Q. Kelly’s Reality Lesbian, published June 2013, is an entertaining and addictive romance, and even if you hate Reality TV you’ll enjoy seeing here how it’s faked and glamourised.
Lucy Marshall, straight, single, out of work, is signed up by a friend to take part in Reality TV show Will You Marry Me?, a dating show where 15 lesbians compete, the winner getting to marry beautiful veterinarian Zara Winters. Lucy is accepted onto the show, excusing her deception on the grounds that Reality TV and reality itself have nothing to do with each other.
There’s only really one complaint I have about the story, and that’s the whole straight-girl-becomes-lesbian trope which isn’t, in my opinion, handled well here.
Despite once having had sex with a woman, once upon a drunken night, Lucy is emphatically straight. ‘I like men,’ she says. ‘Their voices. Their rippled chests. Their big hands.’ When she meets Nate Samuels, the show’s host, she wishes he were straight:
Nate Samuels held his hand out, and Lucy couldn’t breathe. Nate was one gorgeous man – hair so blond it was almost white, and these eyes!
And she has been in love before – although her taste in men is questionable:
Johnny and Wesley were ex-boyfriends of Lucy’s. She had loved them at one point, had been so deep in love that she ignored signs they were the bad sort. … Back in the day, Lucy would have done anything for Johnny and Wesley. Thoughts of them had consumed her.
All in all, Lucy is likely either bi-curious straight or a bisexual in denial of her attraction to women. (Tsk, Frank, you know better than to apply labels!)
And then she falls for Zara, so it looks like Lucy is bisexual after all – and she does consider this possibility, but discards it quickly. Indeed, having discovered she’s attracted to women, she realises she isn’t attracted to men at all – only to women. No, bisexuality isn’t an option, she must be a lesbian. Zara echoes this plot theme: ‘I have nothing against bisexuals or bi-curious women. Or fluid women.’ But she doesn’t want to marry one. Doesn’t want to deal with a sexual identity crisis.
I can’t help reading this as a very negative statement about bisexual women. The romantic plot would have worked just as well – better – if Lucy were portrayed as a woman coming to terms with her bisexuality. Making her to be lesbian is illogical and unconvincing. The only logical alternative to bisexuality would be fluid sexuality, but it’s difficult to end a romance on a note of, ‘I will love you forever, provided my orientation doesn’t switch back again.’
Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, goodreads, Q. Kelly ~ Author Website