Action/Adventure/Suspense

A Woman of Strong Purpose – SM Harding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

On a LARP – Stefani Deoul

31944915Take one super bright, smartarse teen geek, add in a bunch of high school friends with super fast brains and even faster fingers, and we have the super-sleuth crazy gang of the techno age.

Sidonie Rubin is a teenager with a conscience and life threatening observation skills. When she makes a passing comment about a recent murder while on a school trip to the local precinct, she, and her friends, suddenly become the local law enforcement experts on LARPS (Live Action Role Play).  Partly from pique at not being invited, partly from ego to prove herself right, Sid is determined to show that the murdered woman was dressed for an evening out when she was found, and therefore part of that modern phenomena, steam-punk cosplay.

Sid and her diverse group of friends – the quick brained best friend Jimmy, the gorgeous UN brat Imani, sex goddess Ari and Vikram the surprise package – spend their waking hours digging through the murdered woman’s online life in search of the illusive link to her death. And of course, being headstrong teenagers, once found they cannot leave it alone, which leads directly to the flashback that encompasses the story, Sid flying off the balcony in the New York Public Library in a gravity defying attempt to catch the murderer.

This is a hilarious, action packed, fast paced story that may be about a bunch of YA’s but is adult in humour and intellect. The plot is slightly insane, given the local cops call in the teenagers to start with, and the majority of the crime solving is via cyber space, while the resolution is very much in the real world and the whole is actually a momentary “life before the eye’s” flash back while Sid falls through the air.

Both the writing and the characters are extremely witty. None are quite what their image would suggest. Jimmy, the star Quarterback who wants to be a Supreme Court Judge, has chosen as his best friend the school geek, and manages keep up with her in all her glorious geekdom. Ari, large girl, large personality, buxom blonde (well blue and pink this week) isn’t just the life and soul, she’s a caregiver, nurturer and ‘tough love’ kinda girl. Vikram the loser is actually the one who cracks the case and revels hidden skills, and Imani, gorgeous, cosmopolitan linguist, cant add up well enough to pass her SATs. Their interplay and banter is, quite frankly, joyful. It fills up the page, the mind, and warms the heart, while exercising the ‘belly-laugh’ muscles on a regular basis.

Sid is, literally, a laugh a minute. While written as a first person stream of consciousness, in breathtaking inner monologue style, she manages to fall, trip, embarrass and laugh at herself throughout. From her clumsy slapstick to her embarrassing crush Stefani Deoul has created an adorable over confident, self conscious and over enthusiastic teenager who you cannot help but love.

The subtitle “A Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure” suggests a series and I, for one, feel like chaining the author to her own cyber space to ensure the next adventure is well under way. Absolutely loved this, it stays in the mind, resonates in the heart and makes you smile at the memory. If this doesn’t win awards I will eat my top hat.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bywater (April 11, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06X6L1RKY
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1140 Rue Royale – Karen Badger

1140 Rue Royale - Karen BadgerThis is an interesting and unusual book, based on a horrible period of history, brought to life by the impact on two likeable and loveable modern women.

Two scientists, together over twenty years, living in NYC, and like many long term relationships they have stopped paying attention, work has taken over, the relationship is drifting. Confronted with a stark choice to sort herself out, Elliot vows to put her wife first, and when Lia is offered a dream jon in New Orleans, they decide to take a leap and start afresh.

House hunting very quickly leads them to 1140 Rue Royale, a fully furnished 10,000 square foot French Quarter Mansion with an affordable price tag. Lia and Eliot soon start to find out why the house has changed hands so many times, why the locals wont go near it, and why it is considered the most haunted house in New Orleans.

I don’t usually read ghost stories, but this one grabbed me and pulled me right in. The historical facts are gruesome and the impact on the modern residents hair-raising at times. The book is not particularly fast paced but it pulls you along with an inexorable cadence towards the climax.

Cleverly juxtaposing the family ties of Lia with the slightly butch/alpha dominance of Eliot gives a balance to the narrative of then and now, both unknowingly involved and threatened by evil. As the story progresses the past characters and present situation gradually slot into place, weaving an extremely clever pattern of connection.

The characters of Lia and Eliot are excellently drawn, likeable and loveable in their own ways, certainly we cannot help but root for them to survive this ordeal. Aided and abetted by their best friends Marissa and Julie and a couple of locals, the close nit group need to listen to an irritating but adorable cat to solve the primary mystery and we, the readers, can see that Miss Thing is far more important than the humans realise.

I have to admit I didn’t think the suspense element of the funeral was needed, this book oozes suspense throughout without contriving it, but that didn’t detract from what was an excellent and intriguing story, well told, cleverly brought to life, and ultimately a story of hope and redemption from the past.

Definitely one for the re-read pile and a highly recommended – which is high praise from somebody who doesn’t do ‘the paranormal’ and has little cultural connection to the slave history of New Orleans.


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: 377 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Badger Bliss Books
    (September 27, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LXOBXO3
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A Quiet Death – Cari Hunter

A Quiet Death – Cari HunterThis is the third book in Cari Hunters “Dark Peak” series, it stands alone, but the back-history is nice to have and all three are absolutely excellent thrillers with a side order of gentle romance.

Detective Sanne Jensen and Dr. Meg Fielding have been friends forever; supporting each other as they fought to escape the dead-end estate they grew up on. After years of an on and off casual fling they have finally realized that they are far better together than apart and their lives are settling down into cosy coupledom.

Sanne works for the local Special Ops Police force. When hikers find the body of a young Pakistani girl out on the moors, Sanne and her team are called in, under intense scrutiny not to inflame the simmering tension between police and local Asian communities. At the same time Meg, a Doctor in the local ER department, has a case that screams domestic abuse, and suddenly there is something very bad going on right under their noses. Once again Sanne gets caught in the crossfire, and it will take all her strength to survive.

The love and friendship between Sanne and Meg is tangible, their characters solid, dependable and very real. Their family and work colleagues are everyday people, recognizable, genuine and authentic; all drawn with a keen eye for observation, a wonderful balance of narrative, frequently humorous dialogue and a gentle sense of affection.

Cari HunterCari Hunter is a master of writing credible suspense laden crime detective stories that feel realistic. Sanne and Meg are extremely ordinary, two women trying to live quiet lives on their beloved Peaks, caught up in a dreadful ring of crime and, as always, doing their ordinary best to help those who need them.

It would be shocking if our heroine didn’t survive, and we are left with the most unassuming happy every after at the end of each dramatic chapter in Sanne and Meg’s lives, but despite knowing all of that Ms Hunter manages to create a sense of apprehension about just how badly damaged and scarred they will be. Creating a page-turner out of the ordinary is far more difficult than writing melodrama.

Once again I cannot recommend this series enough. If you like crime, thriller, and suspense with a cast of real life everyday folk and unassuming hero’s, written with excellent if unpretentious style, you really cannot do any better than this.


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  (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N0RTFEY
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Buried Heart – Laydin Michaels

Buried Heart – Laydin MichaelsWe first meat Drew aged 11 running down a street as if she has been transported there from outer space, with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Unusually her amnesia doesn’t fade, although the nightmares do after years of therapy.

Jump to Drew aged 26, working as a Ranger and bopping at the local festival, when she meats the gorgeous Cicely and they form an instant bond. The romance seems set to develop despite Cicely’s’ rather one sided obsession about truth and honesty.

But Drew has started to receive anonymous text messages, and the nightmares flare up again, putting stress on their budding relationship. When a strange man speaks to Drew’s younger sister a warning flares, but her stalker will get much closer before her memories return and uncover the horror of her childhood.

The suspense and terror in ‘Buried Heart’ are very real, the horror of a sadistic man’s behaviour had me turning the pages to get through it, hoping for a happy ever after ending, but dreading a fateful twist in the plot. Ms Michaels can certainly create a crescendo of angst that builds and builds until it is almost unbearable and then crashes like a tidal wave against the shore with the release of pent up energy.

Drew is a likeable and interesting character, Cicely less so, and although her background explains her demanding nature, she is certainly never warm and fuzzy. Drew’s family, particularly her mother, along with her friend Preston and Cicely’s closest friend Kallie, provide the warmth and care, the gentler and loving side.

The dialogue was, at times, a little heavy and the editing could have been tighter, but the author certainly has a gift for thrilling the reader and holding you in thrall. After all they went through I was not convinced by their happy ever after protestations, but I am certain that I wanted, needed, them to survive and escape the horror, however damaged they might be. Ms Michaels should definitely be writing more page turning thrillers.


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: 259 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N7J7LAU
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Hindsight – Jody Klaire

Hindsight – Jody KlaireAction/Adventure, thriller, super Special Ops crime drama with a side order of phychic powers and the slowest burn romance imaginable. There are just so many ways to describe Hindsight, book 4 in the “Above and Beyond Series” that I almost don’t know where to start.

Well actually let’s start by saying this is a series, and while it might be possible to read this as a standalone there is such a huge history of fact and inter-relationships building up that if you haven’t read the first three then you need to go back and start at the beginning, it will be worth the time and effort and pay off ten-fold.

This latest epic instalment is breath-taking. The action is fast paced, the number of players on the table at any one time is unbelievable and the combination of flashbacks and current action, from multiple points of view, left me gasping. And yet somehow Jody Klaire not only manages to keep all the storylines, points of view and personalities clear, she somehow manages to bring it all to a successful resolution.

As the series progresses we are pulled deeper and deeper into the characters, this time it’s Frei that is revealed along with a huge chuck of her history. All the major players, Aeron and Renee, Lilia and Eli, Nan and even Huber are constantly being fleshed out and filled in. Klaire keeps the development and reveal going while cleverly introducing new characters and seamlessly slotting them in as major players on the chessboard. Oh and you are going to love Aunt Bess.

Jody KlaireThe plot is both complex and simple. The overall story arc has a team of special ops forces and FBI investigator types chasing a ring of child slavers, but the sub plots and personal journeys are convoluted and delivered with incredible detail, making the whole become an exploration of the psychology of each major character. Phenomenal.

I literally couldn’t put it down and read half the night, only to cancel my morning and reach for it over coffee. Now I have to take a week off everything else and re-read the whole series to date because I am completely fascinated all over again. If you love fast paced action adventure, psychological thrillers, crime – any of the above, believe me, this series is pure heaven. It is already a classic mind-bending journey and I cannot wait for book 5, “Noble Heart”, to come and confound me all over again.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our 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: 344 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (December 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01NCL39TN
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Renegade – Cheyne Curry

Renegade - Chayne CurryI read Renegade several years before I started reviewing, so when Cheyne Curry was doing a reading at Provincetown this year I decided it was time to reread, and put out a review.

Renegade is an unusual mix of trad romance, historical fiction and Western hero story , with a twist of fantasy fiction and a dollop of Xena. It was originally Xena fan-fiction and published as a novel in 2009 when it was a finalist for The Golden Crown Literary Society’s Best Debut Author.

I love Western lesfic romances, and this was the first I remember reading. It’s the combination of the better cowboy movies I grew up watching with my dad and the personal thrill of seeing how women cope with their double lives, wrapping, cross dressing and presenting as straight couples to survive as themselves with the lives and loves they have chosen.

Like Jae’s brilliant Oregon series Renegade doesn’t pretend the women could have been an ‘out’ couple, it deals with the reality of life for women of the time, bullied, raped, and treated as the chattels of the less pleasant male characters.

Cheyne CurryTrace, Rachel and the other women are very real, their personalities complex and founded on deep back histories. Their actions consistently reinforce the women they have become. At the same time there are a wide range of sympathetic male characters who gradually stand up and support Trace against the baddies including a really well presented relationship with the Native American tribe who have settled the area.

Once the initial sci-fi moment is over, this becomes a classic Wild West story of the strong sheriff saving a down-beaten town from the evil bullies, except of course the sheriff is a woman with rather unusual skills.

Excellent romance, unusual and interesting twist to set up the juxtaposition of 21st century cop in the late 1890’s, and a seriously enjoyable page turner. I never had a doubt Trace would succeed both romantically and saving the town, but that never detracted from the pleasure of finding out how the story would enfold. Definitely one for the re-read pile, and if you haven’t visited Sagebrush yet, suspend your disbelieve and buy this new edition.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • First published 2009
  • Publisher: Bossy Pants Book, LLC (21 Mar. 2016)
  • ASIN: B01DAGRBSY
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Taken at the Flood – Nene Adams

Taken at the Flood – Nene AdamsMeredith is a charter boat owner who gets offered over the odds pay to ferry an attractive but secretive women to an undisclosed destination ‘south’. Sceptical but intrigued she agrees and so begins an adventure that spans 3 continents. Rue is legit but definitely a person of interest to some unsavoury characters, and her quest for a WWII treasure trove puts them both in the line of fire.

Both women are strong, independent, alpha; used to running their own show and making the difficult decisions. Between them they have an impressive set of skills, and contacts that will come in extremely handy during their adventure.

At times the action is a little far fetched and the attraction a little too blatant, but the story is a wonderful action adventure romp with a large dose of cloak and dagger, a heap of humour and a large cast of interesting characters. Nene Adams was an amazing storyteller and this is no exception, it literally carries you away.

I found this great entertainment – an interesting read and an unusual story. This was my first Nene Adams book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Slightly bemused as to why it hasn’t received any attention and its share of reviews… I would recommend it.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (April 26, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01FAYDI18
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Paradox Valley – Gerri Hill

Paradox Valley – Gerri HillWell this was different. Gerri Hill’s latest takes her supernatural series to a whole new level mixing paranormal, 1950’s scifi and a gentle romance which is definitely not the main storyline.

Dana has run home to her parents’ farm in Western Colorado to escape an extremely premature marriage proposal. When everybody feels the earth tremble they assume it’s a small earthquake, and life goes on – except they have no power, the cars wont start and even the batteries are dead.

A military helicopter is sent to investigate and goes off radar, causing the CO in charge to send in a squad of troops, and his General to send in Captain Conaway to investigate. When she meets up with Dana and her lifelong friend Butch, she quickly enlists their help, and their horses, to aid her in her mission.

So Gerri Hill sets the scene for the most ‘out there’ of her spooky paranormal series to date. The humor and the great writing remain the same. The far –fetched storyline and outcome continue in the vein of ‘Keepers of the Cave’ and ‘Weeping Walls’, but takes on a whole new level of scary movie tension.

Gerry Hill biogThe characters in this are well done. Danna, Butch and the Captain are complex and interesting, and the addition of their elderly neighbour Jean to the posse adds a lovely twist. There is a large supporting cast, all drawn with Ms Hill’s sharp observation of human nature and behaviour, however brief their appearance. There is also the most intelligent and loyal dog – definitely the hero of the whole show.

My only criticism is aimed at the classification – this book does not belong in the romance category. Yes there is a slow burn attraction and gentle romance, but it is decidedly the sub plot. The characters involved are too busy with the paranormal to have a romance. I think the classification is misleading and will upset Gerri Hill’s romance fans, who will be disappointed, and misses the chance to get to the lesbian paranormal/horror fans. Difficult within the confines of Amazons system, but true never the less.

If you like scifi/paranormal with a side order of a sweet romance and like needing the lights on when you read.. this is definitely the book for you. I enjoyed it, and will definitely read the implied sequel.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (July 26, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01J8VEQH4
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State of Grace – Sandra Moran

State of Grace - Sandra MoranBooks can affect us in a deeply personal way. One can read a romance and be entertained while another sees heartache. A sex scene can be erotic or romantic, extreme or acceptable, all depending on the mood and viewpoint of the reader. This book affected me deeply, partly I suspect, because of the circumstances of the posthumous publication, but more because of who I am and how my personality reacts to the events that unfold.

I found State of Grace a challenging read. I guess I knew that whatever Sandra wrote could take us in any direction, she was never going to have been a formulaic writer, or one constrained by a genre. This novel proves quite how wide her imagination ranged.

It is an intense read; moving, dramatic, a psychological thriller worthy of King. We laughed at Sandra’s DPAB PDA’s. I’m not laughing now. Full of nostalgia, dripping with suspense, you literally don’t know until the last page which way this story will end.

Sandra Moran biogLike the subject matter, the writing style is also completely different to her previous novels. Less polished, more real, perhaps, with a raw edge. One could assume that was because it was her first book, written years before “Letters Never Sent”, but knowing she had edited it before her untimely passing, and wanted it to be published how she had originally written it, we know this was the voice she wanted us to hear. I think she wanted it to sound young, almost immature, because that is the voice of the protagonist.

It is hard to talk about this story without giving any spoilers, suffice it to say book shows how good a writer Sandra Moran was, and how amazing her oeuvre would have become. The detailed and concentrated exploration of a young woman’s mind reveals both the penetration of an imaginative intellect and the skill of an exemplary writer, pulling us in and keeping us pinned to the page as the story unfolds

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 18, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01I8S39GM
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