Monthly Archives: October 2016

Renegade – Cheyne Curry

Renegade - Chayne CurryI read Renegade several years before I started reviewing, so when Cheyne Curry was doing a reading at Provincetown this year I decided it was time to reread, and put out a review.

Renegade is an unusual mix of trad romance, historical fiction and Western hero story , with a twist of fantasy fiction and a dollop of Xena. It was originally Xena fan-fiction and published as a novel in 2009 when it was a finalist for The Golden Crown Literary Society’s Best Debut Author.

I love Western lesfic romances, and this was the first I remember reading. It’s the combination of the better cowboy movies I grew up watching with my dad and the personal thrill of seeing how women cope with their double lives, wrapping, cross dressing and presenting as straight couples to survive as themselves with the lives and loves they have chosen.

Like Jae’s brilliant Oregon series Renegade doesn’t pretend the women could have been an ‘out’ couple, it deals with the reality of life for women of the time, bullied, raped, and treated as the chattels of the less pleasant male characters.

Cheyne CurryTrace, Rachel and the other women are very real, their personalities complex and founded on deep back histories. Their actions consistently reinforce the women they have become. At the same time there are a wide range of sympathetic male characters who gradually stand up and support Trace against the baddies including a really well presented relationship with the Native American tribe who have settled the area.

Once the initial sci-fi moment is over, this becomes a classic Wild West story of the strong sheriff saving a down-beaten town from the evil bullies, except of course the sheriff is a woman with rather unusual skills.

Excellent romance, unusual and interesting twist to set up the juxtaposition of 21st century cop in the late 1890’s, and a seriously enjoyable page turner. I never had a doubt Trace would succeed both romantically and saving the town, but that never detracted from the pleasure of finding out how the story would enfold. Definitely one for the re-read pile, and if you haven’t visited Sagebrush yet, suspend your disbelieve and buy this new edition.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • First published 2009
  • Publisher: Bossy Pants Book, LLC (21 Mar. 2016)
  • ASIN: B01DAGRBSY
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Days six and seven – Lesfic and Singing

So the last couple of days have been great fun.

Spent the days wandering the tiny area of PTown central from Recovering Hearts to WomenCraft with stops at Napi’s, The Sage, The Library and The Harbour Lounge for readings, signings and meet-n-greets. Seen a load of old friends and made some fabulous new ones.

Doing the readings for Cheyne Curry and Jody Klaire was an unusuaul experience, but given how much this lot love my accent I knew I couldn’t go too far wrong. Maybe that’s my new career, stand in reder for absentee and stage shy authors 😀

Both nights have ended with singing and whiskey surrounded by a bunch of amazing women. Thursday we congregated at the Governor Bradford for a karaoke night. Great singing, great atmosphere and a really good laugh. Sound system do with some work, and toning down.. but we definitely rocked it.

Friday I was invited to a fundraising get together at Frizz and Cathy’s place out on Law and we had a wonderful night of great food, warm company and a really enjoyable jam session. Thanks for the invite ladies and for a brilliant sing-along.

Last full day today.. going to do the rounds again, but I recon it will be a much quieter night as many are leaving today.. probably a good thing for my liver!

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Day Five – karaoke in the nuthouse

More whales than I can shake a stick at this morning.. pics to follow when I find the time to download and sort them. Truly amazing; a pod of c15 dolphins which they said was unusual here, then 28+ whales doing Olympic class synchronised swimming. Was AWESOME.

Gorgeous food in the sun with good friends, then beer and more beer, oh and some beer at the GCLS mixer. Oh, no, that was the whiskey.

Anyhoo.. ended the evening at the nutcase pop idol show. And you know when you chose a song and a completely odd version comes up. Well you may know Cry Me A River, but try it at half speed… OMG and no swing possible at all. Still I enjoyed my slow dance with the groping nun, Sister Labia, even though I did manage to score Nil Points from 3 of the judges.

The rest of the show was brilliant and the judges were bonkers. The final act or Corday trying to speak/sing “I will survive” aided by Kate Clinton doing money noises, Vickie Shaw on backing drone and Karen Williams screaming at her to get off, is not something I will forget in a hurry. Classic comedy night.

Day Three – reconnecting

Spent the day eating drinking and reconnecting. Me n Monkey had a hot lobster roll for brunch, then did some exploring and wandering.

Met the regulars for a beer in the Bradford, Stuffed prawns in the Mayflower and Oysters in the Pig.. oh and there may have been some 12 year old whiskey and an odd selection of beer 😀

Day two.. tired

Managed to sleep very late by UK time zone (EST+5) but am still knackered. Was going to check out Southie but it was chucking it down so read and drank coffee.

Uber to the ferry, ferry is cancelled, bus is 20 mins late so eta 3.30 instead of 2.30… an hour in Dunkin Donuts with a whole posse of lesbians.

But the upside is another successful ‘talk to a stranger’ session, spent the journey with the lovely Sue Doyle talking about all sorts from house renovation to American hospitality. Maybe I can do that thing.

Bags dropped at the studio and off to register, buy a new T and find a beer. Met up with Mary, MJ, Ladylin, Kim, Ingrid, Sue and Sue at the Grovernor Bradford for a pint of Cape Cod or two and then a delicious burger at Local 186. Have to admit I have given up on the evening and retreated to bed.

Observation of the weekend.. Boston taxi drivers have no clue. Taxi from the airport to a major city centre shopping area, Washington Street, taxi asked the name of the street 3 times and has to use sat nav. From Washington Street I asked for Bolton Street and was told it wasn’t in Boston. The today I asked for Seaport Hotel/World Trade Centre and driver had never heard of it.. I mean REALLY??

For those who don’t know Boston, Washington Street is the main shopping drag, Bolton Street isn’t in Boston cos its Southie and Seaport? Seriously? Not impressed. If you grab a taxi in London they don’t use satnav or drive one handed while using google maps.

Bedtime.. gonna catch a bit of the Giants game on NBC and chillax while the rain batters down and the wind howls round the alleyways.

 

 

Day One – LHR-BOS

Ok day one.. been a long day. Had a lovely breakfast with my very tolerant B&B provider and then caught a cab to London Heathrow. Spent so much time shopping for odds and ends i was the last one on the plane (oops)

So – I am practicing being sociable. Those of you who know me as the loud, brash and confident singer (not to mention Mr F-N-Furter).. I am actually not good at talking to strangers. But I am seriously considering a huge solo trip, and my bestie says I have to look up and engage rather than look down at my phone/mac/kindle.

So I sat down next to this lovely African American woman and somehow, not even sure how, started a conversation which lasted 7 ½ hours. We did politics, history, slavery, West-Indian/African American/African differences, social impact of the political spheres of influence, work, and back to politics pretty much every other topic. Was AWESOME. Towards the end of the flight she told me she’s an introvert and NEVER talks on planes. So I am pretty impressed I left with her card and a promise to meet up for dinner in London when she is over in the new year.

Flight was good, food was tasty and our lovely camp steward kept the booze flowing despite the announcement that they would limit our alcohol to encourage responsible drinking J

Landed early, they were queuing us for entry to customs when the man said US, Canadian Global and repeat ESTA’s, this way (well that wasn’t what I heard but after several repeats that’s what he meant). So I got to fast track straight through, fought the machine cos of my twisted fingers and voila.. BOSTON.

Caught a cab to Washington St and went straight to AT&T to get a US sim with a big chunk of data, then a cab to southie where I have an Air BnB booked. Now crashed in my room, should be going out but, you know – it’s 11.30pm in my time zone.. and I have 6 weeks to go out.. so am going to get a shower and chill.

Thanks all for the lovely good wishes from those I am leaving behind and those I am visiting. More soon.. PTown tomorrow.

Eagle Cove – Darla Baker

Eagle Cove - Darle BakerThis is an unusual read. For a start it’s in the third person and present tense, so we are told everything about our characters. There were times when the descriptions got a little long, but overall I fond it refreshing and quite intriguing.

It’s a romance, in the last twist you could even call it a traditional romance, but it’s also extremely erotic and full of thoughtful relationship exploration. In the end I could only categorise it as a fictional biography, almost the journal of our main character, sex therapist Thalia.

It starts with a lot of relatively shallow erotic scenes that may put some readers off, but actually perfectly set the tone for Thalia’s womanizing lifestyle. Throughout we are introduced to Thalia’s friends, a lively bunch, and her clients, which allows Baker to explore a whole range of relationship situations and issues from internalised homophobia to issues around parenting and of course that fear of being vulnerable, letting somebody back in to hurt us again.

There are some laugh out loud scenes and interactions, an unusual rendition of Dickens and enough twists and turns to make it interesting. Throughout there is a clear sense that the author loves these women. Ultimately it is the interrelationships of Thalia and her family of choice that imbues the novel with affection.

Darla BakerThe setting it interesting and the lake scenes drawn with loving care. We might raise an eyebrow at a rural Kentucky small town being quite so chock-a-bloc with women throwing themselves at our heroine.. but it is a work of fiction. I definitely need to visit to find out for myself.

Overall an enjoyable read. A good first novel and I will certainly be looking for the next one to see where Ms Baker takes this concept and crew.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Stone Soup Community Press
    (June 11, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01EQL8HYY
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Sing Me Home – Shannon O’Brien

Sing Me Home - Shannon O’BrienSing Me Home is a very sweet and charming romance. Two young women, Ellie and Jolene, meet in their final year at University when they work on a class project together and develop a friendship over a mutual love of a cappella. As their feelings develop we watch the slightly shy and tentative steps into a relationship unfold into a serious connection. The only problem is that Jolene has something that she forgot to share and the consequences are dramatic.

Shannon O’Brien’s first book is well written, edited and put together; the story flows and the characters are likeable. As well as our two love birds we have a small but well done clutch of friends and the whole group felt exactly like the cast of a sweet first-love movie – in fact the novel would make an excellent lesbian chick flick. Ms O’Brien has captured the unfolding feelings of new love, and gives us a genuine sense of the real connection that can happen when we meet our soul mate.

My only criticism of the story is that the cause of the angst is a little contrived. We need the angst, and it’s hard to explain without any spoilers, but it didn’t seem realistic for me that the shut out was so absolute and took so long to resolve. I felt that one of the MC’s actions didn’t quite jell with her character.

Criticism aside I really enjoyed this one, excellent feel good romance, extremely enjoyable read and a perfect escape for the beach or an evening in front of the fire. Ms O’Brien has written a very good first novel and I look forward to many more.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (September 19, 2016)
  • ISBN: 9781594935114e
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Just My Luck – Andrea Bramhall

Just My Luck - Andrea BramhallAnybody who has read Andrea Bramhall’s previous books already knows she has a wide ranging and somewhat unusual imagination. From light traditional adventure romances to fairly dark thrillers and murder mystery, her works so far have crossed many lines. Always with a lesbian angle, they have each mixed up several genres and been hard to categorise.

This latest is another example of a trans-genre tale, and even more odd-ball than the others. It’s a lesbian romance, it’s a comedy, and at the same time there is a very British down to earth pathos mixed in.

Genna Colllins has a dead end life, job and relationship. A loving mum and an absentee father. Even her BFF has withdrawn because she doesn’t approve of Genna’s girlfriend. Winning the biggest Euromillions jackpot is about to change all that, in a whole range of ways.

Underlying all of this Genna has been in love with her non-related aunt for years, which introduces Abi and her adorable Down’s daughter Rosie, literally the light of Genna’s life. Unbeknownst to Genna, her love is secretly returned. and so the romantic opportunity is set.

The style is unusual, with both main characters getting first person POV, and talking directly too the reader in very much a “Reader, I married him” style. Bramhall manages this very well, but it does take some getting used to.

Andrea Bramhall biog The plot is a very British comedy; how to spring on your council flat family you have won £156million, including a fatherly lawyer with hidden camera and NDA’s to prevent publicity. There are comic scenes throughout including a ridiculous trip to the ‘fat farm’ and through it all a wicked sense of humour and timing.

The pathos is real as well. The family dynamics are harsh, the history realistic and the hurt palpable. There were laugh out loud moments, and occasions where the past pain bring poignant realism to what is otherwise virtually farcical.

Overall an entertaining and unusual read. I enjoyed it, but it’s not my favourite by Ms Bramhall. I personally thought the ending was rushed, or perhaps forced is a better description, another chapter or two and a little less panic would have left a better feeling. But as usual Andrea Bramhall brings something different to the table and with her excellent writing style and vivid imagination that is always a good thing.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (September 21, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LONEQAG
Amazon.com
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