Saturday, September 4, 2010

Above Temptation by Karin Kallmaker

“For to tempt and to be tempted are things very nearly allied... whenever feeling has anything to do in the matter, no sooner is it excited than we have already gone vastly farther than we are aware of.”-Catherine the Great

When you pick up a book by Karin Kallmaker, you can count on several things. It will have great characters, a terrific plot, and usually just enough romance in it to keep you wanting more. It is no surprise to me that Karin Kallmaker has been dubbed the “Queen of Lesbian Romance".  She delivers a consistently good read, and never lets her readership down. She has written over 30 books and has a devoted following. Her books have won the Lambda Literary Award and Golden Crown Literary Society award. She is also committed to publishing exclusively in the lesbian market, and has been a driving force in this market's success. The bottom line is that she writes very good books.

Her latest novel, Above Temptation (Bella Books, 2010) is yet another winner. One of this author's trademarks is giving her readers complex characters that pop out of the page and into your "reality" the minute you meet them. You learn about the things that make them tick, and thus, you care about them. It has been said that her protagonists are “the kind of indestructible and talented women we all dream we could be”. In her acknowledgements, the author dedicates the book "to all the women who set out every day to right wrongs in the real world..." With that point of view, you know from the very start that this book will offer you something very special indeed.

In Above Temptation, she tells the story of two women who work in a fraud detection agency called Sterling Fraud Investigations. Kip Barrett is an investigator who is known for her extraordinary diligence and  ability to sniff out even the most obscure elements of a case. Even though she knows she is good at what she does, she never relaxes her standards. However, in a very short while,  the challenge of a lifetime is coming her way.

Tamara Sterling is the out of the closet, high profile CEO of the company. Like Kip, she is very good at what she does, and also observes extraordinarily high  professional standards. It is her job to make sure that everything runs smoothly, and she does this very well. Also like Kip, she is unaware of the personal conflict she is about to face. Yes, each of these women are "superwomen", but they both are missing one significant thing in their lives, and that is someone to love and care for.

Under ordinary circumstances, these women would have little to do with one another, but something is happening within the company, and Tamara “hires’ Kip to investigate. Large sums of money are being taken from the company and are being transferred to bogus accounts. It is Kip's job to find out who is doing this. The caveat here is that this must be a stealth investigation, as any knowledge of it will send ripples throughout the company.

Soon into the investigation, Kip starts to have her doubts about Tamara, as her investigation starts to indicate that she could be the prime suspect. This is not only an ethical dilemma but a personal one, as we soon discover the fact that there is the hot romantic coal of attraction burning beneath the surface of both women. What will Kip do as she struggles with temptation and is torn between her call to duty and her emotional needs? What will Tamara do? 

This book is also a thriller, as the two women are forced to go "under cover" and seemingly subvert their usual ethical standards in order to find the culprit.  The potential damage to them professionally and personally is great. We follow the details of the investigation, which are thoroughly given, and, like in any good mystery, join the search for truth.

What Kallmaker does so nicely here, is integrate the sexual tension between the two women seamlessly into the ongoing story line. As the tension mounts, so does our desire for something good to happen to these two women. We feel their struggle, and want a happy ending. Will we get out wish? Ah, dear reader, that's not for me to reveal.

Don't hesitate to discover this talented author's gift for storytelling in Above Temptation. This is an exciting read, with lots of action and a yummy romance.  I bet you'll become an instant Kallmaker fan, if you're not already.

To hear my conversation with Karin Kallmaker about how she got started, and why she writes and a lot more, just click the blogtalk link!

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Next week I will be reviewing All Things Lost by Josh Aterovis. This book was a finalist for this year's Lambda Literary Award in the Best Gay Mystery category. 

Until then, happy reading.

Robert Jaquay,

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