We often, in the LGBT lit world, talk about the need for representation in stories of the same type straight people get — fighting aliens or corruption or natural disasters instead of just bigotry. The Red Files by Lee Winter is one of those stories that answers that call.
You know those lighthearted but nailbiting political action-suspense movies, the kind with a romantic comedy subplot — every year gives us several of them, usually starring A Man And A Woman uncovering Vast Conspiracies between the Government and Industry, complete with car chases, being shot at, and chemistry developing through shared danger? This is a lesbian version of that movie. The romance is complete, with a f/f HEA (despite the difficult bits), but for me what made this book fun was the adventure itself. It was the main focus, so if you’re looking to read a f/f book that’s plotty and action-packed with lots going on besides the romance, this is your book.
Basically, it’s a really well-structured mystery being unraveled by rival journalists who can’t stand each other — at first. I’m a sucker for a well-structured mystery, and the ladies were in just enough danger for the story to be exciting without shaking me too far out of my admittedly wimpy comfort zone. As someone who reads a lot of mysteries, I’m pleased to say that the ultimate plot/endgame at the center of the conspiracy did surprise me completely! It was also an endgame/goal that was as satisfying as the buildup to its discovery, which isn’t always true in these conspiracy stories.
Another interesting thing about the book is that both ladies have been fighting sexism in their careers — both want to write about politics, rather than their entertainment assignment, but nobody wants to give Lauren a chance (her male boss gives a story she uncovered to one of her male colleagues!) and Catherine’s political journalism career was deliberately sabotaged. The author’s bio says she’s a journalist so it’s likely she’s writing from authenticity here, which adds value to this important topic.
Note that I share Mehek’s concerns about the language used to refer to sex work and sex workers and I’m glad she posted about it so I don’t have to try to find the words to articulate what I was feeling.