Action/Adventure/Suspense

Captive – Donna K Ford

Captive – Donna K FordWhen Greyson and Olivia bump into each other in a coffee shop they have no idea they just sealed a joint fate. Greyson, about to hike the Appalachian Trail for two months, has been targeted by a human trafficker to be taken and sold to one of his employers, and the “Recruiter” instantly wants Olivia for his own collection. The two women will soon be literally fighting for their lives to satisfy the pleasure of the men who control them.

This is definitely an unusual romance, another distinctive tale from Donna K Ford. The real story is the trade in women, mostly illegal immigrants and the poor, marginalised girls who won’t be missed. A cross between a suspense/thriller and an action adventure, the romance is important to our main characters and their personal development but secondary to the bigger plot.

Its fast paced and full of action, the story twists and turns as the women try to survive and learn who to trust. The cast is wide ranging from a seemingly innocent caretaker figure to the monsters who use women for their amusement. The captive women form a strong backdrop to the plight of the main characters and it becomes a collective piece, both in our emotional engagement with the imprisoned women and their fight for survival.

The setting is evocative as always with Ms Ford’s writing, the scenery, or in this case the place the women are held, is used as an emotive tool to heighten the intensity of their plight and the feelings of despair. The emotional intensity of the whole piece is high, from the anger and fear of the captives, through the budding romance and the individual relationships between the women.

In a way the whole seems farfetched, but shockingly is not, this happens, and we should all be aware of it. Ms Ford is once again using her writing to highlight the plight of a group without a voice and manages the difficult task of telling a gruelling story with integrity and without lecturing. In all honesty I suspect it is the “happy ever after” ending which is far-fetched for most of these unfortunate victims.

Well written, exciting and absorbing, this captivated my attention and I couldn’t put it down. My only complaint is that it ended to easily, all wrapped up without a problem. I’m hoping for a sequel, to find out what happens next. Did they really catch the Recruiter that easily and who was Lucile?



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: 233 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (August 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FY1RVW2
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Compass Rose – Anna Burke

Compass Rose – Anna BurkeThe first novel by Anna Burke, and what a great start. Set in 2513 this dystopian fantasy, in the lesbian pirate sub-genre, was hard to put down. Imagine a world where the ice has melted, all that’s left are Archipelagos of land, food is scarce, medicines more so, fuel is made from sludge, the seas are polluted and in some places the air is worse.

Introduce the young fleet navigator, Compass Ross, born facing north and always aware of her direction, she has an uncanny, almost psychic ability to tell where she is, predict currents and speed, and has quickly become a most prized tool for the Archipelago’s fleet Admiral. Sent on an undercover mission to work with the renegade pirate Miranda, Compass Rose’s task is to help the pirate Captain find the megalomaniac Ramada, who is determined to take over the Archipelago’s resources for her own gain.

Combine fast-paced action with swashbuckling adventure, a “will they- won’t they” romance, great dystopian world building and a wide-eyed and innocent main character coming to terms with a cut-throat world and Anna Burke has created a real page-turner.

Compass Rose is adorable, naive, trusting and completely unaware of her value. She is used, threatened, supported and occasionally befriended by a wide range of characters which make this a huge ensemble piece. From the wily Admiral and her honest daughter to the bullies, murderers and haters of both the fleet and pirate ships, Compass must learn fast. Add in the seemingly hard-nosed but entrancing Captain Miranda, and the even nastier baddie, Ramada, and we have every shade of character on the spectrum.

I found the writing intriguing, the tone and energy were different to the standard lesfic novel, and I don’t remember reading anything quite like this in the sci-fi fantasy genre; definitely a new voice and a unique style. The world building was excellent with huge attention to detail, the characters are well drawn and varied, the descriptions vivid and colourful and the action was extremely fast-paced and multi-faceted, it felt like reading an action sci-fi movie… and what a wonderful movie it would make.

Can’t wait for the next one from this exciting new author, a sequel would be wonderful, but whatever Ms Burke puts out I will be reading it. Sandra would have been proud to have her name associated with this stimulating new talent.



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: 375 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 10, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FK69944
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Alias – Cari Hunter

Alias – Cari HunterCari Hunter writes exceedingly good books and this is the best yet.

It starts with a literal “bang” when a car goes off the road in the Welsh hills leaving one woman dead and the other severely injured and suffering amnesia. Who she is and why she is there elude her, and us. Working with Detective Bronwen Pryce from the local police the survivor must piece together her life, and then survive the what she finds.

The plot is fast and sometimes furious, but as usual with Ms Hunter’s writing has moments of calm which allow us to catch our breath. The crime is multi-layered, the baddies found in unexpected places, and the allies equally unforeseen.

The scenes shift between metropolitan Manchester and rural Wales providing a distinct and well-drawn background. As always in Cari Hunter’s books the setting provides an important part of the plot. Here she uses the Welsh hills to represent increasing security, despite the crash, against the unexplained malice of the Manchester streets.

Our two main characters are well rounded, interesting and well matched. The romance takes second place to the mystery, and the attraction starts almost imperceptibly, building quietly between two complex women who have bigger issues to deal with. Both soften as the story unfolds, one from the consummate professional who conceals her compassion and the other finding who she really is and learning how to be herself again.

“Alias” is written in the first person, not everybody’s favourite, but this is extremely well done and even for those not keen on the mechanism I would urge you to give it a go. The writing is smooth and flows along, the plot is well constructed, the characters revealed slowly as the mystery unfolds, and being written in the first person adds to the mystery as we, the readers, discover the world along with our crash victim.

I have enjoyed all Cari Hunter’s books from the North Cascades to the English Peaks. This is another step up in her writing and it’s wonderful to watch an author grow into her craft. Her depiction of backdrop, the slow reveal, the handling of complex plot and character, and the always hard to manage first person, makes this an exceedingly good read. Highly recommended.



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: 332 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 12, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D7LDF19
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Outside the Law – Carsen Taite

Outside the Law - Carsen TaiteTanner Cohen and Sydney Braswell had the perfect college romance, future plans and ideal partnership… except that what Sydney had planned wasn’t precisely what Tanner wanted, and while Syd didn’t listen, Tanner didn’t really make her.

Years later they are forced to work together when Syd is assigned to the task force Tanner and her FBI/DEA/USA team-mates have formed to investigate their seemingly dodgy boss and his mob connections. Can Syd and Tanner work together and find a way to be friends, or will they face up to the thread of connection still between them? In the last of the Lone Star Law Romance’s Peyton, Tanner, Bianca, Dale and Syd will finally find the answers to their questions as a line is drawn and the good and bad are finally revealed.

This has been an excellent series of romance/crime thrillers and “Outside the Law” pulls it all together and ties up the loose ends. In each successive book we have had a team member find romance, so it won’t be a shock that this time its Tanner’s turn, and when the love of her life turns up in the opening scene we know where the romance plot is going, however bumpy the road might be getting there.

At the same time the plot thickens as US Attorney Herschel Gellar seems to be getting more and more involved with unpleasant characters and shady deals. The big reveal puts an interesting twist on the whole story, especially one dominated by powerful women.

I’m a series junky as I freely admit and it was great to read the final instalment, revisit the characters we have come to know and love, see the ongoing relationships and friendships take another step, and finally find out just who was behind everything from the murder of Lindsey Ryan onwards. Thoroughly enjoyable reading, only sad the series is over.



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: 233 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (May 15, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07CMCGPFF
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Locket – Gerri Hill

The Locket - Gerri HillDanielle Stevens is Hollywood’s rising star, with a line of blockbusters behind her and her next big role lined up, whether she wants it or not. Set on showing her acting skills as a homicide detective she selects the antsy Detective Harper Jeremiah of Dallas PD to shadow.

Detective Jeremiah is less than impressed to be told she has some actress tailing her, and even when the gorgeous Danielle turns up, to the envy of the male detectives, Harper resists the pull. But Danielle needs her for more than a role model, and when her stalker starts getting serious Harper cannot resist stepping up to protect the woman she has come to like and admire.

Another great Gerri Hill mystery romance. The characters of Danielle and Harper are interesting and complex, their initial interactions, with Harper angry at the assignment and Danielle unsure of how much she can trust the Detective, sets up a level of challenge as they get to know each other. Both have issues that only time and sharing will overcome, which gives the romance an organic development that didn’t feel forced. Both need to make changes in their lives and in each other they find the perfect foil.
The stalker is a nasty piece of work and plays an excellent game of cat and mouse; his actions are utterly unnerving. As he escalates so does the tension and the critical question of who could possibly be quite that sneaky without leaving a trace. Overall the combination of psychological fear, mystery/thriller and slow build romance works really well.

This became a real page-turner as the tension racked up, I couldn’t put it down. Hill has a knack for combining strong characters, vulnerable and complex, with a situation that allows them to grow, while keeping us on our toes as the mystery unfolds. Definitely one of my favourite Gerri Hill thrillers, highly recommended.


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: 252 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (April 20, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07BVY3GX9
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Noble Heart – Jody Klaire

Noble Heart – Jody KlaireBook five of the epic Above and Beyond Series and this is the best yet. It’s sometimes hard to find new things to say about a series, but this one continues to go from strength to strength.

in Noble Heart we find the usual cast led by Aeron Lorelei, Commander Renee Black and General Ursula Frei, along with regulars like Nan and Jessie, on another thrilling adventure.

This plot is extremely fast paced, action packed and takes some keeping up with. As the series progresses it seems to become more complex, which is hard to imagine but nevertheless true. Despite the almost frenetic pace Klaire fits in moments of stillness and quiet personal interactions which ground and solidify the whole, bringing ever more depth and development to what are already extra-ordinarily well-developed characters.

As the story unfolds the three lead women’s rapport continues to strengthen and is infused with more humour and banter as each novel evolves. In this episode we watch as  the relationship between the various “baddies” from earlier books starts to resolve and we learn just how and why Frei grew up a slave with somewhat special privileges and protections.

At the centre of it all Aeron must use her strength, her powers and that hero quality she doesn’t realise she has to change the word around her, bringing out the best in some and highlighting the worst in others, exposing them for the evil they are with nothing more than her very “Noble Heart”.

Action/Thriller/Mystery with supernatural thrown in and the slowest burning romance ever written, these books really are a delightful Pandora’s box of joy. The characters, their interactions, the very writing just oozes love, laughter and affection, and despite bloody special agent combat and child trafficking horrors, they make you smile with the warmth they imbue.

Ignore the genre, these books are just brilliant. If you haven’t read them yet you really are missing a treat.



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)

NOBLE HEART: Above and Beyond #5

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: BINK (December 2, 2017)
  • ASIN: B077WZQ34S
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.
HINDSIGHT: Above and Beyond #4
Hindsight – Jody Klaire
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.
UNTRAINED EYE: Above and Beyond #3
Untrained Eye - Jody Klaire
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.
BLIND TRUST: Above and Beyond #2
Blind Trust
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.
THE EMPATH: Above and Beyond #1
Empath
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

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
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

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
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

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
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

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
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.