Action/Adventure/Suspense

Captured Soul – Laydin Michaels

Captured Soul - Laydin MichaelsThree women and a gallery show, all connected by complex relationships and the twisted art of a serial killer.

Kadence is recovering from a broken heart and excited about her first exhibition, until she realises the woman who destroyed her relationship is also exhibiting at the gallery. While she knows that Shiva’s bronzes are amazing they are almost too perfect and something about them, along with the disappearance of her ex, leads her to look a little harder.

Mallory runs a high end art gallery but feels under constant pressure to live up to the acclaim of her famous artist mother. She is caught up in a seriously manipulative relationship with the sculptress, who seems determined to play hard to get just to keep her guessing.

Sheva is a gifted sculptress with a twisted mind. For her nothing and nobody can stand in the way of her art.

Laydin Michaels has written a very unusual psycho-thriller. The setting is interesting, just beyond most of our knowledge but recognisable and intriguing as a backdrop. The whodunit is obvious from early on; the thrill comes from discovering the details with the amateur sleuth and not knowing if she will work it out in time to save the next victim. The crimes are bizarre but just believable enough to make this a very good story.

The three main characters are all strong in their own way. Kaydence is complex, damaged by a difficult childhood, she has learned to deal with her own issues. She is somebody we can all empathise with and root for. Mallory is less likeable, but as her character unfolds she becomes more human and less the hard-nosed gallery owner. Her relationship with her mother is clearly a defining force that she needs to resolve in order to break free. Shiva is dark, mad, complicated and ultimately evil. As we move between the three, using interior monologue and third person, Ms Michaels weaves a complex emotional and psychological web.

It’s well written, and with each book Laydin Michaels’ writing matures and her characters and plots deepen. The mystery/thriller story arcs are very well done and make a welcome change, something unusual to get your teeth into. For me the romance started well but became secondary to the thriller and I do think that this is miss-classified as primarily a romance when the psychological thriller is so much stronger.

Really enjoyed this and look forward to whatever twisted evil Ms Michaels comes up with next.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075QWKWSN
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Beauty and the Boss – Ali Vali

Beauty and the Boss – Ali ValiA step away from the outstanding Cain Casey series “Beauty and the Boss” is an intriguing mystery/thriller/romance which pulls you in and holds on tight.

Ellis Renois is a NOLA born and bred fashion designer at the top of her game. She, with support from her exceedingly savvy mother and a host of friends in senior places, has built up a fashion label and empire that employs hundreds and stars on the Paris and NY catwalk while catering to the chain store requirements for well priced copies of her creations.

Ellis has never forgotten where she came from and every year gives an internship to one unknown designer to show them the ropes and set them on their way – frequently with disastrous consequences as Ms Renois finds it hard to resist a beautiful women. This year her attention is caught by the 9 y/o daughter of an applicant, and while Charlotte’s drawings are interesting it is the artistic Sawyer who really catches her attention.

So the stage is set for a traditional romance.. or is it? While we quickly get hints of subterfuge and backstabbing from people Ellis thought were friends and trusted to run her business, the evil intent goes much further than we could realise from the opening chapters, and Ellis soon finds herself fighting for her business and the livelihood of her staff.

Ali Vali BiogI love Ali Vali’s writing and this was no exception. The romance is charming, the combination of attraction and wariness is played just right, the charming Ellis is never quite sure where she stands while Charlotte is fighting the attraction to the woman who seems such a player, and Sawyer plays inadvertent matchmaker by her very presence.

The suspense/intrigue keeps on going, with multiple twists and turns, and the plot sustains our interest. People assume Ellis is less savvy than she is because she doesn’t like the detail of running a business, she is the creative genius, but that doesn’t mean somebody isn’t keeping an eye. As the plot unfolds Ellis finds out who she can trust and who are her real friends – and just how creative she can get when pushed into an ever-shrinking corner.

The characters are great, Ellis the seeming player with hidden depths, Charlotte who is almost too good, and the wonderful Sawyer who will steal your heart just as quickly as she stole Ellis’s. The secondary characters ae well drawn and while there are a lot of people involved and at times it feels almost overwhelming as to who did what and who pushed the buttons, that adds to the intrigue.. who exactly is behind all the misfortune that dogs the House of Renois this season?

As well written and creative as always, the descriptions of NOLA are particularly well done – I really enjoyed this… in fact I’m going to make the time to re-read it ASAP.



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: 268 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 12, 2017)
  • ASIN: B074TWK3VK
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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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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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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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