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.



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Product info:

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Independent (October 2, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07HDCH1WZ
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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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GGTSTYN
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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.

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Product info:

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (October 3, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07HGFCKDW
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Chosen – Brey Willows

Chosen - Brey WillowsPicked up by a military convoy Devin and Karissa leave all they know behind without knowing why they’ve been selected. They soon realise all the “Chosen” are scientists, many interconnected, but nobody will tell them where they are going or why. When the convoy is attacked by rebels looking for food supplies the scientists learn the truth, that they have been selected to leave the dying planet and start a new colony to save a tiny portion of humanity. The scientists must choose; where to go, who to be, and what their growing attraction is worth.

This is an absolutely excellent example of speculative dystopian fiction which is, unfortunately, all too obviously possible given the current climate change, pollution and declining effectiveness of penicillin. The fact that it is routed in a future we can easily imagine makes it frighteningly real both in terms of the effects of our current lifestyles and the political machinations of self-interested government.

The main characters are both excellent; sympathetic, interesting, intelligent, well rounded within the context of their situation. Both must deal with hard issues and make hard decisions about their future, their colleagues and each other. Their physical chemistry is great, the slow burn romance which follows behind is a wonderful read, and a great cliff-hanger to match the will they – won’t they of the Chosen. The wider cast is well drawn, with depth and variety from the mad scientist to the humanist rebels, they add emotional complexity to the tale.

Earth itself plays a huge role in the story with imaginative descriptive scenes; from the beauty of nature to the tension of the life-threatening weather and the way humanity has found to survive – so far. The settings feel authentic, the details are credible and pull you into the reality these people inhabit, adding hugely to the veracity of the world building. Willows’ writing will simply transport you into this future version of our world.

I loved the plot, complex and layered yet clearly and straightforwardly laid out, if that isn’t an oxymoron. It, like the characters and the setting, is full of small subplots and mysteries which add to the whole rather than distract from the core. And all this is enhanced by the science; it felt real, the processes and interpretation of evidence, the ethics and soul-searching.

Whether you like fantasy or not you should give this book a go. The romance is spot on, the world building excellent and the whole is just speculative fiction at its best. I loved Brey Willows’ “Afterlife Inc” trilogy but this is on a whole new level and I sincerely hope there might be a sequel. I’m giving it a very rare 5 stars from me and can’t recommend it highly enough.



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: 290 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GGVBZN8
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Easy Nevada and the Pyramid’s Curse – Georgette Kaplan

Easy Nevada and the Pyramid’s Curse – Georgette KaplanMix a fortune hunter and an archaeologist both looking for the same long-lost pyramid and there are bound to be fireworks. Add in the zealot who thinks they are blasphemy to Allah and things literally turn explosive.

This is an action-packed fun-filled adventure worthy of a female Indiana Jones who of course always survives, gets the girl and the treasure. It’s fast-paced, amusing, interesting and a great read. The writing is excellent, parred down to an exquisite level of description and filled with wit and humour.

Nevada herself is comic book material, irreverent and inappropriate, and the feats of daring-do are definitely up there with the pop culture action movies, but Kaplan has also given a solid base to the story with what feels like a credible archaeological tale… very much like an Indy movie.

I really enjoyed this, it’s the start of a series which is excellent news; just what we need, a tongue in cheek, irreverent and frequently inappropriate action hero who can catch our attention and make us laugh.



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: 211 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (August 29, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GFMGCSR
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2′ – Bev Prescott

2 degrees - Bev PrescottIt’s 2092 and the world order has collapsed. Climate change has led to famine, drought and immense changes in the climate. Disease has ravaged humanity; the animal and plant population have been decimated by disease. In Boston hordes of angry, violent and scared people queue for a daily food hand out. In Chicago they queue for a chance to collect uncontaminated water. Neither population know that the last ice cliff is about the fall and take out the sea level populations the government has abandoned to their fate.

Across the maelstrom of the Boston streets Sharon and Eve must get to Dr Ryan, Eve’s only chance of getting the leukaemia treatment she so desperately needs. When they stop to help a starving child the army grabs Eve because of her Asian heritage; the government has issued orders for all Asians to report to an internment camp in Chicago. Despite her determination to rescue her wife, Sharon lets Dr Ryan talk her into leaving it to him and returns to their farm in Maine. But when bandits target the farm she soon sets out west to search for her wife and becomes embroiled in a power struggle that will affect the future of humanity.

This is an epic combination of DUF, action adventure and science fiction. The world is one we can clearly recognise as a possible future if the worst-case scenario comes true, with the decline of the bees, the failure of antibiotics and the melting of the icecaps. World wars over food and water resources, countries redrawn into gigantic territories, uncaring governments who simply cannot feed or protect the general population. Only those with money or a special resource or skillset have value.

Sharon, central to all, is as deeply flawed as any, believing in her moral compass she has to recognise that when it comes to survival she will go way beyond what she thought were her boundaries to survive and save her wife. Having led a somewhat sheltered life, despite losing her parents to the plague, her brothers to violence and betrayal, she has not really faced the extremes of survival in a completely hostile environment.

A wide cast from brainiac survivalists fighting to save what remains of the world to evil megalomaniacs, from lost children to grieving mother figures, makes for interesting reading and a wide gamut of emotions from hope to beyond despair. Sharon moves through all of them on her journey to save Eve, and each touches and impacts her life, bringing out both her humanity and the extremities of her will to complete her almost quest like journey.

The world creation is impressive, horrendous and yet fascinating, calling up our worst fears for the future. Prescot has created a future of nightmare vision yet one we can, unfortunately, imagine coming true. The landscape literally plays a role in the plot and we can never forget that the earth is central to the tale.

I have to admit there were a couple of points which pushed my suspension of disbelief. I found the story of earth’s destruction and the human behaviours it triggered so realistic that the leaps of faith were a little too far-fetched. It’s a hard ask to mix something so credible, based in the reality we know could happen, with science-fiction level futuristic technology, the former was so completely believable that the later didn’t gel for me. But they didn’t distract from the overall story of human endeavour to survive both the environmental meltdown and the evil of a deranged man.

Fast paced, breathless energy, extremely well written and faultlessly edited, this was an exhilarating read and 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: 295 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079JY9CKV
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Passionate Rivals – Radclyffe

Passionate Rivals -RadclyffeWhen former lovers are thrown together in a high intensity and competitive environment anger and sparks are bound to fly. Emmett and Sydney are suddenly on the same track, same year and same expectations of being the best, but there is only ever one chief.

Radclyffe’s Quinn and Honor series was always one of my favourites, and now they are back, albeit as the mentors to a new generation of medical students, and the overseas of the trauma and surgical patients at the centre of the story. We have a whole new cast of friends, lovers and rivals but set in the familiar backdrop, and it’s great to be back.

The medical drama is excellent as always, the characters are a good mix, the main characters and their closest friends realistic in their hopes and fears, and the sexual tension is perfectly held as Emmett and Sydney fight the pull of their attraction.

I’m delighted Radclyffe has revisited this excellent series, and look forward to many more if they are as good as this. Most enjoyable way to spend time with old friends.



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: 231 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GGTRRCJ
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The Third Eye – Jenna Rae

The Third Eye – Jenna RaeWhen a new Officer is killed by a bad cop, Captain Borelli takes it hard. She wasn’t the rookie’s commanding officer but feels responsible as a mentor, responsible enough that when the shooting it “handled” politically to minimise the fallout she takes time off to do her own investigation. When her ex-partner disappears, the shooter turns up dead, and the bad cop’s girlfriend appears to be abducted, she knows this is something way bigger than a cop on the take

This is an excellent cop crime drama, great characters, engaging storyline and a real whodunnit until the last chapter. It soon becomes clear there is a cover-up, but who is behind it all remains a mystery.

Brenda Borelli is a very well-drawn character with depth and subtlety, somebody we can really empathise with as she tries to make sense of her life since she caught her partner in bed with another woman, struggling to find her feet, work out what went wrong, and find a way forward.

Really enjoyed this one. Would be a great start to a 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: 308 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (September 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H37FSKW
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The Neighbor – Gerri Hill

The Neighbor - Gerri HillLaura bites the bullet and goes to live at home to help her mother, despite their frosty relationship. Stuck with writer’s block and needing a break she tackles the long-neglected yard which her mother had so lovingly tended before the accident. Listening to, then watching, then, quite frankly, spying on her nympho neighbour’s weekend pool parties hits a nerve and telling her neighbour off for the noise gives Laura some little revenge.

Cassidy likes women, beautiful women. But not for long; a couple of weeks and she’s bored of the airhead younger women she takes to her bed and her seemingly endless pool parties. But she doesn’t know how to change the pattern, and does she really want a grown-up relationship?

This is classic Gerri Hill at her very best, top of the pile of so many excellent books she has written, I genuinely loved this story and these two women.

Drawn together initially in conflict and then, as much as anything, by their differences, Laura and Cassidy aren’t truly opposites, but they certainly appear that way. Laura, after failed relationships and years of failed manuscripts, feels like she is going backwards moving home at the end of her savings. She thinks of herself as a million miles away from the beautiful stick insects who arrive every weekend to hang out at her neighbour’s pool. And becoming the neighbour’s yard girl is hardly going to elevate her self-esteem. But it is her very down to earth attitude, literally as well as figuratively, which draws Cassidy to her, sick of the women who use her bed, her house and her pool.

The growing friendship and hidden attraction between them is skilfully written and totally engaging. This isn’t a new story or a clever plot, but it is so exquisitely done that it is totally absorbing. Laura needs to accept who she is and let go of who she thought she was. Cassidy has to work out who she’d rather be; a conflict reflected in her friendships, real and false.

A 40 something romance, genuine and real, women we can relate to and empathise with, laugh with and relish. This was a joy to 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: 257 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bella Books (September 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H38MRXC
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Wait for Me – Susan X Meagher

Wait for ME - Susan X MeagherMolly has had a tough year; she’s lost her best friend to a freak accident, ended her marriage and feels alienated from her conservative and catholic parents over the divorce. W
hen she joins a book club to fill the void she is instantly alienated by the hyper-intellectual snobbery of the organisers, but the host, Alexa, is appealing enough to go back for more.

As their friendship develops Molly must control her growing attraction for the happily married Alexa, despite knowing she is stifling her own chance to find happiness, but the thought of losing her friend is enough to make her take a vow of celibacy. Now if only Alexa loved her back…

This is a well-done take on the “don’t fall for straight women” story with a decidedly interesting twist. The characters are deep, well rounded, real people who feel their situations acutely and with whom we can’t help but empathise. Anyone who has had an unrequited crush must feel Molly’s pain, and most of us have had to choose to hurt somebody we cared for but just didn’t love enough.

The connection between the new friends is extremely well portrayed, the growing knowledge and understanding, the matching attitudes and opinions which make for the strongest of bonds between best friends, and the shared joys in everyday things which makes them virtually inseparable.  New York plays an important role as the backdrop; restaurants, High Line and  NY life adding an extra dimension to the reality.

As the twists and turns unfold Susan Meagher pulls us in, feeling the agony, the shock and pain of rejection and hurt, of difficult decisions and life-altering actions. The emotions are very real and few of us will have escaped our own variations. But don’t let these serious descriptors put you off, this is a romance and a happy ever after, there is just some real angst to get there.

Extremely well done, I thoroughly enjoyed this very grown-up romance. Neither woman has an easy road, but the outcome is even more heartfelt for having had a high price. It is really refreshing to read a very realistic journey that many of us can empathise with.



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 2018
  • Publisher: Brisk Press (August 30, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H14W8HH
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