I know, I know. I’m probably the only lesbian in America that doesn’t like lesbian romances. Makes for quite a dearth of fiction with lesbian characters. Imagine my delight when romance writer Gerri Hill announced she had written a new book that was a little different than her normal fare. I bought it straight away,
The story starts with four FBI partners. Girl CJ is pared with boy Billy, and girl Paige with boy Ice. CJ is an out dyke and Paige, well, Billy and Ice aren’t really sure about Paige. But CJ knows. They spent a wild night together a couple months back and haven’t talked about it since. Then the boss tells CJ and Paige they have an assignment at a spooky girls school where people keep disappearing, and that CJ and Paige are to pose as undercover teachers at this school. So far, so good. Then the boss says they have to pretend to be a couple.
EEEERK – (screeching of brakes) not only for CJ and Paige but the reader, too. Hill casually explains that because its a girls school most of the teachers there are coupled lesbians. What? Where was this extraordinarily liberal school when I was growing up? Growing up, hell, I’ll go there now and teach. That’s the only explanation we get for this scenario, one so implausible that I had a much easier time believing in the unearthly “he” that lived in the cave than a girls schools where they welcomed lesbian teaching couples.
For the next 150 pages we are tortured by the unrequited passion CJ and Paige still feel for each other, which would be fine if there were an explanation for it other than they are not each others type. Ladies, if you’re in that hot a lather for someone, who cares about type? While the sexual tension was exquisitely drawn out it was more titillating than central to the plot, which of course makes Keepers of the Cave your standard lesbian romance.
That being said, about halfway through I got bored with the unrequited passion (oh, for God’s sake, just do it!) and skimmed through to the horror scenes. A couple dozen pages later I was rewarded; Hill began to concentrate more on the sinister goings on at the school than she did yet another explanation that Paige/CJ couldn’t possibly sleep with CJ/Paige because she wasn’t her type. From there the action took off like Lucifer being drop-kicked from the pearly gates.
Being a fan of good police procedurals I was immediately drawn in by the rapport and humor between the four partners, and although they were quickly split up Hill kept the boys engaged in the story. Unfortunately, the case they were working sat pretty much in the backseat for the first half of the book, acting more as a vehicle for the tortured romance than it’s own story. Although the flirting between CJ and Paige was cute and playful, their agonizing refusal to sleep with each other grew tedious by mid-book. As I had been hoping for more than a romance I was disappointed in the novel, but Ms. Hill need not worry about putting off any of her fans. While the implications of the horror story are indeed disturbing Hill never goes into explicit details, so I’m sure all but her most squeamish of followers will be perfectly delighted with Keepers of the Cave.