Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tales From Sea Glass Inn – Karis Walsh

Tales From Sea Glass Inn – Karis WalshFour short romances which follow on and intertwine with the Original “Sea Glass Inn” and the lives of those who live in the small tourist village. An oil spill threatens to destroy the beautiful beach, the wildlife and the livelihood of the community. In the aftermath a collection of women are pulled together, some new, some already known, and in each short a romance unfolds.

Karis Walsh has an appealing and easy writing style that always makes her stories a pleasant read and a keen eye for human frailties that captures the interest. Here she pulls out the quirks of each woman and shows us who they are and what they struggle with in swift brush strokes.

The romances are necessarily fast, but despite that Ms Walsh gives us enough character development and angst to capture the imagination. Jenny and Helen need to overcome the patterns their upbringings have created. Ari and Jocelyn need to open up and let Karis Walsh biogsomebody in. Heather and Aspen are opposites, one driven and over ambitious, the other too scared to put herself out there, between them they make a perfect balance. Tam and Maggie must overcome the control they feel is essential, and the fears that caused their isolation. Throughout Pam and Mel, the Sea Glass Inn, and Cannon Beech pull them all together and give them a common context.

A thoroughly enjoyable read from a very good author, and a charming follow up to a definite favorite. The collection of stories stand alone, but if you enjoyed “Sea Glass Inn” there is an added bonus of seeing a snapshot from Pam and Mel’s ongoing lives together. A lovely summer read.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (12 July 2016)
  • ASIN: B01H2VLZKI
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Finding Hekate – Kellie Doherty

Finding Hekate - Kellie DohertyMia Foley has had a life of the run since her family was murdered by the Acedians and their leader captured and branded her. She has gone from ship to ship, crew to crew, always escaping at the last moment at any cost.

But Mia’s current crew are different, they have crept inside her heart and she doesn’t quite know how. Her slow burn attraction to Cassidy, the small time trader Mia is transporting, isn’t helping Mia’s decision to run again. But then she also knows Cassidy would be safer if she did.

The world building is good, the story complex and interesting, and there is a tension throughout. Being part of a duology there are loose ends and an only partially resolved ending, but Ms Doherty definitely gives us enough good to make us want to read the next instalment.

A very good first novel and I look forward to part II.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press (7 April 2016)
  • ASIN: B01DZJYEX6
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Captain of Industry – Karin Kallmaker

Captain of industry - Karin KallmakerTwo women, one already a successful tech millionaire, the other a successful model, add instant attraction and great chemistry and we have a classic whirlwind romance. On the surface “Captain of industry” is an excellent, well written story in the traditional genre, but underneath it is a much deeper commentary on the cost of success, and the price of being out.

Suzanne is a new tech millionaire, living it up in NYC as a minor celebrity and enjoying all the benefits of being young, attractive and rich. Having sold her start-up to AOL, she is the current whizz kid, self made, successful and going places – with everybody wanting a slice of her success. For her being out is not an issue, she just ‘is’ and there is no thought of any cost or consequence.

Jennifer is a successful model, just reaching the level where she feels confident to turn down work and stonewall men who think they can maul her. But her heart is set on being an actress, and she spends every spare moment working on her skills, her resume and her contacts. For her being out is not an option. She knows without a doubt that coming out will kill her career before it starts. And for her that drive to succeed is stronger than her dreams of happy ever after.

When Jennifer literally falls into Suzanne’s arms their attraction is instant, and their interactions both amusing and playful. Despite the brevity of their various encounters across the years their deep connection is obvious. But while Suzanne believes they can enjoy each other, grow and develop their relationship, see where it goes, Jennifer runs scared from anything which might damage her career. And the lies the rub, because Suzanne cannot understand, will not recognise, the cost of being out, and Jennifer will not risk it.

Karin kallmaker bioWhat we see unfold is a woman hardening her heart, pushing others away, becoming the Hollywood bitch, all for her career. Kallmaker deepens the romance into a feminist commentary on the choices women have had to make to get what they want. At the same time we have a story of personal growth; Suzanne must recognise her money cannot buy everything, Jennifer needs to gain success on her own terms, and the maturity to stand up and be counted.

Extremely well written in classic Kallmaker style, with a great supporting cast of friends and colleagues and a fascinating exploration on the social scene these women inhabit, this one is a joy to read. The humour balances the seriousness of the underlying message and the success and growth of both women puts the heartache into the perspective of a grown up wider world. And Lego? Who thought Lego could become zen?

It’s a delight to have Karin Kallmaker back at the writer’s block after her quiet years, however valuable she was as a publisher. I look forward to many more of her interesting characters, thoughtful subplots and wonderful writing.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (July 25, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01I2D6N2K
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Perfect Pairing – Rachel Spangler

Perfect Pairing - Rachel SpanglerI started the review I did of Rachel Spangler’s Does She Love You by saying I love her books.. and this latest story has not disappointed in any way.

Perfect Pairing is a charming mix of a traditional romance and personal growth, with a tasty mix of food truck inspiration thrown in. Two women, who on first appearances seem to have completely different life histories, turn out to have far more in common than either could imagine.

Hal has come up the hard way, surviving the foster care system and a mother who doesn’t have a clue how to be a parent, she has worked her way up to owning and running her own food truck, and become a celebrity chef among the hip and trendy scene. But her early years have left deep scars. Her way of protecting herself is to keep people at a distance, and keep her options open, never settling for anything that can be taken away.

Quinn has carved a life as a successful businesswoman with a sold position at a bank. She appears secure, sure and arrogantly white collar. But underneath the business suit is a woman who’s broken family and damaged childhood has left a deep crack. Unlike Hal, she covers hers with corporate success, working every hour, avoiding holidays, building a solid career she feels safe hiding behind.

Rachel Spangler bioPerfect Pairing is the tale of how these two women come together, first with a crash, then with a bang, and increasingly with mutual attraction only their fears can overcome. It isn’t a complex story, or an unusual romance, but what makes it stand out is the depth and multifaceted nature of these womens’ relationship, their inner struggles, their outward battles and their need to overcome the fear. Ms Spangler has taken what appears like two opposites and shown them to come from the same root, with different outcomes fed by how they have dealt with their lives.

A small but excellent supporting cast of friends and family, evocative settings, amusing renditions of the catering trade, hot sex and a healthy dose of cheese make this another excellent read. I particularly liked being reminded of the pleasures of PTown, and would travel a long way for that unnamed Lobstah sandwich.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (June 20, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GBUVLIC
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Hurricane Season – BJ Phillips

Hurricane SeasonShawn Richards is a well known romance writer under the name S.K. Richardson. She has retreated to her Florida home to escape the heartbreak she cannot seem to get over, and to finish her next novel. Carrie is a huge S.K. Richardson fan but with no jacket photo she has no idea the cute woman she falls over in the grocery store is her idol.

While Shawn is instantly attracted, her heartache and bad experience dating a fan make her fight to keep Carrie at a distance, and the usual romantic dance ensues. Carrie will need all her patience and Shawn all her nerve, to get past the emotional roadblocks in their way.

The characters are warm and likeable, their heartache and fears all recognizable and its very easy to want them to succeed. Their small dramas over misunderstandings and hurt feeling are easy to empathize with, we have all been there. The backing characters are well done, from the solid Kelly to the conniving Tracy, they provide gently subplots to the main event.

BJ Phillips provides tension between the women with their gentle battle over fear and hurt, and a wider tension in the build to hurricane Grace, which they are right in the path off. She makes good use of the hurricane to add drama to the story, and gives an excellent description of the impact the storm has on those impacted by it.

This is an nice summer read, perfect for a lazy day by the pool or on the beech. An enjoyable and pleasant way to get lost in a verysweet romance.

Love’s Redemption – Donna K Ford

Love's Redemption - Donna K FordA great new novel from Donna K Ford, with all the usual elements of a traditional romance, a strong dose of suspense and her own unique twist.

Rhea has just been released from prison where she has served her sentence for killing her father. Scared of the world she left at 17, determined not to go let anyone near her and unwelcome to her family and neighbourhood, she finds herself dependent on her parole officer for a new start. Finding work and a home with her PO’s sister, Rhea is like skittish colt, always on the verge of bolting.

Morgan has a heart of gold and as an ex minister she instinctively takes in waifs and strays. But the cost of her past weighs heavy, and she is constantly trying not to let anyone one in. Between them they have enough trust issues to sink any chance of a relationship, despite the growing affection, but ultimately it is trust which will save them both.

The characters are interesting and their specific issues are unusual. Rhea is particularly well written and well developed. We watch her battle her own demons to overcome her childhood fears and fight her way into adulthood in the world. Having been incarcerated since 17 she has a lot of learning and adjusting to do and Ms Ford does an excellent job of describing her gradual change. Morgan is less defined, we know her issues, but don’t really explore them and aren’t made to empathise so strongly. My only complaint would be that we could have delved further into Morgan’s psyche and filled her out with more depth, I wanted to know more about her inner workings. However as a foil to Rhea she is perfect.

Donna K Ford bioThere is a great tension throughout, on many levels. Will Rhea find a way to survive in the world is a question that permeates the whole? Will Rhea and Morgan allow themselves to open up, or stay in their shells built of fear? Will they survive the external threats to their happiness? Ms Ford balances all of these emotional intricacies extremely well and winds them into an intense and forceful backdrop to the Rheas growth.

Overall a very interesting combination of suspense, romance and character development, handled lightly despite the dark subject matter. Love’s Redemption is well written and thoughtfully plotted to use the storyline development and strands of emotional growth to create a sense of anticipation. I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to more of Ms Ford’s intriguing characters.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 14, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01FUM2XQ6
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Finding Ms Write – Jae & Jove Belle (Ed.)

Finding Ms Write - Jae & Jove Belle (Ed.)This is an amusing, fun and charming set of short stories written by an array of lesbian authors, some well known, others less so. The tone is light and the content entertaining, all based, of course, around writers, editors and publishers.

From a night of passion with a stranger on a cruise to a long-term partner trying out new things, the stories are a mix of fantasy and reality. There are also a mixture of age and experience, from young professionals to older women and established couple’s, which makes for a refreshing change.

The stories have various appeals, this isn’t erotica, it’s romance, and varies from soft explicit to fade to black. Having been to Con I do feel we ned a follow up from a certain author/editor…

I found them well written and enjoyable reads, if you like romance and enjoy short stories this is definitely for you.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Ylva Publishing (June 29, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01H1P59MK
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Shaken to the Core – Jae

Shaken to the Core - JaeReturning to US history after a break from her ‘Oregon’ series Shaken to the Core is a romance set around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. From introducing our heroines before disaster hits, through the horror of the earthquake and subsequent fires, and on to the immediate aftermath, Jae leads us through the events that unfolded with her usual brilliant eye for detail and excellent storytelling skills.

Giuliana is a Sicilian fisherman’s daughter who came to ‘Merica with her brother in order to earn a living and send money home. When fate strikes her brother down she is left with few skills and few options other than domestic service to survive on her own.

Kate is the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate who is determined to make her own way in the modern world. Despite her mothers best efforts to make her conform to the expectations of high society, Kate knows in her soul she needs an independent life if she is ever to fulfil her own dreams.

Two strong women from opposite ends of the social scale, drawn together by a mutual attraction, find themselves fighting to survive the events of April 18th. They, along with the indomitable Dr Lucy Hamilton Sharpe, create an intriguing story of how women step up when disaster strikes. Resourceful, capable and determined, they fight their way through whatever is thrown at them, growing stronger as they overcome, finding their place from the opportunity catastrophe brings resourceful survivors.

Jae - biogAs always Jae’s characters are powerful women with a will of their own. Rounded and well drawn they form the core of an intriguing retelling of history from a woman’s point of view. As with the Oregon Series we learn the intimate history of a famous and well-known saga from the inside.

With subtle but commanding attention to detail Jae fills in the background; the unfolding events, the backdrop of turn of the century San Francisco, the people and the sense of emotion that a major disaster cause. She shows us the world as she envisions it, like a film set being slowly revealed, filling in and colouring as she goes.

Jae writes exceptionally good books and this is another excellent example of her skills. Charming romance, strong, admirable women, an unusual setting, great historical storytelling and, as always, with a style which makes the tale unfold with consummate ease.
(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (June 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GEWY5XA
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Chasing Game – Meghan O’Brien

The Chasing Game - Meghan O'BrienThe Chasing Game is hot, steamy and fun. It contains mild BDSM and some amusing roleplay, and carries a warning to that affect – so don’t read and be offended.

If you like something a bit different from a standard erotic short, this is an excellent addition to your bookshelves. Ms O’Brien plays with a role reversal that is interesting and very well thought through – certainly caught my imagination.

It’s more than just pure erotica through, the couples love and care for each other is evident throughout and portrayed with the ease of an accomplished writer. The dom/sub relationship is strong and the respect is clear.

This was my first Mehgan O’Brien and it definitely wont be my last – in fact I had to resist going right off on a tangent and buying the lot.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Meghan O’Brien (June 3, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GM4MHEO
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Making a Comeback – Julie Blair

Making a Comeback - Jule BlairThis is a very traditional romance – a charming and well done story of falling for the woman who seems unobtainable, but the personalities and circumstances set it apart. Both our main characters have major hurdles to overcome in their lives, irrespective of any romantic complications.

Liz has recently lost her wife, her life partner and the inspiration for her musical creativity. She is struggling to get past the initial grief and loss, faced with mounting pressure to push forward with the jazz band and CD release they worked on together, knowing others depend on her, yet unable to find the will to make a start. Jac has built layers of fortress-worthy walls around her life, insulating her from any but her sister and brother-in-law, she relies on no one except her adored yellow lab. She wants nothing in her world other than her music and her routine.

Making a Comeback explores the lives of these two anguished women, both of whom have suffered from cruel fate. As their lives increasingly collide they can challenge the other to move beyond their pain, and provide the support that might make it possible to do so – if they are prepared to take the risk.

Liz and Jac are interesting women. Mature, seasoned, complex and multi-layered. They are people we can relate to, rounded and whole, warts and all. Ms Blair has portrayed women of substance that reflect the traumas of their lives.

Both are supported by family, and their interactions and family dynamics add significantly to the depth of emotion and realism throughout. Domineering parents, complex sibling relationships, these women have baggage.

This is, more than anything, an exploration of how mature women have dealt with what life has thrown at them, and how they can move on, face their greatest fears, find a new beginning.

Well done, well written, engaging and absorbing. I will definitely be looing out for more of Julie Blair’s writing.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 20, 2015)
  • ASIN: B00ZQ947SQ
USA FlagAmazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
UK FlagAmazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.