by Linda Hill
“I don’t want to hurt you, Leslie." Sara’s words stung me. Of all the ways she could have said it, she’d chosen these specific words. Not "I won’t hurt you," or "I’m not going to hurt you." Those words would have calmed my fears. But no. She chose "I don’t want to hurt you."
Computer analyst Leslie Howard knows all too well that the fastest way to a broken heart is to ignore Lesbian Dating Rule Number One: Never, ever, get involved with a straight woman. Yet, despite her better judgment, and serious warnings from her friends, she finds herself battling a growing infatuation with her very straight – and very attractive – co-worker Sara Stevens.
Haunted by memories of past rejection, Leslie is understandably hesitant about coming out to Sara, yet she doesn’t want to jeopardize their friendship by being dishonest about who she is. When Leslie finally trusts Sara enough to tell her she’s a lesbian, Sara fulfills Leslie’s worst fears and cuts her off.
Hurt and angry with herself, Leslie vows never to trust Sara again, and seeks solace in the arms of a seductive young golf pro. When Sara sees Leslie with her new lover, she is forced to confront her own hidden desires. Then, a long business trip together turns into an emotional tug-of-war, as Leslie and Sara struggle to control the raging passions that could bring them together – or tear them apart.
Love and coming out mix in a different way in Never Say Never by Linda Hill. It's the perennial story of a lesbian falling in love with a straight woman--or is she really straight? Leslie Howard, lesbian computer analyst, fresh from a break-up with her ex, is asked to put together a team of colleagues to create a conversion program. Sara Stevens, straight marketing wiz, is part of the team.
Although Leslie says she follows the first rule of lesbian dating-never date a straight woman-she falls for Sara. She keeps her feelings closely in check, and she and Sara become friends. The friendship ebbs and flows as the pair go through Leslie's coming out to Sara, Leslie's involvement with Michelle, Sara's growing infatuation with Leslie, and finally Sara's coming out. Leslie and Sara spend a short blissful time together before Sara starts dealing with the ramifications of her decisions.
The interesting part of this story is dealing with the stereotypes surrounding the movement from straight to lesbian. All of the lesbian and gay characters in the story warn Leslie away from straight women. They all expect Sara to toy with Leslie, and to leave her when she finds a suitable man. Even Leslie worries about this. But I think Sara asks the most interesting question in the book when she asks Leslie if she was straight before her first lover. The implication of the question is that there is a point in time, for all lesbians and gays, when they realize who they are--and that point may come at different times of life for all of us. We can't hold against a person that they are not "gold star" lesbians, because many of us have been involved with men at some point in our lives. As Sara says, we can't hold that past against her.
Never Say Never is another delightful read… Linda Hill aptly characterizes the turmoil and confusion of someone coming to their lesbian identity in adulthood. Sara's problem learning to deal with homophobia will strike chords in anyone who came out after experiencing the privileges of a heterosexual relationship. And as with any good Naiad tale, love wins out in the end. - Journal of Lesbian Studies