Review: Unforgettable by Karin Kallmaker [review by Lori L. Lake]

UNFORGETTABLE
Karin Kallmaker
Bella Books//www.bellabooks.com
2000/$12.95/ 273 Pages/ISBN: 1931513635
This novel begins with singer Rett Jamison flying home from a music gig and groggily remembering abusive words said long ago by her booze-loving mother. All Rett’s life, she’s heard that voice in her head, and despite how far she has come in the 22+ years since she left home after high school, she still hasn’t entirely shaken the doubts and negativity. This opening scene serves as a portent omen, for in the next few hours, Rett will discover that her lover/manager, Trish, has been cheating on her, that Trish doesn’t love her and has used her all along, and worst of all, that Trish has blown the music deal of Rett’s lifetime by being difficult and demanding. When the dust settles, Rett is alone, Trish has depleted her savings, and there are no big music gigs in the offing.
The breakup brings up painful old memories and is further complicated when Rett receives an invitation to her high school reunion from Cinny, Rett’s unrequited love from her teen years. In the middle of all this change and confusion, Rett meets the familiar, but enigmatic Angel. The two are drawn to one another and share one night of passion—after which Rett promptly loses Angel’s phone number. To make matters worse, that same day her agent calls with a long-term tour engagement which could solve money problems and give Rett a shot at reviving her music career. The catch is that she must leave town immediately to perform that very night. Will Rett ever find Angel again? What about Cinny and the reunion? How can she banish the cruel voice in her head? Rett knows she has a lot of issues to address.
One thing I have always liked about this author’s style is her ability to render scenes with humor and with feeling. An example of the humor comes when Rett is sweating in a hot car. She cranks up the A/C because she “felt like a pot roast in a pressure cooker” (p. 118). In terms of evoking genuine feeling, I liked this sentiment: “Love crept into dark places she’d always known were there. In that instant, with the words she’d managed to say echoing in her head, all the dark places were suffused with light” (p. 239).
Karin Kallmaker has built a solid reputation by writing complex stories of believable, vulnerable lesbian characters who grow strong through facing tough issues. UNFORGETTABLE is vintage lesbian romance, continuing Kallmaker’s string of well-written, thoughtful stories about women surviving difficult times and coming into their own.
Lori L. Lake has been an author, editor, teacher, retreat leader, and creativity coach, and, until a few years ago, a book reviewer as well. She’s written a dozen novels, two short story collections, and edited four anthologies. Her work has won three Goldies, three Rainbow Awards, the Alice B Medal, and the Ann Bannon Award. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is currently working on her next novel and a nonfiction writing book about creativity. Website: www.LoriLLake.com.