All posts by VL

Calendar Girl – Georgia Beers

Calendar Girl – Georgia BeersAddison Fairchild has spent her whole life trying to impress her powerful mother, creator of the extremely successful Fairchild empire. Now her mother has announced her retirement Addison has given up all semblance of a real life and is working herself into the ground to show she deserves to step into the top job. When her health collapses under the strain Addison is forced to accept an assistant, but determined to use her in the most basic ways, collecting her dry cleaning and picking up her groceries.

Katie Cooper accepts a part-time second job at Fairchild Enterprises because, quite frankly,  her family need the money. Her father’s dementia is deteriorating and they need full time care, but the bills are mounting along with her mother’s worries. Having given up her business degree to move home and help her mum, Katie will put up with almost anything to hold on to the well paid PA job, however difficult her new boss is to work for.

This is a classic office “ice queen” romance and an excellent example of opposites attract. The main characters are likeable and well developed, Katie’s backstory is particularly poignant and Beers explores the impact of dementia on a family with subtle but keen observation. Addison’s relationship with her Mother and sibling rivalry are the building blocks of her character and her intensity has made her blinkered to the fact they are, first and foremost, a family that love and care about her. And thus the stage is set for Katie to find room for her own life while also helping her family and Addison to find that her family desperately want her to have a life.

Both families are important to the story and again reinforce the “opposites” theme, the Fairchild’s as high powered business people who can barely meet once a month at a restaurant for dinner and whose absentee father never appears; the Coopers, warm, domestic, welcoming and close-knit where caring for each other comes first. I also really liked our main characters BFFs and there is definitely room for a follow up to allow Sophie and Samantha’s stories to develop.

Georgia Beers writes some damn fine romances, we all know where this is going and how it will end, but there as some fun moments along the way. The cast are loveable and the main characters have genuine journeys they need to take. I thoroughly enjoyed it, excellent ‘happy place’ reading.



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: BSB (November 13, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07JHG5YY3
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Black Ridge Falls – Jody Klaire

Black Ridge Falls – Jody KlaireWhen ex-con and person of interest, Aeron Lorelei, goes on vacation with Commander Renee Black all they want is peace and quiet in the Colorado mountains. But peace and quiet aren’t exactly what follow Aeron and Renee around, and they, along with the rest of the SIG special ops team, soon find themselves fighting for their lives as old enemies come back for revenge and old friends step in to help them.

The three key members of SIG, Aeron, Renee and Frei, are masters of their crafts, physically tough, elite members of the special services, and, in their own individual ways, super agents as well. Aeron is the empath and healer, but also, unbeknownst to her, the physical rock whose stubborn determination means she never quits when her friends need her. Commander Renee Black is the crème de la crème of specialist soldiers, with more decorations than room on her uniform she is the Bond style super-agent. General Ursula Frei is the head of SIG, the is the toughest, meanest and strongest of them all, leading by example with her hyper-intelligence and superhero physical skills.

But underneath their amazing abilities these women are the best of friends with a deep and genuine love for each other. They are very real human beings who have insecurities and fears, worry about their capabilities and want to be the best they can, each for very different reasons. And supporting them are a brilliant array of friends and family, real and incorporeal, who we have come to know as well as the core trio over the series of heavyweight action adventures.

Book 6 of the Above and Beyond series follows on shortly from “Noble Heart”. This is very much a serialised story, and while each book is a complete story arc in itself, the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. In this episode we learn a whole lot more about Frei’s emotional depths, about Renee’s family background, the truth about the death of her father and brother, and watch with amused affection Aeron’s bumbling realisation of her feelings.

Which is an odd way to describe an action-packed storyline which makes Bond, Mission impossible and Tomb Raider added together look tame. While the story starts with a gentle reunion it is soon ramped up to a multi-scene encounter with the baddies, SIG under attack on several fronts while the Frei and Lorelei families employ their varied skills to support our heroes. The core of the action boils down to a vicious running battle across Renee’s infamous Black Mountain with multiple nail-biting moments and a breathless final escape.

And in the end the cliffhanger from hell, taking us right back to the opening of the series in “The Empath”… and quite frankly ready to wring the author’s neck if book 7, the last in the series,  doesn’t come out fairly soon.

It’s a huge series, epic isn’t big enough. It’s a love story, it’s a deeply engaging tale of three powerful women fighting against cruel and inhumane criminals, it’s a masterful ensemble piece where we have grown to know a huge cast of players, and it is a breath-taking action adventure that will have your mind reeling as it races around the various settings and the diverse groups interact.

There isn’t praise high enough for a series that absorbs the brain and imagination on so many levels. Its breath-taking, enthralling, engaging, well written and simply stunning. If you love good stories, strong women, fast-paced action, deep characters, wide casts and a book you can’t put down you really need to read this 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: 310 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (October 25, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07JRBTVVL
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Love All – Rachel Spangler

Love All – Rachel SpanglerAs one of the senior tennis players on the women’s tennis tour, former star Jay Pierce has lived through the ups and downs of life on the court, as well as surviving vicious personal slander and the worst of the paparazzi. Making a final comeback with her signature sarcastic wit and humour, she battles her demons and keeps her self shut-down in self-defence.

At the opposite end of the spectrum up and coming Destiny Larson breaks into the senior tour at 17, expecting to be a star and finding the competition much tougher in the bigger pond. Supporting her in every way is tennis mom Sadie Larsen, a woman who chose to be a single mother from the start, rejected settling for anything, and who will fight like a Grizzly for her daughter.

When Destiny’s coach throws them together to help both their tennis and their finances, sparks fly on and off the court between all three women; the bitter older player, the precocious and sometimes bratty teenager and the Mom trying to keep the peace, bring up a well-rounded human under the pressures of the tour and the woman who has never allowed herself to have a life.

This is Rachel Spangler’s best book yet. She continues to grow as a writer, to refine her craft, deepen her emotional pull and combine wit, humour, pathos and tension into a wonderful story about the growth of three women all wrapped into Spangler’s well-researched sports settings.

Jay is damaged goods but so easy to love as a character, she simply resonates as a deeply traumatised and hurt woman. Her tennis, her personal life, her mental health and her professional standing have never recovered from a spiteful incident that rocked the tennis world and essentially destroyed her career along with her self-belief. She fights on a daily basis to maintain some level of decorum in the face of unending attacks from the press and the drain that has on her emotionally and physically.

Destiny is a teenager thrust into the big stage; hating the limelight, impacted by the pressure, her game falters. A typical teen she must learn to play the ‘professional’ game, make nice in the post-match interviews, smile for the cameras, and realise that sponsorship and her professional standing depends on more than just her ability on court. She must also learn that a spiteful comment can have severe consequences and that, as a grown up, she must take responsibility for her childish actions.

Sadie is the rock, the mum we wish we had, but also an adorable woman inside and out. She is the foundation upon which her daughter’s life, character and career is built; she becomes the strength that supports their doubles partnership. But she must learn to let Destiny become a woman and, after 17 years of putting her daughter first, that she has a right to her own life, a life that includes standing up for, and with, the woman she loves.

The tension in this story is palpable. On the court, back stage, in private – between each of these women locked into a triangle of mutual need, want and pressure. To call a sports-based romance a page-turner might seem extreme, but the emotional anxiety makes it very hard to put this book down. Spangler has created a wonderful trio of characters, ably supported by a few key secondaries who also have lessons to learn, and she literally pulls you into their world. It is so real you feel like you are eavesdropping on the tour, not reading fiction. And the crescendo is nerve-wracking; having become so emotionally invested in the characters, the cliffhanger of who will hold up, who will do the right thing, who will step up… breath taking.

It is wonderful to see a romance writer hone her craft, work to grow and improve, and follow along on the coat-tails. This story showcases Spangler’s ability to develop the emotional intelligence of her characters, tackle multiple complex women and their individual needs, and merge the whole into a spell-binding story of personal achievement and growth. I literally couldn’t put it down.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (October 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H8NQ427
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

In the Vanishers’ Palace – Aliette de Bodard

In the Vanishers’ Palace - Aliette de BodardYên, scholar and healer’s daughter, feels worthless and unworthy, knowing her place in the village is tenuous and her value low. When her mother summons the magic of the dragon to save the village leaders daughter from a fatal virus, Yen is not surprised when the all powerful village elders sacrifice her to the dragon.

But rather than being torn apart Yênfinds herself in the Vanisher’s Palace, servant to the dragon Vu Côn and teacher to her teenage children. As the attraction grows between Yên

and Vu Côn both must learn some hard lessons; Yên that she is worthy, Vu Côn that her power dos not make her right.

This is, undoubtedly, an unusual take on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Set in post-apocalyptic Vietnam and infused with Viet language and customs, we are transported to a version of the world where a cruel and heartless race of aliens, the Vanishers, have come, abused, tested and broken the world, leaving behind them fantasy palaces and mutating gene viruses. They have also left behind magic, the magic of words, a little of which remains with the healers and the one remaining dragon, Vu Côn.

Aliette de Bodard’s writing is exquisite, lyrical, flowing, pure poetry in prose form. The descriptions, both physical and emotional, leave you with vivid mental images; from the village with its poverty and minimalist survival to the Escher like Palace with its magic powers and fantasy proportions, and the horror of the Plague Grove, you cannot read this and be untouched.

Ethics and integrity play a fundamental role in the telling of the tale, from the abuse of power to the nature of real power, the treatment of a subservient race to the place of servants and the role of masters. And, unlike in the original fairy-tale, the consequence of abduction and virtual slavery is questioned and challenged. Even the happy ever after we would expect remains a completely unknown quantity until the very end, because in this cruel world what could possibly be a happy ever after.

This isn’t the easiest read, at times it is a steep learning curve to catch the sense of the complex worldbuilding and customs. It challenges the reader to learn, adapt and follow, while also giving an intricate and very adult take on the morals of a world torn apart and the people scraping by to survive.

It’s not something I would normally pick up, but I am glad I have read it and been introduced to this amazing author and her wonderful prose.



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: 145 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: JABberwocky (October 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H43M4KT
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Resilience – Fletcher DeLancey

Resilience – Fletcher DeLanceyFollowing on immediately from “Outcaste” Rahel Sayana achieves her dream as she joins a Protectorate warship and becomes the first Alsean in space. She has a lot to live up to; the code of a warrior, the shame of her mistakes, the trust of those who forgave her, and the reputation of Alsea all rest on her shoulders.

As Captain Serrado leads her crew on their first tour with Sayana aboard they must all adjust to having an empath among them. The crew think she’s spying, she thinks she is failing, and Serrado must find a balance in using both her physical and emotional abilities. When the Phoenix is threatened by an unknown lifeform the whole crew must pull together as a team, and Sayana becomes the key to their survival.

Sometimes it’s hard to write reviews about long series because I run out of superlatives. Fletcher DeLancey’s Alseaseries is simply one of the best sci-fi series I have read, and continues to amuse, delight and fascinate as it has developed. The writing flows, the descriptions are creative and emotive, the characters have become friends we can’t wait to catch up with and the whole is a wonderful combination of exquisite world building, social observation and action adventure.

Resilience follows on from the previous 6, equally as strong, maintaining the standard, and yet taking us into a new experience as we travel on the Phoenix with her crew. The primary characters continue to develop while we meet new ones who become part of the core of these tales, because while they are action adventures they are also about the psychological behaviours and social interactions of the players in each adventure.

It would stand alone, but why deny yourself the pleasure of the whole… start with “The Caphenon” and enjoy the amazing world and wonderful characters Fletcher DeLancey has created. I have every intention of rereading the set on a regular basis.



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: 399 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Heartsome (October 31, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07JMWR96F
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Isle of Broken Years – Jane Fletcher

Isle of Broken Years – Jane FletcherCatalina de Valasco, daughter of a powerful Spanish Count, is on her way to the America’s to marry a man she has never met; just part of the life of a seventeenth century noblewoman. Life changes dramatically when the ship she is on gets taken by pirates, and she is suddenly at the mercy of a bunch of cutthroat men who haven’t seen a woman in months.

In an effort to protect her the Captain puts her ashore with the cabin boy and a couple of sailors more interested in each other than her, while they wait for the ransom to be paid by her husband to be. Unfortunately for the Captain and his crew the island they found was in what we now call the Bermuda Triangle and here the real adventure begins.

This is an unusual story which definitely falls into 2 sections, the adventure at sea and the mystery on the island. The first is a more typical build up and sets the scene for both the role and actions of several characters in the later part of the story. The island takes us to a setting that is sci-fi/fantasy in nature but feels almost paranormal with the ongoing influence of the ancients shaping the lives of the islanders. Add in ongoing action adventure, murder mystery and romance and you begin to see why it’s hard to describe.

The group trapped on the island form an interesting mix, and their backgrounds and personalities form the core of a well-drawn ensemble piece. Each takes a role and plays a part, from stoic hero to warrior philosopher, lover to murderer. The characters are lightly drawn but stay in the mind as we root for them to succeed in their quest. The romance is definitely a secondary plotline, it adds an empathy to the main character but takes a back seat to Catalina’s ‘coming out’ as a scholar and adventurer. Her journey from reserved, stuck-up and self-important Condesa to Greek translating computer expert is well done.

An interesting story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Curious mix, intriguing concept, it captured my interest and kept me hooked. The descriptions are vivid and the island literally came to life in the in the imagination. Love it or hate it you can’t help but want to know what happens 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: 301 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (October 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H9DZ4XL
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Gnarled Hollow – Charlotte Greene

Gnarled Hollow – Charlotte GreeneRecently laid off from her tenure track as an English Professor, Emily Murry can’t turn down the chance to study the journals of one of her favourite authors. Joined by another early 20thcentury literature specialist and historians of art, architecture and landscape, Emily and the team have the summer to work out the secrets of Gnarled Hollow on behalf of the new owner.

What they soon discover is a house full of mystery, cruelty and pain; unhappy childhoods, miserable lives, tortured artists and nasty secrets. The author Emily so loved, somehow a lost voice from a famous social set, turns out to be somebody completely unexpected, and the story of her life, and that of her siblings, tests the specialists employed to investigate in ways they could never have imagined.

Hands up I am not a horror reader, or film watcher, I don’t do ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but this had me hooked from the start.

Emily is a wholly sympathetic character who engages the reader from the opening scenes. Her need for the work, along with her desire to study the author, puts her in a position of vulnerability from the beginning. When Gnarled Hollow starts playing its tricks it is impossible not to get swept up in the fear of the situation, but also the drive to find out why the house is as it is.

The other main characters are well drawn, each playing a role, each reacting differently to the unfolding situation, giving us an interesting psychological study of how people react to the paranormal. The gentle romance between Emily and June is both a subplot and adds a strand of the angst, but definitely doesn’t define the book; this is a paranormal mystery/horror first, a historical whodunnit second and only then a romance.

The language and descriptions are excellent, it is easy to visualise the house, grounds and specific rooms; the creepy bathroom, the 1920’s pool house, the claustrophobic steam room and the attic prison. Greene has done an outstanding job of weaving in all sorts of layers; mysterious patterns in the gardens, missing rooms, odd disappearances, blandly boring journals, unknown artwork, and each mystery is eventually revealed as part of the horrific whole.

Combined with intensely emotional descriptions of the fear the characters experience as they are targeted by the tortured spirit and this book is genuinely a page turner… not only could I not sleep after reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. And the resolution, the tying up of ends and completion of the story arc is excellent, a very satisfying read.

I’m not converted, but I thoroughly enjoyed pushing my ghostly boundaries;  highly recommended and perfect for Halloween.



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: 314 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H7XHMPL
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Cypher – Barbra Winkes

Cypher – Barbra WinkesSet some unknown time in the future a city state has become a virtual dictatorship due to the power wielded by the head of the IdA, a murky quasi police force that has the power to take away your identity if you cross it.

51308 was convinced to give up her baby and become a cypher as a temporary solution. But 8 years later and she is no closer to escaping the drudgery of her black and white life or the virtual slavery of her job. When she is accused of stealing an IdA officer takes her into custody, and suddenly everything is about to change, ut whether for the better or worse depends wholly on the humanity of the IdA Inspector.

This is a cleverly worked and interesting tale. The concept of a socialist style ‘jobs for all’ where those who cant support themselves for various reasons are given a basic place to live, bai food and a menial job is not unusual, but here the powers of the IdA have allowed that to be twisted. Anyone who crosses the head of the IdA can be put into the cypher program, with no hope of getting back out, and their identity sold on after 3 years.

Enter inspector Katlena Cervantes, a rising star who has played the game I order to position herself as the next Chief. Underneath the ambition there is a heart, and a desire to improve the system, clean out the corruption and end the excesses of the Cypher system. Her attraction for 51308 leads her to unusual steps, and from there a whole world of deception is uncovered.

The plot is complex and skilfully worked. The characters are well drawn with depth and complexity, and the overall concept of power gone bad is ingeniously twisted. 51308 and Katlena are sympathetic and likeable characters, both have made mistakes and both have flaws, but both are essentially good people doing the best they can. The twists and turns do take some keeping up with and the level of suspense is high, it’s a long time until we really know who is really on the side of good and evil as every player seems to have multiple agendas which only resolve at the end.

Personally I did struggle a little with the start of the 51308 and Katlena’s relationship. There was no buildup, they went from arrest to hug to relationship faster than you can order a U-Haul and I found it a little hard to swallow, but the rest of the storyline was excellent. Unusual, intriguing and an interesting read.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Independent (October 2, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07HDCH1WZ
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

 

Shadowboxer – Jessica L Webb

Shadowboxer - Jessica L WebbGrowing up with an alcoholic mother and fending for herself on the tough streets of Halifax led Jordan McAddie into boxing. After a short career she retrains as a social worker to help kids on the streets and uses her winnings to buy and run a boxing club. When the tension at the club starts to rise and a protest group begins to target her kids, Jordan knows she needs to step up to protect them. At the same time her first and only real love reappears, throwing Jordan into an emotional tailspin just when she needs to focus.

This is an excellent tension filled suspense novel with a strong romantic thread that adds to the overall sense of anticipation.  The combination of the kids unease, the emotional withdrawal of one of Jordan’s key team and the building expectation of some violent act, mixed in with a classic “will they-wont they rekindle their old love” romance gives this a wonderful atmosphere and is excellently written and paced.

The characters are sympathetically drawn, down to earth and solid. The inter-relationships between both the gang of street kids and the kids and the support workers is extremely well done and shows a real attention to how teens and young adults want the love and support of grown-ups but fight against needing it. The dialogue is spot on as they fluctuate between angry teens, overly mature young adults and needy children.

Jessica L Webb shows an excellent eye for observation and her descriptions add to the emotions of the book; the interactions, the behaviours and the setting all playing a part in an extremely well-drawn backdrop for the action and suspense of the parallel plots.

This was my first book from this author and I instantly went back to her earlier works, which I am currently devouring. Really absorbing page-turners… what a great talent. Highly recommended, and I love the jacket.



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: 245 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GGTSTYN
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

In Fashion – Jody Klaire

In Fashion – Jody KlaireCross Trinny and Susannah with Mary Portas and you have the concept of “In Fashion”. Super model and super bitch Darcy McGregor is the TV makeover queen with a complicated past. When her daughter and producer decide to shake her up by picking a gorgeous lesbian security guard for her next patient, everybody but Darcy can see she has met her match. Down to earth Kate dislikes fashion, thinks Darcy is shallow and is uninterested in becoming the latest victim of her attention.

This is a very comical romp with some serious messages. It’s laugh out loud funny, with wonderful characters, amusing dialogue and a literal clash of wills that challenges both women’s assumptions. Underneath the fun we find a sensitive handling of mental disability, a fight against bullying and watch how the media and social media can destroy a person’s life.

Th characters make the book, genuine and very real, warts and all. Darcy’s a woman locked in her own heard headed self-loathing, but a wonderful mother with a brilliant relationship with her typically teenage daughter. Kate’s a totally adorable soul who doesn’t realise how amazing she is. The family and friends form a great ensemble piece, but it will be Mickey, Kate’s wonderful brother, who will steal your heart.

Well written, genuinely witty, empathetic and full of clever human observation this is an excellent read, I literally couldn’t put it down



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (October 3, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07HGFCKDW
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.