Monthly Archives: June 2016

Poppy Jenkins – Clare Ashton

Poppy Jenkins - Clare AshtonYou know when you are in trouble when you feel as though you need a thesaurus before you even start a review, but that’s how I felt when I put down Poppy Jenkins and reached for my Mac. How many superlatives can I find?

At the simplest level it is a mild, slow moving romance. Schoolgirls – best friends – torn apart, meeting years later and exploring the anger and misunderstandings old assumptions can cause. One the darling of the village, all gentle smiles and forgiving nature, the other the odd girl out who rebelled against the place and the people, escaping to what she deemed a better future, but paying a hefty price along the way.

The characters are rounded and wholesome, drawn with glorious attention to detail and loving humour. Grumpy gran, hippy-dippy mother, misdirected lesbian lovers, burley rugby lads and a scheming baddy, Ms Ashton fills the village with a wide ranging cast who provide a brilliant and entertaining counterpoint to our star crossed lovers.

The pastoral setting is coloured with the lightest of touches but a depth that brings it alive. From the valleys to the village square, Poppy’s bedroom to the café – every facet of the surroundings adds to the picture drawn and the sense of place. The Welshness of the people and the land provides a vivid backdrop that adds veracity and quaintness in equal measure.

Clare Ashton bioAs always in Ms Ashton’s novels she finds a place for some sizzling scenes, without them ever feeling gratuitous or misplaced. She somehow takes a mild mannered romance and segues into something steamy so seamlessly that you barely notice these nice girls are being decidedly naughty until the heat washes over you.

But beyond all of that this is a most exquisite piece of writing. The language is fulsome, rounded and glorious. The sentences flow across the page and into your heart and mind with genuine elegance. The story is a sophisticated, multi-layered odyssey. I have loved all her books to date, but this, without a doubt, reaches a new high in terms of the Austenesque literary accomplishment. It is, genuinely, a modest and tender romance, but suffused with a tone of voice and love of language which makes it feel like so much more.

Add in a huge dose of humour, which infuses the whole with the author’s affection for a subject both well known and precious, and you will find it hard not to fall in love with Poppy, her family and the modest village life. This is, simply, British writing at its best; witty, clever, beguiling and brilliant.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Breezy Tree Press (June 19, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01HC65VIK
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Three Shorts – Karin Kallmaker

Butch Across the Hall - Karin KallmakerThe Butch Across the Hall
Hot, sweet and short. Realising she wants more than vanilla, the chance delivery of post to the wrong flat gives Ronnie the chance to knock on Miki’s door across the hall. But will she have the nerve to ask for what she really wants?

Exquisite writing, extremely fiery sex, great characterisation despite the length and a totally enjoyable read. If you like erotica you will love this one… and if you are just maybe a bit curious, why not pluck up your courage and knock on that door.

Ice and Fire - Karin KallmakerIce and Fire

Passion alfresco. If you love a top, somebody who adores pleasing you, then this is the perfect example of how to keep her happy.

Another sizzling Karin Kallmaker for women who like to please their women.

 

SALT - Karin KallmakerSALT

Powerful, personal, poetic. This will resonate with anyone who has ever truly cried for a lost love, for an ex they still love, and for the frustration of watching that ex move on – knowing they too will cry salt.

(Not an erotic short)

(publisher review copy received)

The Butch Across the Hall
  • Paperback: 5,200 words
  • First published 2004
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
To buy from Karin’s web store – click here.
Fire and Ice
  • Paperback: 1,500 words
  • First published 2004
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
To download from Karin’s web store – click here.
SALT
  • Paperback: 1,100 wordss
  • First published 1998
  • Publisher: KK – Revisions Copyright ©2016)
To download from Karin’s web store – click here.

 

Cain Casey Series – Ali Vali

Devil Inside - Ali ValiDevil Unleashed - Ali ValiDeal with the Devil - Ali ValiDevil be Damned - Ali ValiDevil's Orchard - Ali Vali

I just read the first 5 books of Ali Vali’s Cain Casey ‘Devil’ series straight through, book a day, no stopping for anything. Wow.. brilliant! I don’t actually know how I hadn’t read them all before. They are favourite books of a friend, and I have really enjoyed Ms Valis’ other books.

For those who haven’t enjoyed them yet – Cain Casey is head of an Irish clan in NOLA. The family business if hooch, importing illegal alcohol and tobacco, and make the Casey clan one of the main mob families. The series follows the trials and tribulations of Cain and her family, the FBI team trying to catch her out, and the other families she interacts with. Each book does stand alone, but the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.

A significant number of the current generation family leaders are women, and lesbians at that, giving Ms Vali a huge range of opportunities for romance and attraction between the players.. some long term and successful, others fleeting but significant. There’s plenty of hot scenes as well as on-going commitments which develop as the series unfolds.

As well as the romance the books are packed with FBI style drama; intrigue and war between the families, plotting and scheming to get on top and take each other out, or maintain position and keep the peace. There are chases and battles, fairly gruesome murders and revenge killings and some intense page turners along the way.

But the glue that holds it all together is the complex inter-relationships between the players. Within the families, across the partnerships, between those who hate each other.. and among all of them and the FBI team who never stop watching. While the interactions and battles are serious the FBI in particular are often the cause of as much humour as angst, assuming the mob are stupid and that their downfall is always imminent.

Ali Vali BiogCain is a complex character that we continue to learn as the series progresses, and Ms Vali surrounds her with powerful women, mobster bosses of the old and new school, an intriguing family dynamic and a deep family history. The other families and FBI are also well drawn and provide a series of major characters which sustain the growth and depth of the storyline.

I recently compared Cain Casey to RE Bradshaw’s Rainey Bell.. the opposite side of the law to be sure, but their strength, intelligence, commitment, loyalty, sense of self and willingness to do almost anything for friends and family.. yet with an underlying ethic they wont budge from, makes them almost mirror images.

If you haven’t read Ali Vali’s Devil books yet, but love a great series, FBI/cop drama, strong women characters, constant intrigue and hot sex.. what are you waiting for? I cannot wait for book 6.. and hope there are many more to come.

(publisher review copies received)

The Devil Inside
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2006
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 1, 2006)
  • ASIN: B0042JT3NA
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.

To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Devil Unleashed
  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (December 1, 2006)
  • ASIN: B0042JTNG2
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.

To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Deal with the Devil
  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • First published 2008
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (April 1, 2008)
  • ASIN: B0042JTNJE
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.

To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Devil be Damned
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (August 1, 2010)
  • ASIN: B004ELAOHU
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.

To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Devil’s Orchard
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (June 18, 2013)
  • ASIN: B00DH671LK
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.

To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Save

It Pours – CD Cain

it Pours- cd CainBook 2 of Chambers of the Heart series begins exactly where When It Raynes left off. For those of you who expressed frustration about the lack of a complete arc in book 1, it is clearly a giant 4 part work, the size of War and Peace, rather then a 4 part series.

This section focuses on Rayne, an interior monologue that follows her struggle to come to terms with her choices. Trained, expected and bullied into being the perfect southern belle, she accepts the life-plan her domineering mother and ‘take for granted’ boyfriend expect of her.  But as the story unfolds we watch Rayne grow, challenge and even rebel against those expectations as she fights to be herself – despite what her choices will do to her dreams of going home.

Rayne is a powerful character. Frequently self absorbed and somewhat isolated, she never the less resonates as a woman of strength and power. It Pours has new characters for us to meet and Mo is a particularly unusual heroine with her looks, lifestyle and passion creating a fascinating allure.

CD Cain’s writing brings the characters to life. We feel the stress and tension building in Rayne, her inner turmoil contrasting her apparent outward serenity.  Sam is ever present in her mind, an anchor and a guilt. This becomes almost a psychological thriller as we wait for Rayne to chose, to grow into the woman we all want her to be.

CD Cain biogCD Cain’s descriptive passages are superb. She brings to life the south, the bayou and the forest. From the dust of a motorcycle journey to the peace of a hammock, every scene is firmly anchored in a sense of place that gives an added dimension to the intensity of the storytelling.

I have to be honest and say I thought the prose was a little less tight than the first book. Maybe a little less edited and occasionally repetitive. But that did not detract from the essence of the story, the power and substance of the writing, and the pure joy of immersing yourself so wholly into a world exquisitely drawn.

Cannot wait for books 3 and 4 to see where they take Rayne and Sam. There is no doubt their story isn’t over.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (May 27, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01F7T7Q1Y
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

 

Tangled Mark – Becky Harmon

Tangled MarkNikki is somewhere between a spy, a security expert and an action adventure girl who specialises in sniper rifles. Since joining Flager Security she has formed part of a tight nit team who trust each other, literally, with their lives. When things start to go wrong it tests the teams cohesion and trust to the limit.

Mel is out to find out where the leak is coming from, and she is assigned the alluring Nikki as her mark. To follow, observe, but also to spook. As the two women interact the attraction is obvious. But neither quite knows who is on the side of the good guys.

This is a refreshing combination of storyline. Despite the hot romance the action adventure keeps on coming. The plot is full of suspense and definitely creates an intriguing page turner.

The women characters are strong, interesting and complex. There is no distinction at all between them and their male counterparts, just an over-riding assumption they are equals which is lovely to read. The relationship between Nikki and her partner Brad works really well and gives an extra layer of interest.. as well as humour.

Excellent debut novel, look forward to reading more ,whether it is a sequel/series or something completely different. Definitely one to watch.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 20, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01FAXJ0WU
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

jj

Lammy Winners 2016

Pioneer Award:
– Eileen Myles

Lesbian Fiction:
Under the Udala Trees – Chinelo Okparanta

Lesbian romance:
Making A Comeback – Julie Blair

Lesbian mystery:
Tarnished Gold – Ann Aptaker
Ordinary Mayhem – Victoria B Brownworth

Lesbian erotica:
The Muse – Meghan O’Brien

Lesbian poetry:
Life In a Box is a Pretty Life – Dawn Lundy Martin

Lesbian memoir/biography:
Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear – Kate Carroll De Gutes

Bisexual literature:
The Life & Death of Sophie Stark – Anna North
Irrepressible – Henrietta Bingham

LGBT drama:
– Bright Half Life – Tanya Barfield

LGBT sci fi/fantasy/horror award:
The Gracekeepers – Kirsty Logan

LGBT nonfiction:
No One Helped – Marcia M Gallo

LGBT children’s and YA:
George – Alex Gino

Collide-O-Scope – Andrea Bramhall

Collide-O-Scope - Andrea Bramhall First in Andrea Bramhall’s new NCIS series (Norfolk Coast Investigation Story – LOL) – Collide-O-Scope is a murder mystery with a side order of slow burn romance and a nice dose of humour.

Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon has moved from the small city of Norwich to the town of Kings Lynn on the north Norfolk coast, but finds herself in the tiny village of Brandale Staithe – with 40 year-round residents – when a woman’s body and a distraught collie dog are found on the coastal path. Despite being her first major case in her new patch, and her first since a promotion to DS, she finds herself the de facto lead in the murder investigation.

In a village of 39 (live) residents, there can’t be too many suspects, but a combination of the dislike most people have for the victim, her plans to sell the local campsite and various personality clashes, Kate seems to end up with a rather large pool of possibilities.  As the story unfolds the list fluctuates.. but never seems to dwindle to a manageable number, much to the local CID’s frustration.

Kate is a wonderful character, strong, independent, thoughtful, funny, and compassionate but flawed, she will win your heart in many ways. She reminded me of some of the great female detectives, from Kate Delafield and Carol Ashton to Armand Gamache.

Kate’s colleagues are an amusing bunch who will no doubt get developed as the series unfolds. Most of the villagers take their place as a backdrop to the investigation, but Sammy stands out, a 9 year old tomboy who is “one of those kids who could get dirty just looking out of the window” and watching her grow up will be entertaining.

The whodunit is interesting, with unexpected twists and turns. It develops into a plot that might seem unlikely, but comes across as totally plausible and well thought out.

Andrea Bramhall biogAs always Ms Bramhall’s writing flows, her setting in the coastal village is perfect and the local colour adds a level of depth and veracity to the storyline. She balances plot and character, narrative and description, internal monologue with action and intrigue to make an extremely enjoyable read.

Looking forward to seeing this series develop, the romance unfold, the characters grow, and see what dastardly crimes Ms Bramhall’s active imagination comes up with next.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (May 4, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01EIB8POY
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

jj

The Circle Dance – Jen Silver

The Circle Dance - Jen SilverThe Circle Dance is Jen Silver’s first stand-alone novel after completing her Starling Hill Trilogy. Once again set in the hills of West Yorkshire and infused with wit and realism, it is a classic British romance.

Each of Ms Silver’s characters are familiar, realistic, lightly but well drawn and all of them are on a journey. Jamie seems unable to move on from the heartache of her partner cheating and deserting her. Van doesn’t really believe she can find a reliable girlfriend. Maddie and Lauren negotiate a long-term marriage while battling teenage rebellion. Tay struggles with coming out and resisting peer pressure. Sasha may find that the grass isn’t always greener and Phoebe needs to learn that using people rarely works out in the long term.

Jen Silver BioThis is a ‘domestic drama’ – an observation of human relations, from the hysterical over re-action of a frightened mother to the tears of a woman re-united with her beloved cat. Ms Silver shows us her characters flaws and foibles, watches them react to everyday situations, and allows some to grow and develop, while others struggle to learn life’s lessons.

Very much in the tradition of British lesfic romances The Circle Dance is a gentle story of real women’s lives. Well done, enjoyable reading and another winner from Jen Silver.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Affinity Press (March 14, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01CZA6SQW
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

 

The Beast That Never Was – Caren J. Werlinger

The Beast That Never WasThis is the 6th of Caren J. Werlinger’s books I have read and once again she has stepped outside of the traditional Lesbian genres. After a series of extremely well done novels and the start of a mage/dragon lore fantasy series, The Beast That Never Was is by far the lightest and most fun of her stories to date.

This is a fairy tale, told in the style of a novel, and a romance at that, but it’s a fairy tale to the core. Set in the wild forest and with a cast of the Kings’ Huntsmen, woodchoppers, howling wolves, packs of scared torch-wielding villagers and the obligatory curse on the beautiful young woman, it has everything we expect from the best bedtime stories.

Caren Werlinger BiogWith Ms Werlingers’ excellent writing style and gorgeous prose the descriptions flow off the page. The characters are whole and deep without heavy descriptions. The tension of thwarted lesbian lovers runs alongside that of the cursed beast’s fear of discovery. And the whole is sweetened by some charming inter-relationships and the innocent love of two young women.

I don’t particularly remember loving fairy tales when I was young, although I do remember having a heavy tome of them my parents read from, but this was thoroughly enjoyable reading. All you mum’s out there, this is a perfect counter to traditional ‘prince gets the girl’ stories we grew up on. And for the rest – it is an extremely well written and charming read.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Corgyn Publishing (June 1, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01G0KP0V2
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.