All posts by VL

Rainey with a Chance of Hale – RE Bradshaw

Rainey with a Chance of Hale – RE BradshawWhen her former FBI partner calls Rainey Bell gets pulled into another old case, one where she made a promise she has failed to keep. She told a distraught mother she would find her missing daughter, a promise she should never have made and a pledge that has played on her mind ever since. When Rainey is asked to talk to the man she thinks knows the answer she puts her FBI/BAU hat on once again to solve a ‘cold case’ from her past.

The Rainey Bell series is one of the best out there, constantly new, fresh and imaginative, with shocking tales of human depravity set against the ongoing cuteness of Rainey and Katie’s growing family. After stopping her young daughter becoming a soccer thug Rainey goes to Butner Federal Correctional Complex with Danny to talk to a deranged inbred suspected serial killer, and Rainey knows which is harder – controlling her precocious 5 year old.

RE Bradshaw bioConsistently well written RE Bradshaw’s books are always extremely well edited and produced, perfect examples of how good independent publishing can be when done properly. The stories are engrossing, drawing the reader into Rainey and Katies’ lives, and the twisted and brutal minds of the killers the BAU deal with. Like many avid fans this one got consumed in one sitting. RE Bradshaw pulls you right in and shuts the door behind you.

While each book is very much part of the series they all stand alone, and this is certainly readable without the back history of the other books, but why would you deprive yourself of the pleasure? Unfailingly good stories, wonderful strong women, top notch crime thrillers and a backdrop of a charming ongoing romance. Simply the best in class.



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: 201 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: R.E. Bradshaw Books (July 10, 2017)
  • ASIN: B073VXL8FH
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An Outsider Inside – RJ Samuel

An Outsider Inside - RJ SamuelR J Samuel’s latest novel “An Outsider Inside” is a polychromatic phantasmagoria – a constantly moving kaleidoscope of colour and character in which very few of the myriad players stand still long enough to be observed.

The overarching themes of identity, love, trust and belonging weave together as we move backwards and forwards between the life of an Indian couple coming to terms with their arranged marriage in small-town Ireland and the current incarnation of the various players with whom their lives have become intertwined. Overlaid on all of that is the complex undertone of prejudice… patriarchal, racial, homophobic, biphobic; external and obvious or internalised and just as damaging.

R J Samuel is an excellent storyteller and accomplished writer who somehow manages to lead the reader from A to B with side tours to P, X and J, while simultaneously challenging us to reconsider our own prejudices. This isn’t a difficult read in the sense of being unpleasant in any way, but the very complexity of the characters’ lives, combined with issues such as domestic abuse, arranged marriage, gender identity and mental health, make it a challenging read in that it challenges us to reconsider our own prejudice.

Like all really good literature this book will make you think. It will entertain, inform and enlighten the majority of us who have never experienced the life of a foreigner with a different skin colour in an extremely white and parochial community, or the concept of total sacrifice for the family, and while many of us have suffered homophobia, few have grown up in a society where the whole culture believes it is an abomination. The personal choices facing many of these characters will strike a chord; we are drawn in, caught up and immersed in their lives, and can’t help but want to save them, sort them out, and see them live the “happy ever after” they deserve.

RJ Samuel BiogEach of R J’s books shows her development as a master craftswoman. The prose is delightful, the characters complex, the plot twisted into knots and the settings are beautifully described. Add onto all that a deep and meaningful observation of humanity and a clever portrayal of the impact of multiple prejudices and our very personal reactions to them and you have an excellent and thought provoking novel.

This is one book I will find the time to reread, it will take at least 2 visits to really see the subtle interplay of personalities and fully appreciate the complex personal journeys that RJ has woven into this colourful tale.



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: 348 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Amazon  (July 5, 2017)
  • ASIN: B07379TC9V
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Goldenrod – Ann McMan

Goldenrod - Ann McManBook 3 in the Jericho series takes us back to the small Virginia town and the lives of Maddie and Syd. Henry’s father is back, meaning Henry is now only a sleepover visitor, despite having his own cow at the farm. Roma Jean is growing up, Michael’s taken up Soul Food, David has political ambitions and Celine is embarrassed to have a boyfriend.

At the same time as all the usual suspects are entertaining us with their shenanigans, the darker undertones of child abuse and homophobia become more blatant. While the historical impact of being gay in small town America has been present in the first two novels, in Goldenrod it becomes real in the here and now; from a young woman’s fear of coming out to the Mayor’s active hate campaign. For the first time in the series we have real and persistent anguish and the emotional pain adds a stark relief to the normal witty repartee.

In Jericho and Aftermath the angst was light, the “will she, wont she” of new love, the realisation of lost years, a parent’s well-intentioned but hurtful deceit, and the heartache of foster child leaving the fold. Minor characters suffer with current loss and depression, but our main cast of friends are only lightly brushed with present traumas. In Goldenrod we meet Dorothy for the first time, a bright, intelligent and loving girl who is terrified of her father and his wrath. From the opening words of the prologue the scene is set for a sub-plot that ends in a dramatic cliff-hanger.. that happily for lovers of Ann McMan (Famous Author) guarantees another book in the series.

Ann McManDon’t be put off by the mention of angst. If what you loved was the light-hearted banter, the witty dialogue, the literary and erudite play on words, they are all still there in spades. But the emotion has deepened, the fear is very real, and nobody who reads this will be untouched by Dorothy or be able to completely supress the desire to do her father some serious damage.

I don’t know whether this was planned from the start of the series or reflects either a change in the authors writing or the current political climate, but it reminds me of the change in Armistead Maupin’s classic series from light-hearted gay life in the rainbow city in the mid 70’s to the trauma of the AIDs epidemic. Whatever the cause, planned or not, the development is welcome. While the light-hearted and adorable wit of the first two novels was exceptional, a third in the same tone might have been stretch.

McMan’s writing is glorious, her wit and intellect as sharp as ever, her pin-point descriptions are those of a keen observer of the absurdity of human behaviour. If you haven’t read Jericho and Aftermath recently then do so to get back into the dynamic of the family and remember the idiosyncrasies of the wider cast. Then enjoy Goldenrod in all its glory.. and wait with bated breath for the next instalment in the 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: 350 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 4, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06VXRTXGM
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Aftermath – Ann McMan

Aftermath – Ann McManFollowing on from Jericho we catch up with Syd, Maddie, their foster son, Henry, along with all the friends and family in the small town we have come to love. When a devastating storm whips through the county it leaves a trail of destruction wider than a Camaro. In the aftermath the community needs to pull together, but some take longer to come to terms with their losses than others, and some need more help. In typical southern style the community comes together to make the most of whatever life throws at them.

This isn’t a melodramatic and fast placed plot. It’s a continuation of the daily lives of the people we came to love in the first novel. Syd, Maddie and Henry develop into a family, Maddie’s mom, Celine, takes a more prominent, and frequently hysterical role, David and Michael are further developed and Roma Jean continues her adorable path towards adulthood along with a charming new character called Charlie.

The wit and humour continue, with several laugh out loud moments and a classic portrayal of southern manners in the face of extreme provocation. Who would have expected southern belles to resort to a food fight? At the same time there are real emotions, hurts and fears underlying the polite façade, none more poignant than being gay in the small town South.

Ann McManOnce again the writing is excellent, the wit razor sharp and the observation of human behaviour is right on point. Break with tradition and start reading this from the cover in, even if it’s an e-copy. McMan’s cast descriptions and play on words will amuse and entertain from the start.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Aftermath”, it’s like coming back to a favourite movie or sitcom and finding out what happened a year after the main story, where the romance has gone, how everyone is doing, and what happen next. It’s a small local situation drama, where the characters take centre stage, and life moves along at its own pace, just like life does.



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.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: BINK (November 15, 2012)
  • ASIN: B00A8NGKIK
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Jericho – Ann McMan

Jericho – Ann McManBack in 2011 a new author appeared on the scene with a novel called Jericho. It tells the tale of a straight woman, Syd, running away from her failed marriage to lick her wounds in the small town of Jericho. On her way into town she gets a flat and is saved by the town Doctor, Maddie, a single out lesbian – but our unsuspecting straight girl doesn’t realise that.. in fact doesn’t find out for quite a long time.

While setting up a new library and living in the flat above, Syd begins to form a strong friendship with Maddie, gets involved with the quirky local families and inadvertently begins to put down roots in the community. As their friendship develops Maddie is faced with the perennial question of how and when to tell her new friend, while Syd casually flirts and innocently captures Maddie’s heart. But Maddie has commitment issues of her own, and we all know what they say about falling for straight girls…

Jericho was and is an admirable first novel. It’s not perfect, although it’s main characters sometimes appear so. But it is full of superb observation of human character and behaviour. It is infused with love and humour, drawing out and catching the idiosyncrasies of a wide cast of locals that we can all recognise and largely empathise with.

Ann McManThe writing style is excellent, clearly showing the author’s literary potential, the wit is a precursor of even more humorous offerings such as the Diz and Clarissa stories. The slow burn is a wonderful alternative to so many flash in the pan romances where we get fed love at first sight and the angst of working out how. Here we essentially spend most of the well filled 416 pages, from the first meeting to the eventual resolution, watching not only Syd and Maddie come together, but a family develop and a community grow.

I loved this on first, second and third reading,  as the series has progressed it has grown more and more dear.  With a new offering on the table I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning of the Jericho story.



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.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • First published 2011
  • Publisher: BINK (September 19, 2011)
  • ASIN: B005ODHLDW
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Running From Love – Jen Silver

Running From Love – Jen SilverBeth and Sam have been together 14 years, married two, and as far as Sam is aware everything is settled and solid. She comes home from a business trip to find her wife gone, her cat in kennels and her life in tatters. Pulling herself through the dark times and never quite accepting Beth has gone for good, she takes on a research project which should help her get away from it all.

Temperley Cliffs Golf Resort is the brain child of Lady Freya Temperley. Set up as a luxury hotel and teaching course Freya also hopes it will become a mainstay of the Women’s European Tour, and her ‘friend’, Golf Pro Andi, has designed the course to Open standards. They are about to run their first teaching course for women beginners and while Freya may have planned to the last degree, she hasn’t counted on the emotional interaction of 20 women in a resort for a fortnight.

Jen Silver writes great realistic and empathetic characters we can all recognise and understand. Here she has brought together a wide range of women, from the loud and obnoxious to she shy and retiring, with some seeking love, some surviving heartache and others trying to find a way to say just how they feel. Full of keen observation of human interaction, like “Christmas at Winterbourne”, “Running From Love” is another great character driven drama.

Jen Silver BioThe settings always play an important role In Jen Silver’s books and the north coast of Cornwall provides a stunning backdrop to the golfing and romance. Drawn with loving humour the golf itself is a constant thread, but doesn’t overwhelm or baffle a non-golfer, in fact the women at the resort are just as bemused, and through them we learn at least some of the basics.

Well written and well plotted, Jen Silver has given us another solid exploration of relationships new and old, examining how women interact and behave in a variety of situations. I would have liked to see more exploration and discussion of why Beth left, but that is just me wanting to explore the deeper psyche of these characters.

Another enjoyable read, entertaining and amusing at times while dealing with very real emotions of heartache, loneliness and fear of commitment, in a world where far too many women still have to worry about what society will think of them.



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: 301 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071ZRGRLR
Amazon.com
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Best Maid Plans – Jody Klaire

Best Maid Plans - Jody KlaireFollowing directly on from her enchanting romcom La Vie en Bleu Jody Klaire delivers another light and breezy romance full of sexy French women and English humour.

Pippa and Rebecca have moved to France, one rekindling the love of her life, the other finding it. But of course, nothing is quite that simple. One must charm the super-rich super-protective parents of the woman she loves, the other must convince her lover that she isn’t running back to her ex fiancé just because she is returning to England to help him renovate a mansion and plan his wedding. Add in the politicking, shenanigans and jealousy of ex-girlfriends, unrequited lovers and a village full of unemployed tradesmen and the scene is set for another fast-moving comedy romance.

Pippa and Rebecca, Berne and Babs, along with family and friends, provide a full cast of delightful real-life figures we can relate to and empathise with, while envying their privileged lifestyles and enjoying the banter between them. The baddies are cyphers to move the plot along and the angst is non-existent. We never really doubt that love will prevail, golf matches will be won, parents will fall into line and projects, business’s and lifestyles will effortlessly materialise for all concerned.

Jody KlaireThe plot rolls along at pace, mansions repaired, houses renovated, wedding panned, while the players criss-cross the channel and pop down to Monaco for a visit. Hairdressers and stylists materialise along with lesbian decorators, classic cars and chocolate wedding cakes. All put together with a wonderful sense of style and corresponding elegant prose by a one of my favourite storytellers.

I said La Vie en Bleu would be a wonderful movie and “Best Maid Plans” would be an equally amusing sequel, think lesbian Bridget Jones; a Renee Zellweger type klutzy Pippa, and Hugh Jones as the clueless Doug, with a backing cast of gorgeous French women.  Charming, easy to read and highly entertaining.


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: 348 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: J K Publishing (June 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072KP4NQH
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
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Lammy Finalists 2017

29TH ANNUAL LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALISTS

Jacqueline Woodson and Jeanette Winterson were also honored for their lifetime achievements.

Lesbian sections – winners in bold

Lesbian Fiction

Lesbian Poetry (tie)

Lesbian Mystery

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Lesbian Romance

LGBTQ Drama

LGBTQ Erotica

LGBTQ Anthology

LGBTQ Children‘s/Young Adult

LGBTQ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ SF/F/Horror

LGBTQ Studies

LGBTQ Nonfiction

Love in the Stacks – Cara Malone

Love in the Stacks - Cara MaloneThis is a fast-paced emotional rollercoaster with some serious erotica. The story starts off with the rather unlikely premise of somebody being given a job despite completely inappropriate behaviour at their interview, but develops into a decent plot with enough twists and turns to keep the attention. The work place intrigue might be obvious to the reader, but it adds a good sup-plot to the story and saves it from being simply an erotic romance.

The main characters are well done, both flawed, both need to grow and the author has done a good job of maturing them throughout the romance as one takes more responsibility and the other learns what is really important to her.

The scenes are well drawn, descriptions well done, the library has real character and is a pleasing background to the plot.  The sex scenes are hot, explicit and with enough variety to make them fresh, definitely no fade to black here. There were grammar and editing issues which was a shame as it did detract from the experience, but not so badly as to make me stop.

I want to say lesbian Mills & Boon but don’t mean it as an insult. It’s a good fast read, enjoyable and definitely erotic. The improbable opening coloured the whole book for me, which is unfortunate as from then on the story settles down into a solid well-conceived plot.



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: 316 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Amazon  (May 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06Y4STR5P
Amazon.com
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