Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Gun Shy

Lori L. Lake
Renaissance Alliance Publishing, Inc.
1930928432, $18.95

Lake's Gun Shy is the story of two somewhat reluctant women who finally learn to believe in themselves and each other enough to commit to love. Covering just over a year in the lives of these women, the novel reads like a season's worth of episodes from a television show that lesbians might wish was on TV. The story opens with Desiree Reilly, a formidable cop over six feet tall with dark hair and startling blue eyes, capturing a pair of serial rapists and in the process saving two young women, Sara and JayLynn. It is a meeting that electrifies both JayLynn and Desiree. JayLynn Savage, a lesbian in her mid-20s, decides to become a police officer in order to get to know Desiree, the hero of her dreams, literally. Lake follows Savage through the academy and most of her rookie year on the St. Paul Police Department.

Gun Shy is also the story of Desiree who is struggling with the loss of her partner and good friend, Ryan. Early in her career Dez was a conquest for a rather superficial older female cop who apparently made a hobby of bedding young dyke officers. Hurt and embarrassed, Dez has made a rule not to date cops. Presumed by many of the other cops to be lesbian, Dez has rarely dated at all, let alone been seriously involved with a woman for almost eight years. Already known as the "Ice Queen" the tall and intimidating Dez has withdrawn even more since Ryan's death.

Reilly becomes Field Training Officer for Savage and the two women begin a long complicated dance toward friendship and love. Along the way, the bright and innovative, if diminutive Jay becomes a good police officer. She learns to develop her own attributes in her work, deals with the trauma her first shooting and the pries the elusive Dez out of her shell. Meanwhile Dez comes to grips with Ryan's death. Over the course of the year the partners learn a great deal about each other and themselves. And the reader learns about life as a patrol officer in St. Paul as well as being treated to an inside view of the world of amateur bodybuilding.

Gun Shy is an engaging, readable book. This second edition includes some editorial clean up that improves the flow of the novel and features new cover art. The characters are interesting and the action drew this reader into the story. Amusingly, Lake seems to have created two lesbians that are the antithesis of the standard u-haul joke. This reviewer was relieved when Jay and Dez finally got together! Overcoming the barriers to expressing their love is the theme of Gun Shy. The sequel, "Under the Gun" is due out this fall. It will be interesting to see how she depicts Jay and Dez as a couple. In the meantime, treat yourself to a copy of Gun Shy.

-MJ Lowe

BN: There is now a third in Lake's Gun Series, read them in order, they're more fun that way.

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