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High October – Elena Graf

High October – Elena GrafIt is a refreshing change to read a story about two more mature women, aged 58 and 60 at the start of the novel. They have a lifetime of memories, happiness and sadness, baggage – good and bad – as well as broken hearts and life changing regrets, and it makes them totally real. College room mates 40 years before this begins, soul mates torn apart by one’s acceptance of family pressure, financial and social, they meet by accident and are instantly drawn back together, despite the hurt, the anger and the span of time and distance between them.

On the surface it’s a second chance romance, but the depth and feeling make it a love story that spans these women’s lives. As we delve into the emotions and actions that have shaped their existence it becomes increasingly clear that they have both settled, and yet always been unsettled, by lesser emotions and shallow relationships – one perhaps knowingly, the other without realising why she can’t commit.

It’s slow burn, they aren’t teenagers making out in the back of cars. It’s emotional yet gentle, despite the pressure of time, they have done the first passionate romance and are now far more aware of the need to let things develop, to allow themselves to re-grow those connections and rediscover each others souls. And they are both aware that mucking this up would mean the loss of an amazing chance to reconnect.

I loved it. I loved the fact that we learn snippets of the past without having full-blown flashbacks. That it deals with real issues mature women face, like menopause, the decline and loss of parents, the concerns of aging and the knowledge of time passing. That these women and many of their colleagues and friends have such deep long term relationships and knowledge of each other that they don’t play games, they don’t need to walk on ice, they just cut to the chase with full frontal honesty.

Extremely well written and crafted this is simply a wonderful exploration of love across time, and how these mature women have settled into themselves enough to accept who they are and respect who each other has become.


(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • First published 2019
  • Publisher: Purple Hand Press (October 15, 2019)
  • ASIN: B07YXSB9S9
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Beautiful Accidents – Erin Zak

Beautiful Accidents - Erin ZakThis is an interesting and amusing romance, traditional in the overall arc but with some twists that make it stand out. Its an age gap romance for a start (late 20s and late 40’s), and neither of the main characters want a romance – both have absolutely solid life choices which they have no intention of breaking – really.

Bernie is an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for her best friend Constance, who is also the unrequited love of her life. Bernie not only wallows in the fruitless adoration but lets Constance control her life – what little life she allows herself outside of providing unwanted care for her deaf mother. Stevie is a rising improv star who’s overwhelming and life controlling dream is to make it to Saturday Night Live – nothing and nobody will stand in her way.

Of course love has a way of breaking down barriers and changing the most determined mind. Erin Zak delivers the whole with great style, excellent writing, a lot of wit and some serious laughs. It’s all about letting go and allowing life to happen, both women have an emotional lesson to learn and a journey to free themselves. “Beautiful Accidents” is a great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and its great to read a book which includes a physical impairment without ever making it an issue.


(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • First published 2019
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 10, 2019
  • ASIN: B07VB91JQN
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Chain Reactions – Lynn Ames

Chain Reaction“Chain Reactions” finds elderly scientist Nora Lindstrom forced, in the face her own mortality, into contacting her long-estranged family. Her great-niece, Diana, convinced her aunt has been dead for twenty years, nevertheless responds to the plea from Nora’s lawyer and visits her beloved aunt, Diana’s inspiration for becoming a scientist and so much more. Shocked into the reality that her parents have lied to her for 35 years, Diana must quickly adapt to both the reappearance and frailty of her aunt as they begin to explore their new relationship.

The 100-year-old Nora needs live-in care Diana can’t provide but her scheming doctor introduces them to Brooke, a burnt-out paediatric nurse who has taken refuge nearby to heal her pain from losing too many cancer patients. Between them, Brooke and Diana care for the wilful old lady, supporting her fading strength and indomitable spirit, and in so doing both become fascinated by the history Nora has been part of, and the unspoken sacrifice of an inspirational woman.

Lynn Ames’ multi-layered romance presents us with a modern-day pathos, an ancient mystery, a slice of untaught history, and a poignant parallel between the generations. Nora is a classic representation of her era; stoic, realist and patriot, who stepped up when called by her country, proud to have served her part, yet plagued by the responsibility for her actions and ultimately sacrificing her own personal happiness as a consequence. Modern-day Diana has taken a similar route, putting medical research above a private life, and Brooke, the more empathic of the three, has made a comparable sacrifice, giving her energy to the care of others.

As the two younger women discover Nora’s personality and uncover her history, they inevitably form a bond, and despite the strain of the situation, lay the foundation for a tense friendship. As the strain of Nora’s final days grows, Diana and Brooke are drawn together, and Nora’s final wishes will push them both into a new reality.

These are three powerful women, exquisitely drawn, each with strength and sadness, each having chosen a path that has put their career first at the cost of personal happiness. Ames cleverly reveals them through the medium of their interaction and their exploration of each other, showing us their hidden pain as they are laid bare on the page. Nora, atoning for her self-imposed guilt, a huge figure in the fight against leukaemia, Diana, battling to find a cure for epilepsy and Brooke, caring for frequently terminal leukaemia patients, each has given their individual strength to the battle they have chosen.

Love suffuses the pages of this romance, love for family however distant, love that hasn’t faded despite the years, and love that grows even through the tension of caring for a dying relative. Nora’s love of her great-niece is a powerful force that neither Diana nor Brooke can ultimately withstand.

Emotional, poignant and touching, “Chain Reactions” will pull your heart strings every which way, leaving you bereft by Nora’s loss, awed by her history, yet buoyed by the overwhelming sense of hope that Diana and Brooke might not repeat her mistakes. Lynn Ames has the ability to pull a historical thread and bring it alive through her characters, women we cannot help but fall in love with. I guarantee you won’t put it down, and I cannot wait for the prequel.

In Fashion – Jody Klaire

In Fashion – Jody KlaireCross Trinny and Susannah with Mary Portas and you have the concept of “In Fashion”. Super model and super bitch Darcy McGregor is the TV makeover queen with a complicated past. When her daughter and producer decide to shake her up by picking a gorgeous lesbian security guard for her next patient, everybody but Darcy can see she has met her match. Down to earth Kate dislikes fashion, thinks Darcy is shallow and is uninterested in becoming the latest victim of her attention.

This is a very comical romp with some serious messages. It’s laugh out loud funny, with wonderful characters, amusing dialogue and a literal clash of wills that challenges both women’s assumptions. Underneath the fun we find a sensitive handling of mental disability, a fight against bullying and watch how the media and social media can destroy a person’s life.

Th characters make the book, genuine and very real, warts and all. Darcy’s a woman locked in her own heard headed self-loathing, but a wonderful mother with a brilliant relationship with her typically teenage daughter. Kate’s a totally adorable soul who doesn’t realise how amazing she is. The family and friends form a great ensemble piece, but it will be Mickey, Kate’s wonderful brother, who will steal your heart.

Well written, genuinely witty, empathetic and full of clever human observation this is an excellent read, I literally couldn’t put it down



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: 222 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (October 3, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07HGFCKDW
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The Third Eye – Jenna Rae

The Third Eye – Jenna RaeWhen a new Officer is killed by a bad cop, Captain Borelli takes it hard. She wasn’t the rookie’s commanding officer but feels responsible as a mentor, responsible enough that when the shooting it “handled” politically to minimise the fallout she takes time off to do her own investigation. When her ex-partner disappears, the shooter turns up dead, and the bad cop’s girlfriend appears to be abducted, she knows this is something way bigger than a cop on the take

This is an excellent cop crime drama, great characters, engaging storyline and a real whodunnit until the last chapter. It soon becomes clear there is a cover-up, but who is behind it all remains a mystery.

Brenda Borelli is a very well-drawn character with depth and subtlety, somebody we can really empathise with as she tries to make sense of her life since she caught her partner in bed with another woman, struggling to find her feet, work out what went wrong, and find a way forward.

Really enjoyed this one. Would be a great start to a 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: 308 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (September 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H37FSKW
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The Neighbor – Gerri Hill

The Neighbor - Gerri HillLaura bites the bullet and goes to live at home to help her mother, despite their frosty relationship. Stuck with writer’s block and needing a break she tackles the long-neglected yard which her mother had so lovingly tended before the accident. Listening to, then watching, then, quite frankly, spying on her nympho neighbour’s weekend pool parties hits a nerve and telling her neighbour off for the noise gives Laura some little revenge.

Cassidy likes women, beautiful women. But not for long; a couple of weeks and she’s bored of the airhead younger women she takes to her bed and her seemingly endless pool parties. But she doesn’t know how to change the pattern, and does she really want a grown-up relationship?

This is classic Gerri Hill at her very best, top of the pile of so many excellent books she has written, I genuinely loved this story and these two women.

Drawn together initially in conflict and then, as much as anything, by their differences, Laura and Cassidy aren’t truly opposites, but they certainly appear that way. Laura, after failed relationships and years of failed manuscripts, feels like she is going backwards moving home at the end of her savings. She thinks of herself as a million miles away from the beautiful stick insects who arrive every weekend to hang out at her neighbour’s pool. And becoming the neighbour’s yard girl is hardly going to elevate her self-esteem. But it is her very down to earth attitude, literally as well as figuratively, which draws Cassidy to her, sick of the women who use her bed, her house and her pool.

The growing friendship and hidden attraction between them is skilfully written and totally engaging. This isn’t a new story or a clever plot, but it is so exquisitely done that it is totally absorbing. Laura needs to accept who she is and let go of who she thought she was. Cassidy has to work out who she’d rather be; a conflict reflected in her friendships, real and false.

A 40 something romance, genuine and real, women we can relate to and empathise with, laugh with and relish. This was a joy to read.



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: 257 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (September 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H38MRXC
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Wait for Me – Susan X Meagher

Wait for ME - Susan X MeagherMolly has had a tough year; she’s lost her best friend to a freak accident, ended her marriage and feels alienated from her conservative and catholic parents over the divorce. W
hen she joins a book club to fill the void she is instantly alienated by the hyper-intellectual snobbery of the organisers, but the host, Alexa, is appealing enough to go back for more.

As their friendship develops Molly must control her growing attraction for the happily married Alexa, despite knowing she is stifling her own chance to find happiness, but the thought of losing her friend is enough to make her take a vow of celibacy. Now if only Alexa loved her back…

This is a well-done take on the “don’t fall for straight women” story with a decidedly interesting twist. The characters are deep, well rounded, real people who feel their situations acutely and with whom we can’t help but empathise. Anyone who has had an unrequited crush must feel Molly’s pain, and most of us have had to choose to hurt somebody we cared for but just didn’t love enough.

The connection between the new friends is extremely well portrayed, the growing knowledge and understanding, the matching attitudes and opinions which make for the strongest of bonds between best friends, and the shared joys in everyday things which makes them virtually inseparable.  New York plays an important role as the backdrop; restaurants, High Line and  NY life adding an extra dimension to the reality.

As the twists and turns unfold Susan Meagher pulls us in, feeling the agony, the shock and pain of rejection and hurt, of difficult decisions and life-altering actions. The emotions are very real and few of us will have escaped our own variations. But don’t let these serious descriptors put you off, this is a romance and a happy ever after, there is just some real angst to get there.

Extremely well done, I thoroughly enjoyed this very grown-up romance. Neither woman has an easy road, but the outcome is even more heartfelt for having had a high price. It is really refreshing to read a very realistic journey that many of us can empathise with.



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: 243 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Brisk Press (August 30, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H14W8HH
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Lost for Words – Andrea Bramhall

Lost for Words - Andrea BramhallYou never know what will come next from Ms Bramhall; traditional romance, old school English mystery, overseas thriller. Her latest, “Lost for Words’ is a traditional romance with a lot of the author’s humour showing through, but also an emotional and heart-breaking sub-plot which had me in tears as it reached its conclusion.

Unusually there are three main characters; Sasha the author who hides her manuscripts, Jac the self-made movie producer who wants to produce Sasha’s script, and Sasha’s pot smoking and mischievous mum, Fleur. Each have strengths and weakness, each has a journey, even though Fleur’s may be short, and it is great to have the cast set in their 40’s and 70’s, dealing, despite the light-hearted romance, with real life issues. Secondary characters are strong, even the vapid Vanessa plays her role, and their inter-relationships and dialogue are often hysterical.

The primary plot is a traditional as you like, with the not quite lesbian U-Haul relationship, but the deeper sub plots of unrequited love and the impact of being a carer for an ageing parent give this a most unusual feel for a romance. Despite the high-speed love affair and the quick transposition from hidden author to successful script writer, the story is completely grounded by the boredom of work at the spa, by the reality of the estate, and of course most of all by Fleur’s illness.

It reminds me of a Beryl Cook painting, for those who know the artist.. (that may be an English reference – google her) with real-life people in real-life situations but full of life and hilarity.

I enjoyed the light-hearted romance, the frequent humour and the deeper and most touching relationship between Sasha and her mum. Good to read something a little bit different.



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: 303 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (August 15, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07G2G2728
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The Shape of You – Georgia Beers

The Shape of You – Georgia BeersMs Beers has the knack of creating interesting plot and character which, while sticking to the romance formula, is never formulaic.

The Shape of You brings together a slightly grumpy personal trainer forced to take a class she doesn’t even agree with, bringing out her inherent prejudices, and a woman who has given up making her own decisions, to the point where her fiancé has booked her on a “Be Your Best Bride” fitness class. The overarching story arc follows the usual pattern, mutual dislike, attraction, will they won’t they and HEA, but the underlying themes are slightly different than usual.

Rebecca’s dislike for the class sets her up with an issue of professionalism, especially in the face of a woman who lets her fiancé tell her she needs to shape up, and she finds herself unusually biased against somebody who has given up managing her own life. Spencer isn’t even coasting along, she’s barely present in her own life, living what she thinks is expected of her, without even being conscious of the vacuity of her existence. Rebecca must overcome her issues and look beyond the surface of both the class and her students, while Spenser needs to wake up before she commits to something she isn’t even involved in.

And so Ms Beers brings us a complex set of characters, situations and personal decisions.  One needs to face her preconceptions, one must face up to her abdication, and yet another needs to step up and acknowledge the truth of their situation. Some readers will dislike the infidelity, the lack of commitment to a relationship, a fiancé. But for me they reflect reality, a recognition that actually life is far more complex than the simple black and white we generally find in lesfic romances.

For me this is Ms Beers writing more mature characters and themes. As always she comes up with something slightly different, while producing excellently written personalities and plots, all polished with her usual style. IF the Puppy Love series was her light and fluffy, this is the complex grown up romance where people do things wrong, and lives don’t always work out.



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: 234 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (14 Aug. 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FXTNJF6
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Beowulf for Cretins – Ann McMan

Beowulf for Cretins – Ann McManTake one rather lost and lonely English professor and sit her next to a gorgeous, intellectual and amusing woman on a flight to San Francisco. Bring them back together for a madcap costume party that evening, and make both of them brave enough to step out of their comfort zones and “go there”. That’s the basic plot of Ann McMan’s wonderful short story “Falling from Grace” in her anthology “Sidecar”, which led to the idea of “Beowulf for Cretins”.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read “Sidecar” (although if not why not?) as the slightly amended story is repeated as chapter one of the full-length version. And once Grace and Abbie go their separate ways the morning after the party, with no contact details, not even last names shared, then surely it will take an act of fate, or possibly an act of God, to make their paths cross a second time.

Roll forward and, of course, The Fates intervene; Abbie turns up as the new President of Grace’s college, throwing them together, bringing turmoil, romance, angst and trellis climbing adventure. The conversation gets even more sarcastic and convoluted, the humour more literary, and the passion more overwhelming, as these two amazing women try to find a way forward without threatening Grace’s tenure run, alienating the college board, or making a mockery of Abbie’s professional standing.

Ann McMan has this amazing ability to combine intellectual wordplay with the portrayal of sympathetic characters, charming romances and genuinely wonderful friendships. While our focus must be on the erudite and entertaining main characters and their somewhat tortuous path through the brambles of professional integrity, the ensemble is filled out with absolutely adorable secondary characters and relationships.

There is an extensive cast from the 9 o’clock dog to the challenging but foul-mouthed brain of CK, who compares relationships to quantum physics; Grace’s Neanderthal, but heart of gold brother, Dean; the master of the fates Rizzo and the powerful presence of the judgemental mothers for whom these amazing women have never been good enough. And we can’t forget to mention Sister Merry Larry, scourge of the catholic girl’s sexual education, now literally “fallen from grace” and finding fun without any slapping. Add in more complexity by CK making hay with Dean, Rizzo having studied with Abbie, and the whole intricate situation having been already resolved, and you have a glimpse of how much fun this story really is.

Is hard to know where to stop with the praise. The writing is immaculate, the use of language and references to the arts and literature make for extremely scholarly characters, well apart from Dean and Grendel, although Grendel has some great lines, and any author who can use “floccinaucinihilipilification“ in a sensible sentence deserves genuine genuflection.

“Beowulf for Cretins” is not a laugh out loud comedy, more a comedy of errors; producing a constant deep-belly rumble with occasional eruptions of uncontrollable chuckles. I have already read it twice and will happily read it again and again, finding something new to see, some new witticism to understand, and some new empathy for the characters in this superb work.



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: 320 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (June 26, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079K4BZ89
Amazon.com
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