From an outsider’s perspective, Tess has it all: a handsome, attentive husband, adorable four year old twins, a gorgeous house on the ocean. Love, family, security: the goals of every woman. Appearances are deceiving, however. Tess is miserable and guilty, living a lie. All she wants is to be with her lover Diane, but as Out of the Shadows begins, she doesn’t have the courage to make the changes that she knows, in her heart, are required. Out of the Shadows chronicles her painful progression to the point where Tess understands that she can’t hide her true self anymore.
Tess has been attracted to women since she was a teenager, but given her conservative, religious parents, she never dared to act on her true desires. Instead she married Kirk, a nice guy who treated her like a princess, and for whom she did care—even if she had to fake the physical passion. Then five years into the marriage, she meets Diane at one of Kirk’s business functions, and realizes how much she has been missing.
Diane fulfills Tess’ physical and emotional needs in a way that Kirk never has. The independent, self-confident graphic artist urges Tess to break with Kirk and make a life with her. But even as her relationship with Kirk grows more difficult and confrontational, Tess hesitates, making excuses, waiting for the “right” time. Finally Diane loses patience; she loves Tess, but she can’t keep answering the younger woman’s distress calls without seeing a future for the two of them.
Things reach a climax when Diane’s lesbian friend Carol meddles in the situation, exposing Tess and forcing her hand. Finally Tess realizes that she has to choose, to come out of the shadows of self-denial into the sunshine of Diane’s love.
Out of the Shadows is subtitled “A Novel of Lesbian Romance”. This is an apt description. The plot represents the classic “love in the face of obstacles” paradigm – even if the primary obstacle is Tess herself. However, despite the familiar premise, this book has a fresh, genuine quality; it does not feel clichéd in the least. Tess narrates, in the first person, and her frustration, fear, and desire are palpable. The reader wants to shake her, to say “Wake up, act, before you lose what you want most!” Yet at the same time, one sympathizes with the young woman, understanding how hard it is to take such a radical step.
Ms. Sioux writes with a direct, energetic style that propels the story forward while still revealing the emotions of her characters. She gets the details just right, for example, in the scene where Kirk and his buddies are watching TV and getting drunk. They’re typical guys, noisy, profane, and arrogant in their assumption that she’s there to serve them. One feels Tess’ revulsion; she clearly loves Kirk most when he’s showing his sensitive, feminine side.
The sex scenes fit smoothly with the rest of the story. The contrast between Tess’ frustration with Kirk and the deep satisfaction she finds in Diane’s arms is almost shocking.
Kirk pulled me onto the bed, laying me back against the numerous pillows. He trailed his chin down my belly to my opening, dragging his stubble over my skin. His warm mouth pressed against my clit, gliding down to my hole.
In reality, the only way I was going to become wet was if Diane were doing the deed. So, I imagined she was. Her tongue was inside me, swirling around and lapping it all up. The stubble was replaced by the softness of her face. The deep alto moans were easily replaced by her high loving moans of ecstasy. Kirk had been replaced.
I was feeling the moment. My dampness began to glide, my nipples became harder. I ignored what he had to tell me, his love, his desire. Once he placed his long, hard cock inside me, I had robed Diane in suitable attire – laced boots, strap-on, ready to fuck.
Ready to fuck me.
Tess is selfish and immature. Ms. Sioux doesn’t flinch from showing us this truth. However, as in all good novels, the characters are not static. Tess, Kirk, and Diane all have their lessons to learn. Even the fascinating secondary character of Carol, with her decidedly suspect motivations, changes as Diane’s and Tess’ mutual devotion overcomes her cynicism.
As this is a romance, Out of the Shadows ends happily. The break-up with Kirk turns out to be less difficult than expected. Though her mother more or less disowns her, Tess receives some support from her straight-laced father. However, before the end, the conflicts are sufficiently intense that one could almost believe the book would end in tragedy–that Diane would completely give up on Tess, or that Tess would make her choice, but too late.
Out of the Shadows is a sincere, realistic treatment of the pains and joys of coming out as a lesbian. Ms. Sioux clearly put her heart into the book, and I enjoyed reading it.
Out of the Shadows by TreSart L. Sioux
(Renaissance E-Books Sizzler Editions, 2008; ISBN 978-1-60089-344-5)
Available atRenaissance E-Books
© 2008 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.