This Paul Rader cover is the first of his lesbian couples, which he did many more, most of them quite stunning. Rader seemed to tackle the cover for most of the Sheldon Lords, but not always the reprints…
Another Lawrence Block tale set in Greenwich Village, his favorite setting for his sleaze books, and where he (still does?) live. The building at 69 Barrow Street also appears in Passion Alley by Andrew Shaw.
This one is somewhat soap opera-esque about the love and sex woes of hipstes in the Village. Ralph is a painter who lives with a somewhat wild and nutty lesbian, Stella. Ralph sets his eyes on a new tenant, Susan Rivers, and so does Stella.
Ralph is looking for love but Stella just wants another woman to fuck, and she has a long list of them. Susan, however is a recent lesbian the past two years, six lovers and no more interest in men. So she fears Ralph’s interest, but she poses for him for a painting on the condition they are just friends. Of course, he slowly falls in love with her.
There’s a great reefer madness party Stella throws for 1 people where they all get high and have various sexual connections. One girl, Maria, keeps asking every man do do it “Greek style” with her but no one wants to. When Ralph asks her if it hurts she says she wants the pain. Some BDSM and D/s comes into play here as Maria moves in and becomes Stella’s “bad girl.” Maria calls Stella Mummy and Stella gets her kicks from punishing and spanking Maria.
Pretty bold for a 1959 novel. But like many lesbian themes books back then, the dykes had to be portrayed as deviant and disturbed, so Maria soon lapses into insanity with the D/s mommy/bad girl game, and Stella becomes homicidal-maniac jealous of Susan and Ralph.
There’s also rape in the book — a lesbian rape, and a drunken moment when Ralph attacks Stella when she taunts him about her making love to Susan, and he rapes his friend.
The novel falls into strange violence at the end like some of Block’s Andrew Shaw Nightstands tend to do.
Overall, a decent Sheldon Lord, but not in the same ball park of greatness like Candy, The Sex Shuffle, or A Strange Kind of Love.