Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Amounting To Nothing – Karis Walsh

Amounting to Nothing - Karis WalshBook three in the Tacoma Mounted Police series, although this will definitely stand alone if you haven’t read the previous stories. This is a sweet and gentle romance with a frisson of crime drama.

Billie Mitchell is a vet with PTSD who has found a place in the Tacoma Mounted Police. Despite considering herself a nomad after a disruptive childhood and years in the army, she is settled in Tacoma and has made friends in the neighbourhood and on the force.

Merissa Karr comes from a very privileged background and although she lives on her grandfather’s estate and runs a polo team, she is determined to make her own way as a project manager and designer in urban renewal. When her boss is shot the suspect list is small, and the motive hard to believe, but she needs both Billie’s protection and understanding in the aftermath of murder, and she is determined to find out why her boss and friend were killed.

Karis Walsh biogAs always with Karis Walsh’s books the characters are well drawn and the inter-relationships well developed. The friendships grow as the books unfold, and these are people we can genuinely care about and want to succeed. Ms Walsh has a subtle and enjoyable way of developing her characters and portraying their interactions, with an excellent narrative balance and a writing style that makes the plot flow.

There isn’t a huge amount of tension, and the crime is solved quite easily, but the crime is a vehicle for the romance, and I always enjoy Karis’ gentle and sweet stories. Well written and edited, this is an easy read, but definitely a great way to send the evening in front of the fire.


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: 214 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (February 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N6SVDY7
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The Devil’s Due – Ali Vali

Devil's Due - Ali ValiThis is the sixth book of the Devil Series, following the ongoing mafioso saga of Cain and Emma’s family and business life in the now Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. The threat of Juan Luis and his mother are gone but rogue FBI agent Anthony Curtis has disappeared. While trying to juggle friends, allies and family, a new baby on the way, new threats, and old family secrets, Cain must be all things to all men: wife, mother, leader, schemer and ruthless killer, loyal friend and honourable adversary.

This is an enthralling, nail biting and ultra fast moving addition to the Devil series. Casey now has so many irons in the fire it’s a case of smack one down and another pops up. The Casey alliance with the Jatibon and Carlotti families is strong but old and new enemies appear at every turn. Bizarrely some of her closest allies are cops and FBI agents who should be trying to take her down, but with whom she has a bond built over time. Detective Sept Savoie makes an appearance so check out “Calling The Dead” for her and Keegan’s story line.

Minor characters take centre stage while others take a backseat. In this episode the FBI takes a lesser role while rogue cops and angry in-laws take the lead in the non mafia life, and old enemies regroup in the underworld. Talking of minor previously minor characters, add “Girls With Guns” to the series if you want Finley and Abigail’s back story

Ali Vali BiogDevil’s Due is so fast paced you seriously have to concentrate, but once again Ali Vali has produced a brilliant story arc, sold character development, incomparable bad-ass women in traditionally male roles, leading both the goodies, baddies and cross-breeds. This episode closes off some of the loose ends, but sets us up for even more drama in the stories to come.

This is a stand-alone, but I would seriously recommend starting this series at the beginning. The overarching story arc is so good, the interrelationships so complex, that while it might make a good read, you will simply be missing too much backhistory and nuance of personal interplay to get the most from it.

Roll on the next in the series.. I mean really. Why can’t people write faster???


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: 288 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N9IULCC
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A Quiet Death – Cari Hunter

A Quiet Death – Cari HunterThis is the third book in Cari Hunters “Dark Peak” series, it stands alone, but the back-history is nice to have and all three are absolutely excellent thrillers with a side order of gentle romance.

Detective Sanne Jensen and Dr. Meg Fielding have been friends forever; supporting each other as they fought to escape the dead-end estate they grew up on. After years of an on and off casual fling they have finally realized that they are far better together than apart and their lives are settling down into cosy coupledom.

Sanne works for the local Special Ops Police force. When hikers find the body of a young Pakistani girl out on the moors, Sanne and her team are called in, under intense scrutiny not to inflame the simmering tension between police and local Asian communities. At the same time Meg, a Doctor in the local ER department, has a case that screams domestic abuse, and suddenly there is something very bad going on right under their noses. Once again Sanne gets caught in the crossfire, and it will take all her strength to survive.

The love and friendship between Sanne and Meg is tangible, their characters solid, dependable and very real. Their family and work colleagues are everyday people, recognizable, genuine and authentic; all drawn with a keen eye for observation, a wonderful balance of narrative, frequently humorous dialogue and a gentle sense of affection.

Cari HunterCari Hunter is a master of writing credible suspense laden crime detective stories that feel realistic. Sanne and Meg are extremely ordinary, two women trying to live quiet lives on their beloved Peaks, caught up in a dreadful ring of crime and, as always, doing their ordinary best to help those who need them.

It would be shocking if our heroine didn’t survive, and we are left with the most unassuming happy every after at the end of each dramatic chapter in Sanne and Meg’s lives, but despite knowing all of that Ms Hunter manages to create a sense of apprehension about just how badly damaged and scarred they will be. Creating a page-turner out of the ordinary is far more difficult than writing melodrama.

Once again I cannot recommend this series enough. If you like crime, thriller, and suspense with a cast of real life everyday folk and unassuming hero’s, written with excellent if unpretentious style, you really cannot do any better than this.


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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes  (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N0RTFEY
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Buried Heart – Laydin Michaels

Buried Heart – Laydin MichaelsWe first meat Drew aged 11 running down a street as if she has been transported there from outer space, with no memory of who she is or where she came from. Unusually her amnesia doesn’t fade, although the nightmares do after years of therapy.

Jump to Drew aged 26, working as a Ranger and bopping at the local festival, when she meats the gorgeous Cicely and they form an instant bond. The romance seems set to develop despite Cicely’s’ rather one sided obsession about truth and honesty.

But Drew has started to receive anonymous text messages, and the nightmares flare up again, putting stress on their budding relationship. When a strange man speaks to Drew’s younger sister a warning flares, but her stalker will get much closer before her memories return and uncover the horror of her childhood.

The suspense and terror in ‘Buried Heart’ are very real, the horror of a sadistic man’s behaviour had me turning the pages to get through it, hoping for a happy ever after ending, but dreading a fateful twist in the plot. Ms Michaels can certainly create a crescendo of angst that builds and builds until it is almost unbearable and then crashes like a tidal wave against the shore with the release of pent up energy.

Drew is a likeable and interesting character, Cicely less so, and although her background explains her demanding nature, she is certainly never warm and fuzzy. Drew’s family, particularly her mother, along with her friend Preston and Cicely’s closest friend Kallie, provide the warmth and care, the gentler and loving side.

The dialogue was, at times, a little heavy and the editing could have been tighter, but the author certainly has a gift for thrilling the reader and holding you in thrall. After all they went through I was not convinced by their happy ever after protestations, but I am certain that I wanted, needed, them to survive and escape the horror, however damaged they might be. Ms Michaels should definitely be writing more page turning thrillers.


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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N7J7LAU
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The Lavender List – Meg Harrington

The lavender list - Meg Harrington1950’s thriller romance which finds an ex mobster, Amelia, working in a diner and doing auditions. Her crush is the swarve and sexy Laura who lives in the room next door at their boarding hotel. When Laura turns up at the diner with a bad cut and bruises Amelia starts to wonder quite where she goes all dolled up in the evenings, and her investigations lead her into a world of car chases, gun battles and the ongoing war between the USA and communist Russia.

I enjoyed the plot although it didn’t quite go where the blub suggested, i.e. back into Amelia’s mobster world. It was an interesting idea to explore what happened to the brave women who risked everything to work with the European resistance against the Nazis after the war – the expectation for them to go home and settle into 1950’s normalcy of home and children.

This story is certainly full of suspense. Both the romance and the thrill of the chase, with spies and mobsters and even the ‘good guys’ taking a hand. The first half sets the real characters, the second shows what they have become, far from the women they are perceived to be.

The characters of Amelia and Laura are likable, although I never really felt connected to them, but then that is also an element of those 1950’s stories, cool and slightly distant however much the hearts may be fluttering underneath.

The style worked really well for this plot and period, short, catchy writing, lots of sarcasm, definitely imitation the noir of 1950’s detective stories. At times the POV in the second half was a little difficult to follow, it certainly jumps around a great deal. But my only real issue was some of the language used was decidedly not 1950’s NYC, one phrase threw me out completely, the setting and props all seemed perfect for the era, but the language felt decidedly modern.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was a fun and entertaining 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: 266 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Ylva (November 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MQIYTI0
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Hindsight – Jody Klaire

Hindsight – Jody KlaireAction/Adventure, thriller, super Special Ops crime drama with a side order of phychic powers and the slowest burn romance imaginable. There are just so many ways to describe Hindsight, book 4 in the “Above and Beyond Series” that I almost don’t know where to start.

Well actually let’s start by saying this is a series, and while it might be possible to read this as a standalone there is such a huge history of fact and inter-relationships building up that if you haven’t read the first three then you need to go back and start at the beginning, it will be worth the time and effort and pay off ten-fold.

This latest epic instalment is breath-taking. The action is fast paced, the number of players on the table at any one time is unbelievable and the combination of flashbacks and current action, from multiple points of view, left me gasping. And yet somehow Jody Klaire not only manages to keep all the storylines, points of view and personalities clear, she somehow manages to bring it all to a successful resolution.

As the series progresses we are pulled deeper and deeper into the characters, this time it’s Frei that is revealed along with a huge chuck of her history. All the major players, Aeron and Renee, Lilia and Eli, Nan and even Huber are constantly being fleshed out and filled in. Klaire keeps the development and reveal going while cleverly introducing new characters and seamlessly slotting them in as major players on the chessboard. Oh and you are going to love Aunt Bess.

Jody KlaireThe plot is both complex and simple. The overall story arc has a team of special ops forces and FBI investigator types chasing a ring of child slavers, but the sub plots and personal journeys are convoluted and delivered with incredible detail, making the whole become an exploration of the psychology of each major character. Phenomenal.

I literally couldn’t put it down and read half the night, only to cancel my morning and reach for it over coffee. Now I have to take a week off everything else and re-read the whole series to date because I am completely fascinated all over again. If you love fast paced action adventure, psychological thrillers, crime – any of the above, believe me, this series is pure heaven. It is already a classic mind-bending journey and I cannot wait for book 5, “Noble Heart”, to come and confound me all over again.


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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (December 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01NCL39TN
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Without Justice – Carsen Taite

Without Justice – Carsen TaiteWhen prosecuting attorney Cade Kelly becomes the target of a hit man her old life is ripped away by the need for witness protection and severing all ties with the past. Slowly daring to open up the possibility of starting again she meets Emily Sinclair, newly elected DA in the small town Cade now calls home.

While their attraction is instant Cade knows it is all built on a lie and tries to keep her distance. But when the past intrudes her fierce belief in justice overcomes her fear of being found, and drags Emily into the battle for survival.

This is a great read, fast passed, interesting and takes a slightly different tack from the normal crime/courtroom drama having a lawyer in the witness protection system whose case becomes the hidden centre of another crime.

Cade and Emily are likable and you want them to succeed, despite wanting to shake them sometimes to get the truth out. The attraction is instant, the sex is hot and the ‘falling’ rapid, but it exactly suits the fast paced drama. The background characters are somewhat fleeting, and there is definitely room for a sequel fleshing out family and friends as well as pitting the lawyers against each other.

As always you can wish for more, more time to get to know the characters, more time for them to develop, but that is not the nature of the beast and I really enjoyed immersing myself in this rapid fire adventure. Suspend your disbelief, take the plunge, it’s definitely worth the effort.


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 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 13, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MRME0ET
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The Review – Annette Mori

The Review – Annette MoriWhen a successful lesbian romance writer sets up a competition to meet her greatest fan, all manner of people can feel slighted and upset. Silver Lining, the author, knows who will win, as only one person has read the book pre-release, but she doesn’t expect the winners ex to get involved, or jealous stalkers to take a hand.

This is a fun read, complex and thoughtful but with a lot of humour. It deals with two difficult subjects – the guilt of moving on from losing your wife and mental illness. It also highlights how easy stalking is in the internet age where ‘fans’ can not only find everything they need on line, but hide behind intricate tech walls to protect themselves from discovery. And ultimately it’s a sweet romance, one in which two women need to emerge from difficult pasts and have the courage to take a step into the future.

The characters are well done and varied, their emotional issues, whether sympathetic or not, are carefully constructed and believable. While the main focus is on 6 women, the appearance of a classic gay bff, Preston, lightens the drama and creates a real sense of amusement.

Annette Mori BioThe tension is real. Annette Mori cleverly builds up a classic stalker profile in our minds, and then spins us around when we are completely confident we know what is happening. There’s a point of high drama, and a kind resolution, overall a well done story arc and a pleasing flow.

Ms Mori takes interesting subjects and writes good books. I did think there were a few places at the beginning that could have been tightened up with sharper editing, but once past those the story sweeps you away. I always enjoy reading this author and this is no exception.

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: 210 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Affinity (September 30, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01LXE57N4
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Along Came the Rain – Alison R. Solomon

Along Came the Rain - Alison R. SolomonAlong Came the Rain is an unusual book from page one. It is not an easy read, it’s not an easy story, yet it pulls you along with some inexorable force and keeps you tied to the chair until you finish.

Wynn is a middle-aged jewellery maker with a flaky memory and a ditzy personality who forgets to walk the dogs and put the diner on. Barker is her long suffering social work partner, frustrated by her forgetfulness and concerned with the growing signs of memory loss. When two of Barker’s 15 year-old foster care clients go missing their relationship comes under scrutiny – how will their personal histories impact solving the mystery of why the girls have gone missing and who is responsible?

Written in the first person point of view and with a step by step – backwards – narrative, this is a challenging read until you get far enough in to it to have a handle on the story. That is not a criticism of the writing, I cannot imagine how else Ms Solomon could have done it without loosing the essence of the novel, but until we, the reader, catch up with who and when, the plot is hard to follow. It is so unusual we just aren’t used to it.

When you do come to terms with the retroactive storyline it makes perfect sense and leaves you with a feeling of having unwrapped a very complex three-dimensional onion. The layers of fact and emotion are the very core of this tale, and as it unfolds we are drawn into a deep psychological whodunit where almost nobody is innocent of some wrongdoing, however naively they got involved.

The characters are complex, to say the least. Their back-histories and personalities are, essentially, the story. As the plot develops and we begin to see the clues as to who, the ‘why’ is left hanging because there are so many possibilities.

The writing is excellent, the words flow, the dialogue and narrative are well done, there is a lot of internal monologue, but it’s an integral and essential part of the story. In some ways it is the story.

Ms Solomon takes us to the brink in many different ways, she makes us uncomfortable then pulls back before we tumble over the edge. That is particularly true of what happens to the girls, where she builds the suspense, gives us an expectation of something much worse than it actually is. Clever writing and excellent technical skills in a debut novel.

Fascinating read. Without giving spoilers it is hard to explain, but the author puts the reader into the mind of a women with serious mental issues and it is both intriguing and disconcerting to be taken on the journey with her. This isn’t a book you will forget in a hurry.

(publisher review copy received)

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: 199 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Sapphire Books (April 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01CQ0ODHC
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Lone Ranger – VK Powell

Lone Ranger - VK PowellEmma Ferguson is a wannabe reporter in shock from her girlfriend’s heartless infidelity. She is running away to escape the fall out and another failed relationship. Emma accepts an assignment from an elderly lady in a small town to write the family history, but all is not as it seems and we soon have a cold case murder mystery on our hands.

Booked into to stay in a park cabin Emma immediately meets the eccentric Ann, an out lesbian from a time when dealing with small town issues was even harder than now, and her park ranger niece, Carter. Ann and Carter are incredibly close, surviving a series of tragic losses, and forming a strong bond. Unfortunately Emma’s digging is literally going to force all sorts of family history out into the public view.

The who-dunnit is interesting, merging 37-year-old history and characters with modern day threats and aggression intended to hide the truth. The villain becomes obvious fairly early on, but we are never quite sure which of two characters is the real baddy, and there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning. Add in a series of attempts to drive Emma off the trail, and a twisted ‘stalker’ cop and the mystery was well done.

VK Powell BiogEmma is insecure, warm and caring, struggling with the on-going impact of her father’s disappearance, while Carter is emotionally cut off, giving them the classic ying and yang of lesbian relationships. At time Carter’s wavering was a little overpowering, on the one hand she is a king and intuitive woman working with children, on the other she wont listen to her gut responses to her on and off again lover. We know why Carter acts like she does, but it still irked.

Ann is charming, funny, kind and with a great back history. The small town and settings are also well done, with just enough divergence from the stereotype to save the secondary characters, especially the amusing Fanny, the intelligent Sherriff and the lightly drawn Sissy and Clem – and although I did find the ex’s rather too shallow to be credible they did add humour.

Soundly written and healthily paced with VK Powell’s usual attention to detail and well plotted storyline this was an enjoyable read. There were times I wanted to shake the main characters, but the steamy sex scenes more than made up for my short lived annoyance with them. I would definitely put it as a romantic suspense and murder mystery rather than a romance.

NB while the MC’s aren’t over 40 Ann certainly is and I found enough synergy with her struggles to rate this of interest to 40+ readers

(publisher review copy received)

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: 240 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (Nov 15, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MA6JTAP
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