Monthly Archives: April 2014

Prairie Women in Love – Rachel Windsor

Prairie Women In LoveThis is the first installment of a new LesFic romance series, Lesbian Lovers Throughout Time.

This novella is set in 1870 in Almond, Wisconsin. Rebecca Wallis is about to start a new life as a schoolteacher. It’s her first time away from her family and friends, so everything is new and slightly intimidating, from the family she is boarding with to the outgoing teacher, Sarah Barton, who is handing over the reigns.

Sarah is different – strong, independent, unmarried and wearing trousers – virtually unheard of at the time. As Rebecca starts to explore her new world she quickly realizes that she wants Sarah to be a part of it, but can they find their way to romance as well as a career in the male-centric world of the 1800’s?

———-

This is a lovely, simple, romantic short. Despite being only just under 10,000 words we get a full story of two women meeting and falling in love. By paring down to the basics ,which gives us a sparing glance at time and place, Ms Windsor crams a whole lot into the tale.

Sarah and Rebecca are well drawn, charming and evocative of all those explorations of first love. The plot is simple but makes this more than just a way to put their romance in a context. We can all empathize with their almost childish glee at finding each other while we sympathise with their fears when they face the threat of loosing their chance for happiness because of the restrictions of the day.

Rachel Windsor biogThe resolution is simple but charming, and we are left hoping that other women found a way to live their lives together.

A lovely read, well worth a quiet hour and I look forward to reading more in the series.

(review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 42 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Amazon Digital (Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HZLQ9EI
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Does She Love You – Rachel Spangler

GCLS clean logoDoes She Love You - Rachel SpanglerWhen Nic McCoy meets Davis Chandler one night in a bar, she is captivated by the sarcasm, wit and the challenge of the chase. Without realizing what she is looking for Nic is bored by her perfect life, and Davis is exciting.

Davis has been hurt so many times by unfeeling, selfish women she is a bundle of angry self-doubt. But Nic charms her and works so hard to secure Davis’ trust that despite all the warning signs Davis is soon in over her head.

Belle Taylor is the frustrated housewife. She has given up her own dreams to support her wife and for the most part has been happy. But after 13 years she finds herself with all the trappings of wealth and none of the substance of happiness. She wants her wonderful wife more than she wants the gilded pedestal she has been placed on.

When Nic’s double life explodes on the streets of Atlanta all three lives are thrown into chaos. Davis and Belle are left doubting everything they have experienced with Nic. How each woman survives will become a test of character.

—————

I love Rachel Spangler’s books. While on a superficial level they are romances with a layer of wit and humor, underneath they are a maelstrom of emotions and a handbook for self-awareness.

Here we have 4 amazing characters. The naïve “Barbie doll”, the perfect southern – aptly named – Belle. She has moved from Daddy to Sorority to Wife and never noticed that she puts everybody else’s views, wishes and needs above her own. Her wife of 13 years is the archetypal poor girl made good. She has dragged herself out of the trailer park by sheer will power and is determined to prove everybody wrong with her success.

Davis is the hurt child who has rejected her parents’ middle-American lives as too boring and tried to carve a place in the city. But despite her successes she is too soft for the role of player and has been hurt to the point of emotional catatonia. And the 4th? Davis BFF is the wonderful Cass. Sarcastic, realistic and tough, she is the devil sat on Davis shoulder that tells her the hard truths.

Between them we have a full palette of character and emotion. Nic, the baddie who destroys what she claims to love, but turns out not to have even known. Davis is desperate for love and dreaming of the U-Haul. While claiming independence she is actually bound by the power of her ex’s hold. Belle the honey voiced lady who barely knows herself. And behind them all Cass, the ever present voice of reality.

These are women we can really engage and empathize with. We feel their pain, suffer their self-doubt and agonise through their growing self-awareness. Who hasn’t felt the anguish of wondering whether anything was real when our reality is shattered. We go through phases of loving and hating them all as the story unfolds. Most of us will despise Nic, not only for cheating and treating these wonderful women as acquisitions, but for being stupid enough to destroy what she had. Before the cataclysm we want to shake Belle for allowing Nic to build a cage around her. After, we want to shout at Davis for being unable to move on from under the shadow of her betrayers.

Rachel Spangler bioAn interesting and unusual tale. A plot that some will find unbelievable, but which hangs together for the very reasons people will think it shouldn’t. Shared pain, even from opposite sides of a divide, is still understood better by the victims than by an outsider. What Ms Spangler has done is taken a difficult subject and investigated the affects on those who caused the trauma as well as those who suffered by it. And she has multiplied it up by both the wife and the mistress being the victims.

Exceptional writing, a thought provoking story, multi-dimensional characters and a painful journey for each woman. Rachel Spangler goes from strength to strength and each book is a challenge to us, the reader, to look at some aspect of ourselves and gauge our own emotional development. My only complaint is it stopped too soon. I want a sequel to find out what happens next…

Product info:

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DYTHXZO
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Remember Me – Syd Parker

GCLS clean logoRemember Me - Syd ParkerSamantha Adams is a lawyer working in her fathers firm. When she hears her Grandmother has passed away she feels little except some residual anger that the woman she barely remembers left them all behind when she was three. She is shocked and surprised when a parcel arrives and she finds that her Gran has recognized her in her will and left her letters and mementos. As far as she is aware her Gran left and never looked back.

To help her decide whether to honor her Grans last request for a trip down memory lane she turns to lesbian BFF, Ellis Hudson. Also a lawyer working for Sam’s Dad, Ellis harbors more than friendship for Sam, but with her background on the wrong side of the tracks and her fear of losing what contact she has, Ellis has never told Sam just how she feels. Instead she keeps her feelijgs locked away and poses as a player on the scene.

They decide to take the road trip across country, visiting Grandma Lou’s memories. Ellis can’t imagine a month without Sam and secretly hopes her friend will finally notice her. Sam knows she needs Ellis with her, but isn’t prepared to face up to why. The trip will make both of them confront their own fears and could be the make-or-break of their relationship.

————

This is an interesting story of love and loss. It is a thoughtful exploration of how one woman’s homophobia and anger can rip apart a family and the loss such hatred can cause.

Sam and El are wonderful characters. Intelligent, successful, warm and loving, yet humanized and made real by their inner battles and fear. Sam is scared of acknowledging who she is because the cost could be so high. Ellis is afraid to let go of her history and recognize who she has become in case she isn’t good enough for the woman she loves. The journey cross country shows both women that they need to let go of their past in order to really live their ‘now’ and to build their future.

The story is charmingly filled with memories of women’s baseball during the war years, a common thread which brought the earlier generation together and fills the trip with meaning. It gives a continuity of feel to our meetings with Sunny, Charlie and Lou. These three wonderful women barely take a backseat to Sam and Ellis, their presence is so strong. We meet Sunny and Charlie, but it is Lou that dominates the book. The strength of her character, warmth of her love and heartache of her loss, is the life story that makes Sam and Ellis finally understand what is at stake in their own lives.

Syd parker biogSyd Parkers writing is always hugely enjoyable. She is a master of character and creates people we really engage with. They are then set in a plot well researched and thought through which adds a realism to the story. As always this is well written and a joy to read.

Every story Syd writes is on my re-read pile and this is no exception. Her writing just gets better with each new book.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Syd Parker Books (December 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HMP67IA
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Every Second Counts – D. Jackson Leigh

GCLS clean logoEvery Second Counts - D.Jackson LeighMarc Ryder rides the rodeo bulls in a mindless attempt to keep the adrenaline flowing. Between the rodeo and the women she leads a jet set life with nothing to tie her down. But when an ill–judged dismount leaves her leg in tatters and in need of recuperation she accepts an invitation to go ‘home’ for some R&R after 12 years away. There she finds that the world has moved on, her mad-cap friends have grown up, and once again the people she desperately wants to love and need her have left her behind again.

Bridgette LeRoy finds Marc irresistible but just cannot seem to get away from her. Between shared friends on the ranch, on the softball team and at the bar she keeps bumping into the woman she would rather avoid. And when the college she teaches at needs a donation from Marc it seems fate keeps throwing them together.

Despite their on-again off-again fling Bridgette is determined to keep her emotional distance from the woman who brings up so many painful memories. Can she let herself care for the vulnerable woman she sees under the bravado? And can Marc even begin to understand her own demons, the pain that pushes her to self-destruction?

————–

Marc Ryder is a brilliant character – warped, damaged and dangerous. She oozes sex appeal, conquers just about whatever she fancies and lives in a world where she is untouchable – which keeps her from harm, but prevents her from feeling. The rodeo accident is a trigger that starts to unravel her protected world. Suddenly she can be hurt physically and soon she starts to open up emotionally. But as a deprived child she doesn’t have the tools to handle either. She has no self worth because everybody always leaves her. Everybody wants her lust and her passion. Nobody wants her heart.

D. Jackson Leigh has created the archetypal bass-ass heroine. She is an extreme, but one we recognize instantly. The challenge she faces is to stop running and start living, and the author holds us, just on the brink, hoping Marc can emerge from the image of Ryder. It is an emotional rollercoaster full of suspense and passion.

Bridgette (from “Long Shot’) is the opposite in so many ways. Calm, reflective, meditative. But inside she is just as scared and withdrawn and has her own demons to battle. Between them they present a delightful tug of war where their obvious and overwhelming lust for each other battles their fear. Enormously engaging and charming in the most subtle of ways.

Behind these two are a wonderful cast, many of whom we met in ‘Bareback’. Here we see the studs tamed and corralled by their soft yet powerful southern women. We have lesbian parents, horny ranch hands and great new characters like the extremely hot TSA Officer Claire.

D Jackson Leigh BiogThe sex scenes are steamy from page one, fast and furious. If you don’t like full on bodice rippers this may not be the one for you, but they are well written and sizzling hot . While Marc is a player she is respectful, caring and honest – even when slapped hard in the face for a 12 year old transgression.

I loved this book, it kept me up all night with pure entertainment. Another great story of sexy southern women, professional riders and romance. Definitely one for the re-read pile.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (12 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BF38NNC
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The Tropic of Hunter – Cheyne Curry

GCLS clean logoTropic of Hunter - Cheyne CurryHunter Roberge left home at 18, thrown out by a mother who has never loved her and who had always seemed angry. She left Otter Falls, Vermont, with nothing but her savings and started a new life in California. 16 years later she returns when her mother unexpectedly and rather bizarrely leaves Hunter her house and cat.

While determined not to engage in the small-town politics and family dynamics she had escaped, Hunter finds herself pulled back into the old relationships. She is delighted to be welcomed home by her older brother and finds it impossible to resist baiting her  younger sibling. But when she meets her best friend from school on her first night home she quickly starts to realise that people are not who she thought they were.

Hunter is bemused by her mother’s actions and intrigued by who the people she left behind have become. Her journey home will change her life forever in unexpected ways.

———

Cheyne Curry’s novel is a delightful mixture of social commentary, suspense and romance. It is written with great insight into family dynamics and knowledge of just how much appearances can be deceptive.

Hunter has grown up looking out for herself. She thinks of herself as a good judge of character and is confident that she knows who is on her side. As the novel progresses she realises that she has been wrong on nearly every count and that those she thought were friends either didn’t know her for who she is or hid their real character for their own reasons. These interactions lead her to realize that not only have some people changed, most were never who she thought they were.

Ms Currie has created an intriguing range of players from the unexpected homophobe to the socially competent psychopath. Both the main actors and the supporting cast are exceptionally well drawn. The main characters a likeable – we want them to work things out and find a good resolution to the challenges they face.

Cheyne CurryThe plot has several unexpected twists which distinguish it from so many lesbian romance’s and the resolution of Hunter’s family dynamics will certainly not be something you could have predicted. As well as great characters well-written suspense and intriguing family dynamics the novel is also full of delightful humour and lightly drawn comedy such as the sad fate of Vicky the canvasser.

The romance is delightful, the story behind the old family dynamics is insightful and the real reasons why Hunter was left her mother’s house will definitely be a surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tropic of Hunter. Sometimes it is good to recognize that not everything can turn out rosy and yet still find a joyful silver lining.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Blue Feather Books (September 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EYMH2XS
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Ladyfish – Andrea Bramhall

Ladyfish - Andrea BramhallOlivia (Oz) Zuckerman is a “Playboy” scuba-diving instructor on the Florida Keys. When not diving or training divers she spends her time dallying with tourists. Daniela Finnsbury-Sterling (Finn) couldn’t be more different. A genius level biologist she has spent her far too serious life trying to please her overbearing and controlling father and cope with the devastation of loosing her mother at an early age.

Their paths cross when Finn decides to escape her father’s demands by becoming a scuba diving instructor. For Oz this is just another short term diver she needs to pick up and mollycoddle. For Finn this is her planned escape from the world she increasingly wants no part in.

What neither woman knows is quite how far Finn’s father will go to control and manipulate her life for his own benefit.

———

This was Andrea Bramhall’s first novel and what a great yarn it is – swashbuckling James Bond style hero’s, world domination, chemical weapons and the secret service… fast and fabulous and great fun.

The two main characters couldn’t be more different. Oz is ex-Navy, a player, living the dream, surrounded by family and friends she can rely on and brimming with the confidence of those who know what they have and where they belong. Finn is, in some ways, a poor little rich girl; sheltered and protected by nannies and cooks, she craves love she never received from the mother she lost and the controlling father. Oz is it worldly wise, Finn is naive and innocent. Their coming together is an exciting exploration of how two worlds can meet and join.

“Ladyfish” is partly whirlwind romance and partly action adventure full of drama and intrigue. We are taken on an exciting romp filled with bad guys, spies, abductions and gun battles. Luckily for Finn, Oz has a supply of powerful relatives and the US Navy to back them up on their adventures. And at the end of it all we are left with the suggestion of a cliffhanger and the hope of a sequel.

Amidst all the action we have a subtle and gentle romance developing. Finn, the untouched innocent who needs to learn to trust after a lifetime of emotional deprivation and Oz who is used to taking what she wants but hiding her deeper feelings. What we watch is a delightful coming together that shows Oz’s patience and care, while allowing Finn to open up and gain the confidence to stand up for herself, and demand what she wants.

Andrea Bramhall biogWell written, well plotted and well edited this is a delightful story and a hugely entertaining first novel. I may have been late joining Andrea Bramhall’s fan club but I will definitely be first in the queue for her new novel “Nightingale” when it comes out next month.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AV53O2U
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At Her Feet – Rebekah Weatherspoon

Lambda Literary FInalistGCLS clean logoAt Her Feet - Rebekah WeatherspoonSuzanne Kim lives a double life. During the day she is an up and coming digital marketing executive, holding down a stressful job, managing complex projects and handling difficult clients. In her private life she is a “little Girl” Submissive who has escaped a manipulative relationship and idly searching for her ideal Mistress.

When her favorite kink site throws up a gorgeous Latina “Mommie’, Mami-P, Suzy can’t resist trying to catch her attention. As they begin to explore a contract it soon becomes clear that they have the potential to form much more than a short-term connection.

But will Suzy’s trust issues and Pilar’s need for real communication be too much of a strain, or will other Mommies be the real threat to their future?

——————

Warning – this is extremely erotic and crammed full of mild BDSM. If you don’t like full-on sex scenes and very graphic images – don’t read it.

We all have very different responses to erotica; some love it, some are revolted by it. If you like mild BDSM you will love this book. The sex scenes are extremely hot, well written, and varied. Unlike so much erotica I never once got bored of a tedious activity or repetitive language. Ms Weatherspoon has managed to write a book full of luscious activity without repeating herself.

What most people will react to, however, is the role play. I am sure most of us are aware of the Daddy/Boy scenario in the gay men’s scene. I had personally never come across the Mommies/Little Girl play in the lesbian world. Like many, I suspect, my first reaction was one of wariness. With a strong lesbian feminist background there are all sorts of triggers here about the abuse of ‘little girls’ and reading about women who chose that role was initially uncomfortable.

But Rebekah Weatherspoon has drawn us a character that is not a weak, powerless woman who gets bullied into submission. While she has been manipulated a past relationship (who hasn’t?) she had the strength to leave that behind when her ‘Mistress’ couldn’t fulfill her needs. When confronted with sexual harassment and bullying she is deeply upset, but quickly responds by reporting it and walking away, confident of herself and not prepared to tolerate the abuse.

Suzanne is a strong independent woman with a good job, a nice apartment, deep friendships. She just happens to like BDSM and enjoys the role of the Little Girl being looked after and cared for by a ‘Mommy’. Interestingly Susanne is taller than Pilar, possibly earns more than Pilar, is more than capable of acting like a grown-up girlfriend when she is needed, and frequently suggests the games and role play they enjoy. Yes, Suzy lets Mami-P take control and make the decisions, but she has power that is adroitly displayed in the delightful Catholic High School/teacher scene she creates when we see her drive Pilar crazy.

So, if you can take a moment to step back and get over any initial hostility to the role play, what we have is a well written exploration of how mutual attraction develops between two women who meet because of a potential sexual contract.

Suzy is a complex and interesting character. She struggles to balance her need for the Sub role with her natural management style and her trust issues. She struggles to communicate her deep feelings because she is scared of being rejected – something many of us will empathize with. The other characters are lightly drawn, even Pilar is left an enigma, but they give us a flavor of the scene. More than anything they demonstrate that these are a standard range of woman – some sweet, some bitchy, some stressed and acting out, some manipulative and aggressive.

The relationship development is the plot that holds this together and makes an interesting read. We see the standard early relationship fears and insecurities that we all will have been through. On top of that we have the highly important sexual chemistry. A contract based on BDSM needs is not going to work if the couple doesn’t meet each other’s requirements. And as an extra layer of complexity Suzy and Mami-P are trying to form a role-play partnership where each ones ability to fulfill a role is paramount. Ultimately that is the test that will make or break this relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed “At Her Feet”. It is well written, well edited and well developed. The sex scenes are hot. The characters are interesting and, once I had overcome my own prejudices, I found the role play and relationship development really thought-provoking. I would recommend it to anyone who likes mild BDSM erotica.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8QMHVQ
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Timeless – Rachel Spangler

TimelessStevie Gallaher has created a safe world for herself based around her New York life and her apartment. She doesn’t do conflict and she doesn’t put herself out there.  She hides in the bubble she has created and writes novels about the world she observes. 

When her publicist and manager, Edmond, forces her to choose between visiting her old school to accept an award or speaking at a fundraising dinner she resentfully returns to Darlington as the lesser of two evils. More than the little overwhelmed by meeting the teacher who was her first crush and the thought of exposure at her old high school she forgets to eat and collapses on stage.

Now, rather than hiding in the shadows, Stevie must confront her past and decide who she wants to be in the future.

———-

“Timeless” is unusual. On the one hand it is a sweet romantic tale of girl going home to find that thing she didn’t know she wanted was there all the time. But it is much more than a simple romance and the twist in the plot will surprise you.

Like Spangler’s earlier novel set in Darlington, ”The Long Way Home”, this is partly a tale about how small town America and high school experiences shape our lives, those of us who have run away to escape and those who choose, instead, to stand and fight. It is also a story about how good people give up their own dreams to protect others who are different in one way or another.

This story should make us stop and think; cause us to reassess our own behavior as teenagers who kept silent or perhaps even those who were guilty of bullying. It should also make us look at our own life choices as the adults we’ve become and reconsider whether we could be doing more to protect those more vulnerable than ourselves.

Ms Spangler’s characters are deep and multidimensional. Here we get a unique opportunity to see how they develop. From student teacher Jody, trying to find her way, and Stevie, the closeted and scared intellectual who can’t wait to escape, to the wonderfully drawn ‘other’ Kelsey Patel, we see inside their hopes and fears. We are shown how popularity can lead to abuse of power while obscurity can bury us under fear and despair.

Rachel Spangler bioMore than anything “Timeless” made me think about the choices we have made and the people we’ve become. This is a story about how much of our teenage decision-making has impacted our lives – forced us away from being everything we could have been. It is an exploration of how bullying can make us live our lives in fear – those bullied and those who stand by and do nothing.

There are lessons here. Not least is that time is finite and that we need to make the most of it. As the adorable Beth reminds us when asked what she would change if she could ‘do it over’: “I’d live every minute in present tense instead of always planning for some future I had no guarantee of.”

I love books that make me think and stories that make me feel. This one does both. I really enjoyed Ms Spangler’s earlier novels, particularly “The Long Way Home”, but “Timeless” is at a different level. Rachel Spangler goes from strength to strength and I look forward to following her growing talent.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626390509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626390508
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The Long Way Home – Rachel Spangler

The Long Way HomeRory St James runs away from home when her parents react badly to her coming out. Fleeing to Chicago she creates a whole new persona for herself, Raine, who builds a life and a career out of the bitter anger and hurt. But 10 years on the world is bored of a 27 year old who is still angry with her parents. On the brink of being evicted and without an income, she is forced to take a job at Bramble College in Darlington, the town she has ranted against and vilified for her rejection.

Beth Devoroux is the archetypal small town girl, the plain farmers daughter who has grown into a beautiful curvaceous woman. She seems content with her small town life as librarian at the college, darling of the town and a solid but extremely closeted relationship.

Despite their shared teenage years they seem to have nothing in common, yet Beth is clearly drawn to the angry rebel Rory became. Can she reach out to her high school buddy or will their different experiences of small town life prove too big a barrier?

—————

Most of us grow up with a sense of fear at some level. Whether it is of being rejected by our parents, being bullied at school or threatened on the street. Being ’other’ as a kid is always a challenge even without rejection by our parents.

Rory and Beth have reacted in different ways to that fear. Rory has run off, become a radical gay activist and turned her fear into anger so strong it has sustained her for 10 years. Beth has hidden who she is for fear of offending those who have loved and supported her, and that has been reinforced by an 8 year relationship with a woman who is homophobic in her self loathing and paranoia about being gay.

What this story brings us is extremes; Rory and Beth are opposite ends of the scale, yet they come from the same place, have similar childhoods and families. What Ms Spangler explores is how our different perceptions of ourselves and those around us forge the people we become. Rory saw everyone as hostile, so she reacted with anger. Beth saw everyone as supportive – of a perfect image – so has tried to maintain their perception.

The characters are well drawn and thought out. They have an internal integrity that holds throughout their struggles to recognize what life has done to them, who they have become and the compromises and price they have paid. Both fluctuate quite wildly at times, one minute clinging to the safety of façade they have built, the next tearing it down. The internal battles they both fight are what makes their growth honest and realistic.

The supporting players from the midwestern town form a backdrop which is interesting. We have the stereotypical bigots, the born again town bitch, but also a couple of guys who knew Rory was gay and just accept it, but never dreamt Beth could also be that way. They are caring and supportive, but still stereotypical in their reactions to the tomboi and the femme.

In the midst of all this social comment is a charming romance. Beth, unsure of what is happening in her heart, still fights to draw Rory from Raine and ultimately has the courage to face her own demons as the “perfect” darling of the town. Rory knows from the start how much she is attracted to Beth, but rejects her attraction to the closeted woman and fights tooth and nail to hold onto her brittle persona.

Rachel Spangler bioComing home isn’t about a place, it’s about finding ourselves, growing out of the personas we create to shield our fears and into the power of being true to who we are.

Brilliantly written, well constructed and an emotional page-turner, this is a book which will speak to all GLBT people.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW6AR4
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Conflict of Interest – Jae

Conflict of InterestWhen a chance encounter at a law enforcement seminar brings detective Aiden Carlisle and psychologist Dawn Kinsley into contact neither have any idea of how closely linked their futures will be.

Dawn comes from a long line of Irish cops so she is well aware of the demands and pressures placed upon them, but she steers away from getting involved with any more of them. Aiden works with the Sexual Assault Detail and faces vicious crimes as part of her everyday life, but like all cops she has issues with shrinks and talking things out. Both women have a pile of baggage about relationships that makes their initial flicker of interest in each other unlikely to have a future.

Neither woman would have wished for the circumstances that bring them back into contact. But fate can sometimes turn a brutal crime into the beginning of something better.

———

This is a new edition of Jae’s first novel. Despite being a huge fan of her work I had somehow missed this amazing story – so am extremely glad to have seen it listed in the new releases.

Jae once again tells a masterful tale. This time it’s a crime thriller with a heavy dose of romance on the side. As always she weaves the most amazing fabric out of the minutiae of everyday life. While at times the subject matter of rape, violence and abuse are hard to read, the underlying theme of the book is one of gentle nurturing and loving kindness.

At over 400 pages the central event of the novel takes up a small slice of space. It is the aftermath of the crime that keeps us occupied. While the action follows the investigation and courtroom drama the real story is all about how rape impacts the lives of the women attacked, their family, friends and the children of rape victims.

The central characters and supporting cast are wonderfully drawn. Their fears, hopes, love and laughter draws us in until we are sitting at the Christmas table surrounded by people we know and love. Jae has a knack of showing us the huge depth of compassion we can show each other and which redeems the evil effects of rape and violence. Her characters always grow and so while we watch fascinated they transform before our eyes.

Despite the dark subjects dealt with by both Aiden and Dawn’s jobs the relationship we see developing between them is joyful to observe. The growth of mutual respect and understanding, breaking through old scars and new fears alike, gives us hope that we can all escape our own baggage and grow. That we could all find a partner who balances us and nurtures our growth the way Jae’s heroines do.

Jae - biogThe sequel – “Next of Kin” – is currently out of print and is due to be rereleased as a new edition in 2015. I can’t wait to see how all the threads will be carried forward as the lives of the Kinsley family, the police department and the DA’s office develop. The only upside of having to wait a year is that it will give me an
excuse to reread “Conflict of Interest” again.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing; revised second edition
    (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JEX778W
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To buy the Kindle edition – click here.