Hurricane Season – BJ Phillips

Shawn Richards is a well known romance writer under the name S.K. Richardson. She has retreated to her Florida home to escape the heartbreak she cannot seem to get over, and to finish her next novel. Carrie is a huge S.K. Richardson fan but with no jacket photo she has no idea the cute woman she falls over in the grocery store is her idol.

While Shawn is instantly attracted, her heartache and bad experience dating a fan make her fight to keep Carrie at a distance, and the usual romantic dance ensues. Carrie will need all her patience and Shawn all her nerve, to get past the emotional roadblocks in their way.

The characters are warm and likeable, their heartache and fears all recognizable and its very easy to want them to succeed. Their small dramas over misunderstandings and hurt feeling are easy to empathize with, we have all been there. The backing characters are well done, from the solid Kelly to the conniving Tracy, they provide gently subplots to the main event.

BJ Phillips provides tension between the women with their gentle battle over fear and hurt, and a wider tension in the build to hurricane Grace, which they are right in the path off. She makes good use of the hurricane to add drama to the story, and gives an excellent description of the impact the storm has on those impacted by it.

This is an nice summer read, perfect for a lazy day by the pool or on the beech. An enjoyable and pleasant way to get lost in a verysweet romance.

Love’s Redemption – Donna K Ford

Love's Redemption - Donna K FordA great new novel from Donna K Ford, with all the usual elements of a traditional romance, a strong dose of suspense and her own unique twist.

Rhea has just been released from prison where she has served her sentence for killing her father. Scared of the world she left at 17, determined not to go let anyone near her and unwelcome to her family and neighbourhood, she finds herself dependent on her parole officer for a new start. Finding work and a home with her PO’s sister, Rhea is like skittish colt, always on the verge of bolting.

Morgan has a heart of gold and as an ex minister she instinctively takes in waifs and strays. But the cost of her past weighs heavy, and she is constantly trying not to let anyone one in. Between them they have enough trust issues to sink any chance of a relationship, despite the growing affection, but ultimately it is trust which will save them both.

The characters are interesting and their specific issues are unusual. Rhea is particularly well written and well developed. We watch her battle her own demons to overcome her childhood fears and fight her way into adulthood in the world. Having been incarcerated since 17 she has a lot of learning and adjusting to do and Ms Ford does an excellent job of describing her gradual change. Morgan is less defined, we know her issues, but don’t really explore them and aren’t made to empathise so strongly. My only complaint would be that we could have delved further into Morgan’s psyche and filled her out with more depth, I wanted to know more about her inner workings. However as a foil to Rhea she is perfect.

Donna K Ford bioThere is a great tension throughout, on many levels. Will Rhea find a way to survive in the world is a question that permeates the whole? Will Rhea and Morgan allow themselves to open up, or stay in their shells built of fear? Will they survive the external threats to their happiness? Ms Ford balances all of these emotional intricacies extremely well and winds them into an intense and forceful backdrop to the Rheas growth.

Overall a very interesting combination of suspense, romance and character development, handled lightly despite the dark subject matter. Love’s Redemption is well written and thoughtfully plotted to use the storyline development and strands of emotional growth to create a sense of anticipation. I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to more of Ms Ford’s intriguing characters.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 14, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01FUM2XQ6
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Finding Ms Write – Jae & Jove Belle (Ed.)

Finding Ms Write - Jae & Jove Belle (Ed.)This is an amusing, fun and charming set of short stories written by an array of lesbian authors, some well known, others less so. The tone is light and the content entertaining, all based, of course, around writers, editors and publishers.

From a night of passion with a stranger on a cruise to a long-term partner trying out new things, the stories are a mix of fantasy and reality. There are also a mixture of age and experience, from young professionals to older women and established couple’s, which makes for a refreshing change.

The stories have various appeals, this isn’t erotica, it’s romance, and varies from soft explicit to fade to black. Having been to Con I do feel we ned a follow up from a certain author/editor…

I found them well written and enjoyable reads, if you like romance and enjoy short stories this is definitely for you.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Ylva Publishing (June 29, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01H1P59MK
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Shaken to the Core – Jae

Shaken to the Core - JaeReturning to US history after a break from her ‘Oregon’ series Shaken to the Core is a romance set around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. From introducing our heroines before disaster hits, through the horror of the earthquake and subsequent fires, and on to the immediate aftermath, Jae leads us through the events that unfolded with her usual brilliant eye for detail and excellent storytelling skills.

Giuliana is a Sicilian fisherman’s daughter who came to ‘Merica with her brother in order to earn a living and send money home. When fate strikes her brother down she is left with few skills and few options other than domestic service to survive on her own.

Kate is the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate who is determined to make her own way in the modern world. Despite her mothers best efforts to make her conform to the expectations of high society, Kate knows in her soul she needs an independent life if she is ever to fulfil her own dreams.

Two strong women from opposite ends of the social scale, drawn together by a mutual attraction, find themselves fighting to survive the events of April 18th. They, along with the indomitable Dr Lucy Hamilton Sharpe, create an intriguing story of how women step up when disaster strikes. Resourceful, capable and determined, they fight their way through whatever is thrown at them, growing stronger as they overcome, finding their place from the opportunity catastrophe brings resourceful survivors.

Jae - biogAs always Jae’s characters are powerful women with a will of their own. Rounded and well drawn they form the core of an intriguing retelling of history from a woman’s point of view. As with the Oregon Series we learn the intimate history of a famous and well-known saga from the inside.

With subtle but commanding attention to detail Jae fills in the background; the unfolding events, the backdrop of turn of the century San Francisco, the people and the sense of emotion that a major disaster cause. She shows us the world as she envisions it, like a film set being slowly revealed, filling in and colouring as she goes.

Jae writes exceptionally good books and this is another excellent example of her skills. Charming romance, strong, admirable women, an unusual setting, great historical storytelling and, as always, with a style which makes the tale unfold with consummate ease.
(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (June 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GEWY5XA
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The Chasing Game – Meghan O’Brien

The Chasing Game - Meghan O'BrienThe Chasing Game is hot, steamy and fun. It contains mild BDSM and some amusing roleplay, and carries a warning to that affect – so don’t read and be offended.

If you like something a bit different from a standard erotic short, this is an excellent addition to your bookshelves. Ms O’Brien plays with a role reversal that is interesting and very well thought through – certainly caught my imagination.

It’s more than just pure erotica through, the couples love and care for each other is evident throughout and portrayed with the ease of an accomplished writer. The dom/sub relationship is strong and the respect is clear.

This was my first Mehgan O’Brien and it definitely wont be my last – in fact I had to resist going right off on a tangent and buying the lot.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Meghan O’Brien (June 3, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GM4MHEO
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Making a Comeback – Julie Blair

Making a Comeback - Jule BlairThis is a very traditional romance – a charming and well done story of falling for the woman who seems unobtainable, but the personalities and circumstances set it apart. Both our main characters have major hurdles to overcome in their lives, irrespective of any romantic complications.

Liz has recently lost her wife, her life partner and the inspiration for her musical creativity. She is struggling to get past the initial grief and loss, faced with mounting pressure to push forward with the jazz band and CD release they worked on together, knowing others depend on her, yet unable to find the will to make a start. Jac has built layers of fortress-worthy walls around her life, insulating her from any but her sister and brother-in-law, she relies on no one except her adored yellow lab. She wants nothing in her world other than her music and her routine.

Making a Comeback explores the lives of these two anguished women, both of whom have suffered from cruel fate. As their lives increasingly collide they can challenge the other to move beyond their pain, and provide the support that might make it possible to do so – if they are prepared to take the risk.

Liz and Jac are interesting women. Mature, seasoned, complex and multi-layered. They are people we can relate to, rounded and whole, warts and all. Ms Blair has portrayed women of substance that reflect the traumas of their lives.

Both are supported by family, and their interactions and family dynamics add significantly to the depth of emotion and realism throughout. Domineering parents, complex sibling relationships, these women have baggage.

This is, more than anything, an exploration of how mature women have dealt with what life has thrown at them, and how they can move on, face their greatest fears, find a new beginning.

Well done, well written, engaging and absorbing. I will definitely be looing out for more of Julie Blair’s writing.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 20, 2015)
  • ASIN: B00ZQ947SQ
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Poppy Jenkins – Clare Ashton

Poppy Jenkins - Clare AshtonYou know when you are in trouble when you feel as though you need a thesaurus before you even start a review, but that’s how I felt when I put down Poppy Jenkins and reached for my Mac. How many superlatives can I find?

At the simplest level it is a mild, slow moving romance. Schoolgirls – best friends – torn apart, meeting years later and exploring the anger and misunderstandings old assumptions can cause. One the darling of the village, all gentle smiles and forgiving nature, the other the odd girl out who rebelled against the place and the people, escaping to what she deemed a better future, but paying a hefty price along the way.

The characters are rounded and wholesome, drawn with glorious attention to detail and loving humour. Grumpy gran, hippy-dippy mother, misdirected lesbian lovers, burley rugby lads and a scheming baddy, Ms Ashton fills the village with a wide ranging cast who provide a brilliant and entertaining counterpoint to our star crossed lovers.

The pastoral setting is coloured with the lightest of touches but a depth that brings it alive. From the valleys to the village square, Poppy’s bedroom to the café – every facet of the surroundings adds to the picture drawn and the sense of place. The Welshness of the people and the land provides a vivid backdrop that adds veracity and quaintness in equal measure.

Clare Ashton bioAs always in Ms Ashton’s novels she finds a place for some sizzling scenes, without them ever feeling gratuitous or misplaced. She somehow takes a mild mannered romance and segues into something steamy so seamlessly that you barely notice these nice girls are being decidedly naughty until the heat washes over you.

But beyond all of that this is a most exquisite piece of writing. The language is fulsome, rounded and glorious. The sentences flow across the page and into your heart and mind with genuine elegance. The story is a sophisticated, multi-layered odyssey. I have loved all her books to date, but this, without a doubt, reaches a new high in terms of the Austenesque literary accomplishment. It is, genuinely, a modest and tender romance, but suffused with a tone of voice and love of language which makes it feel like so much more.

Add in a huge dose of humour, which infuses the whole with the author’s affection for a subject both well known and precious, and you will find it hard not to fall in love with Poppy, her family and the modest village life. This is, simply, British writing at its best; witty, clever, beguiling and brilliant.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Breezy Tree Press (June 19, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01HC65VIK
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Three Shorts – Karin Kallmaker

Butch Across the Hall - Karin KallmakerThe Butch Across the Hall
Hot, sweet and short. Realising she wants more than vanilla, the chance delivery of post to the wrong flat gives Ronnie the chance to knock on Miki’s door across the hall. But will she have the nerve to ask for what she really wants?

Exquisite writing, extremely fiery sex, great characterisation despite the length and a totally enjoyable read. If you like erotica you will love this one… and if you are just maybe a bit curious, why not pluck up your courage and knock on that door.

Ice and Fire - Karin KallmakerIce and Fire

Passion alfresco. If you love a top, somebody who adores pleasing you, then this is the perfect example of how to keep her happy.

Another sizzling Karin Kallmaker for women who like to please their women.

 

SALT - Karin KallmakerSALT

Powerful, personal, poetic. This will resonate with anyone who has ever truly cried for a lost love, for an ex they still love, and for the frustration of watching that ex move on – knowing they too will cry salt.

(Not an erotic short)

(publisher review copy received)

The Butch Across the Hall
  • Paperback: 5,200 words
  • First published 2004
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
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Fire and Ice
  • Paperback: 1,500 words
  • First published 2004
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
To download from Karin’s web store – click here.
SALT
  • Paperback: 1,100 wordss
  • First published 1998
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
To download from Karin’s web store – click here.

 

Cain Casey Series – Ali Vali

Devil Inside - Ali ValiDevil Unleashed - Ali ValiDeal with the Devil - Ali ValiDevil be Damned - Ali ValiDevil's Orchard - Ali Vali

I just read the first 5 books of Ali Vali’s Cain Casey ‘Devil’ series straight through, book a day, no stopping for anything. Wow.. brilliant! I don’t actually know how I hadn’t read them all before. They are favourite books of a friend, and I have really enjoyed Ms Valis’ other books.

For those who haven’t enjoyed them yet – Cain Casey is head of an Irish clan in NOLA. The family business if hooch, importing illegal alcohol and tobacco, and make the Casey clan one of the main mob families. The series follows the trials and tribulations of Cain and her family, the FBI team trying to catch her out, and the other families she interacts with. Each book does stand alone, but the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

A significant number of the current generation family leaders are women, and lesbians at that, giving Ms Vali a huge range of opportunities for romance and attraction between the players.. some long term and successful, others fleeting but significant. There’s plenty of hot scenes as well as on-going commitments which develop as the series unfolds.

As well as the romance the books are packed with FBI style drama; intrigue and war between the families, plotting and scheming to get on top and take each other out, or maintain position and keep the peace. There are chases and battles, fairly gruesome murders and revenge killings and some intense page turners along the way.

But the glue that holds it all together is the complex inter-relationships between the players. Within the families, across the partnerships, between those who hate each other.. and among all of them and the FBI team who never stop watching. While the interactions and battles are serious the FBI in particular are often the cause of as much humour as angst, assuming the mob are stupid and that their downfall is always imminent.

Ali Vali BiogCain is a complex character that we continue to learn as the series progresses, and Ms Vali surrounds her with powerful women, mobster bosses of the old and new school, an intriguing family dynamic and a deep family history. The other families and FBI are also well drawn and provide a series of major characters which sustain the growth and depth of the storyline.

I recently compared Cain Casey to RE Bradshaw’s Rainey Bell.. the opposite side of the law to be sure, but their strength, intelligence, commitment, loyalty, sense of self and willingness to do almost anything for friends and family.. yet with an underlying ethic they wont budge from, makes them almost mirror images.

If you haven’t read Ali Vali’s Devil books yet, but love a great series, FBI/cop drama, strong women characters, constant intrigue and hot sex.. what are you waiting for? I cannot wait for book 6.. and hope there are many more to come.

(publisher review copies received)

The Devil Inside
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2006
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 1, 2006)
  • ASIN: B0042JT3NA
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The Devil Unleashed
  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (December 1, 2006)
  • ASIN: B0042JTNG2
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Deal with the Devil
  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • First published 2008
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (April 1, 2008)
  • ASIN: B0042JTNJE
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The Devil be Damned
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (August 1, 2010)
  • ASIN: B004ELAOHU
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The Devil’s Orchard
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (June 18, 2013)
  • ASIN: B00DH671LK
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It Pours – CD Cain

it Pours- cd CainBook 2 of Chambers of the Heart series begins exactly here it When It Raynes left off. For those of you who expressed frustration about the lack of a complete arc in book 1, it is clearly a giant 4 part work, the size of War and Peace, rather then a 4 part series.

This section focuses on Rayne, an interior monologue that follows her struggle to come to terms with her choices. Trained, expected and bullied into being the perfect southern belle, she accepts the life-plan her domineering mother and ‘take for granted’ boyfriend expect of her.  But as the story unfolds we watch Rayne grow, challenge and even rebel against those expectations as she fights to be herself – despite what her choices will do to her dreams of going home.

Rayne is a powerful character. Frequently self absorbed and somewhat isolated, she never the less resonates as a woman of strength and power. It Pours has new characters for us to meet and Mo is a particularly unusual heroine with her looks, lifestyle and passion creating a fascinating allure.

CD Cain’s writing brings the characters to life. We feel the stress and tension building in Rayne, her inner turmoil contrasting her apparent outward serenity.  Sam is ever present in her mind, an anchor and a guilt. This becomes almost a psychological thriller as we wait for Rayne to chose, to grow into the woman we all want her to be.

CD Cain biogCD Cain’s descriptive passages are superb. She brings to life the south, the bayou and the forest. From the dust of a motorcycle journey to the peace of a hammock, every scene is firmly anchored in a sense of place that gives an added dimension to the intensity of the storytelling.

I have to be honest and say I thought the prose was a little less tight than the first book. Maybe a little less edited and occasionally repetitive. But that did not detract from the essence of the story, the power and substance of the writing, and the pure joy of immersing yourself so wholly into a world exquisitely drawn.

Cannot wait for books 3 and 4 to see where they take Rayne and Sam. There is no doubt their story isn’t over.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (May 27, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01F7T7Q1Y
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