At Her Feet – Rebekah Weatherspoon

At Her Feet - Rebekah WeatherspoonSuzanne Kim lives a double life. During the day she is an up and coming digital marketing executive, holding down a stressful job, managing complex projects and handling difficult clients. In her private life she is a “little Girl” Submissive who has escaped a manipulative relationship and idly searching for her ideal Mistress.

When her favorite kink site throws up a gorgeous Latina “Mommie’, Mami-P, Suzy can’t resist trying to catch her attention. As they begin to explore a contract it soon becomes clear that they have the potential to form much more than a short-term connection.

But will Suzy’s trust issues and Pilar’s need for real communication be too much of a strain, or will other Mommies be the real threat to their future?

——————

Warning – this is extremely erotic and crammed full of mild BDSM. If you don’t like full-on sex scenes and very graphic images – don’t read it.

We all have very different responses to erotica; some love it, some are revolted by it. If you like mild BDSM you will love this book. The sex scenes are extremely hot, well written, and varied. Unlike so much erotica I never once got bored of a tedious activity or repetitive language. Ms Weatherspoon has managed to write a book full of luscious activity without repeating herself.

What most people will react to, however, is the role play. I am sure most of us are aware of the Daddy/Boy scenario in the gay men’s scene. I had personally never come across the Mommies/Little Girl play in the lesbian world. Like many, I suspect, my first reaction was one of wariness. With a strong lesbian feminist background there are all sorts of triggers here about the abuse of ‘little girls’ and reading about women who chose that role was initially uncomfortable.

But Rebekah Weatherspoon has drawn us a character that is not a weak, powerless woman who gets bullied into submission. While she has been manipulated a past relationship (who hasn’t?) she had the strength to leave that behind when her ‘Mistress’ couldn’t fulfill her needs. When confronted with sexual harassment and bullying she is deeply upset, but quickly responds by reporting it and walking away, confident of herself and not prepared to tolerate the abuse.

Suzanne is a strong independent woman with a good job, a nice apartment, deep friendships. She just happens to like BDSM and enjoys the role of the Little Girl being looked after and cared for by a ‘Mommy’. Interestingly Susanne is taller than Pilar, possibly earns more than Pilar, is more than capable of acting like a grown-up girlfriend when she is needed, and frequently suggests the games and role play they enjoy. Yes, Suzy lets Mami-P take control and make the decisions, but she has power that is adroitly displayed in the delightful Catholic High School/teacher scene she creates when we see her drive Pilar crazy.

So, if you can take a moment to step back and get over any initial hostility to the role play, what we have is a well written exploration of how mutual attraction develops between two women who meet because of a potential sexual contract.

Suzy is a complex and interesting character. She struggles to balance her need for the Sub role with her natural management style and her trust issues. She struggles to communicate her deep feelings because she is scared of being rejected – something many of us will empathize with. The other characters are lightly drawn, even Pilar is left an enigma, but they give us a flavor of the scene. More than anything they demonstrate that these are a standard range of woman – some sweet, some bitchy, some stressed and acting out, some manipulative and aggressive.

The relationship development is the plot that holds this together and makes an interesting read. We see the standard early relationship fears and insecurities that we all will have been through. On top of that we have the highly important sexual chemistry. A contract based on BDSM needs is not going to work if the couple doesn’t meet each other’s requirements. And as an extra layer of complexity Suzy and Mami-P are trying to form a role-play partnership where each ones ability to fulfill a role is paramount. Ultimately that is the test that will make or break this relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed “At Her Feet”. It is well written, well edited and well developed. The sex scenes are hot. The characters are interesting and, once I had overcome my own prejudices, I found the role play and relationship development really thought-provoking. I would recommend it to anyone who likes mild BDSM erotica.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8QMHVQ
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Timeless – Rachel Spangler

TimelessStevie Gallaher has created a safe world for herself based around her New York life and her apartment. She doesn’t do conflict and she doesn’t put herself out there.  She hides in the bubble she has created and writes novels about the world she observes. 

When her publicist and manager, Edmond, forces her to choose between visiting her old school to accept an award or speaking at a fundraising dinner she resentfully returns to Darlington as the lesser of two evils. More than the little overwhelmed by meeting the teacher who was her first crush and the thought of exposure at her old high school she forgets to eat and collapses on stage.

Now, rather than hiding in the shadows, Stevie must confront her past and decide who she wants to be in the future.

———-

“Timeless” is unusual. On the one hand it is a sweet romantic tale of girl going home to find that thing she didn’t know she wanted was there all the time. But it is much more than a simple romance and the twist in the plot will surprise you.

Like Spangler’s earlier novel set in Darlington, ”The Long Way Home”, this is partly a tale about how small town America and high school experiences shape our lives, those of us who have run away to escape and those who choose, instead, to stand and fight. It is also a story about how good people give up their own dreams to protect others who are different in one way or another.

This story should make us stop and think; cause us to reassess our own behavior as teenagers who kept silent or perhaps even those who were guilty of bullying. It should also make us look at our own life choices as the adults we’ve become and reconsider whether we could be doing more to protect those more vulnerable than ourselves.

Ms Spangler’s characters are deep and multidimensional. Here we get a unique opportunity to see how they develop. From student teacher Jody, trying to find her way, and Stevie, the closeted and scared intellectual who can’t wait to escape, to the wonderfully drawn ‘other’ Kelsey Patel, we see inside their hopes and fears. We are shown how popularity can lead to abuse of power while obscurity can bury us under fear and despair.

Rachel Spangler bioMore than anything “Timeless” made me think about the choices we have made and the people we’ve become. This is a story about how much of our teenage decision-making has impacted our lives – forced us away from being everything we could have been. It is an exploration of how bullying can make us live our lives in fear – those bullied and those who stand by and do nothing.

There are lessons here. Not least is that time is finite and that we need to make the most of it. As the adorable Beth reminds us when asked what she would change if she could ‘do it over’: “I’d live every minute in present tense instead of always planning for some future I had no guarantee of.”

I love books that make me think and stories that make me feel. This one does both. I really enjoyed Ms Spangler’s earlier novels, particularly “The Long Way Home”, but “Timeless” is at a different level. Rachel Spangler goes from strength to strength and I look forward to following her growing talent.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626390509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626390508
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The Long Way Home – Rachel Spangler

The Long Way HomeRory St James runs away from home when her parents react badly to her coming out. Fleeing to Chicago she creates a whole new persona for herself, Raine, who builds a life and a career out of the bitter anger and hurt. But 10 years on the world is bored of a 27 year old who is still angry with her parents. On the brink of being evicted and without an income, she is forced to take a job at Bramble College in Darlington, the town she has ranted against and vilified for her rejection.

Beth Devoroux is the archetypal small town girl, the plain farmers daughter who has grown into a beautiful curvaceous woman. She seems content with her small town life as librarian at the college, darling of the town and a solid but extremely closeted relationship.

Despite their shared teenage years they seem to have nothing in common, yet Beth is clearly drawn to the angry rebel Rory became. Can she reach out to her high school buddy or will their different experiences of small town life prove too big a barrier?

—————

Most of us grow up with a sense of fear at some level. Whether it is of being rejected by our parents, being bullied at school or threatened on the street. Being ’other’ as a kid is always a challenge even without rejection by our parents.

Rory and Beth have reacted in different ways to that fear. Rory has run off, become a radical gay activist and turned her fear into anger so strong it has sustained her for 10 years. Beth has hidden who she is for fear of offending those who have loved and supported her, and that has been reinforced by an 8 year relationship with a woman who is homophobic in her self loathing and paranoia about being gay.

What this story brings us is extremes; Rory and Beth are opposite ends of the scale, yet they come from the same place, have similar childhoods and families. What Ms Spangler explores is how our different perceptions of ourselves and those around us forge the people we become. Rory saw everyone as hostile, so she reacted with anger. Beth saw everyone as supportive – of a perfect image – so has tried to maintain their perception.

The characters are well drawn and thought out. They have an internal integrity that holds throughout their struggles to recognize what life has done to them, who they have become and the compromises and price they have paid. Both fluctuate quite wildly at times, one minute clinging to the safety of façade they have built, the next tearing it down. The internal battles they both fight are what makes their growth honest and realistic.

The supporting players from the midwestern town form a backdrop which is interesting. We have the stereotypical bigots, the born again town bitch, but also a couple of guys who knew Rory was gay and just accept it, but never dreamt Beth could also be that way. They are caring and supportive, but still stereotypical in their reactions to the tomboi and the femme.

In the midst of all this social comment is a charming romance. Beth, unsure of what is happening in her heart, still fights to draw Rory from Raine and ultimately has the courage to face her own demons as the “perfect” darling of the town. Rory knows from the start how much she is attracted to Beth, but rejects her attraction to the closeted woman and fights tooth and nail to hold onto her brittle persona.

Rachel Spangler bioComing home isn’t about a place, it’s about finding ourselves, growing out of the personas we create to shield our fears and into the power of being true to who we are.

Brilliantly written, well constructed and an emotional page-turner, this is a book which will speak to all GLBT people.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW6AR4
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Conflict of Interest – Jae

Conflict of InterestWhen a chance encounter at a law enforcement seminar brings detective Aiden Carlisle and psychologist Dawn Kinsley into contact neither have any idea of how closely linked their futures will be.

Dawn comes from a long line of Irish cops so she is well aware of the demands and pressures placed upon them, but she steers away from getting involved with any more of them. Aiden works with the Sexual Assault Detail and faces vicious crimes as part of her everyday life, but like all cops she has issues with shrinks and talking things out. Both women have a pile of baggage about relationships that makes their initial flicker of interest in each other unlikely to have a future.

Neither woman would have wished for the circumstances that bring them back into contact. But fate can sometimes turn a brutal crime into the beginning of something better.

———

This is a new edition of Jae’s first novel. Despite being a huge fan of her work I had somehow missed this amazing story – so am extremely glad to have seen it listed in the new releases.

Jae once again tells a masterful tale. This time it’s a crime thriller with a heavy dose of romance on the side. As always she weaves the most amazing fabric out of the minutiae of everyday life. While at times the subject matter of rape, violence and abuse are hard to read, the underlying theme of the book is one of gentle nurturing and loving kindness.

At over 400 pages the central event of the novel takes up a small slice of space. It is the aftermath of the crime that keeps us occupied. While the action follows the investigation and courtroom drama the real story is all about how rape impacts the lives of the women attacked, their family, friends and the children of rape victims.

The central characters and supporting cast are wonderfully drawn. Their fears, hopes, love and laughter draws us in until we are sitting at the Christmas table surrounded by people we know and love. Jae has a knack of showing us the huge depth of compassion we can show each other and which redeems the evil effects of rape and violence. Her characters always grow and so while we watch fascinated they transform before our eyes.

Despite the dark subjects dealt with by both Aiden and Dawn’s jobs the relationship we see developing between them is joyful to observe. The growth of mutual respect and understanding, breaking through old scars and new fears alike, gives us hope that we can all escape our own baggage and grow. That we could all find a partner who balances us and nurtures our growth the way Jae’s heroines do.

Jae - biogThe sequel – “Next of Kin” – is currently out of print and is due to be rereleased as a new edition in 2015. I can’t wait to see how all the threads will be carried forward as the lives of the Kinsley family, the police department and the DA’s office develop. The only upside of having to wait a year is that it will give me an
excuse to reread “Conflict of Interest” again.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing; revised second edition
    (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JEX778W
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Hold Me Forever – D. Jackson Leigh

Hold Me ForeverWhen Mae St john’s grandmother dies she is left without anywhere to turn. The family fortune is gone, the family home is over-mortgaged and only the poodle. Rhett, has a trust fund. A personal letter reveals $10,000 hidden by Scarlett O’Hara and the news that May’s father is alive and well in Louisiana.

Whit Casey has gone home to the family horse farm when somebody finally tells her that her father is no longer coping. Now trying to run the racing stables as well as her own racing magazine, support her father and work out how to clear their debt, she is overwhelmed with responsibility. What is clear is that her long-term relationship has not survived her transition back to the farm.

Mae’s need for a job and home take her on a collision course with Whit. At first they seem to have nothing in common but Mae’s steely determinism to carve a new live proves fate has other ideas.

———-

What a delight! This is a book full of southern charm, idiosyncratic and witty expressions, eccentric characters and amazing women – all set on a canvas of the Quarter Horse racing world.

Our heroine, Mae, is the archetypal Southern Belle who appears to be a spoilt debutant that has frittered away 10 years at college without ever finding the right husband. In reality she is smart, intelligent, witty and incredibly good at managing the people around her. When pushed into a corner the Steel Magnolia glints through the soft southern twang.

Whit Casey is the archetypal dyke. Strong, stubborn, walled up by her own fears, incapable of expressing her emotions or showing her needs. But as we all know those tough dykes need a strong woman to break through their shell and to support that soft centered psyche. As part of the Casey family bundle we also have the delightful Clinton; suffering from Alzheimer’s and frequently mistaking Mae for his beloved late wife, his portrayal is a joy to read.

Jackson Leigh has drawn some of the most charming and delightful characters in print. Both the main characters and their large supporting cast of friends and foes, and those who sit somewhere between the two, have a depth and sincerity which lifts them off the page.

A tale of deception, intrigue and suspense, the plot to destroy the Casey’s integrity keeps us turning the page. This is a story about trust, honor and deception. It is a challenge to look beyond the surface veneer and the first impressions to see the real person beneath. Those we assume are good and bad are not all they seem; to quote another charming author “One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”

D Jackson Leigh Biog

Ultimately it is the romance that holds us spellbound as Mae recognizes and then takes charge of her own future, only to have it thrown back at her, and leave us enthralled at the plot unfolds.

Pure delight. A great setting, a wonderful plot full of suspense, a charming romance, compelling characters and a huge dollop of humor.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8Q52IQ
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Awaiting my Assignment – AJ Adaire

Awaiting My AssignmentAmanda ends her 12 year relationship with Bernie when she discovers she has been unfaithful yet again. Leaving everything behind but a suitcase full of clothes and her laptop, she seeks temporary shelter in her best friend Dana’s flat. Escaping to New York will give her the time and space to decide quite how to move on from relationship she realizes had ended several years before.

In New York she meets Dana’s lovely next-door neighbor Mallory. The two women quickly become friends and find they have many hobbies in common. Their attraction is obvious, but Mallory has suffered her own heartbreak and Amanda is barely free of Bernie.

Will their friendship develop into something more? Or are there pasts too big an obstacle for them to move beyond?

———-

This is a gentle romance following on from AJ Adaire’s first novel, Sunset island. It is completely stand-alone however, as the only real common thread is the friendship between Mallory and Ren and a brief visit with Ren and Lindy from the earlier book.

Here we find Amanda and Mallory building a friendship and carefully testing out the possibility for more, while dealing with the aftermath of Mallory’s loss and Bernie’s infidelity. As the friendship develops the two women assess their previous relationships and realize that they both had things missing.

AJ Adaire biogAt the same time translator Dana is of on assignment and a relationship blossoms with Nic in romantic Rome. The parallel romances build and then merge, offering a subplot that fills out the characters and storyline. Ultimately, however, the real twist in the tale will take you by surprise, and is well conceived and well played.

A sweet tale, it doesn’t have the emotional intensity of Sunset Island, but as always with Ms Adaire’s books it is well written, well edited and charmingly put together. A pleasant read.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press;
    (December 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H5X16TY
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The interim – AJ Adaire

the InterimWhen Melanie catches her girlfriend kissing the local flirt she finds it impossible to get over her infidelity. She ups sticks and moved to Maine to start a new life, despite Tracy begging her to stay.

In Maine she meets the beautiful and illusive Ren who is still emotionally cut off and distant after losing her lover three years before. Ren isn’t sure if she’s ready to move on but hopes one day she will be able to love again.

This novella tells of Ren’s first attempt at dating after Brooke but before Lindy.

————

This story explores Ren’s emotions as she begins to emerge from the loss of her beloved Brooke. It gives us a back-history to complement the emotional development we see in Sunset Island. At the same time we witness firsthand, albeit briefly, the devastation of Piper’s death which we will return to in Awaiting my Assignment.

AJ Adaire biogDespite being a prequel this is probably best read after Sunset Island. As one reviewer mentioned it’s almost like a director’s cut picked from the cutting room floor. Once again the author touches on the poignant issues of how we move on after a relationship ends badly or we suffer bereavement.

It is a charming little tale that adds to our understanding of Ren and her history and is worth a read.

 

Sunset Island – AJ Adaire

Sunset IslandDr. Lindy Caprini has taken a years unpaid leave to write a book comparing fairy tales from around the world. With a grant and a small inheritance she hopes to be able to complete a book that will improve her academic standing and have time left over for writing her own fairy tale. She also hopes parents will read the book to their children so she wants to have it illustrated to represent the differences in the fairytales. Through a chance encounter with her friend Marie she hears about an artist who might be a perfect illustrator for her book.

Ren appears to have it all, a loving family, a healthy business running an Inn on a  wonderful private island. But beneath the thin veneer is pain; she has already found and lost the love of her life. She fills her spare time in the off-season with painting, photography and graphic design for local businesses.  She finds the concept of Lindy’s book intriguing and quickly decides that she would love to work on the project. As the Inn has plenty of space it also makes sense for Lindy to move in for a year while they work on the book together.

Both Ren and Lindy enjoy working together by email and phone. Both hope their friendship will develop while they work together on the island, but neither has any idea just how far their friendship could go.

———

This is a charming and romantic tale set on a beautiful island in Maine where the two women with very different backgrounds can develop their friendship and their working relationship together.

Ren is a damaged soul who has already found the love of her life. She is struggling to regain her enthusiasm and zest after losing her beloved Brooke. Four years after the tragedy her friends and family despair of ever seeing the return of the Ren they know and love.

Lindy has always put work first and a series of unsatisfying boyfriends have not yet convinced her to change her priorities. Having left friends, family and finished her last relationship before she set out to the island, she is also at a turning point in her life.

The two women’s growing friendship is delightful to read. It restores faith in the simple pleasures that we too often forget in the hurly-burly of life. Ren’s peaceful island and the gentle routine the two women develop between them reminds us there is more to life than the rush-hour and the rat-race. Working together, exploring the island, running and cooking, provides both women with the opportunity to look into their own hearts and reassess.

AJ Adaire biogBeautifully developed, multi-layered people emerge from the page as the author matures both the main characters and a small number of family and friends. This is almost exclusively a tale about the interaction between the main characters. The other players, while well drawn, are essentially foils and triggers for our heroines development.

I read this as a precursor to AJ Adaire’s new novel and am absolutely delighted to have taken the time. This is a wonderful book in which almost nothing matters except the gradual development of mutual love and respect.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press (September 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FH027QI
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The Girl with the Treasure Chest – Veronica Fearon

The Girl with the Treasure ChestDani is a player. With a background in youth work, a personal history of crime, an attitude as big as Mount Everest and a posse of boys who worship the ground she walks on, she is unstoppable. She spends her time negotiating gangland disputes and facilitating deals among worst of London’s vicious underground. Those she works with think she is cool and always in control but those closest to her now she has a fiery temper.

She has always kept her private life private, although her lieutenants’ are aware of her penchant for dating independent women with children. Her current girlfriend, Marie, tolerates her absences and odd hours and somehow knows that her young daughter may be what keeps Dani around.

When Susanna, Dani’s on-again off-again ex reappears, Dani is thrown into a tailspin. Unable to control her emotions, especially her fears, her wild behavior will put everybody in danger and threatened to destroy everything she has worked for.

———

This is the Veronica Fearon’s first novel and what an excellent start. Set in modern day London this is a gritty tale of love, loyalty and survival in the estates and the gangs that inhabit them. The tone, the settings, even the voices make this a novel very much of London. This is not a world I inhabit, but having lived in Brixton and Camberwell for many years it has an authentic energy I recognize.

The characters are very real. Their behavior and interaction is very recognizable. Even their internal monologues are something we can all identify with. Even if we have never been personally involved in the gangs and the ghettos this story inhabits we can all remember back to our teenage days when the bullies and the boys ‘on the make’ strutted among us, posing and pushing to establish themselves.

The interaction between Dani and her soldiers shows the level of hero worship a leader can attain, even if that leader is a Boi. Dani’s management and manipulation of the gang members she is trying to control is masterful and shows a deep understanding of the psychology of young men.

As a delightful counterpoint to all the darkness we have Dani’s obvious affection for Charlie and Mr Goldenberg her elderly tailor. We see the softer side of her soldiers when they are off duty with their women. And most of all we see how Dani’s obsessive and blind adoration of Susanna defeats all her self-control, all her native intelligence and brings out a fierce, almost animalistic, need to own and protect.

Veronica Fearon BiogThis novel is a long way from the happy WASP romances of many other LesFic authors, whose characters would not survive two minutes in this environment. It is a harsh and aggressive world, interspersed with moments of humor and lightness. Well-written and well executed. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Warning: this book contains scenes of significant violence. It is not gratuitous and is an essential part of the plot, but if you don’t like violence you may be offended by some scenes.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Village Books (September 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EZSR2MW
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Clean Slate – Andrea Bramhall

Clean Slate – Andrea BramhallMorgan Masters teaches art at an evening class. At the last session of the term she agrees to go out for a drink with one of the life models, a decision that will change the lives of everybody in her world.

Morgan wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there, in fact she has no memory of the last 20 years. Nobody can tell her when and if the memories will come back.

Morgan and Erin Masters seemed to have everything – a happy family, good friends, a lovely home and work they love. Morgan’s errant behavior before that fateful night she loses her memory have ripped their world to pieces, but in someways they now have the chance to start all over again.

Will the secrets they have kept from their past turn up and destroy their present? Or can they find a way to reconnect and a new way to trust?

——-

This is a great story. I was spellbound. I literally couldn’t put it down.

Andrea Bramall gets and holds your attention throughout this novel with multiple layers of suspense. Without giving any specific spoilers we spend our time wondering why Morgan did what she did, whether she will recover, how Morgan and Erin will cope, who is behind it all and then, when we have found out all of the above, we are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The four main characters are wonderfully drawn. We feel their pain, we understand their torment, we empathize with their decisions even though we can see that the outcome may not always be rosy. The supporting cast is also very important particularly Erin’s brother Chris and their two closest friends, who have an important role to play in the drama and emotion that unfolds

While dealing with serious subjects such as the impact of amnesia and the lifetime damage caused by child abuse, violence and abandonment, this book is also full of humor. Finding yourself a 40-year-old virgin after 15 years of marriage may not be the first thing that occurs to us but it’s certainly an issue!

Ms Bramhall portrayal of the interaction between Morgan and her two best friends adds a huge amount of light relief to what could have been a very heavy tale. The children are wonderfully drawn, with a teenagers angst and a pre-teens enthusiasm radiating off the page. And the relationship between Erin and Morgan, however stressed, is joyful to watch.

Andrea Bramhall biogAs you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and it will definitely going onto on the reread pile.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8Q5182
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