One

by Brenda Murphy

One - Brenda Murphy
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 5.99ePub: $ 5.99Paperback: $ 11.99
ISBN: 1947904213

Fast cars, motorcycles, and one-night-stands have been Mac’s life since she left the military. Bitter over a lost love and never one to gamble, she ends potential relationships with surgical precision to avoid another heartache. After her flight to Italy is delayed by a wicked storm she intervenes when a drunk passenger threatens the desk agent. Impressed with her courage, fellow passenger Lana Baroni offers to buy her a drink. One coffee and an upgrade later, they spend the fight to Italy talking cars and racing. When a site-seeing date with Lana turns into an afternoon tryst, Mac has to choose: hit the brakes, or roll the throttle and risk everything to win Lana’s love.

Excerpt:
“Excuse me. Would you watch my bag? I need to visit the ladies’. I don’t want to drag it with me.”
Mac looked up from her phone. A tall woman in a black cotton knit dress stood in front of her. Her eyebrows were delicately arched and she spoke with the barest hint of an accent. Pale blue eyes and a quiet smile graced her face.“Um sure.”
The woman placed her monogrammed black leather bag next to Mac’s boot and held Mac’s gaze.  Exquisite. The bag and the woman. “I’d be happy to.” Mac stuffed her phone in her pocket. Her beat-up day bag looked even worse resting on the floor next to the woman’s bespoke luggage. She watched the woman as she wove through the crowd. Her sandy brown hair brushed her shoulders as she strode to the bathroom, graceful in a pair of black pumps. Who wears pumps on a plane?

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  Mac looked at the rows of travelers seated behind and in front of her and the empty seats around her. She peeked at the luggage tag attached to the woman’s carry-on bag and read it. Lana Baroni. Name’s as fancy as her bag. Why me?

Her black T-shirt, biker boots, and jeans were unique among the crowd. Most of the other travelers were dressed in baggy shorts and running shoes, track suits or yoga pants and T-shirts, except for the cool kids in skinny jeans and Chucks. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
The woman walked back through the crowd, full-figured and elegant. Mac was mesmerized watching her as she approached. Her long black dress flowed around her legs, the knee-length slit in the skirt showing off an occasional glimpse of her long legs. Damn. As good coming as going. Mac sat up straighter in her seat.
“Thank you.” The woman sat down, choosing the seat next to Mac over the numerous empty seats on either side of her. Mac inhaled her perfume, appreciating the subtle spicy scent of ginger and cedarwood the woman wore.
“You’re welcome. Are you on this flight?” Mac turned to look into her eyes. Cornflower. That’s the color of her eyes. Cornflower blue.
“Yes. Trying to get home.” She shifted to face Mac, her knee brushing against Mac’s thigh before she straightened out her legs and sat back in her seat.
“Where’s home?”
“Moltrasio, but I have some business in Milan beforehand. "And you?”
“I live here but I’m trying to get to Monza.”
“For the Grand Prix, yes?”
“Yes. How’d ya know? You psychic?”
“This.” She tapped the magazine in Mac’s lap.
Mac smiled and searched for something else to say. I could listen to her talk all day.“You follow Formula One?”
“You could say that.” Her mouth quirked up on one side. “Did they say how long before we board?”
“Nah, our plane had to land in Norfolk. The storms have grounded everyone.”
The woman frowned and pulled an e-reader from her bag. Mac took the clue and slid back in her seat and opened her magazine. The images of the drivers and cars sent a thrill through her. She flipped through it, trying to envision how it would be watching the race in person. She remembered the first time her dad took her to a race. They were standing on the concrete apron of the grandstands at the half-mile track in Richmond when the drivers started their engines. Mac’s dad had boosted her up on his shoulders to see over the crowd. The scent of his drugstore aftershave and cigarette smoke blended with the smell of fuel and sweat and adrenaline that was NASCAR. She shivered remembering the way her body vibrated with the roar of the engines. She traced her fingers over the images of the cars on the page. This is for you, Dad. And me.
The storm raged outside. Rain and small hailstones hit and splattered against the glass wall behind them as dark clouds shadowed the waiting area. Mac tried to focus on her magazine but the hint of cedarwood and ginger perfume from the woman next to her wove its way into her thoughts. She shifted in her seat, careful to not bump the woman sitting next to her. Once she’d pushed her earbuds in she swiped to her favorite playlist and turned it up to drown out the sounds of the rain and hail. She kept her head down and watched the woman from under her lashes. Late thirties early forties. Money. Class. The woman was solidly built and broad shouldered. Her dress was short-sleeved and displayed her well-muscled arms. Swimmer? Tennis player? Mac was a woman of few words but in this moment with this woman she had so many she wanted to say.
COLLAPSE
Reviews:Victoria Thomas on The Lesbian Review wrote:

One by Brenda Murphy is a supercharged erotic romance set against the glamorous sport of Formula One racing in Northern Italy. This story is sizzling and these two beautiful women tear up the track. DO NOT take it to work to read on your lunch break because you may overheat and never make it back to your desk.

Regan (Mac) MacDonald is a retired army veteran. Since leaving the military, her life has been all about fast cars, fast women and sex with no strings attached. Having been burned by love, she’s not looking for anything that could lead to more heartache. Waiting for her delayed flight to Italy, she intervenes when a drunken bigot starts to hassle the airline desk agent.

Fellow passenger Lana Baroni can’t help but be impressed by Mac’s courage. After a change in seating they spend the flight in first class discussing everything from engines to math theory. When an innocent offer of sightseeing turns into a steamy afternoon tryst, both Mac and Lana are tempted to keep this arrangement running at full speed.

Soon, Mac has to decide whether to hit the brakes on this relationship or risk her heart to cross the finish line with Lana’s love.

The Characters
Mac is my favorite type of butch. She’s tough on the outside, but a big old softie on the inside. Her PTSD and a disfiguring war injury have damaged her self-esteem. She sees herself as a fraud and although she can keep Lana satisfied with the best sex of her life, she’s not so sure that her rough edges have a place in Lana’s world of wealth and refinement. Her insecurities made her very relatable to me and I genuinely wanted her to find her happiness. Watching Mac walk through her lack of confidence and see herself as Lana’s equal was very satisfying.

Lana is a Roman goddess come to life. She is an engineer at her family’s automobile company and she can reconstruct a carburetor just as easily as seduce a butch while in her four-inch heels. She is wickedly sensual because when it comes to sex, she knows what she wants and has no problem asking for it. Her humanity is found in her contradictions. She is bold in the bedroom yet she hasn’t summoned up the courage to come out to her father. She has a fiery temper, but her sweet nothings spoken in Italian melted my heart. It felt great to see her finally claim her place in her family’s company.

The Writing Style
I thought Murphy’s use of a continuous inner dialogue for Mac was a great device that gave me insight into her insecurities and fears. With her beautiful descriptive passages, Murphy brings to life the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy and she employs that same talent in bringing Mac’s PTSD nightmares to life. These two landscapes contrast nicely and add a visual component to Mac’s struggle to reconcile how she fits into the world as a war veteran.

Murphy did a great job in writing all the sexy bits. They are edgy without being outlandish. I never felt like I needed to map out a diagram on scratch paper to follow any complicated sexual gymnastics. That’s a sure fire way to kill the mood.

The Pros
There is so much to like about this book. I’m a huge fan of diversity in lesbian fiction and not only is Mac African American, but both women are over forty. I love that. I know it’s shocking, but women over forty enjoy sex! Neither Mac nor Lana are phased about maneuvering through their 40’s and they really seem comfortable in their own skin. Part of that maturity allows them to stare down snide onlookers who don’t hide their contempt at seeing Lana with a black woman.

The sex is hot and steamy and I certainly left plenty of bookmarks on my Kindle for future reference. Who knew that mechanic’s tools could be so sexy? Mac and Lana make a very unlikely pair but their appeal is found in their differences. When the story ended, I immediately started imagining what was next for these ladies. Like some classic cars, Mac and Lana were built to last.

The Cons
This is an EROTIC romance so there are some very graphic sex scenes and some light BDSM. If that throws up a caution flag for you then try out something with a little less horsepower.

The Conclusion
If you are looking for something spicy to accompany your romance, One definitely belongs in the winner’s circle. (I’ve been trying to come up with ways to fit more racing analogies into this review, but the term “pole position” never applied.)


About the Author

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted .  She guest blogs on Queeromance Ink.


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