Mystery/Thriller/Crime

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.

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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.

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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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Captured Soul – Laydin Michaels

Captured Soul - Laydin MichaelsThree women and a gallery show, all connected by complex relationships and the twisted art of a serial killer.

Kadence is recovering from a broken heart and excited about her first exhibition, until she realises the woman who destroyed her relationship is also exhibiting at the gallery. While she knows that Shiva’s bronzes are amazing they are almost too perfect and something about them, along with the disappearance of her ex, leads her to look a little harder.

Mallory runs a high end art gallery but feels under constant pressure to live up to the acclaim of her famous artist mother. She is caught up in a seriously manipulative relationship with the sculptress, who seems determined to play hard to get just to keep her guessing.

Sheva is a gifted sculptress with a twisted mind. For her nothing and nobody can stand in the way of her art.

Laydin Michaels has written a very unusual psycho-thriller. The setting is interesting, just beyond most of our knowledge but recognisable and intriguing as a backdrop. The whodunit is obvious from early on; the thrill comes from discovering the details with the amateur sleuth and not knowing if she will work it out in time to save the next victim. The crimes are bizarre but just believable enough to make this a very good story.

The three main characters are all strong in their own way. Kaydence is complex, damaged by a difficult childhood, she has learned to deal with her own issues. She is somebody we can all empathise with and root for. Mallory is less likeable, but as her character unfolds she becomes more human and less the hard-nosed gallery owner. Her relationship with her mother is clearly a defining force that she needs to resolve in order to break free. Shiva is dark, mad, complicated and ultimately evil. As we move between the three, using interior monologue and third person, Ms Michaels weaves a complex emotional and psychological web.

It’s well written, and with each book Laydin Michaels’ writing matures and her characters and plots deepen. The mystery/thriller story arcs are very well done and make a welcome change, something unusual to get your teeth into. For me the romance started well but became secondary to the thriller and I do think that this is miss-classified as primarily a romance when the psychological thriller is so much stronger.

Really enjoyed this and look forward to whatever twisted evil Ms Michaels comes up with next.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B075QWKWSN
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Beauty and the Boss – Ali Vali

Beauty and the Boss – Ali ValiA step away from the outstanding Cain Casey series “Beauty and the Boss” is an intriguing mystery/thriller/romance which pulls you in and holds on tight.

Ellis Renois is a NOLA born and bred fashion designer at the top of her game. She, with support from her exceedingly savvy mother and a host of friends in senior places, has built up a fashion label and empire that employs hundreds and stars on the Paris and NY catwalk while catering to the chain store requirements for well priced copies of her creations.

Ellis has never forgotten where she came from and every year gives an internship to one unknown designer to show them the ropes and set them on their way – frequently with disastrous consequences as Ms Renois finds it hard to resist a beautiful women. This year her attention is caught by the 9 y/o daughter of an applicant, and while Charlotte’s drawings are interesting it is the artistic Sawyer who really catches her attention.

So the stage is set for a traditional romance.. or is it? While we quickly get hints of subterfuge and backstabbing from people Ellis thought were friends and trusted to run her business, the evil intent goes much further than we could realise from the opening chapters, and Ellis soon finds herself fighting for her business and the livelihood of her staff.

Ali Vali BiogI love Ali Vali’s writing and this was no exception. The romance is charming, the combination of attraction and wariness is played just right, the charming Ellis is never quite sure where she stands while Charlotte is fighting the attraction to the woman who seems such a player, and Sawyer plays inadvertent matchmaker by her very presence.

The suspense/intrigue keeps on going, with multiple twists and turns, and the plot sustains our interest. People assume Ellis is less savvy than she is because she doesn’t like the detail of running a business, she is the creative genius, but that doesn’t mean somebody isn’t keeping an eye. As the plot unfolds Ellis finds out who she can trust and who are her real friends – and just how creative she can get when pushed into an ever-shrinking corner.

The characters are great, Ellis the seeming player with hidden depths, Charlotte who is almost too good, and the wonderful Sawyer who will steal your heart just as quickly as she stole Ellis’s. The secondary characters ae well drawn and while there are a lot of people involved and at times it feels almost overwhelming as to who did what and who pushed the buttons, that adds to the intrigue.. who exactly is behind all the misfortune that dogs the House of Renois this season?

As well written and creative as always, the descriptions of NOLA are particularly well done – I really enjoyed this… in fact I’m going to make the time to re-read it ASAP.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 12, 2017)
  • ASIN: B074TWK3VK
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Lightning Chasers – Cass Sellars

Lightning Chasers - Cass SellarsAfter a year together Sydney and Parkers’ relationship has deepened and solidified, despite their emotional baggage, but when a local cop and close friend is killed their worlds are turned upside down. Sydney’s connections to the local police force through her crime reconstruction business put her in the perfect place to investigate the death and leads them, and their friends, into a tangled world of corruption and deceit.

This is the second in the Lightning Series and leads us away from the more romantic start into crime, suspense and thriller; an excellent combination that allows the author to bring out the depths of the characters intelligence and showcase their various skills while continuing to build on their relationships and friendships.

It’s well plotted and thought through, with a complex set of players and events all based on a corrupt ring of people. The multiple threads are well managed and the arc works well, teasing with hints and building the detail while managing to conceal the exact who and what, to keep us on the edge of our seats.

Sydney and Parker continue to grow and deepen as characters. The investigation tests their relationship when it brings out issues about over-protective instincts and fear of losing a loved one, whether to an ex or as a repercussion from their investigation. The development of new characters adds interest and keeps the human interest going while remaining centred around the two main characters and their warehouse home.

Thoroughly enjoyed this, a great follow up and like the direction the series is going, I look forward to reading more from this author.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 12, 2017)
  • ASIN: B074VB52ZX
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Freedom To Love – Ronica Black

Freedom To Love – Ronica BlackThere is only one thing Brynn Williams has in common with Kat Vander and that is that Sergeant Vander sent Williams to prison.

Four years on and Brynn is released having served her time, she walks out looking for a fresh start and has every intension of staying out of trouble. Unfortunately her sister has other ideas and arrives in a stolen car and high as a kite.

Kat Vander and her partner are just about to run into trouble. Without help or support both look doomed, but help comes in the shape of the Williams sisters.

With the sisters hiding from the law can Sergeant Vander recover from her ordeal to help them out of theirs??

This is a great book. The police drama keeps you enthralled throughout but what I found captivating was the growing affection between the two main characters. Although they are both very different women, you find yourself holding your breath, hoping that they will find a way to be together.



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: 152 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 15, 2017)
  • ASIN: B0749QS9KF
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