40+

Lightning Chasers – Cass Sellars

Lightning Chasers - Cass SellarsAfter a year together Sydney and Parkers’ relationship has deepened and solidified, despite their emotional baggage, but when a local cop and close friend is killed their worlds are turned upside down. Sydney’s connections to the local police force through her crime reconstruction business put her in the perfect place to investigate the death and leads them, and their friends, into a tangled world of corruption and deceit.

This is the second in the Lightning Series and leads us away from the more romantic start into crime, suspense and thriller; an excellent combination that allows the author to bring out the depths of the characters intelligence and showcase their various skills while continuing to build on their relationships and friendships.

It’s well plotted and thought through, with a complex set of players and events all based on a corrupt ring of people. The multiple threads are well managed and the arc works well, teasing with hints and building the detail while managing to conceal the exact who and what, to keep us on the edge of our seats.

Sydney and Parker continue to grow and deepen as characters. The investigation tests their relationship when it brings out issues about over-protective instincts and fear of losing a loved one, whether to an ex or as a repercussion from their investigation. The development of new characters adds interest and keeps the human interest going while remaining centred around the two main characters and their warehouse home.

Thoroughly enjoyed this, a great follow up and like the direction the series is going, I look forward to reading more from this author.



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 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 12, 2017)
  • ASIN: B074VB52ZX
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Lightning Strikes – Cass Sellars

Lightning Strikes - Cass SellarsFirst in the Lightning Series this was the debut novel from Cass Sellars and makes a great start for a new author. I recently got sent the second instalment so had to go back and read the first.

Parker, high flying HR exec with a great job and wonderful friends, has a disastrous personal life after catching her wife in bed with a younger more exciting model on their 10th anniversary. Selling up their house and starting again has made her realise how beige her life has become, but she is definitely not in the market for romance.

Sydney is the ultimate player, whoever she glances at falls at her feet and apart for one short term relationship she doesn’t even do overnights. When they meet at a party their attraction is instant, but what neither expect is to meet again, and certainly not to begin a relationship neither one feels ready for.

These main characters are intelligent well-rounded women, not exactly ‘older’ but late 30’s with mature lives and complex emotional energy. They have built a place in the world and both have style and class as well as intricate back histories. They and their friends are likeable and realistic with their fears and concerns; people we can invest in.

The romance between Sydney and Parker is both an instant flash and a slow burn, both women are commitment shy and while they get together very quickly and both realise their own feelings are growing, it takes time for the relationship to solidify.

The romance is matched with a more sinister plot of the mad ex stalking and ultimately invading their new world in a most unexpected way, which both brings them together but also threatens to overwhelm their fledgling relationship.

Well written and edited this was a pleasure to read, and a decidedly good start from a debut author. I did feel the story faded a little towards the end, almost waiting for the sequel, but as a series addict I can live with that feeling of anticipation.



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 Books (March 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06X94C4J4
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An Outsider Inside – RJ Samuel

An Outsider Inside - RJ SamuelR J Samuel’s latest novel “An Outsider Inside” is a polychromatic phantasmagoria – a constantly moving kaleidoscope of colour and character in which very few of the myriad players stand still long enough to be observed.

The overarching themes of identity, love, trust and belonging weave together as we move backwards and forwards between the life of an Indian couple coming to terms with their arranged marriage in small-town Ireland and the current incarnation of the various players with whom their lives have become intertwined. Overlaid on all of that is the complex undertone of prejudice… patriarchal, racial, homophobic, biphobic; external and obvious or internalised and just as damaging.

R J Samuel is an excellent storyteller and accomplished writer who somehow manages to lead the reader from A to B with side tours to P, X and J, while simultaneously challenging us to reconsider our own prejudices. This isn’t a difficult read in the sense of being unpleasant in any way, but the very complexity of the characters’ lives, combined with issues such as domestic abuse, arranged marriage, gender identity and mental health, make it a challenging read in that it challenges us to reconsider our own prejudice.

Like all really good literature this book will make you think. It will entertain, inform and enlighten the majority of us who have never experienced the life of a foreigner with a different skin colour in an extremely white and parochial community, or the concept of total sacrifice for the family, and while many of us have suffered homophobia, few have grown up in a society where the whole culture believes it is an abomination. The personal choices facing many of these characters will strike a chord; we are drawn in, caught up and immersed in their lives, and can’t help but want to save them, sort them out, and see them live the “happy ever after” they deserve.

RJ Samuel BiogEach of R J’s books shows her development as a master craftswoman. The prose is delightful, the characters complex, the plot twisted into knots and the settings are beautifully described. Add onto all that a deep and meaningful observation of humanity and a clever portrayal of the impact of multiple prejudices and our very personal reactions to them and you have an excellent and thought provoking novel.

This is one book I will find the time to reread, it will take at least 2 visits to really see the subtle interplay of personalities and fully appreciate the complex personal journeys that RJ has woven into this colourful tale.



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: Amazon  (July 5, 2017)
  • ASIN: B07379TC9V
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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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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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The Roundabout – Gerri Hill

The Roundabout - Gerri HillThis isn’t my normal type of review – and there’s a spoiler about the storyline, so be warned.

On the one hand this is a lighthearted enjoyable read about slightly older women in a small town searching for love. Its starts with a bunch of single friends and through a series of sometimes funny and sometime poignant happenings we get to the expected happy ever after. It’s full of humour and the main relationship is delightful to watch.

As with all Gerri Hill’s books its well written and crafted, well edited. I liked the main characters, particularly Leah who I thought was a particularly gentle and genuine woman. At times I was slightly frustrated by the amount of emphasis on “I am too old to fall in love” or “They cant possibly get together they are too old”.. I don’t know how old Gerri Hill is but at 52 I certainly hope to fall in love again.

<SPOILER>
However one  of the storylines is one older woman bullying another character. This is going to be controversial, and I think many women will be upset and offended. If ‘light hearted’ but rather creepy and stalkersh cyber abuse, done as teasing and playing around, but taken too far, will upset you – don’t read it.

It didn’t completely ruin the book for me, but I think the plot could have started with this storyline as a tool to create the situation, then it could have been dealt with much earlier and the moral of the story not allowed the perpetrator to get off with ‘sorry’ and get her own HEA ending.

I normally love Gerri Hill’s books, and it’s great to see a story about older women finding love, just unfortunate in how one storyline has been dealt with. I suspect neither the author or publisher will have expected the strength of emotion this has generated among some readers and reviewers.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 13, 2016)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594935206
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The Review – Annette Mori

The Review – Annette MoriWhen a successful lesbian romance writer sets up a competition to meet her greatest fan, all manner of people can feel slighted and upset. Silver Lining, the author, knows who will win, as only one person has read the book pre-release, but she doesn’t expect the winners ex to get involved, or jealous stalkers to take a hand.

This is a fun read, complex and thoughtful but with a lot of humour. It deals with two difficult subjects – the guilt of moving on from losing your wife and mental illness. It also highlights how easy stalking is in the internet age where ‘fans’ can not only find everything they need on line, but hide behind intricate tech walls to protect themselves from discovery. And ultimately it’s a sweet romance, one in which two women need to emerge from difficult pasts and have the courage to take a step into the future.

The characters are well done and varied, their emotional issues, whether sympathetic or not, are carefully constructed and believable. While the main focus is on 6 women, the appearance of a classic gay bff, Preston, lightens the drama and creates a real sense of amusement.

Annette Mori BioThe tension is real. Annette Mori cleverly builds up a classic stalker profile in our minds, and then spins us around when we are completely confident we know what is happening. There’s a point of high drama, and a kind resolution, overall a well done story arc and a pleasing flow.

Ms Mori takes interesting subjects and writes good books. I did think there were a few places at the beginning that could have been tightened up with sharper editing, but once past those the story sweeps you away. I always enjoy reading this author and this is no exception.

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: 210 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Affinity (September 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LXE57N4
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When Butches Cry – Genta Sebastian

When Butches Cry - Genta SebastianTraf is the archetypal tomboy, the first girl to play football with the boys, competing with her brother in everything, ringleader and troublemaker. As she grows from a child to a feisty teen she realizes she is more different than just her hatred of the confinements of skirts and ladylike behavior. In the extremely regimented and catholic word of the Portuguese Azores in the early 1960’s she must fight to be herself and carve a life in a tiny community where there is nowhere to hide.

This is an interesting read. We have stories of British and American lesbian life in the ‘50s and 60’s, but this is the first I have come across set in another country, and the differences are intriguing. The old-world Island of Terceira is tiny and the populations small: the group of ‘maria rapaz’ (tomboys) stands out and draws attention. The island is extremely conservative in many ways, girls not even allowed to dance with boys until they are formally courting, and their courting done with a chaperone present at all times. Women have a very clearly defined role and are forcibly not allowed to step out of them.

Vitoria (Traf) was never cut out to fit in the world of parental and patriarchal control and rebels in every conceivable way. As she grows she draws a group of like-minded women around her, and over time they form into a butch and femme group; friends, lovers, community and club. While their struggles to find themselves and establish a lifestyle is similar to tales from elsewhere, the level of violence they suffer for being visibly gay is shocking and at times heart rendering.

Life on the island is fascinating, showing us a different world in both terms of the rural lifestyle and the old fashioned ways. Ms Sebastian uses it to great effect as both a backdrop and as a way to place these women in a different world. The landscape is very much part of the story and the land a strong presence in the women’s lives.

The group of lesbians are a colourful mix, themselves set into rigidly defined roles of butch and femme that constrain their lives. Even there Traf rebels, constrained by the perceived role of a butch but frustrated by the rules which expect her to act like a husband and yet denies her sexual release.

Everything about this book feels very slightly alien. It’s a glimpse into a life where generations of customs and religious beliefs have regimented every aspect of women’s lives, with a European twist and a Portuguese flavour.

There’s a twist in the tale that suggests this will become a series, and I will want to read what happens next, whether Traf escapes the confines of her life through her career in the US Air Force, or convinces herself to stay loyal to a home and girlfriend that seem wholly too small for her.

(publisher review copy received)

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: 277 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Sapphire (December 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01M0G13HC
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Rainbow Gap – Lee Lynch

Rainbow Gap - Lee LynchSometimes it is hard to write a review because you can’t find the words, in this case it’s hard to find words big enough to describe such an epic tale. Set in Florida in the 50’s and 60’s Lee Lynch has constructed a story that creates a movie style landscape in your mind.

It opens with the portrayal of two young school friends, one the circus freak with too much testosterone, the other the pretty girl who choses her friend above popularity. The plot is 15 years of simple day-to-day living, with their small personal dramas, but set in the midst of complex times that frequently touch their lives. A brother away in Vietnam, the first battles of women’s lib, the early stirrings of gay rights, the communist threat, and the on-going racial segregation all form a backdrop to the changing world around them.

Jaudon and Berry form an instant bond that in small town America in the 1950’s literally had no name. They forge a life together based on nothing more than their absolute belief that they belong. With no role models, no community and very little support they just ‘are’. Each step, from the first tentative kiss to finding their own place in the world, individually and as a couple, is an exploration of how to be.

The Florida swamp plays a powerful role in the novel, from how the girls grow up in the most basic of shacks to the ever-present voice of frogs and the bite of mosquitos. More than just setting the scene the landscape is a living being with a character and a sub-plot of its own, almost a will of its own, taking action in the lives of the families who carve out a life in the encroaching greenery and the overwhelming heat.

We meet a broad range of characters from the distant overachieving mother to the warm and loving gran, the gay boys who struggle to be themselves and a bunch of recognisable 1960’s feminists beginning to fight for women’s rights. For anyone old enough to have lived through those heady days of the women’s groups and early gay community it rings so many bells. The strident activists, the surreptitious gatherings, the support and the angst of women learning the hard way how to fight for change.

Lee Lynch bioThis is both a coming out and growing up story, but also a timeless work of literary fiction, with classic writing that draws you into it’s world. The plot may be simple but the characters, interactions and subplots are the history of lives lived at a time when literally everything they did was unknowingly revolutionary.

Rainbow Gap will win awards across the board, and deservedly so. It is simple in plot, but complex in emotion. It is a genuine classic telling of nothing more or less than real life. More than anything it’s a story of the birth of our community and the fight to be openly who we are.

 

(publisher review copy received)

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: 348 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 13, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MSO1NY5
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Lone Ranger – VK Powell

Lone Ranger - VK PowellEmma Ferguson is a wannabe reporter in shock from her girlfriend’s heartless infidelity. She is running away to escape the fall out and another failed relationship. Emma accepts an assignment from an elderly lady in a small town to write the family history, but all is not as it seems and we soon have a cold case murder mystery on our hands.

Booked into to stay in a park cabin Emma immediately meets the eccentric Ann, an out lesbian from a time when dealing with small town issues was even harder than now, and her park ranger niece, Carter. Ann and Carter are incredibly close, surviving a series of tragic losses, and forming a strong bond. Unfortunately Emma’s digging is literally going to force all sorts of family history out into the public view.

The who-dunnit is interesting, merging 37-year-old history and characters with modern day threats and aggression intended to hide the truth. The villain becomes obvious fairly early on, but we are never quite sure which of two characters is the real baddy, and there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning. Add in a series of attempts to drive Emma off the trail, and a twisted ‘stalker’ cop and the mystery was well done.

VK Powell BiogEmma is insecure, warm and caring, struggling with the on-going impact of her father’s disappearance, while Carter is emotionally cut off, giving them the classic ying and yang of lesbian relationships. At time Carter’s wavering was a little overpowering, on the one hand she is a king and intuitive woman working with children, on the other she wont listen to her gut responses to her on and off again lover. We know why Carter acts like she does, but it still irked.

Ann is charming, funny, kind and with a great back history. The small town and settings are also well done, with just enough divergence from the stereotype to save the secondary characters, especially the amusing Fanny, the intelligent Sherriff and the lightly drawn Sissy and Clem – and although I did find the ex’s rather too shallow to be credible they did add humour.

Soundly written and healthily paced with VK Powell’s usual attention to detail and well plotted storyline this was an enjoyable read. There were times I wanted to shake the main characters, but the steamy sex scenes more than made up for my short lived annoyance with them. I would definitely put it as a romantic suspense and murder mystery rather than a romance.

NB while the MC’s aren’t over 40 Ann certainly is and I found enough synergy with her struggles to rate this of interest to 40+ readers

(publisher review copy received)

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: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (Nov 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MA6JTAP
Amazon.com
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