Monthly Archives: June 2017

Goldenrod – Ann McMan

Goldenrod - Ann McManBook 3 in the Jericho series takes us back to the small Virginia town and the lives of Maddie and Syd. Henry’s father is back, meaning Henry is now only a sleepover visitor, despite having his own cow at the farm. Roma Jean is growing up, Michael’s taken up Soul Food, David has political ambitions and Celine is embarrassed to have a boyfriend.

At the same time as all the usual suspects are entertaining us with their shenanigans, the darker undertones of child abuse and homophobia become more blatant. While the historical impact of being gay in small town America has been present in the first two novels, in Goldenrod it becomes real in the here and now; from a young woman’s fear of coming out to the Mayor’s active hate campaign. For the first time in the series we have real and persistent anguish and the emotional pain adds a stark relief to the normal witty repartee.

In Jericho and Aftermath the angst was light, the “will she, wont she” of new love, the realisation of lost years, a parent’s well-intentioned but hurtful deceit, and the heartache of foster child leaving the fold. Minor characters suffer with current loss and depression, but our main cast of friends are only lightly brushed with present traumas. In Goldenrod we meet Dorothy for the first time, a bright, intelligent and loving girl who is terrified of her father and his wrath. From the opening words of the prologue the scene is set for a sub-plot that ends in a dramatic cliff-hanger.. that happily for lovers of Ann McMan (Famous Author) guarantees another book in the series.

Ann McManDon’t be put off by the mention of angst. If what you loved was the light-hearted banter, the witty dialogue, the literary and erudite play on words, they are all still there in spades. But the emotion has deepened, the fear is very real, and nobody who reads this will be untouched by Dorothy or be able to completely supress the desire to do her father some serious damage.

I don’t know whether this was planned from the start of the series or reflects either a change in the authors writing or the current political climate, but it reminds me of the change in Armistead Maupin’s classic series from light-hearted gay life in the rainbow city in the mid 70’s to the trauma of the AIDs epidemic. Whatever the cause, planned or not, the development is welcome. While the light-hearted and adorable wit of the first two novels was exceptional, a third in the same tone might have been stretch.

McMan’s writing is glorious, her wit and intellect as sharp as ever, her pin-point descriptions are those of a keen observer of the absurdity of human behaviour. If you haven’t read Jericho and Aftermath recently then do so to get back into the dynamic of the family and remember the idiosyncrasies of the wider cast. Then enjoy Goldenrod in all its glory.. and wait with bated breath for the next instalment in the series.



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: 350 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 4, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06VXRTXGM
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Aftermath – Ann McMan

Aftermath – Ann McManFollowing on from Jericho we catch up with Syd, Maddie, their foster son, Henry, along with all the friends and family in the small town we have come to love. When a devastating storm whips through the county it leaves a trail of destruction wider than a Camaro. In the aftermath the community needs to pull together, but some take longer to come to terms with their losses than others, and some need more help. In typical southern style the community comes together to make the most of whatever life throws at them.

This isn’t a melodramatic and fast placed plot. It’s a continuation of the daily lives of the people we came to love in the first novel. Syd, Maddie and Henry develop into a family, Maddie’s mom, Celine, takes a more prominent, and frequently hysterical role, David and Michael are further developed and Roma Jean continues her adorable path towards adulthood along with a charming new character called Charlie.

The wit and humour continue, with several laugh out loud moments and a classic portrayal of southern manners in the face of extreme provocation. Who would have expected southern belles to resort to a food fight? At the same time there are real emotions, hurts and fears underlying the polite façade, none more poignant than being gay in the small town South.

Ann McManOnce again the writing is excellent, the wit razor sharp and the observation of human behaviour is right on point. Break with tradition and start reading this from the cover in, even if it’s an e-copy. McMan’s cast descriptions and play on words will amuse and entertain from the start.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Aftermath”, it’s like coming back to a favourite movie or sitcom and finding out what happened a year after the main story, where the romance has gone, how everyone is doing, and what happen next. It’s a small local situation drama, where the characters take centre stage, and life moves along at its own pace, just like life does.



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.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: BINK (November 15, 2012)
  • ASIN: B00A8NGKIK
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Jericho – Ann McMan

Jericho – Ann McManBack in 2011 a new author appeared on the scene with a novel called Jericho. It tells the tale of a straight woman, Syd, running away from her failed marriage to lick her wounds in the small town of Jericho. On her way into town she gets a flat and is saved by the town Doctor, Maddie, a single out lesbian – but our unsuspecting straight girl doesn’t realise that.. in fact doesn’t find out for quite a long time.

While setting up a new library and living in the flat above, Syd begins to form a strong friendship with Maddie, gets involved with the quirky local families and inadvertently begins to put down roots in the community. As their friendship develops Maddie is faced with the perennial question of how and when to tell her new friend, while Syd casually flirts and innocently captures Maddie’s heart. But Maddie has commitment issues of her own, and we all know what they say about falling for straight girls…

Jericho was and is an admirable first novel. It’s not perfect, although it’s main characters sometimes appear so. But it is full of superb observation of human character and behaviour. It is infused with love and humour, drawing out and catching the idiosyncrasies of a wide cast of locals that we can all recognise and largely empathise with.

Ann McManThe writing style is excellent, clearly showing the author’s literary potential, the wit is a precursor of even more humorous offerings such as the Diz and Clarissa stories. The slow burn is a wonderful alternative to so many flash in the pan romances where we get fed love at first sight and the angst of working out how. Here we essentially spend most of the well filled 416 pages, from the first meeting to the eventual resolution, watching not only Syd and Maddie come together, but a family develop and a community grow.

I loved this on first, second and third reading,  as the series has progressed it has grown more and more dear.  With a new offering on the table I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning of the Jericho story.



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.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • First published 2011
  • Publisher: BINK (September 19, 2011)
  • ASIN: B005ODHLDW
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Running From Love – Jen Silver

Running From Love – Jen SilverBeth and Sam have been together 14 years, married two, and as far as Sam is aware everything is settled and solid. She comes home from a business trip to find her wife gone, her cat in kennels and her life in tatters. Pulling herself through the dark times and never quite accepting Beth has gone for good, she takes on a research project which should help her get away from it all.

Temperley Cliffs Golf Resort is the brain child of Lady Freya Temperley. Set up as a luxury hotel and teaching course Freya also hopes it will become a mainstay of the Women’s European Tour, and her ‘friend’, Golf Pro Andi, has designed the course to Open standards. They are about to run their first teaching course for women beginners and while Freya may have planned to the last degree, she hasn’t counted on the emotional interaction of 20 women in a resort for a fortnight.

Jen Silver writes great realistic and empathetic characters we can all recognise and understand. Here she has brought together a wide range of women, from the loud and obnoxious to she shy and retiring, with some seeking love, some surviving heartache and others trying to find a way to say just how they feel. Full of keen observation of human interaction, like “Christmas at Winterbourne”, “Running From Love” is another great character driven drama.

Jen Silver BioThe settings always play an important role In Jen Silver’s books and the north coast of Cornwall provides a stunning backdrop to the golfing and romance. Drawn with loving humour the golf itself is a constant thread, but doesn’t overwhelm or baffle a non-golfer, in fact the women at the resort are just as bemused, and through them we learn at least some of the basics.

Well written and well plotted, Jen Silver has given us another solid exploration of relationships new and old, examining how women interact and behave in a variety of situations. I would have liked to see more exploration and discussion of why Beth left, but that is just me wanting to explore the deeper psyche of these characters.

Another enjoyable read, entertaining and amusing at times while dealing with very real emotions of heartache, loneliness and fear of commitment, in a world where far too many women still have to worry about what society will think of them.



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: 301 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071ZRGRLR
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Best Maid Plans – Jody Klaire

Best Maid Plans - Jody KlaireFollowing directly on from her enchanting romcom La Vie en Bleu Jody Klaire delivers another light and breezy romance full of sexy French women and English humour.

Pippa and Rebecca have moved to France, one rekindling the love of her life, the other finding it. But of course, nothing is quite that simple. One must charm the super-rich super-protective parents of the woman she loves, the other must convince her lover that she isn’t running back to her ex fiancé just because she is returning to England to help him renovate a mansion and plan his wedding. Add in the politicking, shenanigans and jealousy of ex-girlfriends, unrequited lovers and a village full of unemployed tradesmen and the scene is set for another fast-moving comedy romance.

Pippa and Rebecca, Berne and Babs, along with family and friends, provide a full cast of delightful real-life figures we can relate to and empathise with, while envying their privileged lifestyles and enjoying the banter between them. The baddies are cyphers to move the plot along and the angst is non-existent. We never really doubt that love will prevail, golf matches will be won, parents will fall into line and projects, business’s and lifestyles will effortlessly materialise for all concerned.

Jody KlaireThe plot rolls along at pace, mansions repaired, houses renovated, wedding panned, while the players criss-cross the channel and pop down to Monaco for a visit. Hairdressers and stylists materialise along with lesbian decorators, classic cars and chocolate wedding cakes. All put together with a wonderful sense of style and corresponding elegant prose by a one of my favourite storytellers.

I said La Vie en Bleu would be a wonderful movie and “Best Maid Plans” would be an equally amusing sequel, think lesbian Bridget Jones; a Renee Zellweger type klutzy Pippa, and Hugh Jones as the clueless Doug, with a backing cast of gorgeous French women.  Charming, easy to read and highly entertaining.


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: 348 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: J K Publishing (June 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072KP4NQH
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Lammy Finalists 2017

29TH ANNUAL LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALISTS

Jacqueline Woodson and Jeanette Winterson were also honored for their lifetime achievements.

Lesbian sections – winners in bold

Lesbian Fiction

Lesbian Poetry (tie)

Lesbian Mystery

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Lesbian Romance

LGBTQ Drama

LGBTQ Erotica

LGBTQ Anthology

LGBTQ Children‘s/Young Adult

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

LGBTQ Studies

LGBTQ Nonfiction

Love in the Stacks – Cara Malone

Love in the Stacks - Cara MaloneThis is a fast-paced emotional rollercoaster with some serious erotica. The story starts off with the rather unlikely premise of somebody being given a job despite completely inappropriate behaviour at their interview, but develops into a decent plot with enough twists and turns to keep the attention. The work place intrigue might be obvious to the reader, but it adds a good sup-plot to the story and saves it from being simply an erotic romance.

The main characters are well done, both flawed, both need to grow and the author has done a good job of maturing them throughout the romance as one takes more responsibility and the other learns what is really important to her.

The scenes are well drawn, descriptions well done, the library has real character and is a pleasing background to the plot.  The sex scenes are hot, explicit and with enough variety to make them fresh, definitely no fade to black here. There were grammar and editing issues which was a shame as it did detract from the experience, but not so badly as to make me stop.

I want to say lesbian Mills & Boon but don’t mean it as an insult. It’s a good fast read, enjoyable and definitely erotic. The improbable opening coloured the whole book for me, which is unfortunate as from then on the story settles down into a solid well-conceived plot.



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: 316 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Amazon  (May 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06Y4STR5P
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The Standing Stones: The Chronicles of Caymin Book 3 – Caren Werlinger

The Standing Stones - Caren WerlingerSometimes it is hard to find superlatives. The Standing Stone is an outstanding conclusion to this wonderful Celtic/Dragon lore saga. Simply brilliant world building, top class storytelling and writing that flows across the page and straight into your heart.

In book three of the The Dragonmage Saga, Caymin and Péist must find the hidden talisman that controls the dragons and destroy it, while both defeating the evil pairing that caused the dragon war a thousand years before, and helping her friends fight off the impending Viking attack led by a crazed Christian determined to wipe out the old ways.

Set in Eire in the seventh century at a time of clan wars, Christian incursion and the erosion of the druid traditions, The Chronicles of Caymin is firmly set in the legends of celtic fantasy and dragon lore.

Caren Werlinger is a great storyteller and this is a wonderful saga, up there with the best. Book three stands alone, but why deny yourself the joy of all three? The writing is crisp and exact, lyrical yet spare. The story is gripping, in this even more than the earlier episodes, and the reader is literally on the edge of their seat for most of the book.

The subtly is everywhere though, through personal quests, huge loss and dragon battles. Our main characters and many of the secondary’s grow, visably, throughtout.  Caymin suffers both physically and emotionally for the decisions she must make. Gai finds himself but loses his brother on the journey. Caymin and Péist both find a parent only to lose them all too quickly. The forest is ravaged and the Mages decimated, even the beloved badgers are not spared. Hard to remember sometimes that Caymin is 12.

Caren Werlinger BiogThe world building is first class, the time lines and personalities distinct. Even at the height of a complex battle between multiple dragons and Mages Werlinger keeps a firm hand and a clear sense of the who and what. The personalities are so strong and so well drawn we know their reactions, can guess their actions. Their emotional suffering is that of friends.

It is a joy to have such a well done series of gender neutral dragon fantasy/celtic lore. Sexual identity and gender are just not issues, for dragon or humans, and it is such a refreshing change after so many years of male/hetero-centric fantasy.

The door is left open for more. Can’t wait to see where Werlinger might take us next.


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: 385 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Corgyn (June 6, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072JL6GWB
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The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 – Cheyne Curry, Roselle Graskey

The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 - Cheyne Curry, Roselle GraskeyLieutenant Jessica Baumer and Staff Sergeant Branna Maguire are locked down in an underground “lab”, undergoing an experiment in how they cope with isolation; one because the Army felt she didn’t cope well when cut off, the other as punishment for having some issues with the abuse of authority.

When they do a routine check of the outside world they realise life as they know it has ended, and it appears they may literally be the last ones standing. As comms become available they reach out and find others who have survived, but many are contaminated and others come out into the open too soon – there are no guarantees of survival.

As the air clears they too must leave their underground shelter in order to see what is left, gather resources and find a safe place to live. The old world order has gone, now only the strong survive, but even strength is no guarantee as gangs stake out territory and commandeer the meagre resources available. Can Baumer and Maguire make it to the sanctuary they seek? Do they have the skills to survive? How will they and those they meet carve out a new existence in a brutal new world?

Edge of the seat doesn’t even come close. This, the first in a new series of dystopian novels, is stunning in its intensity and breadth of vision. T wake up one morning and the world as we know it has ended, with a barrage of nuclear, neutron and chemical weapons essentially wiping out most of the world, and be faced with the overwhelming issues of survival. Literally breath-taking.

Baumer and Maguire are intriguing and powerful characters. They form a rock-solid core to the story and are the glue that we bond with. As their journey unfolds they meet others, equally well drawn, some they join with, others they leave behind, all stay in the mind as strong characters we are likely to meet again.

The journey is both gruelling and exhilarating. Tough both physically and mentally, they encounter horrors beyond civilisation. The world has literally reverted to the middle ages and the barbaric nature of man is revealed. This isn’t for the faint hearted, don’t expect an easy ride, it contains sex and violence, but is never gratuitous.

The authors’ background is obvious throughout and gives an incredibly strong sense of realiCheyne Curryty to the military behaviour and action of our heroines. But this is so much more than a story about some military adventure; the world building and vision of what could be the reality of a post-apocalyptic world is simply brilliant.

I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to. The only problem with it is waiting for volume two. Ms’s Curry and Graskey better be beavering away because they have impatient readers waiting. Even if you don’t normally read dystopian or fantasy of any sort, this book will intrigue and fascinate, keep you up way past your bedtime and inevitably ask the question.. how would I survive?



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: 278 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bossy Pants (February 8, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06WLGFND9
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