Daughter of Mystery – Heather Rose Jones

Daughter of MysteryDaughter of Mystery: surprisingly traditional.

In Daughter of Mystery Heather Rose Jones captures the essence of the sweeping epic often pervasive in speculative fictional works with the largess of language and intricacy of tale.  Like other authors in this genre following in the wake of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jones encountered the difficulty of creating a world that is at once attentive to historical mythos and unique.  In a way, finding a topic that can hold up to Bradley’s standard and transcend it becomes an arduous task.

Jones sets the story in a believable, although fictional, European realm (Alpinna) and era (18th century) and is quite attentive to the sensibilities of the nobility with respect to speech, manners, and familial dynamics.  Assuredly, Jones created a well-written work, although steeped in traditional historical romance genre, rather than speculative fiction. That attentiveness to the particular type of writing, with the family dynamics, social class, etc., created a world that seemed all too traditional; the only real twist seemed to be the superimposition of female characters in place of male ones. That is to say, I found the work to be rather heterosexual in disposition, despite the fact that the major characters, and the romance, centered on Margerit and Barbara.

Regardless of the inclusion of the “Mysteries of the Saints,” a locus of divine power (female goddess in pseudo-Christian guise), the text still appeared a bit too closely wrapt in traditionalism and not quite speculative enough, which is fine for a romance novel, not for a work of speculative fiction.   Further, this Jones book could easily cross over to a more mainstream venue, as it seems quite in alignment with an epic period romance, replete with aristocratic titles, intrigue, inheritance, and the need for a the damsel to have one sworn to save her.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (February 18, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00INAL256
  Amazon.comTo buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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Departure from the Script – Jae

Departure from the ScriptAspiring actress Amanda Clark and photographer Michelle Osinski are two women burned by love and not looking to test the fire again. And even if they were, it certainly wouldn’t be with each other.

Amanda has never been attracted to a butch woman before, and Michelle personifies the term butch. Having just landed a role on a hot new TV show, she’s determined to focus on her career and doesn’t need any complications in her life.

After a turbulent breakup with her starlet ex, Michelle swore she would never get involved with an actress again. Another high-maintenance woman is the last thing she wants, and her first encounter with Amanda certainly makes her appear the type.

But after a date that is not a date and some meddling from Amanda’s grandmother, they both begin to wonder if it’s not time for a departure from their usual dating scripts.

——-

Jae always writes good books. I have never yet been disappointed, and don’t expect to be

This is an excellent, light and breezy Traditional Romance. Started as a short story, now  long novella.. another 20 pages and it would have been a novel. One thing Jae is – prolific with her words.

Jae - biogThe characters are charming, realistic, believable and as always have integrity. Their worlds a recognisable even though they may be beyond our normal daily ken. Their trials and tribulations – light in this instance, are those we will all relate too.
Gran is a gem, deserves a book of her own and definitely fits into the hollywood star with a heart of gold. And for once perceived threats and angst are unfounded as people turn out t be more accepting than expected.

A delightful read for a lazy afternoon, nothing to challenge and everything to enjoy.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (June 27, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00LDDXKSW
  Amazon.comTo buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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Available on Smashwords HERE

Blindsided – Karis Walsh

blinsidedGuide dog trainer Lenae McIntyre left the high-speed world of television news writing behind, and now she helps other visually impaired people adjust to life with their canine companions. She teaches her students and their dogs to trust each other, but a past betrayal and the determination to be self-sufficient and independent keep her from trusting her heart to see love.

Cara Bradley compensates for her family’s shallow celebrity lifestyle by devoting her life to helping others, while keeping to the background. She reluctantly commits to a year of puppy walking a four-legged whirlwind named Pickwick so she can film regular segments for a local news program while helping promote the McIntyre Training Center, but she is unprepared for the changes that the driven and aloof Lenae will bring to her life.

Blindsided by love, can Lenae and Cara learn to trust and guide each other toward a new vision for their future?

—————

Karis Walsh always comes up with charming Traditional Romances with interesting characters who have slightly unusual quirks. 

In this one Lenae is cut off, after being used by her last girlfriend, and Walsh uses the characters blindness as a great tool to reflect her fierce independence and determination to literally “walk alone” – dependent only on the faithful seeing-eye companion dog Baxter.

Karis Walsh biogCara, on the other hand, ‘has it all’ beautiful, talented, rich, famous – and hollow. Cara is is blind to the gifts she has to offer and sees only the beauty which is skin deep and the failure to match up to her parents expectations. Between them the make a charming whole, reflecting and reinforcing each other, supporting each others weakness.

The plot is straightforward but well done. The supporting cast, mainly made up of dogs, add fun and colour. The subject seems well researched as always and the plot, themes and characters have a cohesion which makes their lives and tales believable without becoming mundane.

I always enjoy Karis Walsh’s books. This one is a light, easy read, enjoyable and entertaining.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 17, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00MTBGMPU
  Amazon.com

To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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Freya’s Tears – D. Jordan Redhawk

freyas tearsWith a title like Freya’s Tears, anyone with some background in Norse mythology may raise an eyebrow. Will the goddess be woven into the tale at all, and if so, how so? For this reader, who possesses deep affinity for mythology, skepticism hovered above the novel prior to reading it.   “Surely, disappointment will once again reign as another favored myth becomes defiled by misuse,” I thought. With abundant joy, each page unfolded into an incredibly well crafted, unique, science fiction tale that was replete with an astonishing voice of the storytellers of the past.

D. Jordan Redhawk transfixed this reader with Freya’s Tears, a work at once unique and steeped in the beauty of mythology. Redhawk managed to maintain the myth of Freya, not merely by allusion or homage, but by intricately lacing it into a modern work of science fiction. In doing so, Redhawk transcends skill and reaches into the realm of the masterful.

D. Jordan Redhawk biogEach facet of the book incorporates the myth: from the ship’s name, Freya’s Tears, wound into the main character Captain Elsibet Ulfarsdottir, the unfolding of the plot, Elsbet’s love, and more.

Apart from subtle, yet complete, weaving of mythology, Redhawk builds an intricate, believable world within a troubled space cargo ship that avoids the trappings of the mundane replication of space operatic formulaic writing. Freya’s Tear’s was my first D. Jordan Redhawk novel experience. If this book is an indication of Redhawk’s other works, I plan to relish the exploration of space, and any other worlds that she creates, by checking out the rest of her bibliography.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (June 16, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594933844
  Amazon.com

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Pigeon Post – Jae

Pigeon-PostPigeon Post is a short story in Jae’s Paranormal series following the lives of the shape-shifters and their attempts to live normally in a hostile world.  In Second Nature we met Jorie, an author of Paranormal Shape-Shifter Romance novels, who has no idea how close to the truth she is. Griffin is a Saru, a soldier whose mission it to protect the shape-shifters secrets, at any cost.

This was followed by True Nature which introduced Kelsey and Rue and ‘outs’ shape-shifters to the world. In addition Jae already has several shorts in the series including Natural Family Disasters  which pulls in five tales about Griffin and Joire and Nature of the Pack which extends Kelsey’s story.

In Pigeon Post we find the cast of shifters called to a rally on the anniversary of their accidental ‘outing’. In the year since the human world became aware of them the government has taken away their rights and as usual the ‘haters’ have polarised public opinion. It’s a simple tale which reflects the battles of minority communities to be noticed, to show they are ‘normal’ citizens rather than some demonic force out to eat American babies.

Jae - biogAs always Jae’s writing is exquisite. Crafted, humorous, clever, she continues to entertain. For those who don’t know, she writes at an incredible rate, words seem to be gushing out of her fertile imagination. Amazingly the quality doesn’t diminish, rather the touch of her pen becomes lighter, more confident and more precise.

For me personally this was a test. I have never really been in to Paranormal as a genre. I love fantasy, and have some sci-fi favourites, but back in the 80’s Stephen King freaked me out, Anne Rice did nothing for me and I have shied away ever since. The rise of the lesbian fantasy has me intrigued, and so I decided to try out Jae’s series because I trust her writing.

It’s obvious I wasn’t disappointed. Her characters are rich and warm, her story-telling is as good as it gets and her world pulls you in, engaging your brain and heart in the lives of those she writes about. If you like Paranormal you will love this series and if you have never tried a Paranormal Romance then Jae’s wonderful writing will definitely convert you to the genre.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 55 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (August 18, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00MV25RD0
  Amazon.com

To buy the Kindle edition – click here.

One day longer than forever – AJ Adaire

One day longer than foreverDr. Kate Martin needs a vacation after a failed romance with her business partner nearly ruins her. Lee Foster is recovering from her first lesbian relationship that self-destructed when her partner moved several states away, leaving her behind. Two failed romances, a double booked vacation cabin, and a blizzard—will fate intervene again and turn a passionate affair with a stranger, into something more?

———

I have read all of AJ’s books, and this is a definite departure, both from the “Friends” series and her usual writing style. It is a book in sections, the first portion is a back-history, the second is an accidental vacation and the third is the meat of the romance. Along with the story line the writing style changes as well, past and present are written using different methods and have quite different tone, making the whole seem disjointed.

To be honest i found the first section of the book hard work. I don’t mind the split storyline or the back-history, but the lives of our two main protagonists was described not lived. It felt like an extended plot outline. I found the descriptions passionless, I didn’t engage or get involved with the characters. The was too much detail and not enough feeling.

The middle deals with an accidental holiday romance, and as such was fine. Gradually the characters start living their lives in this section rather than the author telling us them. And yet the passions were still not engaged. There is a huge elephant in the room but every time it is glanced at we are shied away – removing the tension and drama in favour of a sweet vacation fling.

AJ Adaire biogAnd then the drama kicks in, and finally our heroines are riddled with angst. Both want desperately, but neither will give, based on trust and history and fear. And finally we can engage. But actually the final third is an ongoing repetition of that single angst, the elephant is not only visible it is the only story. There is no other development or plot line and the resolution, when it finally comes, seems too easy, too pat, and driven by an overly dramatic response to a fairly common medical condition.

Sunset Island is one of my favourite Trad Romances of the last few years and I have enjoyed the other books in the Friends series. But this was a struggle. At half way I considered quitting and am glad I persevered, as it got better. But this one missed the mark for me. Too much description and not enough feeling, too much unnecessary detail without enough adjectives, never really captured my imagination. It’s a good idea for a plot, but the delivery didn’t work.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press; 1 edition (June 13, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00KZ76PT8
  Amazon.comTo buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Anyone But You – KG MacGregor

Anyone But YouAn underground pipeline has ruptured, spilling oily sludge into Minnesota’s pristine Lake Bunyan. Taking the media’s heat for Nations Oil is Corporate Communications Director Cathryn Mack, an old pro when it comes to spinning the facts in her company’s favor.

Stuck in Duluth to handle the press during eight weeks of cleanup, she finds a silver lining when Stacie Pilardi pops up on SappHere, a mobile app that seeks out nearby lesbians. Stacie is smart, funny, sexy as hell, and wants a longterm relationship as much as Cathryn—which is to say, not at all.

A perfect arrangement, until they realize they’re rivals—Stacie is head of the Clean Energy Action Network, in town to protest the greed and recklessness of oil companies and the havoc they wreak on the environment.

It’s best for everyone involved if they end this, and that’s exactly what they intend to do. Eventually…

————

KG MacGregor explores an interesting and timely debate in her latest book, the ongoing desire for cheep fuel versus the environment. She has clearly done her homework on both sides and speaks with authority about the situation. Despite being a political book KG manages not to make the reader feel guilty for not being as engaged as we might be. She has created thoughtful read which hopefully will make people think without being polarised by preaching.

The two women have obvious chemistry and the attraction grows rather than being destroyed by their opposing positions. KG shows that an intellectual divide can be overcome and that intelligent debate can be healthy when there is respect. It is only when Cathryn realises that her company, her position, has been morally compromised that she begins to doubt, and eventually it is the internal moral battle which moves her.

The story carries a level of drama, aggression, deceit and passion that keeps it moving. It forces the moral and political argument into a by-line to the main plot of corporate greed and political activism, surrounding a brief but intense affair. By doing so Ms MacGregor stops the politics overwhelming and makes them human.

Cathryn and Stacie are both characters we will all be able to identify with and their co-workers and friends are recognisable with all their faults and foibles,

Well thought out, well written as always, this is a good romance and a through provoking story.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 221 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (June 16, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00M27BONQ
  Amazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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LESBIAN FOCAL BOOK LIST: FANTASY

michael-whelan-dragons-et-cavaliersFantasy fiction, inclusive of all aspects, tends to be shoved in the corner, placed on the odd shelf in the bookstore corner, maligned, over-looked, marginalized and so forth.  Books written by women, very often, suffer the same fate.  Books written by openly lesbian authors tend to be subsumed within the categories of “women authors,” “lgbtq,” or hidden away, promoted via word of mouth, social media, and the like.

This list, currently 26 pages, was borne out of much research. I excluded works by males, ones without lesbian main or major characters, works that are not fantasy, per se, but actually erotica, and ones that portray sexuality as sick or twisted. Similarly, I left out most recent works, as those less recently written tend to be forgotten, not having the luxury of social media and so forth. In the coming weeks, of course more recent works will be added, as will other works that were overlooked. Further, and more importantly, the list will become clearly categorized by sub-genre, easier to search and generally be more user friendly. The goal was to share what I have discovered thus far. I hope that the work so far has shown that many women have written novels that still need to be discovered.

Click here to open the “Lesbian focal book list”

Please feel free to submit titles, for the intention is to increase awareness. However PLEASE fill in the form rather than make comments – then we can add them to the new database.  Submit a title here.

Olive Oil and White Bread – Georgia Beers

Olive Oil and White BreadWhat happens to lovers after the happy-ever-after moment? What goes on behind the closed doors of a relationship once the commitment is made? What does romance turn into when the hands of time keep turning? Olive Oil and White Bread is a novel that dares to answer those questions.

Angie Righetti is the daughter of a sprawling but close-knit Italian American family. She’s out and they’re proud.

Jillian Clark’s family is the white bread to Angie’s olive oil. Stoic and emotionally buttoned up, they don’t want to think about Jillian’s sexuality.

It’s 1988 when they move in together, on the brink of starting their careers. Like every couple at the start of their life together, they expect to live happily ever after.

And for twenty-three years life happens: they change jobs, buy a house, get a dog, and deal with money issues and the death of a parent. They fight, love, cry, play, make mistakes, have regrets, and try to be good to each other and to everybody else. Like most of us they tumble into a routine that turns into a rut that leads to distraction and danger.

——–

This is a tale of two woman’s lifetime relationship, the ups and downs, struggles and compromises.

As always Ms Beers books are elegantly written, carefully plotted and charmingly constructed. Her language and editing exemplary.

Our main characters are normal, wholesome, ordinary women with altogether real personalities. They are warm, honest and flawed, just as we all are.

They are surrounded by a realistic cast of family, friends and co-workers. They fight normal battles, make normal mistakes and attempt to maintain closeness and sustain their relationship through the minutia of daily life. They drift, come together, fluctuating in their intensity, intimacy and togetherness.

And I guess for me that is the problem. There is no passion. Jillian and Angie are nice women we will all recognise. We may know them. We may be them. This is a simple story of a twenty year life together, and as such it just didn’t grab me.

If Ms Beers aim was to draw simply that, an exploration of the gentle ups and downs, stresses and angsts of totally normal lives, then this is perfect. But while I liked them, understood them, recognised them.. Jillian and Angie didn’t engage me. I pick up a book to lose myself in it, the adventure of love and life, the charisma and passion of the players. This book was too much like reality , like day to day living, it was simply a life too ordinary to catch my attention.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (May 19, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00H12DY26
  Amazon.com

To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Vermilion Justice – Sheri Lewis Wohl

Vermilion Justice

Vermilion Justice, by Sheri Lewis Wohl, avoids the trappings of the new sparkling vampire paradigm while by combining a mix of tradition and her own unique spin on the tale.   Wohl weaves a tale that skirts the line of horror, treading down the dark urban fantasy hand in hand with the paranormal, employing excellent use of literary reference, attention to detail, and a clear delineation of the good versus evil. The main character, vampire Riah Preston, compels the reader with a certain verve, intellect, and sexiness befitting of any vampire.

The overall story combines enough necessary modernity to hold most readers’ attention by the inclusion of a group created to fight evil (Spiritus Group), a mystery, (a missing friend), then returns to the conventional with a trip to Romania, the traditional homeland of the vampires, and a meeting with Vlad Dracula.

In a way, Wohl seems to try to fill the bill for all vampire fans, both traditional and modern. But attempting to please divergent fan base may be detrimental, as her plot development follows a somewhat obvious path.

While Vermilion Justice is well written, it felt a bit too familiar, regardless of the twist of having the lesbian focal characters.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 14, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00L0LZC92
  Amazon.com

To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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