Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Venus Vendetta by Rose Pry

Publisher:                    Spinsters Ink

The Venus Vendetta spans a period of three decades twisting together events of different periods  to create a story of revenge, retribution and adventure.

Reggie and her “brother” Jazz find themselves thrust into a nightmare world when they are kidnapped from their hippie family by a religious cult called the Enclave.  As they grow up among other “lost children” they are subjected to mental and physical abuse, especially at the hands of the lead minister’s son Clovis Hawk. Reggie proves to be too clever for the Enclave though and, after mutilating Clovis for his mistreatment of Jazz, arranges for them to escape and expose the cult to the authorities.  As the other kidnapped children are reconnected with their families, Reggie and Jazz are placed with a foster family and it seems they are meant to lead happy lives from then on.

Flash forward twenty-seven years and members of the Enclave have reappeared.  Clovis has changed his name and resurrected as an evangelical minister with tremendous power and a massive church.  Another member has been released from prison after spending years there for an assault committed at the cult.  Meanwhile, the Internet has brought together Reggie, other female Enclave members and women who are tired of society not truly punishing men who are sexual predators.  They form a group called Poetic Justice with the purpose of changing that.  Reggie’s profession is hairdresser and one of her clients is Gillian Waters, a very successful suspense fiction writer.  Due to their friendship, Gillian is drawn into the situation and works with Jazz and Rachel Bracken, a very attractive private investigator, to track Reggie and the other women to discover what they are planning to do.  Along the way, they will find themselves reassessing their own beliefs about justifiable actions and what exactly is “poetic justice.”

The Venus Vendetta is Rose Pry’s first book and it is intense.  The story is very compact, but touches on a number of issues, including the role in society of conservative Christian leaders, the sexual abuse of women and the frustrations those women feel with society.  There are times when the story seems about to drift off into non sequiturs; then Pry brings the threads back together to make sense.  The reader suspects what the members of Poetic Justice intend to do and is forced to confront the conflicting reality of legality versus morality.  The book doesn’t preach about the issues, but it does force you to think.  The most interesting character is Gillian Waters.  She shows remarkable growth as she changes from a woman who turned into an agoraphobic after the death of her partner into a person who rediscovers her adventurous side and possibly a new chance at love.  She makes a nice counterbalance to Reggie and the other women who are still locked into the emotions that were formed years before.

The description on the back of the book calls it a mystery thriller.  That category really only applies to the last few chapters of the book.  It might be more appropriate to label it as an adventure book involving highly topical issues.  It certainly lacks the romantic theme that drives most lesbian fiction, but that’s not a weakness in this particular novel.  This is a thoughtful, well-crafted story that doesn’t make light reading.  The reader will have to concentrate on the story and contemplate about what it is saying, but should feel that it was worth it in the end.  For those readers who say they are looking for a “meatier” story, this is the book.

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