40+

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
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Calling Home – Jen Silver

Calling Home - Jen SilverSarah Frost manages the Frost Foundation and several writers retreats around England. Her favourite, The Lodge on the Lake, is set on a small island somewhere in the North and managed by her childhood friend Berry. The women share a dark background, escapees from a hippie commune gone wrong, and as always Sarah was the lucky one who avoided the worst excesses to became grand-daughter of the welcoming and wealthy Frosts, while Berry suffered cruelly and escaped into a hard life of survival while making her own way.

Joined on the retreat staff by a burned out vet, Galen, the friends are happy in their quiet and settled lives; Sarah with a new love interest in the local village and Berry with a decided interest in her new colleague. Neither woman could imagine the upset and upheaval about to be created by the arrival of the weeks residents or the uncovering of 3 long-buried bodies in Northumbria.

Jen Silver’s voice is decidedly English, bringing to life the countryside and people of her native North. More than just the setting and character though there is something delightfully colloquial and decidedly British about her tales, echoes of the quintessential voice of Britain of the 50’s like a Poirot movie or The Famous Five.

The romances are always gentle and sympathetically drawn, not that there aren’t hot scenes, but the emotion is deep and the unfolding realistic. The mysteries are intriguing, unusual and pulled from the past, influencing and affecting the women of today from the grave. The settings are subtly drawn but solidly present as a part of the story.

In “Calling Home” Silver has created another complex plot and enjoyable ensemble piece with eight women collected at the island retreat for a week; the old friends, the heartbroken drunk, the new lovers, the mysterious autobiography writer and the doting but grumpy Gran. The characters are well drawn and their interactions a perfect people watchers composition.

There is a huge twist in the tale, the past really does come out and bite them in the most unexpected way, overturning everything they thought they knew about their lives and themselves, and despite the gentle pace and subtle build Ms Silver keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Thoroughly enjoyable and well done.



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: 276 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D3L5SF1
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Lethal Care – Claire McNab and Katherine V. Forrest

Lethal Care - Claire McNab13 years after the publication of “Fall Guy” Claire McNabb has come out with a final chapter in the story of Inspector Carol Ashton. Ably assisted by one of our most well-respected writers, editors and publishers, Katherine V Forrest, who edited many of the Carol Ashton series, this story slides seamlessly into place and brought back so many memories.

Carol has been promoted to Chief Inspector, Mark to inspector and Ann to Sergeant. Further into a political world than she would like, with a Police Chief she despises, Carol and the team are handed two suspicious deaths. A wealthy socialite and matriarch, Greta Denby already dying of cancer whose autopsy showed a drug overdose, and Inspector Rooke, a friendly rival throughout her career, whose car went over the cliff on a hairpin bend.  Was Denby’s death assisted suicide or murder, was Rooke’s an accident or something more damaging to the Sydney police force?

As usual the crime drama is excellent, well thought through and plotted, complex enough to keep the attention and like a good Agatha Christie, literally anyone could have done it, although we didn’t meet a butler. What makes it more emotionally complicated is the triggers for Carol, who carries enormous guilt about her mother’s death under similar circumstances. When a religious fanatic tries to accuse her of murder she must face up to the past, and recognise that her career is on the line.

At the same time Carol and Sibyl are dancing around their perennial ‘will they wont they’ question. I have to admit I am going to have to re-read the whole series (lucky me) to remember when they weren’t at odds. As usual Carol’s dedication to her career is a fundamental issue, but Sybil’s PTSD is also a major stumbling block. Aunt Sarah is her usual wonderful self, dying butterfly and all, while Madeline Shipley plays her customary stirring role as both a talk show host and a flirtatious ex.

The cast is excellent as always and continue to provide the warmth of a family and friends that keeps Carol sane. Sydney again provides a stunning backdrop to the storyline. The whole is a wonderful example of an extended series which seems to float along, heartfelt, honest and complete in it’s own little microcosm.

I cant tell you how delighted I was that Claire McNabb had managed to put out this final story despite the obstacles of Parkinson’s and poor health, and applaud Katherine V Forrest for helping this happen. It is still very much a Claire McNabb, and, as mentioned by the author, having a former editor co-authoring meant a deep understanding of the characters and style of the series were already in place, making it a painless endeavour.

As you would expect it is excellently written and edited, it is warm and fuzzy with the feeling of returning to old friends, resolving long held questions and tying up a myriad of loose ends. The Carol Ashton books, along with Forrest’s Delafied series, were the cornerstone of my lesbian reading in the late 80’s and 90’s.  Between them they created the genre of the lesbian cop/procedural/crime series and I for one will always shower them with respect for being the ground breakers of lesbian fiction that they are.



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 2017
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 5, 2017)
  • ASIN: B078NBS4HH
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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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