Set the Stage – Karish Walsh

Set the Stage – Karish WalshArden is a gardener at the local park, following in her grandad’s footsteps. She has a creative spark but resists adding her own design to the landscaping despite her obvious skills.  Lithia Park is the home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s open-air performances, with which she has a love hate relationship; she adores Shakespeare and sees every show, but hates the transient nature of the company – including her parents who left her behind for the bright lights elsewhere.

Every year she has a short relationship with one of the cast or crew, and each year gets hurt when they leave. So when she meets Emilie rehearsing in the Park she is determined to keep her emotional distance.

Emile has recently escaped a domineering relationship where she was constantly second and is resolutely staying single and putting herself and her career first. She sees the season in Oregon as a last chance to establish the career she too easily gave up to follow her heart. So the stage is set but the players determined to resist, always a clear sign they are drawn to each other despite their best intentions.

Karis Walsh write some of the best descriptive settings and scenes out there. Her use of colour, visual narrative and the senses draws us in to the scene and makes it real, to the point you could walk round the park or through the backstage theatre in your mind long after the scene is over.

Her characters are similarly well drawn; rounded, flawed and both have lessons to learn and growing to do. The small supporting cast of established locals and the Shakespeare company are equally well sketched and add to the colour and flavour of the whole.

Well written and edited, Walsh’s romances flow across the page with delightful ease. A mixture of humour and angst, self-doubt and learning, the main characters form a solid friendship and support each other’s professional development, grounding the whole in a sense of reality.

I never miss a new Karis Walsh and she continues to deliver new characters, setting and plots with consistently good stories and charming romance.



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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (November 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B076P6LWXK
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Hearts Orders – Jaycie Morrison

Hearts Orders – Jaycie MorrisonHelen Tucker wants to drive trucks, it’s her escape and always has been. She also wants Teresa Owens, but that might be harder to achieve as Teresa is an incredibly shy Baptist girl who has secrets she needs to deal with. Helen’s ambitions lead her into dangerous waters with her first posting, but her love for Teresa can help save her from a very dishonourable discharge.

Sergeant Rains and Private Elizabeth Smythe both have issues to overcome as they try to establish a life together in a world that doesn’t accept them on many levels. But Smythe has a secret that could destroy them.

Following directly on from “Basic Training of the Heart” this is a sweet romance set in the Women’s Army Core in 1942 at the height of WWII. It stands alone perfectly well, although “Basic Training of the Heart” is also an excellent read so why not try both.

Jaycie Morrison has captured the mood of an era really well in these novels; the fear of the married women whose husbands are overseas, the attitude of the men who take their place for granted, the hostility of the black ghetto at night, and the determination of the women who have signed up to the WAC to not only do a good job but to forge a place for themselves in the world.

The characters are well drawn and each has a journey to take, learning to do. From the platoon being thrown together for basic through to the rivalry and hostility of the sergeants we get to see a wide range of characters all in a very new situation, finding their way in a man’s world and for many the first time they have not only left home but travelled out of state and away from their family.

The romances are sweet and gentle, the mood is soft focus despite the harsh realities of the time. An excellent follow up in the Love and Courage Series, I look forward to book three.



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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075RNTXSK
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Changing Perspectives – Jen Silver

Changing Perspectives – Jen SilverDani Baker is an artistic director with a high-flying career and successful business who lives her life on the edge of ‘polite’ society. Wearing grunge with pride, a leather dyke who likes S&M and regularly visits very private members clubs, she is used to being judged and sneered at for her life choices.

Camilla Callaghan couldn’t be more different. Uptight, finance director, well dressed and repressed, she is so far in the closet nobody but a few friends even knew she was living with a woman for 10 years, or lost her partner in a tragic attack.

When the two meet through work the attraction is instant but they are so far apart in so many ways it seems a very unlikely pairing. Dani might pursue Camilla and convince her to take a chance, but will Camilla be everything she desires or another vanilla lesbian who shy’s away from Dani’s real needs?

Set in London in 1993 this is a great flash back novel and brought back all sorts of memories. No mobiles, using an A to Z instead of google maps, dial up modems and Silver Moon books. Jen Silver has perfectly recaptured the mood and tone of the gay scene and reminds us how far we have come. How brave we felt being ‘out and proud’ and how public awareness of LGBT people and AIDS has changed.

Dani is an amazing character, presenting herself as a rough and tough dyke in men’s suits and leathers she is a highly intelligent, well educated and cultured woman who accepts the price she has to pay for being herself. Camilla is the exact opposite in terms of the price she pays because she chooses to hide who she is, even from herself. Dani doesn’t expect acceptance even on a social level, whereas Camilla doesn’t expect to ever feel strong passions and real fulfilment.

A brilliant supporting cast of friends and colleagues, Camila’s bosses and Dani’s workmates are extremely well drawn, and morph from sketchy background figures into real friends. The reaction of Camila’s friends and family to Dani is well done even if her parents relatively easy acceptance might be something we all wished for back in 1993.

Excellent storyline, interesting characters, gentle exploration of the fetish/S&M scene of the era and a delightful journey of self-discovery, this is definitely Jen Silver’s best to date and it’s great to see her step outside the charming and rather parochial English romances into something with a lot more bite.



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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 309 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity Rainbow(October 31, 2017)
  • ASIN: B0772FMLKT
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A Fairytale of Possibilities – Kiki Archer

A Fairytale of Possibilities – Kiki ArcherLauren is the archetypal lesbian in love with her BFF. The best friend a girl could have, always there, always solid, never meeting her one true love, so never going off in her own direction, but secretly in agony – loving a straight girl. She spends her time being everything she can be to Rachel, supportive, caring, witty and fun, while on the inside she longs for more.

Rachel has never admitted to being a little bi-curious, or wondering why Lauren never made a play for her; she is certainly a bit of a player. But as she emerges from the grief of her husband’s death, Lauren’s place in her life and her heart becomes even more critical. And so begins a comedy of errors, of unspoken truths hidden behind flirty but guarded innuendo as both women have things to say but no way of saying them and it is, of course, the straight woman who must do the running.

Witty, sharp and clever this is definitely a laugh out loud romcom and the perfect entertainment for a night in front of the fire. The dialogue between Lauren and Rachel is first class and Trudy, Lauren’s madcap assistant, is absolutely brilliant. Archer certainly has the eye for a situation-comedy, and puts her characters into places where you can see the Monty Python moment coming from a mile away but it never fails to entertain.

It is literally full of laughs, both out loud at the comedic situations and internal as we recognise and empathise with the women trying to communicate or hide their secrets. There is plenty of romcom angst and drama, but there is also a serious undertone and darker shades which takes it from being a comedy into something more than a fairytale. Both women have things to learn, and the character development via horse whispering is absolutely hysterical.

Well written, cleverly put together and totally entertaining, this is an excellent way to drive out the winter blues. I thoroughly enjoyed it.



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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: K.A Books (June 13, 2017)
  • ASIN: B0721QDM5L
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Rock and a Hard Place – Andrea Bramhall

Rock and a Hard Place – Andrea BramhallJayden is a world class mountain climber. With her sister she owns a small company and leads climbs up some of the toughest mountains in the world. When disaster strikes she can’t help but blame herself, and retreats from life on several levels.

Rhian is a marketing executive who is handed her dream project, setting up and managing a reality show based around professional climbing. The pair are forced together by circumstances beyond their control, and held there by the demands of the show and the glare of social media. But love has a way of working things out over time, in ways neither of them expected.

An excellent new story from Andrea Bramhall. The setting is unusual, feels extremely real and well researched with detailed and knowledgeable descriptions of an environment and sport most of us have never experienced. The nearly fatal episode we witness vicariously with the team caries you away completely, well written, cleverly narrated and imagined, it feels like we are right there with them.

The cast of characters are wide ranging from the typical London marketing agency high powered executives to the alternate lifestyle climbers who range from dreadlocked modern day hippies to attention grabbing egomaniacs. All are fully real and simply, yet cleverly, filled in.  The central cast, Jaydem, Rhian, their immediate family and core team, are well drawn and well rounded, with flaws and bright spots, journeys to travel and lessons to learn.

It’s a very traditional romance, a simple misunderstanding creating the drama, but for me it was well done. The multiple plot lines and constant action of the climbing mitigated what could have become a rather too much angst, but was well balanced and cleverly thought through.

Overall another excellent story; there is definitely room for a sequel with this cast and a second series in the making. Well written and executed it felt different and that made it a very welcome addition to the traditional romance collection.



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: 310 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva  (November 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B077GCN588
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Outcaste – Fletcher DeLancey

Outcaste – Fletcher DelanceyThis is the 6th instalment of the Chronicles of Alsea series and one of the best, which says a great deal given they all rate five stars. While it is a strong part of the series it can be read as a stand-alone because of the slight ‘separateness’ of the storyline. But if you read this first you are going to want to go back and read 1-5; they are just too good to miss.

Outcaste finds 10-year-old Rahel dreaming of becoming a warrior, reading all the books she can find, and longing to be allowed to start training. By 15 she is even more set in her path when her merchant father and crafter mother announce they are inscribing her as a merchant early to prevent her from following her ‘unrealistic’ dreams. Like any determined teenager she leaves like a thief in the night, setting out for Whitesun and a very uncertain future.

Surviving the first few ninedays by luck more than good judgement she settles into the life of an outcaste, literally a non-person who does not have the rights or support of a caste house, and must live by low paid day work, quick wits and strength of character alone. Along with the friends she begins to make she must forge a way to survive until she can challenge for the right to join the Warriors at 18.

Rahel is a brilliant lead character. Fletcher Delancy does her usual amazing job of building a character from the inside-out, only this time we get to see the child become the woman, live literally every step of the journey into adulthood, and watch the person evolve and emerge from the childish hopes and dreams. Flawed despite her honest and honourable nature Rahel is a classic hero, who must fall from grace and risk everything to claw her way back, finding her true self in the process.

Fletcher DeLancey bioThe world-building and descriptive scene building in this series is outstanding, some of the best there is, the people, places and deep emotional sense of continuity shows the hand of a truly great fantasy writer. The secondary characters alone rate 5-star. You simply get lost in the alternate reality and forget it’s a book – a story – it just feels so real.

As the plot progresses we move from the isolated and relatively insular life of a teenage runaway into the larger world and revisit many of the major events of the first 5 novels, but from a refreshingly alternate viewpoint, bringing in the major players who have formed the core of the overall saga and filling in details we didn’t even know we were missing. I have to admit I had my doubts about the story arc, I was really concerned with where Rahel was going, her behaviour becoming increasing distant from the woman we had watched grow into the honourable warrior, but Delancey flipped it round in expert style and created a heroic saga of epic proportions, the rise, the fall and the rebirth. I should have known better given the section titles.

Overall, just outstanding. Excellent writing and editing, top class storytelling and a wonderful addition to an already top-notch series. I can’t wait for book 7.



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: 598 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Heartsome Publishing
    (October 27, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075TCR9LM
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Picking the Right Heart – Jade Winters

Picking the Right Heart - Jade WintersWhen Adriana’s beloved grandmother dies her high spending lifestyle comes to a crashing halt until she can secure her inheritance. She must deliver a handwritten letter to a woman she’s never even heard of, a task that will take her across the world and into a very different reality.

Jessica is living a life that is a million miles from the Chelsea set, scraping a living in a dead-end job and fighting to pay her bills. Adriana is a breath of fresh air, and offers Jessica the chance to see a world beyond her dingy flat and the prospect of dancing at a men’s club. The two appear to have nothing in common, but their whirlwind adventure will show both women what is really important in life.

This is a great fun read with a poignant message. Adriana is a spoilt little rich girl who doesn’t know her world is balanced on very shaky foundations. Her gran is her rock and once she has gone Adriana’s financial situation changes, her ‘friends’ turn away and her parents push her towards a high society ‘arranged’ marriage. Jessica is the exact opposite, a down to earth, working class girl doing her best to survive. What they share is love of their Grandmothers and of course a spark of attraction or it wouldn’t be a romance.

The plot is a madcap chase across the globe, leading the girls into a better understanding of each other’s worlds, and themselves. Bea’s letter to Eddy will have most in tears and reminds us all how far we have come while showing us what really matters.

Thoroughly enjoyable; well written and edited, light hearted and fast paced, it kept me riveted to see where we would shoot off to next.



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: 179 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Wicked Winters  (October 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B076L17HNJ
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Eyes Like those – Melissa Brayden

Eyes Like Those – Melisa BraydenBook 1 in a new series set around the Seven Shores apartment complex in Venice Beach, CA and the wonderfully named coffee shop The Cat’s Pajamas, this is Brayden at her best.

Isabel is working dead end waitress jobs to force herself to write. She gets fired, again, but just as she starts to feel the pressure her bff calls to tell her she is lined up for an interview as a staff writer on the top TV show around, and suddenly Isabel’s world is transformed.

Taylor is Isabel’s role model, a hugely successful writer now running her own show and at the top of her game, a Hollywood player. Just getting the chance to work with her is huge, but when the sparks start to fly both women have hard choices to make about their personal lives and their careers.

This is a great start to a new series. A wide-ranging cast from Isabel’s new friends at Venice Beach to the crew and writers at the TV studio and Taylors wonderful friend Scarlett. The setting is well drawn, with the complex and neighbours sketched in ready for more detail and the coffee house a perfect meeting place.

Isabel and Taylor have the classic traditional romance, the “should they, shouldn’t they – but can’t resist”, the “obstacles to overcome; work, ex’s and career choices”, the “heart-rending break-up” that we all know will resolve into a crashing HEA. But while that might sound like a criticism Melisa Brayden does it so well that the formula sinks into the background. We all know how it will end, we can predict many of the steps along the way, but it’s such an enjoyable read that we still wait with bated breath for the story to unfold.

Melissa BraydenDespite being Isabel and Taylor’s story the other characters are incredibly strong; lightly sketched but still drawn in as complex multi-layered people; Scarlett with her excellent wit and grounding role in Taylor’s life, Gia, Hadley and Autumn at the complex who will no doubt be leading future books, even the grumpy landlord and the lead barista are memorable. These characters are people we want to be friends with – and more than anything this is a celebration of friendship and that wonderful bonding between women that simply makes our world a better place.

Brayden’s writing is just getting better and better. The story is well done, full of well-honed wit and humour, the characters are complex and interesting and the whole wrapped in the excellent craftsmanship of the master.

I will admit that I sometimes get bored of reading ten or more traditional romances a month and long for something different, but “Eyes Like Those” rejuvenates my romantic side. Excellent reading, highly recommended, can’t wait for book 2.



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: 287 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075RYS527
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Captured Soul – Laydin Michaels

Captured Soul - Laydin MichaelsThree women and a gallery show, all connected by complex relationships and the twisted art of a serial killer.

Kadence is recovering from a broken heart and excited about her first exhibition, until she realises the woman who destroyed her relationship is also exhibiting at the gallery. While she knows that Shiva’s bronzes are amazing they are almost too perfect and something about them, along with the disappearance of her ex, leads her to look a little harder.

Mallory runs a high end art gallery but feels under constant pressure to live up to the acclaim of her famous artist mother. She is caught up in a seriously manipulative relationship with the sculptress, who seems determined to play hard to get just to keep her guessing.

Sheva is a gifted sculptress with a twisted mind. For her nothing and nobody can stand in the way of her art.

Laydin Michaels has written a very unusual psycho-thriller. The setting is interesting, just beyond most of our knowledge but recognisable and intriguing as a backdrop. The whodunit is obvious from early on; the thrill comes from discovering the details with the amateur sleuth and not knowing if she will work it out in time to save the next victim. The crimes are bizarre but just believable enough to make this a very good story.

The three main characters are all strong in their own way. Kaydence is complex, damaged by a difficult childhood, she has learned to deal with her own issues. She is somebody we can all empathise with and root for. Mallory is less likeable, but as her character unfolds she becomes more human and less the hard-nosed gallery owner. Her relationship with her mother is clearly a defining force that she needs to resolve in order to break free. Shiva is dark, mad, complicated and ultimately evil. As we move between the three, using interior monologue and third person, Ms Michaels weaves a complex emotional and psychological web.

It’s well written, and with each book Laydin Michaels’ writing matures and her characters and plots deepen. The mystery/thriller story arcs are very well done and make a welcome change, something unusual to get your teeth into. For me the romance started well but became secondary to the thriller and I do think that this is miss-classified as primarily a romance when the psychological thriller is so much stronger.

Really enjoyed this and look forward to whatever twisted evil Ms Michaels comes up with next.



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: 255 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075QWKWSN
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Heart Stop – Radclyffe

Heart Stop – RadclyffeTwo interesting women meet and clash personalities as they are forced to work together in the ME’s department. Assistant chief medical examiner Olivia Price is emotionally cut off and distant. She resents having somebody forced on her who hasn’t passed through the normal channels. Jay “Flash” Reynolds was a high-flying trauma surgeon until an accident left her physically damaged and emotionally bereft at the loss of her career. Forced by friends in high places to try out in a different discipline she is angry and resentful of the changes. Thrown together by chance and caught up in local drug wars the two women must find a way to work together.

This is a mashup from the Justice and Frist Responder Series’ and although it does work as a standalone you certainly get more from knowing the backstory of many of the secondary characters. Cops, trauma surgeons, firefighters, and now medical examiners all play a role with a host of characters re-appearing as minor characters. As with many of Radclyffe’s books it’s like touching base with old friends.

The crime story is somewhat secondary, while it plays an important part in the action of the novel it is more of a vehicle to the developing working relationship of the main characters; their increasing friendship and interdependence. As always the medical drama and detail is excellent and I always enjoy learning more about different disciplines within the medical world.

It’s fast paced, full of detail with multiple story arcs and re-visits, along with a slow burn romance and powerful women who need to grow into a relationship by overcoming their issues, both physical and emotional. Another strong Radclyffe story and a good cross over between series.



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: 272 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B07318NYRR
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