“French Fried” by Rachel Kramer Bussel from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radclyffe.

The main character of this tale is a New Yorker who is in Paris “on a whim.” (Really? Who does that?) She’s only just arrived when she spies an arresting figure through the window of a restaurant. The woman possesses such startling beauty that it literally stops the main character in her tracks. She lets herself be drawn into the establishment and seduced by this stranger, in passages that can only be described as utterly riveting. It’s an astonishing feat on the author’s part, because the two characters do not share a language. They say almost nothing to one another, and yet volumes are shared. It also takes place in public, so nothing all that risqué or shocking actually occurs, but you could cut the tension with a knife. And all in the space of a handful of pages. It’s very impressive.