Monday, December 13, 2010

Slash Brigade: Red Letter Year by theswandive

This Month's Slash Brigade Pick is...
Title: Red Letter Year
Author: theswandive
Chapters: 6
Words: 44,133
Reviews: 64
Summary: Alice needs to leave her single life behind. Venturing out with her brother, she finds more than she expected in a pair of warm brown eyes. What started out as a physical need may, in fact, be more.

Guest Perv:

HoochieMomma - My first introduction to this fic was via a random tweet about a really good piece of femslash that was funny as hell. Being an inquisitive h00r, I was soon armed with a link to Red Letter Year by theswandive.

Six chapters in, it's safe to say it's owning me (actually, any fic that draws its title from an Ani DiFranco album and names each chapter after various titles of her tracks is going to be given a fair chance in that department, but enough about that).

Red Letter Year features four of the main Twi-peeps, Alice, Bella, Edward and Jasper – theswandive has just gayed them up to perfection for our reading pleasure. The characters are all very believable in their incarnations and the Chicago setting feels real and authentic. It's easy to instantly connect with the main protagonist, Alice, who's smart, self-depreciating and funny as hell. In fact, the dialogue in general is fast-paced and sassy. Alice and Edward are siblings who are constantly sparring with some of the funniest, most natural banter you could wish for. Case in point: Alice describes Edward as her best girlfriend. After a short while, it's easy to find yourself longing for a brother like RLY’s Edward.

The first chapter finds Edward out at a bar with 'his midget', as he affectionately calls Alice (told you they were funny!) where we're introduced first to Jasper, the new apple of Edward's eye, then to Jasper's sister, the delectable lesbi-Bella. Bella's a personal trainer... yeah. Hot damn. Read and judge for yourself!

And, yes, you guessed it – all four of this two-sibling quad are gay. What are the chances!? Trust me, dear reader, you'll be prepared to overlook the coincidence. All four of them are hot, and they all happen to be smart-asses, which makes for entertaining reading while suiting them very well.

Theswandive’s writing style is clean, incisive and at times, achingly beautiful. Have I mentioned yet how hot the lemons are in Red Letter Year? No? Well, that's a travesty and it needs rectifying. Suffice to say, Alice and Bella's bedroom encounters are sweltering, and then some. In a fandom where good-quality, multichapter femslash is more rare than it darn well should be, RLY is a well-written gem.

Despite her bravado and her humor, it soon becomes apparent that Alice is a complex character, living in relative isolation with closely-kept secrets, known only by Edward. When she meets Bella, she's shocked at the instant connection they make and the strength of her feelings. Will she be able to open up, and let Bella in past the guilt and pain she bears?

“Someone once said to me, "It's hard to wait around for something you know might never happen, but it's even harder to give up when you think it's everything you want," and oh how those words ring true to me now! I would wait around forever for the chance to be with her. I know it, deep in my gut. It's only been a day, but it doesn't matter to me-time cannot dictate your feelings. If it's in your blood, if you feel it in your bones, then it's real. It's worth the risk and the heartache. Right?”

Is Bella Alice's 'Neo' – the One, as she suspects her to be? Read, love, review Red Letter Year and find out.

Chele - It seems that the goddess of lesbian love has answered my prayers for fuckhot femmeslash, and sent me Red Letter Year by theswandive. (Okay, okay maybe Einfach Mich told me about it.)

I adore the realism of these character’s personalities. Alice and Bella are perhaps slightly more physically perfect versions of girls I’ve fallen in love with throughout my life. It really allowed me to become invested in them quickly, and feel a bit like a participant in their steaming hot erotic connection.

Alice is a tough yet vulnerable girl, whose idea of sexy lingerie is more boxers and a tank top and less lacy negligee. She’s no nonsense, spunky, and has been in a bit of a dry spell following personal tragedy. In my typical fashion, I am in love with her wit and smart mouth.
"For the record, Bella has neither confirmed nor denied her gayness. I, for one, am putting my money on a life of lesbianism, but that's just my fine-tuned gaydar speaking."

Bella is a dream of sexiness, compassion and intelligence who immediately cuts through Alice’s attempts to keep emotions at arms length.

From the moment they met in the bar I was counting the minutes until they made it to bed. Thankfully, theswandive doesn’t make us wait, and delivers some of the most intense female erotica I’ve ever read. Then she does it again... and again.

The little details create a visceral connection with the reader. The ache in Alice’s arm as she makes love to Bella (and yes, even when they are fucking, it’s obvious that love has begun to smolder) anchors me firmly in the moment as I hold my breath waiting to see whether Bella will come or Alice will get an arm cramp and have to find another way to bring her to the brink. It keeps me right there, in the moment.

Red Letter Year a woman’s oasis in a desert of overly feminised, pampered and manicured femmeslash. I love it, and get excited at every update.

Jeanne - I’ve begging and pleading with this fandom for more well written femslash, and theswandive finally answered my prayers. Red Letter Year is the kind of AH Twilight fan fiction that’s needed to be written for a long time. It has the whole package: Lovable characters, hilarious snappy dialog and steamy, jaw-droppingly realistic lesbian sex.

Alice is witty, snarky and so much more vulnerable than she shows the rest of the world. Like any modern twenty-something girl, she thinks she’s got it all figured out, until the girl of her dreams quite literally knocks her off her feet (or at least tries to). Bella is a sweet, curvy and deliciously femme girl that stumbles into Alice at a local bar. Sparks fly, and the rest, as they say, is fuckhot sexy fucking femslash...err, right.

If I was to give her a brief summary of what happens, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the subtle, honest beauty of this story. I don’t want to diminish the simple wonder of the reading Alice’s unguarded fears and Bella’s nervous telephone confessions. So much of what’s great about this fic is in the in these very real moments, that we all, gay, straight, bi, have all gone through.

If you’ve never really been interested in femslash, never really got the appeal of two women having sex, then it’s time to open your mind. Well, I’m sure that at some point in your life you never thought you’d ever be interested reading something like fan fiction. Maybe it’s not that you’re not into femslash, it’s just that you haven’t read the right one.

If there’s a femslash that could change your mind, it is Red Letter Year. Give Alice and Bella a chance to win your heart and blow up your pants. I promise, you won’t regret it.

PS Despite whatever Chele says, I am totally the Goddess of Lesbian Love.

Jen - I can’t figure out why I didn’t drop everything and read this story when Jeanne and Chele put it in the Lemon Report a few weeks ago. It might have been because of Alice. I love Alice in the books, and I love Alice in the movies, bad wardrobe choices notwithstanding. I usually do not love Alice in fanfic, because so often she’s such a caricature of some of her canon characteristics, and a poorly distilled caricature at that.

When Jeanne mentioned the story again to the Pervs I finally clicked on the link and completely fell in love. This Alice is a totally different story. She is not a hyper shopping pixie. She’s no-nonsense, and is playfully argumentative with her older brother, Edward. She’s outwardly tough, but it’s because she’s protecting a vulnerable part of herself. There are things that she doesn’t want to think about, let alone share with anyone else. If you don’t fall in love with this Alice you must have a seriously hard heart, js.

Edward has convinced Alice to go out to a club, and they’re both hoping to get laid. On a trip to the bar, Alice is slammed into the bar from behind, and when she turns she does not see the bruiser she expects to see. Instead she sees a beautiful young woman, and the normally verbal Alice is reduced to stammering out sentences. Bella has just moved to the city with her brother Jasper (idk why, but I love when Bella and Jasper are siblings in fic) and it turns out that Jasper and Edward are also attracted to each other.

This Bella is fabulous. She’s snarky and quick witted, and I love the way that theswandive
portrays their chemistry via verbal skirmishes. There’s teasing and flirting and laughing. When one is feeling self-conscious or less than confident, the other is there to bring them up.

And then there’s their sexual connection. I love all of Alice’s inner dialogue, but her thoughts when they’re becoming intimate might just be my favorite. The words that she and Bella speak out loud are damn sexy too.

"Do that again, please," she whispers.
"My pleasure."
This time I hold back a little less and I capture her mouth with my own. It's harder this time, but still yielding. We are moving together now and she is braver than I am. She slips her tongue out and runs it along my bottom lip. I'm no dummy. I return the favor and within seconds, my hands are in her hair and our tongues are colliding.
I feel, rather than hear, her hum of satisfaction. I am a rock star. I slide my right hand up her side, over her shirt and stop just underneath her breast. "Is this OK?" I whisper against her mouth.
"Don't ask. Just do," she says.

We see a bit of Alice’s struggle over how vulnerable she’s willing to allow herself to be in front of Bella, as Bella explores her body.

"Rawr, kitten," I say in a gruff voice. "I think I like you on top."
"And I haven't even gotten started yet."
Bella is the sexiest woman alive. No contest.
"And now that I've gotten you naked, and in the light, I must do some research." Her smirk is devilish. "This tattoo here," she points to the cursive lettering that follows the curve of my right hip, right above the waistband of my shorts, "that's Robert Frost." Watching her look me over is a little exhilarating and a lot scary. I can see that she's trying to figure out why I would have 'and miles to go before i sleep' forever inked into my skin.

"It is," I confirm. I'm totally smitten with the fact that she recognized where it was from, but I start to feel a little exposed by her study. Almost all of my ink has a meaning, and some of them are hidden, for a reason. I want to explain them to her, so badly. There's a part of me that wants to tell her all my secrets, all my fears, but I can't bring myself to do it. Not yet, and maybe not ever.
It's been less than 24 hours. This isn't normal.

This Alice just feels real, and I’d love to be friends with both her and Bella. Hell, the brothers are pretty great too. As much hell as Alice gives Edward, you can tell how much they love each other and how deeply they trust and rely upon each other. Jasper’s a cool older brother to Bella. Theswandive gives us a human twist on canon Jasper’s gift in a scene where Alice opens up to him about her past.

We may be the Perv Pack, but we need strong stories along with our smut. Red Letter Year
delivers on both counts. It’s a story with fabulous, realistic characters that you’ll instantly care about coupled with some seriously hot lemons.