s experience as she first realizes that she is attracted to women and when she begins to fall in love with Reyna.
You also feel really bad for her because this is not how first true love is supposed to be and at points I even found myself telling her to go and find someone else to be with. Someone who could give her everything.
And then BAM Kallmaker hits you with Reyna’s story and you will change your mind faster than lightning.
Kallmaker is a genius.
The story construction is fantastic. You get a really personal point of view from both characters. This takes a gifted storyteller, but never fear – Kallmaker is here.
I loved the angst, the drama and the passion of this one. It is a little unusual for a Kallmaker, in that regard because her books are generally a little gentler.
The only cons is that I didn’t get around to reviewing it sooner, which means that you didn’t go and buy it sooner.
And if you already own it then you should go an buy it for your friend or someone else who needs a good read.
Not only will this book make it onto my Best Karin Kallmaker List but it has also made my Top 10 Lesbian Romances list.
The characters are memorable and their plights are so touching that I found myself giving them advice as I went along.
Substitute For Love is a wonderful tale of self-discovery and learning that sometimes you just need to let go and love.
My wife can attest to the fact that when I am enjoying a book I will put it down just so that I can deal with all the feelings I am having. This book was put down a lot.
Excerpt from Substitute For Love by Karin Kallmaker
Holly Heard the muted rumble of the motorcycle before she saw it, and the sound made her remember the feel of it between her legs a week ago, when she had felt as if her body was fused to Reyna’s.
She got out of the car and waited. She tipped her head back to look at Reyna while she took off her helmet. The poor motel parking lot light was still sufficient to illuminate Reyna’s eyes.
Reyna seemed to want to say something, and the words Holly knew she should utter were in her mouth, too. Then Reyna dropped her helmet and took Holly’s face in her hands.
Hard, raw want coursed through her because her body didn’t know better. But her mind knew she should pull away. She had rewritten her life in a month but some parts of her had not changed. She had only contempt for what Reyna represented and so she could not go to bed with her, not again.
She tipped her head back with a low whimper as she opened her mouth to Reyna. She was washed with desire and conflict, her head screamed at her to push Reyna away while her heart pounded with an escalating passion that made her arch hard against Reyna’s thigh.
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Bits and Bobs
Publisher: Bella Books