Tailor Made – Yolanda Wallace

Tailor Made - Yollanda WallaceGrace is a tailor, working at the family firm her father built up, mainly taking the women and younger clients, but gradually taking over the business from her father. Her work-life and home life are great, but her dating life is a mess, constantly trying blind dates with women her friends set her up with and rarely making a second.

When rising supermodel Dakota Lane walks in late for an appointment, needing a suit for her sister’s wedding, Grace is annoyed and hostile. She hates people who are both rude and presumptuous. Add to that Dakota is totally not her type, all hard edges and attitude, and they have little in common.
But Dakota has other ideas and peruses Grace with a humorous determination, showing a different side to her public profile, and proving that she is more than just the playboy model.

This is a traditional romance, but takes on and deals with the attraction between different styles, how we stereotype ourselves as well as our “type”. Add in the gender-bending, the trans clients and this subtly highlights the prejudices we face within our own community let alone outside it.

As the story progresses business, family relationships and grown-up decisions add depth to the story. Family and friends add a great cast to the piece, from the strong patriarchal figure of Grace’s father, the jealousy and prejudice of a traditional family, through to the genderfluid friends in Dakotas world and Lillie, in particular, nearly steals the show.

The romance is a typical “will she won’t she”, but both characters must recognise their need to grow and change, both must open up to something different from the past. The ending felt a little rushed with a few slightly incongruous actions that could have used a little more detail, but overall it worked well.

Enjoyable reading, something a little different which always appeals, and I really loved the diversity of the characters and the way Wallace handled the ‘not my type” and gender-bending sup-plots… oh and the sex scenes were HOT.



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Product info:

  • Paperback: 237 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (December 11, 2017)
  • ASIN: B0787X3K4K
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Love’s Verdict – Carsen Taite

Love’s Verdict – Carsen TaiteTwo attorneys, one partnership slot, and a manipulative boss who claims they will make a decision after a high-profile case. Landon and Carly both want the promotion, both know they deserve it, but desperately don’t want to work together in some forced test to see who is best. A romance with a court-room drama, full or suspense and the hint of a thriller as well, this is an excellent new story from Carsen Taite.

Well written, cleverly plotted, with a great balance between the slow change from dislike to attraction to love in the romance department while the high profile case works through its phases. The merging of the two plots is subtle and well-crafted seamlessly moving us forward on both fronts.

The characters are likeable, flawed but growing, and coming to realise that they complement each other as they evolve both at work and develop their personal relationship. Their growth adds to the depth of the story, and we can see how well suited they are as the plot unfolds and their strengths shine through.

The high profile murder is well played, as always with Ms Taites courtroom drama’s and I liked the way it became a real life thriller as well as a legal case. Overall an excellent read, one of my favourites from this author. Only one complaint – its short at 234 pages and I would definitely have liked more.



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Product info:

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FXZJSTJ
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Lost for Words – Andrea Bramhall

Lost for Words - Andrea BramhallYou never know what will come next from Ms Bramhall; traditional romance, old school English mystery, overseas thriller. Her latest, “Lost for Words’ is a traditional romance with a lot of the author’s humour showing through, but also an emotional and heart-breaking sub-plot which had me in tears as it reached its conclusion.

Unusually there are three main characters; Sasha the author who hides her manuscripts, Jac the self-made movie producer who wants to produce Sasha’s script, and Sasha’s pot smoking and mischievous mum, Fleur. Each have strengths and weakness, each has a journey, even though Fleur’s may be short, and it is great to have the cast set in their 40’s and 70’s, dealing, despite the light-hearted romance, with real life issues. Secondary characters are strong, even the vapid Vanessa plays her role, and their inter-relationships and dialogue are often hysterical.

The primary plot is a traditional as you like, with the not quite lesbian U-Haul relationship, but the deeper sub plots of unrequited love and the impact of being a carer for an ageing parent give this a most unusual feel for a romance. Despite the high-speed love affair and the quick transposition from hidden author to successful script writer, the story is completely grounded by the boredom of work at the spa, by the reality of the estate, and of course most of all by Fleur’s illness.

It reminds me of a Beryl Cook painting, for those who know the artist.. (that may be an English reference – google her) with real-life people in real-life situations but full of life and hilarity.

I enjoyed the light-hearted romance, the frequent humour and the deeper and most touching relationship between Sasha and her mum. Good to read something a little bit different.



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: 303 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Ylva (August 15, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07G2G2728
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Compass Rose – Anna Burke

Compass Rose – Anna BurkeThe first novel by Anna Burke, and what a great start. Set in 2513 this dystopian fantasy, in the lesbian pirate sub-genre, was hard to put down. Imagine a world where the ice has melted, all that’s left are Archipelagos of land, food is scarce, medicines more so, fuel is made from sludge, the seas are polluted and in some places the air is worse.

Introduce the young fleet navigator, Compass Ross, born facing north and always aware of her direction, she has an uncanny, almost psychic ability to tell where she is, predict currents and speed, and has quickly become a most prized tool for the Archipelago’s fleet Admiral. Sent on an undercover mission to work with the renegade pirate Miranda, Compass Rose’s task is to help the pirate Captain find the megalomaniac Ramada, who is determined to take over the Archipelago’s resources for her own gain.

Combine fast-paced action with swashbuckling adventure, a “will they- won’t they” romance, great dystopian world building and a wide-eyed and innocent main character coming to terms with a cut-throat world and Anna Burke has created a real page-turner.

Compass Rose is adorable, naive, trusting and completely unaware of her value. She is used, threatened, supported and occasionally befriended by a wide range of characters which make this a huge ensemble piece. From the wily Admiral and her honest daughter to the bullies, murderers and haters of both the fleet and pirate ships, Compass must learn fast. Add in the seemingly hard-nosed but entrancing Captain Miranda, and the even nastier baddie, Ramada, and we have every shade of character on the spectrum.

I found the writing intriguing, the tone and energy were different to the standard lesfic novel, and I don’t remember reading anything quite like this in the sci-fi fantasy genre; definitely a new voice and a unique style. The world building was excellent with huge attention to detail, the characters are well drawn and varied, the descriptions vivid and colourful and the action was extremely fast-paced and multi-faceted, it felt like reading an action sci-fi movie… and what a wonderful movie it would make.

Can’t wait for the next one from this exciting new author, a sequel would be wonderful, but whatever Ms Burke puts out I will be reading it. Sandra would have been proud to have her name associated with this stimulating new talent.



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: 375 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (July 10, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FK69944
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Pine Cone Series by Missouri Vaun, D Jackson Leigh and VK Powell

What an excellent idea.. take three great authors, create three best friends in a small town called Pine Cone, and have each author write a romance. As a series junky I was sold on the idea – a clever twist on the frequent ensemble mini-series.

Take My Hand - Missouri Vaun“Take My Hand” by Missouri Vaun brings Manhattan gallery owner River to Pine Cone to settle her aunt’s estate. When she wrecks her car on the hair salon lawn, local tow truck driver Clay comes to her rescue, with a tow and a loaner. Pulled together by mutual attraction both Clay and River fight the temptation, one isn’t staying, the other isn’t ready to try again, but art becomes a link which will bind them together.

Take a Chance - D Jackson LeighIn “Take a Chance” by D Jackson Leigh the new police officer in town is finding her feet before taking on drug runners with her canine partner, Petunia. Every time she’s on duty she finds a truck illegally parked, and quickly decides the owner has entitlement issues. When her path finally crosses that of the local vet Trip, their past connection brings back issues both need to come to terms with.

Take Your Time - VK PowellFinally in “Take Your Time” by VK Powell local police officer, Grace Booker gets left with a raucous African parrot by a passing girlfriend. Doing her best for the parrot involves help from the new vet, Dani, whose background as a zoo vet gives her a broad spectrum of experience. Their attraction is mutual, but Dani doesn’t want small town life and plans to get back to the city as quickly as possible, leaving Grace facing another heartache.

All three romances build and enhance the others, with the three close friends grounding the series while each author concentrates on one and introduces a new character. Having three authors gives each MC a literally different voice and adds an extra twist to the tone. All three are well done, subtly different but nevertheless meshing into a most satisfying whole.


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“Take My Hand” by Missouri Vaugn
  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 12, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D7NN9YJ
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“Take a Chance” by D Jackson Leigh
  • Paperback: 2 pages56
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 17, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07F5N4ZFH
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“Take Your Time” by VK Powell
  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (August 14, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FXZJXBY
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The Shape of You – Georgia Beers

The Shape of You – Georgia BeersMs Beers has the knack of creating interesting plot and character which, while sticking to the romance formula, is never formulaic.

The Shape of You brings together a slightly grumpy personal trainer forced to take a class she doesn’t even agree with, bringing out her inherent prejudices, and a woman who has given up making her own decisions, to the point where her fiancé has booked her on a “Be Your Best Bride” fitness class. The overarching story arc follows the usual pattern, mutual dislike, attraction, will they won’t they and HEA, but the underlying themes are slightly different than usual.

Rebecca’s dislike for the class sets her up with an issue of professionalism, especially in the face of a woman who lets her fiancé tell her she needs to shape up, and she finds herself unusually biased against somebody who has given up managing her own life. Spencer isn’t even coasting along, she’s barely present in her own life, living what she thinks is expected of her, without even being conscious of the vacuity of her existence. Rebecca must overcome her issues and look beyond the surface of both the class and her students, while Spenser needs to wake up before she commits to something she isn’t even involved in.

And so Ms Beers brings us a complex set of characters, situations and personal decisions.  One needs to face her preconceptions, one must face up to her abdication, and yet another needs to step up and acknowledge the truth of their situation. Some readers will dislike the infidelity, the lack of commitment to a relationship, a fiancé. But for me they reflect reality, a recognition that actually life is far more complex than the simple black and white we generally find in lesfic romances.

For me this is Ms Beers writing more mature characters and themes. As always she comes up with something slightly different, while producing excellently written personalities and plots, all polished with her usual style. IF the Puppy Love series was her light and fluffy, this is the complex grown up romance where people do things wrong, and lives don’t always work out.



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: 234 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (14 Aug. 2018)
  • ASIN: B07FXTNJF6
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Hearts Like Hers – Melissa Brayden

Hearts Like Hers – Melissa BraydenBook 2 of the Seven Shores series finds coffee shop owner Autumn deciding to forge a life outside her beloved coffee shop, The Cat’s Pajama’s. Meanwhile hero firefighter Kate needs to get away from the small town that is smothering her with their praise, so she hits the road for a short trip to California and some fun.  When the spark is obvious between Autumn and Kate we have a classic set up for the “will she wont she” decision and another solid romance from Melissa Brayden.

Autumn is the rock of the Seven Shores gang, the most grounded and the natural mom. When she decides to take control of her life and have a baby, alone, it might seem a rash response to news of her ex, but it’s a long-term decision she knows is right for her. Embarking on the process of artificial insemination she doesn’t expect to fall for a gorgeous tourist with no plans to stay. Firefighter Kate has a tragic backstory, and the slow reveal, she is a hero who hates the limelight. Her attraction to Autumn is strong, but her home is elsewhere and she knows it will only be a short-term thing.

The ensemble cast continues to develop into a wonderful set of friends. Hadley takes the crown as the dominant secondary character in this one, but all play their roles in both the main plot and the emotional development of the whole. These friends have quickly become some of my favourite people.

Melissa Brayden is literally the master of this genre. She writes great characters with depth and feeling we can relate to… Her stories are on the one hand light and fluffy feel good romances, and we all know there will be a predictable HEA.. but they all have a twist, there is substance to the lives and histories of these women, and enough complexity to make even a jaded romance reader like me enjoy the reveal. Well written as always, with moments of laughter and a deep affection for her cast, Brayden’s books might follow a prescribed arc, but never feel rote or repetitive.



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

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: BSB (February 13, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07998PRGX
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Beowulf for Cretins – Ann McMan

Beowulf for Cretins – Ann McManTake one rather lost and lonely English professor and sit her next to a gorgeous, intellectual and amusing woman on a flight to San Francisco. Bring them back together for a madcap costume party that evening, and make both of them brave enough to step out of their comfort zones and “go there”. That’s the basic plot of Ann McMan’s wonderful short story “Falling from Grace” in her anthology “Sidecar”, which led to the idea of “Beowulf for Cretins”.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read “Sidecar” (although if not why not?) as the slightly amended story is repeated as chapter one of the full-length version. And once Grace and Abbie go their separate ways the morning after the party, with no contact details, not even last names shared, then surely it will take an act of fate, or possibly an act of God, to make their paths cross a second time.

Roll forward and, of course, The Fates intervene; Abbie turns up as the new President of Grace’s college, throwing them together, bringing turmoil, romance, angst and trellis climbing adventure. The conversation gets even more sarcastic and convoluted, the humour more literary, and the passion more overwhelming, as these two amazing women try to find a way forward without threatening Grace’s tenure run, alienating the college board, or making a mockery of Abbie’s professional standing.

Ann McMan has this amazing ability to combine intellectual wordplay with the portrayal of sympathetic characters, charming romances and genuinely wonderful friendships. While our focus must be on the erudite and entertaining main characters and their somewhat tortuous path through the brambles of professional integrity, the ensemble is filled out with absolutely adorable secondary characters and relationships.

There is an extensive cast from the 9 o’clock dog to the challenging but foul-mouthed brain of CK, who compares relationships to quantum physics; Grace’s Neanderthal, but heart of gold brother, Dean; the master of the fates Rizzo and the powerful presence of the judgemental mothers for whom these amazing women have never been good enough. And we can’t forget to mention Sister Merry Larry, scourge of the catholic girl’s sexual education, now literally “fallen from grace” and finding fun without any slapping. Add in more complexity by CK making hay with Dean, Rizzo having studied with Abbie, and the whole intricate situation having been already resolved, and you have a glimpse of how much fun this story really is.

Is hard to know where to stop with the praise. The writing is immaculate, the use of language and references to the arts and literature make for extremely scholarly characters, well apart from Dean and Grendel, although Grendel has some great lines, and any author who can use “floccinaucinihilipilification“ in a sensible sentence deserves genuine genuflection.

“Beowulf for Cretins” is not a laugh out loud comedy, more a comedy of errors; producing a constant deep-belly rumble with occasional eruptions of uncontrollable chuckles. I have already read it twice and will happily read it again and again, finding something new to see, some new witticism to understand, and some new empathy for the characters in this superb work.



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: 320 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (June 26, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079K4BZ89
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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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