Escape in Time – Robyn Nyx

Escape in Time - Robyn NyxEscape in Time is the first book in an expected trilogy from author Robyn Nyx. In the world Ms. Nyx has created for her readers is a powerful corporation called Pulsus. It derives its power from technology that they have developed and that only they have access to – technology to travel through time and medical regeneration. Their main goal is to build a better future by saving the lives of people in the past. The corporation is located on its own island where most all of the employees live as well as work.

The bulk of this book is the story of a mission to Nazi Germany to save a Jewish doctor on the brink of discovering the cure to cancer and the emotional repercussions the team members experience when they return to their time, in the future. The mission team consists of three operatives, Delaney, Simson and Griffin and their extractor, Landry. After the operatives have embedded themselves in their undercover roles in the past, the extractor arrives to effectuate the actual rescue and then bring the team back to their time.

The portion of the story told from the Nazi concentration camp is well-written and realistic. This shows me that the author took the time to do her research on the time period. An unexpected relationship develops in the camp that has implications for the arc of the series even beyond this first book. Characterizations are finely detailed and help to drive the plot forward both on and off mission.

As a life-long science fiction fan, I do find it disconcerting when advances in technology aren’t sufficiently explained as to how they work. For me that is what puts the “science” in science fiction. When these advances in scientific knowledge, time travel and medical regeneration technology are basically referred to as fait accompli, the story then moves into the realm of speculative fiction. A story about a possible future without the scientific underpinnings in a book categorized as science fiction. The author only references some equipment used in both of these technologies in use at Pulsus but no real explanation into the scientific basis for their use.

This however is my only real quibble with the story.  Ms. Nyx tells an awesome story with real characters and that to my mind is the goal of a good book. I truly enjoyed reading Escape in Time and am eagerly awaiting the second in the series, Change in Time, expected in November 2017.



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 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XPDNJ7P
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Unexpected by Jenny Frame

Unexpected - Jenny FrameDale McGuire is a player who enjoys her life just as it is. Different women, fast cars and no responsibility except for the business she owns and the few friends she loves. Life couldn’t be better.

Rebecca Harper, a stranger to Dale and someone who is hurt and struggling with life is about to have her world rocked to the core.
Both women have nothing in common, or do they. The presence of Rebecca’s ten- year- old son throws Dale into a spin, especially when he claims she is his other mother.

I found this book fascinating, especially how the storyline was handled. I thought it was well written, dealing with a difficult issue. The two main characters were likeable as was the ten-year-old Jake.

I really enjoyed this book and found it different to the usual romance novels. I can certainly recommend 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.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 15, 2017)
  • ASIN: B073W2M2DD
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Sidebar – Carsen Taite

Sidebar by Carsen TaiteAttorney West Fallon has promised a federal judge that she will take a year away from her career to clerk for him, she may even wear a suit. However when he is taken ill the plans change and she is forced to clerk for a different judge, something she hadn’t bargained on and certainly isn’t looking forward to.

Judge Camille Avery, newly appointed to the federal court is looking forward to her new role, however a complex murder case, unruly attorneys, broken rules and her attraction to West Fallon all add up to make her life miserable.

As the two women work together they offer each other something they crave. As their attraction grows so does their fear and insecurities. Is it possible to let go of the past for the sake of a chance of happiness?

I really enjoyed the book, it keeps you interested from start to finish. There are so many different threads to keeps you on your toes. I found myself rooting for West all the way through, hoping that she would eventually find the happiness she deserved.



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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 15, 2017)
  • ASIN: B073WCJ8DF
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In Conversation with – Kiki Archer, Clare Ashton and Jade Winters. LFEST 2017

Jade, Kiki and ClareAt the Romance Writers session at LFest last weekend Clare Ashton read from her award winning latest novel, Poppy Jenkins, Jade Winters, author of an amazing 17 books, read from her recent release, Lost in You, and Kiki Archer amused us all with an excerpt from her no1 best seller a fairytale of possibilities. Afterwards I got the chance to interview them, a challenging bunch who need a firm hand.

If you don’t know these writers – well Claire comes across as quite “proper” but has a wicked sense of humour and her books, which range from rather dark and challenging to light-hearted romance and hysterical slap stick, have a high number of references to bottoms and breasts. As she points out, the Brits aren’t quite as proper as people assume.

Jade Winters is painfully shy in front of a crowd. This was her first reading and she claims it will be her last, although she clearly isn’t quite as shy when dragged out by Kiki and there were off the record tales of disco divas and definitely brazen fan girl behaviours.

And Kiki Archer… what’s to say? Great writer of chick lit for lesbians, funny, sarcastic and highly amusing, Kiki is a great entertainer. “Always on Archer” knows just where the camera is and her model good looks certainly don’t hurt her PR.

I started off asking them their past involvement in LFest. Kiki and Claire have both been on readings, panels and even run a workshop in previous years, as well as being part of the LFest Polari event a few years ago. Jade has been before but this was her first reading. She commented that if it wasn’t for Kiki she wouldn’t know about LFest, she hadnt picked up on it, only Kiki’s involvement really got her interested in coming along.

Kiki and Clare both have 2 children and I asked about them staying to see more of the festival. Clare said her two were exhausted with the end of school year activities so she had left them at home but Kiki said she would be bringing hers over to LFest on the Sunday as there seemed to be so much going on they would enjoy like the face painting and circus skills.

They all enjoyed their panel although “enjoyed” is a word Jade probably wouldn’t use about any public appearance. They thought the audience was great, really interactive and welcoming. There were lots of questions and audience participation which they loved. I think all three were shocked just how many of the audience had read their books and the level of knowledge they showed about these authors’ works. It certainly came across that all three were delighted with the reception they got from the LFest crowd.

It became clear during the Q&A that several of the audience were writers and wanted to learn from these authors. I asked whether they thought writers workshops would fit into the LFest format and they thought there would definitely be takers. Clare and Kiki did a workshop style panel a few years ago and got a good turnout.

All three authors agreed that LFest was really important for promoting British lesbian writers. Since regional events such as the York Lesbian Arts Festival (YLAF) folded, the only national events have been LFest and the BSB festival in Nottingham. This year we have the inaugural DIVA awards in November, but unlike in the US, we have very few regional and local events that authors can attend in the UK, and very few places for readers to meet their favourite authors. The demise of the small independent bookshops has also caused a decline in readings, which makes it so much harder for authors to reach out. They all agree that LFest was a brilliant opportunity to interact and in their experience the ‘literary’ segment of the festival is just getting stronger each year with more authors and more sessions.

Moving on to their own writing I asked them what they were working on; in my experience authors are ALWAYS working on something. Surprisingly Kiki has taken the summer off and Clare’s daughter starts full time school this autumn so she is also spending the summer with the kids although she did admit to jotting down story ideas. Jade didn’t disappoint though, she is working on her 18th novel “Starting Over Again” which will be out August 2017.

I asked Jade how she had managed to write 17 books in 7 years to which she replied – “I’m a full time writer” and when we all raised her eyebrows she grinned at the other two and added “No kids”. Kiki says she will literally start the day she drops the kids back at school in September, back to her 9.30-2.30pm routine. Claire is contemplating how to ensure she has less references to breasts and bottoms in her next work, when she goes back in the autumn it will be as a full-time writer.

We ended with some “Have you ever…” questions:

Have you ever written poetry?
Jade – “Yes”
Claire – “ummm not since I was about six”
Kiki – “Yes, even had it published although I don’t advertise that. To be fair they were songs but hey, I was asked or a poem and sent them in. So yes you can buy my songs.. I’ll send you the link. “

At which point we agreed they should form a new girl group – based on Kiki’s promo video Jade has the beat, Kiki has the rap and Clare has the ‘flick’. In reality Clare would be at the back, probably behind the drums with a screen in front of her. Jade wouldn’t have a mic but would be making some moves. Kiki would be front and centre, right in the spotlight.

Have you ever regretted publishing something?
Claire – “No, not yet, I’m sure I will at some point”
Jade – nods in agreement
Kiki – “No, you can’t regret anything – that’s one of the things about being an independent self-published author, every book is this huge journey and a huge amount of learning.”

Have you ever had a crush on another author?
Clare giggles
Jade sidles up to Kiki
Kiki  -“These two obviously – I mean really Clare Ashton and Jade Winters!” She carries on, “Well there was that boozy pizza night with Melissa Brayden…”
Clare – “Oh my, I was under the table and you two were singing show tunes!”

Have you ever had a fan/stalker?
Clare – “No I get these really lovely fans who write me lovely emails saying how much they like my books”
Kiki – “No.. not really, but I have got this weird thing that happened with a foot fetish about my feet. I sat one year at LFest and was flicking my foot, somebody recorded it and it became a gif. It’s still out there somewhere – I’ll send you the link.”

On that note it seemed like a good idea to wrap it up. The LFest press officer had been watching and was highly amused, seems like the perfect place to stop. Kiki says they will be back next year, twisting Jade’s arm quietly off camera.

a fairytale of possibilities a fairytale of possibilities – Kiki Archer
Paperback: 267 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: K.A Books (June 13, 2017)
ASIN: B0721QDM5L
To buy from Amazon click HERE
Poppy Jenkins - Clare Ashton
Poppy Jenkins – Clare Ashton
Paperback: 378 pages
First published 2016
Publisher: Breezy Tree Press (June 19, 2016)
ASIN:B01HC65VIK
To buy from Amazon click HERE
Lost in You - Jade Winters Lost in You – Jade Winters
Paperback: 292 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: Wicked Winters Books (March 24, 2017)
ASIN: B06XV6XP2G
To buy from Amazon click HERE

 

LFEST

In Conversation with – Anna Larner. LFEST 2017

Anna Larner LFest 2017I met with the lovely Anna Larner just after her debut appearance at LFest last weekend.  I started by asking how come she hadn’t been to LFest before given she’s based in Leicester and she explained that she had heard about it as friends began to come along, but hadn’t really been aware of what it was all about except that it was very supportive of artists and writers. Then her partner wrote to Cindy Edwards, Founder of LFest and Festival Director, to ask if there was a way for Anna to be involved as her debut novel came out this year. LFest invited her to join the panel this morning, where she read a poem called “On Reflection” and two excepts from her published works.

Anna was adamant this might be her first LFest but definitely wont be her last. She feels that this is an important forum for UK writers and expressed how vital it is for authors to connect with their readers. She was delighted that over 60 women turned out for the session at 10am on a Saturday morning. They were certainly a lively crowd and she had them wincing in recognition of the pain of falling for straight girls, laughing at the ‘unwelcome’ over-friendliness of a new neighbour in “Hooper Street” and oohing at the hot sex scene from “Highland Fling”.

The panel was very mixed with an erotic crime author, a romance writer, a historical pirate excerpt and a very funny scene in a lesbian sauna by a stand-up comic come author. There was a lot of laughter and humour on the stage from all the author readings, as Anna said “If you can’t celebrate lesbianism at LFest when can you?” She went on “As a writer it is so lovely to meet readers and when somebody says “Oh I really enjoyed that” it means so much; it really encourages you.”

It was fairly raunchy up there this morning and it always amazes me how many authors are extremely introverted yet write these hot sex scenes, and then chose to read them out loud. Anna laughed “It’s a lonely old business sitting at your desk writing away, but we really are a bit naughty us romance writers, we definitely have a twinkle in the eye and an over active imagination.”

Anna said it means the world to have somewhere like LFest to be herself, that she feels more relaxed, less strained, less “strange” here than anywhere else. “One of the pleasures of writing is knowing your readers might be sitting in their bedrooms, hidden away, seeing themselves in the book and connecting with the characters. LFest gives us that sense of inclusivity, where your own identity is given back to you.” We went on to talk about how little space there is left for lesbian authors with the lack of lesbian centres and bookshops now and Anna was very clear, “LFest is our place, where we make our memories as a community, and I can say – “I was there is 2017”, and that will be one of the highlights for me.”

Next year Anna’s publisher, Bold Strokes Books, is holding their annual writers retreat in the UK in the week before the BSB Nottingham festival at the beginning of May and many of the big name authors like Radclyffe, Carsen Taite, VK Powell and D Jackson Leigh are coming. Anna is particularly excited to meet her editor Ruth Sternglantz. “Bold Strokes really makes you want to be a better writer, they want you to improve with every book and I cant wait to meet them all.”

I asked Anna if she was here for the whole weekend, she hadn’t planned to stay but thought she might well come back tomorrow as there was so much to see and do. She was definitely going to the Romance Writers session later with Kiki Archer, Clare Ashton and Jade Winters and wants to go to the Poetry Slam. She feels that hearing poetry is so important, every word fitted exactly into it’s place and so wonderful to hear the poet read their own words. She said “I love the performance, the vibrancy and live energy you get from a reading, definitely the arts is my thing. I am looking forward to “The Tempest” tonight as well.”

Moving on to Anna’s writing, her debut novel “Highland Fling” came out in April and is going really well, she’s been getting great feedback from readers and is really proud of the story as it connects with a diversity of sexualities and ages, a bridge between old and young and the different social and political experiences.

Her short story “Hooper Street” was published as part of a BSB Anthology called “Girls Next Door” in June. She found writing “Hooper Street” to be great fun because of writing in the first person, being the narrator with a limited number of words.

Her new novel “Love’s Portrait” is due out 2018. She is loving learning the process of writing and is delighted readers like her work, she really cares for her characters and wants her readers to engage with them as well.

Anna ended by saying “I was genuinely excited to be at LFest and get the opportunity to take part in the event, do a reading, meet readers, and to be interviewed, it was great, Thank You.”

Highland Fling Highland Fling
Anna Larner
Paperback: 240 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 18, 2017)
ASIN: B06XP7W7RQTo buy from Amazon click HERE
Girls Next Door: Lesbian Romance Girls Next Door: Lesbian Romance
Edited by Sandy Lowe and Stacia Seaman
Paperback: 228 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 20, 2017)
ASIN: B071J1WNHHTo buy from Amazon click HERE

LFEST

Rainey with a Chance of Hale – RE Bradshaw

Rainey with a Chance of Hale – RE BradshawWhen her former FBI partner calls Rainey Bell gets pulled into another old case, one where she made a promise she has failed to keep. She told a distraught mother she would find her missing daughter, a promise she should never have made and a pledge that has played on her mind ever since. When Rainey is asked to talk to the man she thinks knows the answer she puts her FBI/BAU hat on once again to solve a ‘cold case’ from her past.

The Rainey Bell series is one of the best out there, constantly new, fresh and imaginative, with shocking tales of human depravity set against the ongoing cuteness of Rainey and Katie’s growing family. After stopping her young daughter becoming a soccer thug Rainey goes to Butner Federal Correctional Complex with Danny to talk to a deranged inbred suspected serial killer, and Rainey knows which is harder – controlling her precocious 5 year old.

RE Bradshaw bioConsistently well written RE Bradshaw’s books are always extremely well edited and produced, perfect examples of how good independent publishing can be when done properly. The stories are engrossing, drawing the reader into Rainey and Katies’ lives, and the twisted and brutal minds of the killers the BAU deal with. Like many avid fans this one got consumed in one sitting. RE Bradshaw pulls you right in and shuts the door behind you.

While each book is very much part of the series they all stand alone, and this is certainly readable without the back history of the other books, but why would you deprive yourself of the pleasure? Unfailingly good stories, wonderful strong women, top notch crime thrillers and a backdrop of a charming ongoing romance. Simply the best in class.



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: 201 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: R.E. Bradshaw Books (July 10, 2017)
  • ASIN: B073VXL8FH
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An Outsider Inside – RJ Samuel

An Outsider Inside - RJ SamuelR J Samuel’s latest novel “An Outsider Inside” is a polychromatic phantasmagoria – a constantly moving kaleidoscope of colour and character in which very few of the myriad players stand still long enough to be observed.

The overarching themes of identity, love, trust and belonging weave together as we move backwards and forwards between the life of an Indian couple coming to terms with their arranged marriage in small-town Ireland and the current incarnation of the various players with whom their lives have become intertwined. Overlaid on all of that is the complex undertone of prejudice… patriarchal, racial, homophobic, biphobic; external and obvious or internalised and just as damaging.

R J Samuel is an excellent storyteller and accomplished writer who somehow manages to lead the reader from A to B with side tours to P, X and J, while simultaneously challenging us to reconsider our own prejudices. This isn’t a difficult read in the sense of being unpleasant in any way, but the very complexity of the characters’ lives, combined with issues such as domestic abuse, arranged marriage, gender identity and mental health, make it a challenging read in that it challenges us to reconsider our own prejudice.

Like all really good literature this book will make you think. It will entertain, inform and enlighten the majority of us who have never experienced the life of a foreigner with a different skin colour in an extremely white and parochial community, or the concept of total sacrifice for the family, and while many of us have suffered homophobia, few have grown up in a society where the whole culture believes it is an abomination. The personal choices facing many of these characters will strike a chord; we are drawn in, caught up and immersed in their lives, and can’t help but want to save them, sort them out, and see them live the “happy ever after” they deserve.

RJ Samuel BiogEach of R J’s books shows her development as a master craftswoman. The prose is delightful, the characters complex, the plot twisted into knots and the settings are beautifully described. Add onto all that a deep and meaningful observation of humanity and a clever portrayal of the impact of multiple prejudices and our very personal reactions to them and you have an excellent and thought provoking novel.

This is one book I will find the time to reread, it will take at least 2 visits to really see the subtle interplay of personalities and fully appreciate the complex personal journeys that RJ has woven into this colourful tale.



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: 348 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Amazon  (July 5, 2017)
  • ASIN: B07379TC9V
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Goldenrod – Ann McMan

Goldenrod - Ann McManBook 3 in the Jericho series takes us back to the small Virginia town and the lives of Maddie and Syd. Henry’s father is back, meaning Henry is now only a sleepover visitor, despite having his own cow at the farm. Roma Jean is growing up, Michael’s taken up Soul Food, David has political ambitions and Celine is embarrassed to have a boyfriend.

At the same time as all the usual suspects are entertaining us with their shenanigans, the darker undertones of child abuse and homophobia become more blatant. While the historical impact of being gay in small town America has been present in the first two novels, in Goldenrod it becomes real in the here and now; from a young woman’s fear of coming out to the Mayor’s active hate campaign. For the first time in the series we have real and persistent anguish and the emotional pain adds a stark relief to the normal witty repartee.

In Jericho and Aftermath the angst was light, the “will she, wont she” of new love, the realisation of lost years, a parent’s well-intentioned but hurtful deceit, and the heartache of foster child leaving the fold. Minor characters suffer with current loss and depression, but our main cast of friends are only lightly brushed with present traumas. In Goldenrod we meet Dorothy for the first time, a bright, intelligent and loving girl who is terrified of her father and his wrath. From the opening words of the prologue the scene is set for a sub-plot that ends in a dramatic cliff-hanger.. that happily for lovers of Ann McMan (Famous Author) guarantees another book in the series.

Ann McManDon’t be put off by the mention of angst. If what you loved was the light-hearted banter, the witty dialogue, the literary and erudite play on words, they are all still there in spades. But the emotion has deepened, the fear is very real, and nobody who reads this will be untouched by Dorothy or be able to completely supress the desire to do her father some serious damage.

I don’t know whether this was planned from the start of the series or reflects either a change in the authors writing or the current political climate, but it reminds me of the change in Armistead Maupin’s classic series from light-hearted gay life in the rainbow city in the mid 70’s to the trauma of the AIDs epidemic. Whatever the cause, planned or not, the development is welcome. While the light-hearted and adorable wit of the first two novels was exceptional, a third in the same tone might have been stretch.

McMan’s writing is glorious, her wit and intellect as sharp as ever, her pin-point descriptions are those of a keen observer of the absurdity of human behaviour. If you haven’t read Jericho and Aftermath recently then do so to get back into the dynamic of the family and remember the idiosyncrasies of the wider cast. Then enjoy Goldenrod in all its glory.. and wait with bated breath for the next instalment in the 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: 350 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 4, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06VXRTXGM
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Aftermath – Ann McMan

Aftermath – Ann McManFollowing on from Jericho we catch up with Syd, Maddie, their foster son, Henry, along with all the friends and family in the small town we have come to love. When a devastating storm whips through the county it leaves a trail of destruction wider than a Camaro. In the aftermath the community needs to pull together, but some take longer to come to terms with their losses than others, and some need more help. In typical southern style the community comes together to make the most of whatever life throws at them.

This isn’t a melodramatic and fast placed plot. It’s a continuation of the daily lives of the people we came to love in the first novel. Syd, Maddie and Henry develop into a family, Maddie’s mom, Celine, takes a more prominent, and frequently hysterical role, David and Michael are further developed and Roma Jean continues her adorable path towards adulthood along with a charming new character called Charlie.

The wit and humour continue, with several laugh out loud moments and a classic portrayal of southern manners in the face of extreme provocation. Who would have expected southern belles to resort to a food fight? At the same time there are real emotions, hurts and fears underlying the polite façade, none more poignant than being gay in the small town South.

Ann McManOnce again the writing is excellent, the wit razor sharp and the observation of human behaviour is right on point. Break with tradition and start reading this from the cover in, even if it’s an e-copy. McMan’s cast descriptions and play on words will amuse and entertain from the start.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Aftermath”, it’s like coming back to a favourite movie or sitcom and finding out what happened a year after the main story, where the romance has gone, how everyone is doing, and what happen next. It’s a small local situation drama, where the characters take centre stage, and life moves along at its own pace, just like life does.



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.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: BINK (November 15, 2012)
  • ASIN: B00A8NGKIK
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