Monthly Archives: March 2014

Clean Slate – Andrea Bramhall

Lambda Literary FInalistClean Slate – Andrea BramhallMorgan Masters teaches art at an evening class. At the last session of the term she agrees to go out for a drink with one of the life models, a decision that will change the lives of everybody in her world.

Morgan wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there, in fact she has no memory of the last 20 years. Nobody can tell her when and if the memories will come back.

Morgan and Erin Masters seemed to have everything – a happy family, good friends, a lovely home and work they love. Morgan’s errant behavior before that fateful night she loses her memory have ripped their world to pieces, but in someways they now have the chance to start all over again.

Will the secrets they have kept from their past turn up and destroy their present? Or can they find a way to reconnect and a new way to trust?

——-

This is a great story. I was spellbound. I literally couldn’t put it down.

Andrea Bramall gets and holds your attention throughout this novel with multiple layers of suspense. Without giving any specific spoilers we spend our time wondering why Morgan did what she did, whether she will recover, how Morgan and Erin will cope, who is behind it all and then, when we have found out all of the above, we are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The four main characters are wonderfully drawn. We feel their pain, we understand their torment, we empathize with their decisions even though we can see that the outcome may not always be rosy. The supporting cast is also very important particularly Erin’s brother Chris and their two closest friends, who have an important role to play in the drama and emotion that unfolds

While dealing with serious subjects such as the impact of amnesia and the lifetime damage caused by child abuse, violence and abandonment, this book is also full of humor. Finding yourself a 40-year-old virgin after 15 years of marriage may not be the first thing that occurs to us but it’s certainly an issue!

Ms Bramhall portrayal of the interaction between Morgan and her two best friends adds a huge amount of light relief to what could have been a very heavy tale. The children are wonderfully drawn, with a teenagers angst and a pre-teens enthusiasm radiating off the page. And the relationship between Erin and Morgan, however stressed, is joyful to watch.

Andrea Bramhall biogAs you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and it will definitely going onto on the reread pile.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8Q5182
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Coming Home – Lois Cloarec Hart

Coming Home - Lois Cloarec Hart Terry has recently finished her MA and taken a job as a postal worker. The pay is good, she enjoys the exercise, and more than anything it gives her time to think, time to plan and write her first novel.

While walking her round one day she steps in as a knight in shining armor to help a couple on her route. Rob, an ex fighter pilot struck down by degenerative MS, is helpless on the floor and Jan, his devoted wife, is unable to lift him on her own.

The chance encounter leads to a rapidly developing friendship between the three. Rob is the life and soul of the party; Jan book is a book addict who has literally given up her dreams to support Rob. Terry, her family, and her housemates, soon form a welcome addition to Jan and Rob’s small social circle.

Everything is great – for a while – but fate does not intend to leave these three without a twist and as time goes on they will find themselves in an impossible position. As always in an emotional triangle the challenge will be how to meet everybody’s needs without destroying the very fabric of their friendships.

———-

This is the first book I have read by this author and it certainly won’t be the last. While many of the threads to this tale are familiar, it is delivered with an unusual twist. The story is handled with great sympathy for all the characters involved and the impact of Rob’s disability gives us an interesting insight into the impact a degenerative disease can have on a couple.

The characters are exceedingly well drawn and extremely likeable. The family dynamics make a nice counterpoint to the relationships Terry has with her flat-mates and friends. And the three main characters are ably supported by a wide ranging cast.

Throughout the book we get to know a great deal about the three main players as their back-history is gradually filled in. However I found the lack of introductions slightly disconcerting. The author introduces new characters directly into the plot without giving us any context and then, over time, fills in who they  are. Once the new characters had been integrated into the story I found myself becoming increasingly fond of them. But I did find myself, on several occasions, wondering quite who the new people were until we were given some context.

Despite the slightly dark subject matter the story is filled with humour and warmth. These are not easy subjects to write about. Both MS and emotional triangles are painful and can be heavy to handle. But despite the looming loss and crisis Ms Hart has us laughing at the interplay of characters, at the antics of her heroine, and admiring the stoic cheerfulness and upbeat good humor of the tragic hero.

LC Hart biogI enjoyed the plot, I enjoyed the complexity of the relationships that developed, I thought the triangle was well handled, and that the book was well written.  The growing relationship between Terry and Jan is delicately handled and sweet to watch – Ms Hart is certainly an author I will be happy to read again.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • First published 2001
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing; revised edition
    (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IYFC3B2
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.

 

Letters Never Sent – Sandra Moran

GCLS clean logoLetters Never Sent Sandra MoranJoan arrives at her mother’s house, her childhood home, tasked with cleaning it out and making inventory, so the house can be sold. For Joan it’s a difficult trip she could live without. Her own life is in a muddle and she feels strange revisiting the house she feels disconnected from, and the memories of her mother, Katherine, with whom she had at best a distant and loveless relationship.

As she explores the remnants of their lives, and her feelings, she comes across a box of mementos and letters. Written by her mother in the 1950’s they reveal a woman Joan never knew and a passionate love affair that changes everything she thinks about her family.

As the story unfolds we visit the 1930’s where Katherine is a rebel, leaving the family farm in small-town Kansas to work in Chicago. Here she meets the even more daring Annie and they form a friendship that will change both of their lives.

————-

Sandra Moran’s novel is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most moving and emotional books I have ever read. It has already won awards and accolades from numerous sources and been reviewed literally hundreds of times. In some ways I feel as though there is nothing extra I can add to the huge wave of praise the book has been awarded since its publication. But this book, more than almost any I have read in the last few years, hit a chord for me personally which makes me want to add my voice.

For me the interplay of current and historical drama, when done well, always adds a level of emotional engagement. Novels like ‘Letters’ along with others such as Lynne Ames “Eyes on the Stars” and Jae’s “Backwards to Oregon” immerse us in a different world. For me that adds even more intensity to the storytelling because everything has been precisely imagined and described to build the ambience of the scene. Add into that mix the melodrama of love destroyed, of heartbreak, lesbians loving straight girls, a hostile social environment and I am a total sucker.

Ms Moran layers the interplay of current and historical revelation brilliantly. She holds the suspense of what happens next, while at the same time giving so many false trails for our emotions that the twist, when it happened, took me completely by surprise. I spent more than half the novel in tears, expecting the tragedy to unfold as the scattered trailmix of clues suggested it would.

For a first novel this is unbelievably well written. If I hadn’t known in advance that this was Ms. Moran’s first book I simply would not have believed it. The level of maturity in the writing style of the plot, jumping backwards and forwards between the 1930s and present, and depth and emotional maturity of the characters is incredible.

On top of all of this we get a wonderful view of life for women in Chicago in the 1930s. Well researched, as one would expect from an academic historian, but more importantly well rendered by a great storyteller. She held me spellbound through 320 pages. I couldn’t put it down because I so wanted to know what the uncle knew, why the letters stopped, why their relationship was so bad. And yet I couldn’t bear for it to end.
Sandra Moran biog
Now “Letters Never Sent” is being nominated for a new round of awards (last year it won the Rainbow Awards for Best Lesbian Historical Romance and Best Lesbian Debut) and there is a new furore building about Ms. Moran’s second novel “Nudge”.

It doesn’t matter how late you come to this book, it will prove to be timeless. Don’t think for a moment you can pass it by and find something equally as good. This is one not to be missed.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (December 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EDTJQI6
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.

 

A Place Somewhere – RJ Samuel

A place somewhere - RJ SamuelAlex Hart was a successful accountant in Ireland with strong family ties, a home she loved and a seemingly successful life. She gave up everything to move to America and be with the woman she had been dating online for two years. She risked everything for love.

Cynthia has had her fingers burnt by online dating and has retreated into her own world. She has moved home to be with her Mother and become a recluse.

Breanna’s life is full of loss. A series of tragic accidents has left her bringing up her young niece and the economic downturn has trapped her in living on a ghost estate.

All three women have been scared by losing things they love, whether by malicious intent or by accident. Each must try to live with the consequences of their heart-aches and they must all learn to trust in love again.

———–

RJ Samuel’s new novel is a tale that takes several complex and interlocking stories of love and explores how the women involved have coped with the loss of trust and the loss of innocence. It is a tale of romance, of broken hearts, of intrigue and suspense.

Almost all of the women we meet could be playing emotional games, some knowingly, in order to manipulate others, some because their own hurt has caused them to behave in ways outside their normal character. It is an exploration of how much we will give up either because we think we have found love or to protect what we think is a love worth fighting for.

A Place Somewhere is an extremely well-written novel, well edited and crafted – always a joyous find when one reads a new author, particularly somebody who is self published. The characters RJ portrays are well rounded and have an integrity that is sometimes challenged by their heart-ache and loss, but ultimately shows them for who they really are.

RJ Samuel BiogWhile Alex, Breanna and Cynthia are the main focus of the story they are ably supported by an excellent cast on both sides of the Atlantic. I particularly enjoyed the sympathetic portrayal of Maggie, who has suffered from the ill-advised ambitions of her husband but who centers the small community in which she lives. Sasha, Sarah’s niece, is also extremely well drawn and demonstrates a sensitive understanding and knowledge of how young children interact with those around them. She, more than anyone else, reacts with openness and love to those who have a good heart.

Online dating is a new phenomena and over the coming years we will undoubtedly see more novels based around the trials and tribulations of relationships formed over the web. Ms Samuel’s novel is an interesting exploration of how those relationships can go terribly wrong and how women searching for love can be used and manipulated by unscrupulous others, either for gain or simply for entertainment.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will certainly be adding RJ Samuel’s other novels to my reading list for the future.

(publisher review copy received)

The song from A Place Somewhere is available on the Amazon mp3 store, click here.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Amazon (11 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IXQE8ZG
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.

 

Nudge – Sandra Moran

Nudge - Sandra MoranSarah Sheppard is a highly successful marketing executive on the brink of achieving her goal of Partner at a high profile New York agency. An unexpected appointment with a strange middle-eastern looking gentleman throws her world into a tailspin when he asks her to leave her job, on the brink of her promotion, to work for his `employer’. The task – to edit an `Addendum’ to the religious texts of the world and then lead the marketing team to spread the word.

The combination of being an atheist and a healthy dose of New York cynicism obviously lead Sarah to make light of the offer. She doesn’t believe in God so the whole thing must be some elaborate scam. But whether it is a practical joke or a way to undermine her don’t matter as much as the fact that she is haunted by doubt about the consequences of signing the contract – should she call their bluff or play along?

When she decides not to sign events will conspire to show her that ultimately she has no choice. Whoever or whatever wants her to work on this outlandish project has the power to make it happen. So reluctantly she ends up in upstate New York, working with a team of academics and scholars to write this “Addendum”.

As the politics and factions are revealed Sarah realizes she needs to look out for herself, and that no-one is quite who they claim to be.

————-

Nudge is quite breathtaking. It isn’t a romance like Ms Moran’s first novel. In fact it is quite hard to know what to categorize it as – containing history, religion, social comment, perhaps even a political-religious treatise. More than anything it becomes a novel of suspense as we follow Sarah’s fluctuating emotions and reactions to the information she is fed and the characters she interacts with.

Sandra Moran’s writing style is, once again, exquisite. The people who populate “Nudge” are deep, layered, multi-faceted, credible and wholly absorbing. Their interactions are both realistic and bizarre – again completely within the context of the story – if they weren’t bizarre it wouldn’t be realistic. These are characters you feel you know.

The storyline itself is incredible – in both senses. The plot is highly unusual and literally `beyond-belief’ in its concept of writing and marketing an addendum to the Bible, Qu’ran and Torah in order to challenge humanities current beliefs. And at the same time we must marvel at the amazing mind which created the idea.

Full of an immense range of facts covering historical figures and faiths, incorporating everything from world events to art history, Ms Moran demonstrates a level of scholarly research and intellectual insight that is extremely rare in a novel.

Sandra Moran biog Whatever your creed, and however you react to the challenge that this book might pose to your beliefs, it is an interesting concept that must make us all at least consider the nature of faith and the God we believe in.

At the same time it is an entertaining, educational and wholly spellbinding read. This is one of those times when you need 6 stars.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (17 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J3B656A
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.

 

Wingspan – Karis Walsh

Wingspan - Karis WalshKen is an architect. She builds boxes with carefully crafted bland detail on tract housing. She lives a carefully crafted life; smart, unremarkable clothes, unemotional relationships, uninvolved job. But flashes of rebellion emerge like her restored ’56 Corvette, and the purchase of an acre of land on the remote Olympic Peninsula. When she finds and injured bird and delivers it to raptor specialist Dr Bailey Chase, Ken opens the door to change she neither expects or wants.

Bailey has her own issues. Emotionally and physically withdrawn after a difficult childhood she shields herself and her bird sanctuary from the outside world. Hiding behind the need to give her raptors protection she resists change as much as she resists intrusion.

The two women are bound to clash as they bristle with defenses. But are either of them prepared to change. Prepared to start really living?

————

As with All Karis Walsh’s wonderful books the characters are the story. Multifaceted, layered and beautifully drawn, Ken and Bailey hold our attention from the start. Their clashes, their attraction and the personal and shared development are what draw us in and hold us.

The surrounding scenery, the wild rugged landscape and the birds at the center of the story are exquisitely drawn. The life of an obsessed animal rescue vet shows us in loving detail the raptors and the care and attention needed to save them. We are given an insight into the pain and joy of rehabilitating wild birds.

Ken and Baileys history is explored in a slow, book long, reveal. The back-history fills in their characters while explaining their behaviours and deepening our understanding of how and why they have become the women we are shown. Each has a difficult youth. One a sensitive soul whose emotionally distant parents left the child scared and scarred of emotion, the other the edgy warrior whose inability to save her friends from bullying has left her unable to risk real connections and scared of revealing her creative nature.

Karis Walsh biogThe pace is gentle, the writing is beautifully crafted and the story a wonderful exploration of how childhood events can shape our lives. The challenge is to outgrow the childhood fears and find the freedom to start living.

Karis Walsh’s latest book follows on from her earlier successes and adds to a growing shelf of books I will always be happy to re-read.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (17 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IIAG64I
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.

 

All That Lies Within – Lynn Ames

Lambda Literary FInalist
GCLS clean logoAll that Lies Within - Lynn Ames
Dara Thomas has it all. Oscar nominated, fame, fortune, sex appeal and everyone wants her attention. But behind the closely guarded scenes she is Constance Darrow, Pulitzer Prize winning author. The public face is eye candy, not expected to have a brain, the secret face allows Dara to express her true self, but only from a place of rigid anonymity.

When Professor of American Literature Rebecca Minton starts a correspondence with Darrow a chance comment sets the professor on a trail of discovery. She is already more than half in love with the illusive author, but will Darrow run scared from revealing herself?

A life changing period for both women, challenging them to face up to who they are and what they want. But whether they have the courage to face reality is the biggest test.

————-

One of the things I love most about Lynn Ames books is that they are all different. Yes they are all LesFic, but no two stories repeat, the characters are different, the settings are varied and the mood and momentum feel special.

Well written and well paced, this book is a psychological suspense. We can see the attraction, understand the constraints, but only time will show whether love will eventually conquer all, or whether fear and the need to maintain a public face will win out.

Both women have issues, both women have had problematic childhoods, resulting in complex characters and leading directly to the tension as they fight their instincts and their feelings. Both are strong women who have carved a successful place in the world, but at a cost to themselves.

The cast is well rounded and ably fills out the plot and characterization of the main protagonists. If anything my only complaint is that I wanted more. I wanted more of their interactions, more of their growth, more time with all of them.
Lynn Ames Books
This is a glorious, well-written, sensual and delightful novel. I literally couldn’t put it down, read into the night and then couldn’t stop until I had finished it the next day. Definitely in my top 10 this year.

 

Rebound Product info:

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Phoenix Rising Press (June 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DLHHJSA
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.

 

Rebound – Lynette Mae

Rebound - Lynette MaeConnor Maguire is at the top of her game – literally. She is a world class basketball star negotiating contracts and sponsors, in a high power relationship and has just set the league points record.

When the unthinkable happens Connor is left with nothing. Her sporting life is over, her relationship in tatters and her self worth destroyed.

A Vet suggests she tries out a differently-abled sport, and she begins to find a new sense of self and a new sense of direction. But whether she can open up her heart to another wounded soul remains the biggest challenge.

————–

Lynette Mae has written a lovely book that traces a life-changing journey. At the start of the novel Connor is wrapped up in her sport, her career and her life. She is rather self-centered without meaning to be, just a little full of her own success and importance… and not helped by completely selfish Management and PR.

I didn’t really engage with her on an emotional level in the first part of the book. But whether this was intentional or just the scene setting tone, as the novel progresses and the accident makes Connor reassess and grow, she becomes an increasingly likable character. She moves on from the world of power and prestige to become a better person. She realizes that whatever she thought she had done, what she though of as hard work and suffering, was nothing compared to those who fight to overcome disability or survive combat.

Lynette MaeWe written, well paced and full of wonderful characters ‘Rebound’ is a most enjoyable read. Juxtaposing the vicious Victoria with the struggling Shawn (Coach) Tyler gives us insight into what is really valuable. The supporting cast of Elvis (yes really), Andi, Diane and Red add depth and substance to the relationships. Their friendships form the network in which Connor finds the strength to survive and grow.

The dialogue is great, the relationships believable and the characterization of people suffering from various forms of disability show real insight. On top of which we have the internal struggles of Vets suffering PTSD that adds another layer to the pain of survival.

A book that shows us how adversity can be the catalyst for growth and to finding what we really wanted from life. A lovely, touching, romance that brings two wonderful survivors together.

(publisher review copy received)

Check out Cole Armocida’s track Rebound – available on MP3 here

Cole Armocida - Rebound

Rebound Product info:

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Sapphire Books (February 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IF6P4AW
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.

 

Uncommon Romance – Jove Belle

uncommon romance jove belleThree wonderful, sexually explicit and explosive novellas.

Be warned – if you don’t like reading sexplicit scenes including mild/moderate BDSM – don’t buy or read this book.

This is my first Jove Belle and as with any new author one never knows quite what to expect. The descriptions often don’t reflect the story and the writing style and editing standard can be a problem.

But this book is excellent. It’s well written and edited. The three stories have a plot,characters we can engage with, even character development going on. They just happen to be engaged in hot, raunchy sex while exploring their relationships, emotions and desires. I loved it! This will definitely not be my last Jove Belle, I recon on working though the backlist as soon as possible.

“Raw Silk” finds June, a junior finance associate, being pursued rather forcefully by a potential high ranking client, Kat. The attraction is instant and mutual, but June is married and fights the pull because her wife Ashlyn is far more important to her than anything else in her world.

When Ash starts exploring June’s attraction to Kat their sex heats up, but sparks really start to fly when Ash tells June to bring Kat home. Full of humor and an interesting exploration of just who wears the trousers in a non-b/f relationship, this is hot, steamy and definitely appeals to those who might fantasize about a threesome.

find out more about Jove Belle

In “On Her Knees” two women bump into each other for the first time in 10 years. The backstory is never completely filled in, but it is clear that the attraction was mutual, that Abby was a total bitch, outing and bullying Simone to protect herself. In the intervening years neither has really moved on, Simone is cold and hard from hurt, Abby seems warm and friendly, but is tightly closed off against love.

Into this history gets mixed up Abby bearding for her bff Gavin, which sparks Simone’s fear of being lied to and cheated on.

The pain is raw, the lust is powerful, the sex is amazing. The only question left is whether these two women can overcome their past hurt to form something more than a fleeting scene. Short and sweet – we still get all the emotion and feeling of two women who were clearly meant to be together but whose teenage angst and self-doubt has affected their lives at a most basic level.

“Hollis” is an FBI Special Agent in charge of terrorist training for a group of young FBI recruits – and one Portland Detective – Jude. From the moment Jude arrives at the FBI center the women recognize not only their attraction but their mutual tastes. Jude plays up, she’s a day late and then plays the difficult student until she gets the order she’s been waiting for; “I want you in my office”.

The women play an extremely raunchy BDSM game with each other over the first two weeks of the three-week course. By week three, however, something has started to change in how they interact, and both are clearly feeling slightly uncomfortable with the new sensations.

This is both an extremely hot story where we get to feel both women’s excitement and fulfillment through their role play, but also an interesting exploration of how two women who have never though of forming more than a short term play date can find themselves wanting something different.

(publisher review copy received)

Uncommon Romance Product info:

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HUBW5R8
      USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.
      UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback edition – click here.