Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Calling Home – Jen Silver

Calling Home - Jen SilverSarah Frost manages the Frost Foundation and several writers retreats around England. Her favourite, The Lodge on the Lake, is set on a small island somewhere in the North and managed by her childhood friend Berry. The women share a dark background, escapees from a hippie commune gone wrong, and as always Sarah was the lucky one who avoided the worst excesses to became grand-daughter of the welcoming and wealthy Frosts, while Berry suffered cruelly and escaped into a hard life of survival while making her own way.

Joined on the retreat staff by a burned out vet, Galen, the friends are happy in their quiet and settled lives; Sarah with a new love interest in the local village and Berry with a decided interest in her new colleague. Neither woman could imagine the upset and upheaval about to be created by the arrival of the weeks residents or the uncovering of 3 long-buried bodies in Northumbria.

Jen Silver’s voice is decidedly English, bringing to life the countryside and people of her native North. More than just the setting and character though there is something delightfully colloquial and decidedly British about her tales, echoes of the quintessential voice of Britain of the 50’s like a Poirot movie or The Famous Five.

The romances are always gentle and sympathetically drawn, not that there aren’t hot scenes, but the emotion is deep and the unfolding realistic. The mysteries are intriguing, unusual and pulled from the past, influencing and affecting the women of today from the grave. The settings are subtly drawn but solidly present as a part of the story.

In “Calling Home” Silver has created another complex plot and enjoyable ensemble piece with eight women collected at the island retreat for a week; the old friends, the heartbroken drunk, the new lovers, the mysterious autobiography writer and the doting but grumpy Gran. The characters are well drawn and their interactions a perfect people watchers composition.

There is a huge twist in the tale, the past really does come out and bite them in the most unexpected way, overturning everything they thought they knew about their lives and themselves, and despite the gentle pace and subtle build Ms Silver keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Thoroughly enjoyable and well done.



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: 276 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D3L5SF1
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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
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Wake Me When It’s Over – Cheryl A Head

Wake Me When It's Over - Cheryl HeadCharlie Mack and the gang are back in a second whodunnit. This time set in Detroit at the international car show, the team have a week to find a murderer and foil a terrorist plot. Full of multiple layers of conspiracy, from pipe bombs to industrial spying, Chinese plots and twisted European madmen, this starts with a bang and never lets go.

Fast-paced, complex and intriguing, it will literally keep you glued to your seat as the layers and leaves unfold. Just who are the baddies? Will another twist uncover more traitors inside? Will Charlie and the gang put all the post-it notes together in time?

Cheryl Head’s Charlie Mack Motown Mysteryseries is an excellent read. Extremely well written, the story flows along at a reckless pace without ever feeling forced. The characters are well drawn with foibles and flaws, friendships and mock enmities that make them a real team. The plot is complex; the detail and threads convoluted and elaborate, and while they weave together, fading in and out, at no point do you feel that they wont resolve into a comprehensive whole.

Very well done and 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: 310 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (May 22, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079K6SSS3
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Heart of the Devil By Ali Vali

Heart of the Devil By Ali ValiJump back to the beginning of Cain and Emma’s romance and we have a ‘fill-in’ to the wonderful Cain Casey Series.  A full blown romance that also give us a more detailed view of the Casey family and the build up to extra Special Agent Kyles obsession with Cain.

Well done, with a host of details linked to the rest of the books and a complex early reveal of so many characters we get to know. It’s great to spend more time with Billy, Marie and Therese, although rather heart rending if you know the rest of their stories. The only problem now if which order to read the series in!



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: 269 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B078RDKBY4
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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
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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
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A Matter of Blood – Catherine Maiorisi 

A Matter of Blood - Catherine Maiorisi Subtitled a “A Chiara Corelli Mystery” this is, I hope, the first in an extended new crime series.  NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli has survived Afghanistan, Iraq and a life-threatening under-cover op routing out dirty officers, now she must suffer the blue wall of ostracism for turning in fellow cops, and at the same time be accused of being dirty herself.

To get back into real work Corelli needs a trustworthy partner/bodyguard or she will be consigned to desk duty. She is assigned the newly promoted Detective, P.J. Parker, daughter of a Senator who hates NYPD; an ex ADA with high flying credentials and fashion-plate suits.

Sparks fly as Corelli uses Parker as a whipping boy for her frustration and an outlet for her unacknowledged PTSD, while Parker fumes at her attitude and fights for her place in the Homicide squad. Assigned to a Wall Street murder with more suspects than an Agatha Christie novel, Corelli and Parker must fight hard to uncover the many layers of deception, while watching their backs as the Righteous Partners threaten Corelli and anyone close to her.

This is an excellent mystery and whodunit with well-developed characters, an interesting backstory and great potential. Corelli and Parker both have a huge pile of baggage, difficult relationships with their fathers and something to prove. Both are fighting for their careers in different ways, but their forced partnership develops with a great mix of antagonism and growing respect.

The action is face paced but nicely interspersed with moments of stillness and humanity. Corelli’s Italian-American family play a prominent role in creating a loving backdrop for a publically unloved figure. The mystery is multi-layered and, just like a good Agatha Christie, we really don’t know who actually did it until every layer is exposed. But the whole murder mystery is superseded by the threat to Coreli and her family which only a moral dilemma can resolve.

Well written, enjoyable reading. I literally can’t wait for the next one to see where Ms Maiorisi  takes us with both the crime-fighting team and the prospective romance.



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: 304 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (February 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079DSYKGV
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Lethal Care – Claire McNab and Katherine V. Forrest

Lethal Care - Claire McNab13 years after the publication of “Fall Guy” Claire McNabb has come out with a final chapter in the story of Inspector Carol Ashton. Ably assisted by one of our most well-respected writers, editors and publishers, Katherine V Forrest, who edited many of the Carol Ashton series, this story slides seamlessly into place and brought back so many memories.

Carol has been promoted to Chief Inspector, Mark to inspector and Ann to Sergeant. Further into a political world than she would like, with a Police Chief she despises, Carol and the team are handed two suspicious deaths. A wealthy socialite and matriarch, Greta Denby already dying of cancer whose autopsy showed a drug overdose, and Inspector Rooke, a friendly rival throughout her career, whose car went over the cliff on a hairpin bend.  Was Denby’s death assisted suicide or murder, was Rooke’s an accident or something more damaging to the Sydney police force?

As usual the crime drama is excellent, well thought through and plotted, complex enough to keep the attention and like a good Agatha Christie, literally anyone could have done it, although we didn’t meet a butler. What makes it more emotionally complicated is the triggers for Carol, who carries enormous guilt about her mother’s death under similar circumstances. When a religious fanatic tries to accuse her of murder she must face up to the past, and recognise that her career is on the line.

At the same time Carol and Sibyl are dancing around their perennial ‘will they wont they’ question. I have to admit I am going to have to re-read the whole series (lucky me) to remember when they weren’t at odds. As usual Carol’s dedication to her career is a fundamental issue, but Sybil’s PTSD is also a major stumbling block. Aunt Sarah is her usual wonderful self, dying butterfly and all, while Madeline Shipley plays her customary stirring role as both a talk show host and a flirtatious ex.

The cast is excellent as always and continue to provide the warmth of a family and friends that keeps Carol sane. Sydney again provides a stunning backdrop to the storyline. The whole is a wonderful example of an extended series which seems to float along, heartfelt, honest and complete in it’s own little microcosm.

I cant tell you how delighted I was that Claire McNabb had managed to put out this final story despite the obstacles of Parkinson’s and poor health, and applaud Katherine V Forrest for helping this happen. It is still very much a Claire McNabb, and, as mentioned by the author, having a former editor co-authoring meant a deep understanding of the characters and style of the series were already in place, making it a painless endeavour.

As you would expect it is excellently written and edited, it is warm and fuzzy with the feeling of returning to old friends, resolving long held questions and tying up a myriad of loose ends. The Carol Ashton books, along with Forrest’s Delafied series, were the cornerstone of my lesbian reading in the late 80’s and 90’s.  Between them they created the genre of the lesbian cop/procedural/crime series and I for one will always shower them with respect for being the ground breakers of lesbian fiction that they are.



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: 243 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 5, 2017)
  • ASIN: B078NBS4HH
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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
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HINDSIGHT: Above and Beyond #4
Hindsight – Jody Klaire
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UNTRAINED EYE: Above and Beyond #3
Untrained Eye - Jody Klaire
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BLIND TRUST: Above and Beyond #2
Blind Trust
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THE EMPATH: Above and Beyond #1
Empath
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The Last First Time – Andrea Bramhall

The Last First Time – Andrea BramhallBook three in the Norfolk Coast series and this is a cracker, if you haven’t read the first two, this will stand alone but is much better with the back story.

Gina goes Christmas shopping for Kate, in Ann Summers of all places, hoping to move their slow burn romance to a new level with some sexy underwear. But everything changes in an instant with an act of senseless violence, and so begins a series of events that will shatter the peaceful world of King’s Lynn and the normal routine for Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon and her colleagues.

This is an excellent crime-thriller-romance.. and Bramhall balances all three really cleverly. The characters are already well developed but continue to deepen and we meet new ones in each book as well as watching the existing relationships grow and change. This time Kate’s partner Stella takes a strong role, and Gina’s mother returns to stir the pot.

The crime/thriller is slightly different form the norm, very much in the present, and feeds on that tickle in all our minds about our safety in the current climate. At the same time the author doesn’t ignore the previous situations our heroines have survived and the ripples continue to expand throughout. Carefully handled and, in my judgement, well researched and thought through, this author never shys away from difficult or sensitive issues.

I am loving the series, can’t wait for the next.. this ends with a cliff hanger and several threads hanging loose so there must be at least one more. Excellent reading in front of the fire on a cold winters night.



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: 336 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva (December 20, 2017)
  • ASIN: B077Y43GP3
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