Blood and Lipstick, published April 2013, is a collection of five short stories around the theme of lesbian vampires. I’m a big fan of lesbian vampires, so I was eager to read it. The title also really appealed to me; in Suzie and the Monsters, Suzie likes her lipsticks: Forever Red, Bobbi Brown’s Hollywood Red, Illamasqua’s Atomic, Corrupt, Pristine and Drench…
… so it’s a little disappointing that the only lipstick in Blood and Lipstick is in the title itself. I suppose the ‘lipstick’ there could be a reference to ‘lipstick lesbians’, but… Hmm.
As often with short stories, it’s a mixed bag.
Encarnita Round’s 27 Days: I gave up on this quickly – the POV is severely distorted. (★☆☆☆☆)
Leigh Campbell’s Bloody Flowers: A delightful new approach to vampires and true love. This is the prize of the collection, erotic and sweet, well written with allusions to Greek mythology. (★★★★★)
Robert Hanley’s You and the Moon: Longevity scientist Julie goes in search of her idol. I really enjoyed the first half of this, a thoughtful consideration of what it’s like to be a vampire – plus bonus star just for having a vampire called Cassandra. (Yes, I too can be capricious…) The second half reads unfortunately like a clumsy and clichéd romance. (★★★☆☆)
Victoria Oldham’s Love’s Horizon: I gave up on this one quickly. Rather than take the time to build up atmosphere and sustain mystery, we are told repeatedly how the vampire is stunningly beautiful, and the two romantic leads are quickly thinking of each other while in the throws of orgasm. Really, slow down and tell us a story! (★☆☆☆☆)
E.E. Ottoman’s Business Makes Strange Bedfellows: An urban fantasy in a period setting. After Gert has a close encounter with an ancient monster, she enlists the aid of vampire Vi to track it down – but will she be willing to give herself to the vampire in return? This is a delightful and balanced tale – if you ignore the long and inappropriate (given the context) hardcore erotica that fills up the final 25%. (★★★☆☆)
I have, perhaps, been unfairly harsh, but four of the five stories in this collection, and so also the collection itself, are ultimately disappointing.