Buried Heart – Laydin Michaels

Buried Heart – Laydin MichaelsWe first meat Drew aged 11 running down a street as if she has been transported there from outer space, with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Unusually her amnesia doesn’t fade, although the nightmares do after years of therapy.

Jump to Drew aged 26, working as a Ranger and bopping at the local festival, when she meats the gorgeous Cicely and they form an instant bond. The romance seems set to develop despite Cicely’s’ rather one sided obsession about truth and honesty.

But Drew has started to receive anonymous text messages, and the nightmares flare up again, putting stress on their budding relationship. When a strange man speaks to Drew’s younger sister a warning flares, but her stalker will get much closer before her memories return and uncover the horror of her childhood.

The suspense and terror in ‘Buried Heart’ are very real, the horror of a sadistic man’s behaviour had me turning the pages to get through it, hoping for a happy ever after ending, but dreading a fateful twist in the plot. Ms Michaels can certainly create a crescendo of angst that builds and builds until it is almost unbearable and then crashes like a tidal wave against the shore with the release of pent up energy.

Drew is a likeable and interesting character, Cicely less so, and although her background explains her demanding nature, she is certainly never warm and fuzzy. Drew’s family, particularly her mother, along with her friend Preston and Cicely’s closest friend Kallie, provide the warmth and care, the gentler and loving side.

The dialogue was, at times, a little heavy and the editing could have been tighter, but the author certainly has a gift for thrilling the reader and holding you in thrall. After all they went through I was not convinced by their happy ever after protestations, but I am certain that I wanted, needed, them to survive and escape the horror, however damaged they might be. Ms Michaels should definitely be writing more page turning thrillers.


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(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N7J7LAU
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Courageous Love – KC Richardson

Courageous Love - KC RichardsonTake one happy and well centered ER nurse add one handsome Cop and the scene is set for a happy ever after. But throw in a life threatening disease and KC Richardson ramps up the angst.

Alex has a loving family, great friends, a godson she dotes on and a job she loves as an ER nurse. When a gorgeous sergeant pulls her over for speeding and texting, she gets all kinds of angry, but it sparks an attraction for both of them.
Several months later when Alex is diagnosed with the same disease that killed the most important women in Franki’s world and the stage is set for a traumatic time for all of them.

This is a great storyline and felt very well done. While there is a heavy dose of angst, it’s justified and well handled. There is a lot of medical information, but again it felt appropriate, and used to accentuate the overwhelming decisions and emotions of somebody faced with life defining choices.

Alex and Frank are well drawn and along with their closest friends and Alex’s family, become familiar characters we would be happy to meet and get to know. I haven’t read ‘New Beginnings” which sets up Jordan and Kirsten, but their relationship is delightful as is their son Aiden, Alex’s God-son,.

The impact of the disease on the friendly and easygoing Alex is extreme, making her an almost Jekyll and Hyde personality in the two halves of the story. But while extreme Ms Richardson amply justifies the feelings of a young woman whose surgery, in her mind, destroys her femininity.

I personally would have preferred Francesca to be Franki rather than Frank, she felt soft butch despite her uniform, and the fully masculine form seemed harsh, but that is purely personal.

My only real criticism of the book was that it needed a much heavier red pen to take out both word and explanatory repetition, rapidly becoming my biggest bugbear in the works of our newer authors, but then again that is hardly the author’s fault if they aren’t being told.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (December 13, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MQL2744
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The Lavender List – Meg Harrington

The lavender list - Meg Harrington1950’s thriller romance which finds an ex mobster, Amelia, working in a diner and doing auditions. Her crush is the swarve and sexy Laura who lives in the room next door at their boarding hotel. When Laura turns up at the diner with a bad cut and bruises Amelia starts to wonder quite where she goes all dolled up in the evenings, and her investigations lead her into a world of car chases, gun battles and the ongoing war between the USA and communist Russia.

I enjoyed the plot although it didn’t quite go where the blub suggested, i.e. back into Amelia’s mobster world. It was an interesting idea to explore what happened to the brave women who risked everything to work with the European resistance against the Nazis after the war – the expectation for them to go home and settle into 1950’s normalcy of home and children.

This story is certainly full of suspense. Both the romance and the thrill of the chase, with spies and mobsters and even the ‘good guys’ taking a hand. The first half sets the real characters, the second shows what they have become, far from the women they are perceived to be.

The characters of Amelia and Laura are likable, although I never really felt connected to them, but then that is also an element of those 1950’s stories, cool and slightly distant however much the hearts may be fluttering underneath.

The style worked really well for this plot and period, short, catchy writing, lots of sarcasm, definitely imitation the noir of 1950’s detective stories. At times the POV in the second half was a little difficult to follow, it certainly jumps around a great deal. But my only real issue was some of the language used was decidedly not 1950’s NYC, one phrase threw me out completely, the setting and props all seemed perfect for the era, but the language felt decidedly modern.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was a fun and entertaining read.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva (November 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MQIYTI0
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Hindsight – Jody Klaire

Hindsight – Jody KlaireAction/Adventure, thriller, super Special Ops crime drama with a side order of phychic powers and the slowest burn romance imaginable. There are just so many ways to describe Hindsight, book 4 in the “Above and Beyond Series” that I almost don’t know where to start.

Well actually let’s start by saying this is a series, and while it might be possible to read this as a standalone there is such a huge history of fact and inter-relationships building up that if you haven’t read the first three then you need to go back and start at the beginning, it will be worth the time and effort and pay off ten-fold.

This latest epic instalment is breath-taking. The action is fast paced, the number of players on the table at any one time is unbelievable and the combination of flashbacks and current action, from multiple points of view, left me gasping. And yet somehow Jody Klaire not only manages to keep all the storylines, points of view and personalities clear, she somehow manages to bring it all to a successful resolution.

As the series progresses we are pulled deeper and deeper into the characters, this time it’s Frei that is revealed along with a huge chuck of her history. All the major players, Aeron and Renee, Lilia and Eli, Nan and even Huber are constantly being fleshed out and filled in. Klaire keeps the development and reveal going while cleverly introducing new characters and seamlessly slotting them in as major players on the chessboard. Oh and you are going to love Aunt Bess.

Jody KlaireThe plot is both complex and simple. The overall story arc has a team of special ops forces and FBI investigator types chasing a ring of child slavers, but the sub plots and personal journeys are convoluted and delivered with incredible detail, making the whole become an exploration of the psychology of each major character. Phenomenal.

I literally couldn’t put it down and read half the night, only to cancel my morning and reach for it over coffee. Now I have to take a week off everything else and re-read the whole series to date because I am completely fascinated all over again. If you love fast paced action adventure, psychological thrillers, crime – any of the above, believe me, this series is pure heaven. It is already a classic mind-bending journey and I cannot wait for book 5, “Noble Heart”, to come and confound me all over again.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (December 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01NCL39TN
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Depth of Blue – Lise MacTague

Depth of Blue – Lise MacTagueJak Stowell is a female sniper in an all-male army on a planet on the fringe of the galaxy that has been at war for years. Torrin Ivanov is a smuggler hoping to supply at least one side of the civil war on Haefen, with weapons, equipment and supplies. The two women’s lives are about to intersect as Jak’s latest mission is to kill the smuggler, Torrin. Unknown to all parties involved, Torrin is a woman. You see, women on Haefen cannot run businesses or own property. They practically are property on this beautiful blue planet on the outskirts of civilization.

Negotiations take a decided turn for the worse and then Jak shows up.

That’s all I’m telling you about the book…other than their flight back across to the Devonite side of the conflict provides much of the tension in the story as Torrin is attracted to Jak and also completely dependent on this “man” to protect her and get her to some semblance of safety. You just simply must read the rest to see how beautifully Lise MacTague draws you into the story in the second half of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters that Lise MacTague has drawn in Depths of Blue. The world building is top-notch and the back stories of the characters are told in such a way as to move the story along and not in a pedantic, expository way. I would recommend anyone who likes a good sci-fi book give this a try. The romance is a natural offshoot of the story and not forced. Keeping Jak’s cover as a male sniper in the Devonite army is another source of good tension in the story. The story builds very well to a pleasing and well thought out climax and has me already reading the second book in the trilogy.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 24, 2015)
  • ASIN: B00Y8FREBQ
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The Roundabout – Gerri Hill

The Roundabout - Gerri HillThis isn’t my normal type of review – and there’s a spoiler about the storyline, so be warned.

On the one hand this is a lighthearted enjoyable read about slightly older women in a small town searching for love. Its starts with a bunch of single friends and through a series of sometimes funny and sometime poignant happenings we get to the expected happy ever after. It’s full of humour and the main relationship is delightful to watch.

As with all Gerri Hill’s books its well written and crafted, well edited. I liked the main characters, particularly Leah who I thought was a particularly gentle and genuine woman. At times I was slightly frustrated by the amount of emphasis on “I am too old to fall in love” or “They cant possibly get together they are too old”.. I don’t know how old Gerri Hill is but at 52 I certainly hope to fall in love again.

<SPOILER>
However one  of the storylines is one older woman bullying another character. This is going to be controversial, and I think many women will be upset and offended. If ‘light hearted’ but rather creepy and stalkersh cyber abuse, done as teasing and playing around, but taken too far, will upset you – don’t read it.

It didn’t completely ruin the book for me, but I think the plot could have started with this storyline as a tool to create the situation, then it could have been dealt with much earlier and the moral of the story not allowed the perpetrator to get off with ‘sorry’ and get her own HEA ending.

I normally love Gerri Hill’s books, and it’s great to see a story about older women finding love, just unfortunate in how one storyline has been dealt with. I suspect neither the author or publisher will have expected the strength of emotion this has generated among some readers and reviewers.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 13, 2016)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594935206
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Without Justice – Carsen Taite

Without Justice – Carsen TaiteWhen prosecuting attorney Cade Kelly becomes the target of a hit man her old life is ripped away by the need for witness protection and severing all ties with the past. Slowly daring to open up the possibility of starting again she meets Emily Sinclair, newly elected DA in the small town Cade now calls home.

While their attraction is instant Cade knows it is all built on a lie and tries to keep her distance. But when the past intrudes her fierce belief in justice overcomes her fear of being found, and drags Emily into the battle for survival.

This is a great read, fast passed, interesting and takes a slightly different tack from the normal crime/courtroom drama having a lawyer in the witness protection system whose case becomes the hidden centre of another crime.

Cade and Emily are likable and you want them to succeed, despite wanting to shake them sometimes to get the truth out. The attraction is instant, the sex is hot and the ‘falling’ rapid, but it exactly suits the fast paced drama. The background characters are somewhat fleeting, and there is definitely room for a sequel fleshing out family and friends as well as pitting the lawyers against each other.

As always you can wish for more, more time to get to know the characters, more time for them to develop, but that is not the nature of the beast and I really enjoyed immersing myself in this rapid fire adventure. Suspend your disbelief, take the plunge, it’s definitely worth the effort.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 13, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MRME0ET
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Just Juliet – Charlotte Reagan

Just Juliet - Charlotte ReaganCharlotte Reagan’s debut novel is a cracker. It tells the tale of the classic American girl next door, with a cheerleader best friend and a football player boyfriend, who finds herself instantly drawn to the new girl in class. That new girl is stunning, fascinating, and gay. As the two spend more and more time together we are drawn into the unusual family dynamics of a gay teenage household and the dawning love between these two interesting young women.

The story is slightly chaotic, not in a bad way, but it reflects the madness of late teenage years; moods, friendships, ebbs and flows, ups and downs. It feels genuinely like watching teenage life and the growing pains both physical and emotional we all go through.

The writing is sparky and alive. At the start it feels a little immature, but like the characters it grows as the book progresses, and we can almost see this young debut author finding her voice as the story unfolds.

The characters are well done, Lena and Juliette, as well as BFF Lacey, are well-developed and interesting individuals, each with their own quirks and identities, each with a path to follow. Lakyn and Scott, Juliet’s gay cousin and his boyfriend, add a really interesting layer of friendship and multiply the coming out story and teenage angst of new relationships and social interaction.

This is a classic YA/NA coming out story, well told, well written and a great debut novel. Definitely one I would recommend for any teenager or YA/NA exploring their sexuality or learning about diversity.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Inkitt (September 17, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LXVPW3M
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Lost In The Starlight – Kiki Archer

Lost In The Starlight - Kiki ArcherSomewhere between a classic Trad romance and a comedy of errors this is a very British RomCom and you definitely need to suspend disbelief.. but then why not.

Take an A-list superstar from a power celebrity family, molded and manipulated by her Orwellian mother, a lovely woman who doesn’t know who or what she is because life has never been real. Balance her with the ugly duckling who is a good journalist overwhelmingly frustrated by not being able to tell the real truth, and whose outlet for that is a hard hitting truth-telling celebrity-watch site. Add naïve use of beards, long term crushes and a whole ensemble of variously mad supporting characters and you have Lost in the Starlight.

It flows with gay abandon, the writing is stylish and well crafted. Ms Archer shows a delicious and wicked sense of humour and comic timing. The bringing low of the superstars PA/controller is a particularly amusing sub-plot, and nobody will feel quite comfortable going for a massage with a trainee masseuse again.

Despite all the silliness the main characters are real, with faults and fears and a learning curve that lifts them beyond the pure caricature into likable and sympathetic young women that you cant help but route for. The rest of the cast defies description to be honest, there’s barely a sane one between them.

Highly entertaining, amusing and fun, with a serious subtext about being ourselves and fighting to stand up to those who would force us into their mold, this is a far more layered book than it might first appear.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: K.A Books (September 6, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LWDYI4O
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The Review – Annette Mori

The Review – Annette MoriWhen a successful lesbian romance writer sets up a competition to meet her greatest fan, all manner of people can feel slighted and upset. Silver Lining, the author, knows who will win, as only one person has read the book pre-release, but she doesn’t expect the winners ex to get involved, or jealous stalkers to take a hand.

This is a fun read, complex and thoughtful but with a lot of humour. It deals with two difficult subjects – the guilt of moving on from losing your wife and mental illness. It also highlights how easy stalking is in the internet age where ‘fans’ can not only find everything they need on line, but hide behind intricate tech walls to protect themselves from discovery. And ultimately it’s a sweet romance, one in which two women need to emerge from difficult pasts and have the courage to take a step into the future.

The characters are well done and varied, their emotional issues, whether sympathetic or not, are carefully constructed and believable. While the main focus is on 6 women, the appearance of a classic gay bff, Preston, lightens the drama and creates a real sense of amusement.

Annette Mori BioThe tension is real. Annette Mori cleverly builds up a classic stalker profile in our minds, and then spins us around when we are completely confident we know what is happening. There’s a point of high drama, and a kind resolution, overall a well done story arc and a pleasing flow.

Ms Mori takes interesting subjects and writes good books. I did think there were a few places at the beginning that could have been tightened up with sharper editing, but once past those the story sweeps you away. I always enjoy reading this author and this is no exception.

Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Affinity (September 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LXE57N4
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