Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Devil’s Due – Ali Vali

Devil's Due - Ali ValiThis is the sixth book of the Devil Series, following the ongoing mafioso saga of Cain and Emma’s family and business life in the now Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. The threat of Juan Luis and his mother are gone but rogue FBI agent Anthony Curtis has disappeared. While trying to juggle friends, allies and family, a new baby on the way, new threats, and old family secrets, Cain must be all things to all men: wife, mother, leader, schemer and ruthless killer, loyal friend and honourable adversary.

This is an enthralling, nail biting and ultra fast moving addition to the Devil series. Casey now has so many irons in the fire it’s a case of smack one down and another pops up. The Casey alliance with the Jatibon and Carlotti families is strong but old and new enemies appear at every turn. Bizarrely some of her closest allies are cops and FBI agents who should be trying to take her down, but with whom she has a bond built over time. Detective Sept Savoie makes an appearance so check out “Calling The Dead” for her and Keegan’s story line.

Minor characters take centre stage while others take a backseat. In this episode the FBI takes a lesser role while rogue cops and angry in-laws take the lead in the non mafia life, and old enemies regroup in the underworld. Talking of minor previously minor characters, add “Girls With Guns” to the series if you want Finley and Abigail’s back story

Ali Vali BiogDevil’s Due is so fast paced you seriously have to concentrate, but once again Ali Vali has produced a brilliant story arc, sold character development, incomparable bad-ass women in traditionally male roles, leading both the goodies, baddies and cross-breeds. This episode closes off some of the loose ends, but sets us up for even more drama in the stories to come.

This is a stand-alone, but I would seriously recommend starting this series at the beginning. The overarching story arc is so good, the interrelationships so complex, that while it might make a good read, you will simply be missing too much backhistory and nuance of personal interplay to get the most from it.

Roll on the next in the series.. I mean really. Why can’t people write faster???


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N9IULCC
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Life In Death – M Ullrich

Life After Death - M UllrichThis is a powerful and moving book about two difficult subjects written in an unusual and clever style. Mary and Suzanne Dempsey are happily married, settled and solid. Then their adorable daughter Abigail is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly their almost perfect world is torn apart and rather than pull together the cracks deepen, almost unimaginably ending in divorce. But Abigail’s death, while devastating, also brings Marty something she has given up on, the glimmer of hope.

We are told up front the calamitous tragedy of the novel in a surprisingly revealing blurb that removes the suspense. But this book is all about the ‘how’, and while the blurb removes the factual anticipation, it in no way diminishes the emotional impact of those events. In addition the loss of a child is such a trigger the author and publisher no doubt felt it critical to pre-warn ‘romance’ readers of the content. And yet this is, truly, a romance.

Life In Death is an intriguing read. A serious psychological exploration of how a tragedy can impact the lives of a couple; how they react is the core of the plot. At first we aren’t engaged, Abigail’s illness understandably dominates and her Moms seem almost like cyphers with whom we have little empathy. But as the ‘plot’ develops Mary and Suzanne are filled in, each woman’s coping mechanisms drawn out and analysed through the impact their actions have on the family catastrophe.

Core to the break up is the interesting concept of who is to blame. The obvious culprit who fails into a moment of needy infidelity, or the guilt ridden wife whose own self doubt destroys the connection between a loving couple. And once seemingly destroyed, can that connection ever be reforged.

Add into this an unusual writing style where the then and now are literally woven together, with a flashback and a current scene in every chapter and this is simply a fascinating read. Despite the complex timeline we never lose where we are, the point of view is clear at all times and the plot flows effortlessly back and forward. I might have put the infidelity before the reconciliation to push the emotional tension higher, but this plot never loses its sense of anticipation. A genuine page turner that pulls you in, twists you up and makes you desperate for the happy ever after on offer.

My first book from this author and it certainly wont be my last; one of the best books of 2016 without a doubt. Such a joy to discover a ‘different’ romance with more mature women going through a real life scenario and an author who gets her teeth into gritty and difficult subjects with style and grace. Absolutely excellent reading.

BTW – I have tagged this 40+ because of the maturity, the exact age of the MC’s is irrelevant – VL


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (October 18, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01M0R6716
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Catalyst – Fletcher DeLancey

Catalyst - Fletcher DeLancey Following immediately on from Without A Front – The Warrior’s Challenge, Catalyst brings all our major players together for the Lancer’s bonding break. Set on a holiday resort island with gorgeous beaches and honeymoon cabins, Tal and Salomen are joined by their closest friends and family, including Captain Ekatya Serrado and Dr Lhyn Rivers. A happy vacation for all involved, celebrating the divine tyree bond, becomes a time for sharing recent experiences and the baring of souls.

In the two years since they defeated the Voloth everyone has changed to some degree, made tough choices, learned hard lessons. Dr Rivers, in particular, has faced tough challenges; her support of the Alseans has made her a target for right wing extremists stirring up fear of the ‘mind control’ that the telepathic Alseans could unleash on the Protectorate. As their personal stories are revealed the friends are pulled even closer by their emotional bonds.

Once again Fletcher DeLancey has produced a stunningly intricate and detailed story to add to the ongoing saga of political and actual battles, emotional growth and complex relationships between strong, intelligent characters. In some ways this is a side story, in terms of Alsea nothing happens to move the larger story arc forward. Instead we are given a lesson in the unpleasant politics of the Protectorate, the lengths individuals will go to further their own agenda, and the price others have to pay. Ultimately it all adds to the world view and will undoubtedly add to our understanding of future events, but despite being set on Alsea this is an off-world backstory.

Fletcher DeLancey bioDeLancy has achieved something not easy to accomplish in making this almost completely about the emotional growth of her major characters, yet combined it with action, adventure and horrible personal experiences. We explore the events of Serrado and Lhyn’s last two years, but all from the viewpoint of explaining the challenges they have faced internally. While Serrado has been off fighting the baddies, she has serious lessons to learn about forgiveness, and for Lhyn the preceding months have literally been both physical and mental torture, from which she must learn to move forward.

As well as our existing cast we meet two new major players who seem destined to take a major role in future tales, the feisty Dr Wells, another wonderful addition to the ‘strong women’ who take almost every major part in the epic to date, and the Machiavellian Director Sholokhov. In Sholokhov DeLancy has give us an almost perfect villainous figure to dislike and despise, and yet he appears to be on the ‘right’ side. Again two more well drawn, intriguing characters whose psyches we explore while following a thrilling plot.

Altogether a brilliant read and one that I found hard to put down. All the books in the series portray the major players with deep, complex and detailed personalities, but this one takes us to another layer of psychological exploration, while we are actually reading scenes of action adventure and a dark thriller. DeLancy once again proves herself to be an expert story-teller and a wonderful writer who has a gift for the creation of extraordinarily detailed worlds and sophisticated multidimensional characters. I want nothing more than to sit in a corner and read the whole series again – I literally cannot wait for the next instalment.


If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 427 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva (December 21, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MTXOTQC
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
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To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Liberators of Willow Run – Marianne K. Martin

The Liberators of Willow Run By Marianne K. MartinSome books are just important. Important to read, to feel, to remember. Some books remind us where we came from and how much we have gained. Some books can lift us up in a time of darkness and remind us how strong we are to have gotten where we are. “The Liberators of Willow Run” By Marianne K. Martin is one of those books, and reading it right now reminds us of the giant strides all women have made to take control of their lives, that lesbians have made in fighting to be open and equal.

Set in the Second World War we have two threads, a ‘Rosie The Riveter’ working at the B-24 Bomber plant in Detroit along with her mixed team of men, women, and the wonderfully self possessed Nona, an African American woman determined to make her way in the world despite her skin colour and her gender. Our “Rosie” is Audrey, heartbroken, hidden and determined to keep her independence.

The second thread brings us Ruth, entombed in a home for pregnant girls with a bullying matron and daily doses of moral education meant to teach the girls a lesson and set them on the ‘right’ road to marriage and social acceptability. Ruth is all too aware of the mistakes she has made, but they aren’t quite the ones Matron is bashing them all for.

Audrey feels she will never have the chance of love and settles in with work to fill her life, and friendship with Nona to fill her social time. Ruth escapes the home and family determined to set up on her own. Both have a huge amount of pain to deal with in  a harsh world, where their crimes are simply being who they are. And both have something to prove – that they are strong enough to not only fight their own demons, but help others along the “Willow Run”.

The characters are deep and rounded, the relationships and friendships realistic and well drawn. The story flows, the drama is real and the history detailed and yet not overwhelming with facts and figures but integrated skillfully into these women’s lives

We ache for the pain of the girls in the home, we fight along with Audrey and Nona for their team to not only top the production line figures every day, but to stand up for each other across gender and racial boundaries. And most of all we want Ruth and Audrey to find peace from the pain of their pasts. And yet all along we somehow wait for the other shoe to drop, hoping against hope that nothing will tear their worlds apart.

An enthralling read, a genuine glimpse into life in the 40’s, a world of secrecy, fear and a constant fight for basic self determination. This should be compulsory reading for every lesbian in the US struggling to hold on to hope in the face of a fascist administration. We fought then and we will fight to hold on to those gains. No matter what ‘executive orders’ are signed, we will not be put back into those boxes.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (October 17, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01IMJQNT2
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.