Monthly Archives: May 2017

Heartland – Vickie Adams

Heartland - Vickie AdamsCam was the archetypal troubled teen, ran from home the day she finished school and never went back, has a memory block from her early childhood which hides a chronic trauma. As an adult she has made a life, avoided entanglements and has anger issues.

When a call from her hated Uncle to say her GrandaPa is dying pulls her back to Tennessee she is reluctant to visit for the first time in so many years, but feels the need to pay her respects to the man who held the family together. Believing her mother to be a cut off and unemotional woman who never cared for her, she is completely unprepared for the revelations that her GrandPa’s deathbed confessions unleash.

Vickie Adams first full length novel shows huge potential. The main story is excellent; shocking and deeply moving at times. It’s a complex and convoluted plot with visions, murders, an extended family drama and some very nasty history. Add in a typical lesbian “U-Haul” romance with some steamy sex and it adds up to a great combination.

Cam is a strong main character and the other leading players, her family and former school friends, are distinct and well portrayed. The relationship sub-plot, sudden and intense, is the rekindling of a high school crush, it did feel a little like an except from an erotica short story – well done but slightly off kilter with the serious emotional drama of the main story.

It’s a fast paced read with plenty of edge of the seat moments that definitely make it interesting as layer after layer of the wholly dysfunctional extended family comes unglued. The writing is solid, but perhaps lacks some emotional maturity given the extremely serious nature of some of the plot threads. There is nothing wrong with it at all, but as an author develops her craft emotional depth gets woven into the fabric of a story, and Heartland, for all its complexity does feel like a first novel.

I dont mean to be overly critical however, there is a good balance between the narrative structure, dialogue and interior monologue. I look forward to reading future works from this author who clearly has an excellent imagination and the ability to create complex characters and deal with difficult emotionally charged themes.

A personal gripe – I don’t get the jacket at all. It looks like an erotica cover, with a provocatively dressed woman who looks nothing like any of the main characters and suggests a steamy romance. This is a good emotionally charged drama touching on complex issues and the cover does not reflect that at all.


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: 200 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Wicked Publishing (May 10, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071L8RXQJ
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Heights of Green – Lise MacTague

Heights of Green - Lise MacTagueIn Heights of Green, Lise MacTague returns us to the lives of Jak Stowell and Torrin Ivanov. After their escape from Haefen at the end of Depths of Blue, Torrin returns them to her home planet of Nadierzda. Nadi is another fringe planet but this one is hidden from the rest of the galaxy by an asteroid belt and all off-world travelers keep even the existence of the planet a secret. Nadierzda is a planet of only women and Jak is in for the culture shock of her life.

As a female sniper in an all-male army on her home planet of Haefen, Jak constantly was on guard to never be seen as anything other than a man and a soldier. As she recovers from her ordeal escaping from Haefen, she has to learn to let herself be seen as female and that her relationship with Torrin, a crime where she comes from, is perfectly natural on Nadi.

Where survival and civil war provided the main source of conflict in the first book of the trilogy, angst regarding Jak and Torrin’s growing relationship, Jak’s internal struggles with her identity and Torrin’s type A personality when it comes to her business, all provide the dissonance between the characters for most of this second book.

Ms. MacTague once again builds a stunning world whose women run an entire planet, from politics to economics to the military and everything in between. She introduces us to new characters like Torrin’s family and business partners and the soldiers at the military base who become Jak’s friends. As the story progresses, the reader becomes more and more invested in the relationship between the sniper and the smuggler from completely different worlds.

As most second parts in a trilogy, this one ends in a cliffhanger, leaving dangling threads to be picked up and carried through to the third book. I’d suggest that you have the third book, Vortex of Crimson, at the ready. As soon as you put down Heights of Green, you will want to start reading the next one immediately. I know I am!! Lise MacTague is batting 1000 so far with the Edge of Deception trilogy. I can’t wait to keep reading!


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: 334 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 18, 2015)
  • ASIN: B019KU3J5I
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Under Parr – Andrea Bramhall

Under Parr - Andrea BramhallWhen a skeleton is found in a previously sealed up WWII bunker Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon is faced with a cold case which some intriguing twists. Scraps of women’s clothes on a man’s bones, different names on the labels, different sized shoes on the wrong feet. Kate isn’t sure they will ever find out who he was, let alone how he died and ended up in a bunker that has been sealed since the storm floods of 2013, but she is determined to do her best find out.

As the investigation unfolds the twists and turns become more of a puzzle, unusual activity at the golf course, above average deaths at the local care-home, and a series of clues that just make the detective’s radar ping.

Book 2 of the Norfolk Coast Investigation Stories series and the events of book 1, Collide-O-Scope, are still being felt in the fishing village of Brandale. Gina has recovered physically but emotionally the scars are deep. Sammy is having nightmares and being bullied at school by kids whose fathers are either waiting for trial or out of a job. The impact on Kate and Gina isn’t good either, Gina has withdrawn, and Kate doesn’t know how to get through to her.

As always Andrea Bramhall’s story arc are excellently thought through and executed. This is a solid detective story, occasional leaps of intuition and faith, but essentially the local “Plod”* following a series of interrelated clues and gradually uncovering how the events we see in the prologue came about.

The characters are becoming old friends, deepening as we get to know them, filling out details, colouring in history; their friendships and relationships growing over time. The police team has a new member who doesn’t quite fit and is definitely causing friction, but Kate and Stella’s friendship provides wonderful light relief and flashes of laugh out loud humour.

Sammy is particularly well drawn and the combination of childhood simplicity and trauma induced maturity is intriguing to read. Bramhall always manages to introduce a serious theme in her novels and here we have several; Sammy’s bullying, Gina’s emotional struggles and care-home abuse. However this is not a heavy book, these serious threads add to the reality without detracting from the gentle romance. The flashes of humour and the reasonably fast paced unfolding make it a genuinely pleasurable read.

Andrea Bramhall biogUnder Parr is set a few weeks after the events in Collide-O-Scope and while it stands alone as a story arc there is no doubt it is firmly part of a series; indeed we are left with a tantalising thread to carry over into book 3. I would definitely recommend reading them as a series, if you like romance/crime and excellent writing, this is one you don’t want to miss.

Set on the east coast of England these stories have a decidedly English feel, and are a delight to read. The characters are solid, the events fit the time and place, even the weather has a very English role to play. The angst is there but underplayed, the emotions and relationships are realistic and the whole is grounded in a very English setting. Midsomer Murders with a lesbian twist.

*Plod is English slang for the local police, affectionate although implying slow thinking and moving, comes from the old-fashioned Bobbies walking the streets with their slow heavy pace.


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: 289 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva (May 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072HMT2DB
Amazon.com

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Unbroken – Donna K Ford

Unbroken - Donna K FordThis is a classic combination of the “quiet girl/player” and the “opposites attract” theme, but with a serious sub plot.

Kayla is a therapist, open hearted and caring but badly damaged by previous loss, she would love to settle down with a life partner, but is too hurt to consider looking. Jackie is the big brash confident and extrovert player.. except underneath it all is a woman scarred by childhood abuse.

When they quite literally collide the attraction is immediate, but Kyla runs a mile. She may think, wistfully, of the attractive woman she met, but she wont allow herself to make that call. Fate, however, has different plans, throwing them back together when Kyla needs a PT after a violent encounter, and the stage is set for a rather tumultuous relationship.

Kayla and Jackie are complex women with recognisable strengths and weaknesses but both wracked by their own fears. As usual Donna K. Ford has created real life women with classic characters that are people we can believe in and relate too. Their fears shape their behaviour and are founded on solid life experiences we can all empathise with.

The main subplot to the romance, of Kayla’s colleague Jen’s problem marriage and drug addicted husband, provides both the action that re-connects the main characters and the cause of their subsequent estrangement. At the same time Jackie is searching for her mum, or at least information about her, and the plot themes intertwine as the story progresses.

Donna K Ford bioThe issues of abuse, violence and addiction threads its way through the novel and grounds the romance into something more serious. While the romance remains the core story, the impact of addiction and violence on both women, and Jen and Jackie’s mum, is dealt with strongly as you would expect from Ford, who always intertwines a serious sub plot with her traditional romances.

Well written and expertly handled, the sub plots deepen the emotional integrity of the characters. The romance is slow moving, and the internal dialogue plays an important role, but while there is a lot of angst, it is well founded and well portrayed within the complex emotions of abuse survival.

I always enjoy Donna K Ford’s writing style and the balance she achieves between romance and the more serious issues she tackles, making them feel real for the characters rather than a bolt on for effect. Definitely on my recommended list this is a slow burn and thoughtful read that also has some seriously hot encounters.



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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (May 16, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071H7V44C
Amazon.com
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To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Sawmill Springs – Gerri Hill

Sawmill Springs - Gerri HillWhen two new cops join the local force in Sawmill Springs nobody had any idea the small town would need their big city skills. Homicide detective Murphy has escaped from the drug wars of Houston to a quieter life, while ex FBI agent Kayla is returning home to join her Police Chief father’s force after a career turned sour.

Within hours of Kayla joining the squad the murders start, and before long the bigwigs of the town all seem to be in danger. While Murphy and Kayla have the skills, they are the newbies on the force, the only women, and the locals are not used to dealing with high powered women cops.

As the investigation gets more and more murky, touching on the lives of Kayla’s family and friends, the attraction between Kayla and Murphy grows, but despite her best efforts at flirting Murphy seems immune to Kayla’s obvious charms.

This is classic Gerri Hill; crime, cops, romance. Well written and executed with a great story line, Hill pulls you in from the start and immerses you in the life, death and loves of the small town characters. The pace is excellent, no thriller chases, but a strong ‘move-along’ plot that keeps you interested and waiting for more.

Gerry Hill biogThe main characters are great, strong independent and powerful women who have made it elsewhere and taken a step back to slow down and re-group. Both likeable and amusing, they bounce of each other from the start and their happy ever after is guaranteed, however long they take to get there.

The small town characters are amusing, interesting and drawn in with loving detail, the gossips and busybodies highlighting all the issues of living in a fish bowl. At times the clumsiness of the local cops did seem a little over the top, surely even they watch CSI, and I did expect our two heroines to kick off about the total lack of procedure, but maybe I misunderstand the politics of a small town police force and the authority of the Chief.

Gerri Hill fans will love it, and if you haven’t read any Gerri Hill where have you been? Always entertaining, she has a knack of quickly setting up a situation and giving a full story arc, while subtly developing her characters and building their connects through the action. Highly recommended – another great crime/romance from one of the masters of her trade – here’s hoping this is the first of a new series as I would definitely like more.



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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 16, 2017)
  • ISBN: 978-1594935503
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

A Woman of Strong Purpose – SM Harding

A Woman of Strong Purpose - SM HardingBook two of the Kirkland & Pitt series set in McCrumb County, Indiana, finds ‘retired’ Marine CIS Colonel Win Kirkland and her new wife, Sheriff Sarah Pitt, trying to resolve battles on a whole host of fronts. Publicly they are deeply closeted because Sarah fears the backlash of the red county and losing her cherished job. Privately they have had nothing but support from those who know, and consequently Win, having suffered from the US Army’s policies all her adult life, chafes against the need to hide.

At the same time they have two major cases to solve. Sarah leads on finding a serial killer who clearly hates women. Win tries to help a colleague trace her son, only to be led into a high level game of spies, arms dealing, terrorism and torture. The cases are completely separate, but linked by the common theme of men abusing, using and killing women for their own twisted sense of pain or pleasure.

This contains some graphic scenes – we don’t get to witness the actual events, but the aftermath. And like the first book – a lot of sex. So if either aren’t your cup of tea then buyer beware.

The man characters are great, well rounded, complex and on deep personal journeys. The supporting cast is solid, growing in depth and breadth as we get to know them from both actions and words. The author has also portrayed a series of women with compassion and understanding, from the sex charged Pan the desperate Noor and the powerhouse Kemat, who makes such a brief appearance yet manages to dominate the book.

The story is well done, the arc and the balance between the three main story lines works well, as does the alternating point of view and voice from Win to Sarah, and thankfully the author avoids the pitfall of repeating a scene or explanation from both points of view. We occasionally get told both sides, but only from the emotional standpoint and only when both need a voice.

It’s fast paced and action packed, the local sheriffs department not only gains a SWAT team, the whole crew, including their retired army service dog Des, have all become action heros, swinging – literally – into action, rescuing damsels in distress and taking out the badies with barely a scratch.

And thats my only issue with the book, with the series. The action is great fun, but it does take a serious suspension of disbelief that these events all occur in one small town, targeted by a seemingly unending supply of serious criminals, terrorists and gun running middle eastern mafia, as well as a constant flow of top level MCIS and law enforcement agents. On top of all that the ‘bumbling’ local cops keep having to clear up, literally, for the MCIS. It feels almost as far fetched as a Clive Custler.

While it does stand alone it clearly makes more sense as part of the series as intended, the back-history of Win and Sarah can only be understood from having read both. It’s a great fun, breathtaking rollercoaster adventure with a serious undercurrent of the impact these adventures have on those involved, both physically and emotionally. Looking forward to reading book three.



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)