Monthly Archives: November 2013

Beyond the Trail – Jae

GCLS clean logoBeyond the Trail - JaeSix short stories which bring us tales from the lives of Backwards to Oregon and Hidden Truths

The Blue Hour: 1838. Lucinda Hamilton’s mother is a drunken prostitute. Her only friends the women who work the brothel. When her mother overdoses from laudanum and whiskey 12 year old Lucinda knows she needs to find a different way to survive or become another girl trapped by poverty.

Grasping at Straws: 1847.Business is down at the brother and stables but when ‘madam’ Tess Swenson, finds an unexpected visitor hidden in the straw she cant resist helping. Nora Macauley bravely states she will do anything to support herself and her unborn child

A Rooster’s Job: 1852. The Hamilton’s makeshift home is being swamped with unseasonably bad snow, there’s no food for the horses and Luke is feeling the strain. Surely Nora and the girls would be better off in town?

The Art of Pretending: 1856.When Tess starts losing money to a clever thief she sets out to track them down. First on her list is the illusive Frankie who seems to be somebody just like Luke. But as their paths cross Tess finds out Frankie is only like Luke in one important way.

The Christmas Oak: 1857. Christmas trees are a new concept, but if Nora wants one for the family Luke cant say no. When checking the herd she finds a visitor in the line shack who she also needs to take home for Christmas.

Swept Away: 1861. Amy is struggling with the growing pains of finding out who she is. When the great storm starts to flood the valley some of the neighbors are in danger, and Amy finds herself the heroine of the day. While she gains a 6 year old friend, she loses a dream.

Jae - biogJae’s books are always well written and have a coherence that makes them realistic. Here we gain six short stories which add background and detail to the Hamilton’s and those around them. From learning how Frankie and Phin appeared on the scene to explaining Amy’s isolation these lovely shorts help us gain a better background to Backwards to organ and Hidden Truths.

Delightful reading as always.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (April 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CIW2AUQ
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The Very Thought Of You – S Anne Gardner

The very thought of youTwo women meet when their cars collide in a nor’easter and their lives are changed forever.

Alex, high powered lawyer with no heart. She lost her son and ex-husband in a car crash and has created a wall around herself so dense she has completely shut off not only from those who love her, but from all human feeling. In her work she is brutally cold and clinical. In her life she is detached and distant.

The woman she literally crashes into has a daughter Carly. Unlike Alex, Reese has tried to stay positive and create a warm and loving world as she struggles to raise her daughter alone.

After Reese is taken to hospital Alex takes Carly home for the night and a tiny crack appears in her cold exterior. But can Alex stop running from her fears or will she chose to stay in her icy world.

————-

This is a great story, and I really enjoyed the read. Alex and Reese are strong characters, well written and rounded. Their emotions and fears are well worked and their gradual engagement well thought through.

From the start we see Alex’s heart respond to Carly. The chink in her armor is exposed and she cannot help but respond to the child’s trust and love. But when it comes to letting somebody into her heart Alex fights and runs at every opportunity.

Reese understands her attraction for Alex from the start. She too is fearful having been loved and left before. But she is the positive influence, the hopeful and giving partner who will hold on and stay strong while she waits for Alex to decide.

Having read ‘Till there was you’ as my first S Anne Gardner and found it too intense and melodramatic I was delighted to find this novel far more balanced and realistic. There are still lots of twists and turns, battles and dramas, but without the over dramatic feel of a Victorian bodice ripper.

You do wonder where these jackets come from though…

Product info:

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Affinity E-Book Press NZ LD (17 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0992246199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0992246198
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Till there was you – S Anne Gardner

Till there was youJulia is the local landowner and powerhouse, used to getting her way. She lives in a controlled world where everybody jumps at the sound of her voice and she is one hundred percent in charge. Sterile and angry she has locked herself away from pain.

Teddy is the new neighbor. Straight, but unhappy in a loveless marriage and trying to find herself. She dreams of the one great love that has never materialized.

They meet out riding and the world changes. For Julia it is a question of whether she can let herself feel, or has she buried emotions too deep. For Teddy it’s more of a need to hold onto herself before she is completely swept away.

————

This is well written and the characters are interesting. The plot is familiar but different enough.

What makes this stand out is the melodrama. Like the cover it feels more like a bodice wrencher than a contemporary romance. More Georgette Heyer than Katherine V Forrest.

Julia takes the role of the lord of the manor, high and mighty, used to getting whatever they want and instant obedience. Teddy the damsel in distress.

I liked it, but it was a little too much for me. Too intense, too dramatic, too tumultuous. It is fast and furious, and the plot and characters hold up well, but the whole thing felt just a little too extreme. From brooding beauty on her stallion to gun touting confrontations with the ex girlfriend just a little OTT

I will try another of her books without a doubt, but no sure I will re-read this one.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • First published 2011
  • Publisher: Affinity E Book Press NZ (15 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594933014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594933011
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At Seventeen – Gerri Hill

At Seventeen - Gerri HillLambda Literary FInalistShannon Fletcher and her brother have established a small whole-food chain and want to expand. With her mother’s health failing it seems sensible for them to open one near their hometown. The only issue for Shannon is that she has barely been home in 20 years, avoiding the woman she loved, the woman who chose marriage and family duty over their future together.

At 10 Shannon moved in to the mansion of the wealthy Lansford family where her mother was housekeeper. Madison Lansford, 9 year old and irresistible, soon became her best friend, but always behind doors and below stairs. While their love grew with the passing of their teenage years, Madison’s family expectations were always a cloud on the horizon.

When Shannon returns home she is shocked at how close her mother and Madison have stayed. She is forced to reconnect. But can she manage to be friends with the woman who shattered her world, and has Madison ever come to terms with who she really is?

————

Gerri Hill is mistress of the gentle romance of lost love and adult angst. She creates warm, passionate women who’s coming of age stories keep us wanting to turn the page, despite knowing there is bound to be a happy ending.

In this we have a version of the rich girl/servant girl Cinderella story with the bullying mother, the absentee father and the kind and gentle housekeeper playing surrogate mother. Ms Hill explores how a controlling mother can so dominate a child’s psyche that they do not see any option but the one presented to them. Disobedience, straying from the expected route, is literally impossible for them.

Shannon and Madison are both delightful characters. They are, as always, well-written and genuine people who we would love to meet. Despite the bad decisions and painful lost years they have remained true to their own hearts and never allowed the pain to make them bitter. Shannon’s mother Alice and Madison’s son Ashton are excellent secondary characters, bringing an additional layer of warmth to the cast.

Gerry Hill biogAnd that’s what Ms Hill’s books are.. a warm embrace full of growth and dawning understanding. She bathes us in a soft glow where despite bullying mothers and unhappy marriages there is always a ray of light to keep the heart alive. And as always, the walls of hurt and distance will break down to let the light shine through. Love always conquers.

A delightful read. Another great addition to Gerri Hill’s oeuvre and one which will always be on the re-read shelf when we need to believe in love.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (July 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EJLE73W
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I Remember – Julie Cannon

GCLS clean logoI Remember - Julie CannonEmery Barrett is a high powered CEO trying to turn around a global engineering firm that has lost its way. When the stress gets too much she is forced to take leave to recuperate and a cruise seemed like a good option. On board she meets the charming and sexy Dee and their holiday plans suddenly take a turn for their better.

Dee is between jobs, knowing she has a high-powered interview when she gets back she allows herself to enjoy the whirlwind romance. What she could not imagined is turning up at the interview for her dream job and discovering just who her new boss could be.

A tale of passion and romance which will test their professional morals and personal control.

———-

Great plot, unusual twist and wonderful women. Julie Cannon’s latest novel touches on the lives of Lauren and Elliot from “Come and Get Me” but it isn’t
a sequel and stands perfectly well alone.

Ms Cannon creates great characters; it is one of the trademarks of her books. Full of life, passion and integrity they are the women we want to be leading the corporate world. While professional and exemplary at work, however, they lead passionate private lives that, at least sexually, expresses a much more dramatic nature. If this case both have struggled to find their perfect partner and find release in short term affairs which don’t impinge on work but don’t satisfy their hearts.

This plot is a good twist on the usual girl meets girl but something is in the way. While both women have their hang-ups it is their moral integrity that prevents them from moving forward. We see their struggles as they deal with what is obviously a match made in heaven, and each woman reacts differently to the attraction she feels.

We jump back and forwards between Emery and Dana’s lives before the cruise, during and after. So you do need to keep your wits about you to keep track, but it it holds together and has clearly been well scripted as a whole.

Julie Cannon biogThe corporate shenanigans and travel form an interesting backdrop to the romance. We see how sexism and homophobia are not restricted to men, but can cause women to undermine each other out of fear and hate. Clearly drawn from personal experience Ms Cannon’s corporate background give her novels a welcome veracity.

This is an inspired romance with extremely hot sex scenes and delightful passion. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and hope there will be more books to add to the loose ‘series’ in the future.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CDMOEN2
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Wise Love – Jeanne McCann

Wise LoveParalyzed by a crime that horrifies all who live in the city of Seattle, the police department is racing against time in search of a psychopathic criminal who is focused on the most innocent of victims, children. The case brings together two women, one a dedicated police detective, intent on catching the perpetrator, the other a talented psychic who can read the mind of this sick animal. Detective Mason Riley works with facts and information. Her commitment to protect and serve runs deep, and she is struggling to keep her head, as she and her partner try and stop the creature that has injured several children and will continue his path of destruction unless stopped.

A beautiful psychologist and psychic who works with abused children, Miranda O’Malley is committed to helping the most vulnerable. When she is asked to assist on the case, she readily volunteers.

Brought together to solve a crime, the two discover a raging passion for each other in the midst of chaos.

 

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: Bella Books (19 August 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594933014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594933011
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Eyes on the Stars – Lynn Ames

Eyes on the Stars - Lynn Ames1943 and the war effort needs women pilots to release men to the front. A new batch of trainee pilots arrives at the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots camp in Texas for their basic training.  Included in the group, and bunked together in a hut are Jessie Keaton and Claudia Sherwood. As different as chalk and cheese this unlikely pair – one a misfit who is terminally shy, the other a confident carefree risk taker – promptly form a bond that will last a lifetime.

The life of the WASPs is dangerous. Learning to fly every type of aircraft as quickly as possible with less than stellar trainers threatens their physical lives. Hiding their sexuality and relationship from their commanding officers and even their fellow trainees threatens their happiness and their continued role in the WASPs. Discovery would mean being discharged from something they both desperately want to do. So they pretend to like men, pretend to like the social life of dances and dates to shield their relationship from prying suspicious eyes.

As they reach the end of their training and plan for their future together an innocent picnic will change their lives forever.

—————–

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best historical romances I have read. The fact that the protagonists are lesbians, the romance touching, the impact of being ‘hidden’ devastating all just adds to the layers of love, loss and heartbreak.

Lynn Ames merges the past with the present into a seamless tale of woe that had me crying at almost every turn. The deep love of Claudia that Jessie never thinks she deserves reminds us of the despairing self sacrifice of The Well of Loneliness. Claudia’s suffering in silence that tears them apart is soul destroying. And the abiding feelings of both women, one expressed by an empty life, the other by the longing of her unsent letters, rip your heart out. Just writing the review makes me choke up with the tears.

Exceptionally well written and structured the book flows effortlessly between 1943 and the present when Jessie attends a ceremony to honor the WASP women. The characters are beyond real, they have taken up a space in my heart like family members, lost in time but never forgotten. The dialogue and historical realism is perfectly crafted to make us believe in the lives of these women both in 1943, when they were young and daring, and now, old, fading, but still full of the heat and emotions from 60 years before.

Lynn Ames BooksThe tension is palpable both then and now. From the beginning we know they are not together in the present and that Claudia has a daughter – suggesting Jessie’s fears were well founded. But Ms Ames holds the suspense throughout as we wait to find out what broke them apart, what held them apart for all those years.

This book will always be on my re-read shelf. It is impossible not to feel every emotion of these complex characters. I read it in one sitting, could not put it down, as I longed for a different ending even though you already know the heartbreak. Throughout the flashbacks what you want more than anything else is for these women to find happiness. Whether I can pluck up the courage to read it again will depend on how many Kleenex I can stockpile and a willingness to cry for hours.

An exceptional history of women’s hidden service and a heartbreaking romance, “Eyes on the Stars’ tops Lynn Ames’ previous works – no mean feat for a celebrated and justly praised author and a first class storyteller.

Eyes on the Stars Product info:

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Phoenix Rising Press (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045OUP9S
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