Romance

Jericho – Ann McMan

Jericho – Ann McManBack in 2011 a new author appeared on the scene with a novel called Jericho. It tells the tale of a straight woman, Syd, running away from her failed marriage to lick her wounds in the small town of Jericho. On her way into town she gets a flat and is saved by the town Doctor, Maddie, a single out lesbian – but our unsuspecting straight girl doesn’t realise that.. in fact doesn’t find out for quite a long time.

While setting up a new library and living in the flat above, Syd begins to form a strong friendship with Maddie, gets involved with the quirky local families and inadvertently begins to put down roots in the community. As their friendship develops Maddie is faced with the perennial question of how and when to tell her new friend, while Syd casually flirts and innocently captures Maddie’s heart. But Maddie has commitment issues of her own, and we all know what they say about falling for straight girls…

Jericho was and is an admirable first novel. It’s not perfect, although it’s main characters sometimes appear so. But it is full of superb observation of human character and behaviour. It is infused with love and humour, drawing out and catching the idiosyncrasies of a wide cast of locals that we can all recognise and largely empathise with.

Ann McManThe writing style is excellent, clearly showing the author’s literary potential, the wit is a precursor of even more humorous offerings such as the Diz and Clarissa stories. The slow burn is a wonderful alternative to so many flash in the pan romances where we get fed love at first sight and the angst of working out how. Here we essentially spend most of the well filled 416 pages, from the first meeting to the eventual resolution, watching not only Syd and Maddie come together, but a family develop and a community grow.

I loved this on first, second and third reading,  as the series has progressed it has grown more and more dear.  With a new offering on the table I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning of the Jericho story.



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: 416 pages
  • First published 2011
  • Publisher: BINK (September 19, 2011)
  • ASIN: B005ODHLDW
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Running From Love – Jen Silver

Running From Love – Jen SilverBeth and Sam have been together 14 years, married two, and as far as Sam is aware everything is settled and solid. She comes home from a business trip to find her wife gone, her cat in kennels and her life in tatters. Pulling herself through the dark times and never quite accepting Beth has gone for good, she takes on a research project which should help her get away from it all.

Temperley Cliffs Golf Resort is the brain child of Lady Freya Temperley. Set up as a luxury hotel and teaching course Freya also hopes it will become a mainstay of the Women’s European Tour, and her ‘friend’, Golf Pro Andi, has designed the course to Open standards. They are about to run their first teaching course for women beginners and while Freya may have planned to the last degree, she hasn’t counted on the emotional interaction of 20 women in a resort for a fortnight.

Jen Silver writes great realistic and empathetic characters we can all recognise and understand. Here she has brought together a wide range of women, from the loud and obnoxious to she shy and retiring, with some seeking love, some surviving heartache and others trying to find a way to say just how they feel. Full of keen observation of human interaction, like “Christmas at Winterbourne”, “Running From Love” is another great character driven drama.

Jen Silver BioThe settings always play an important role In Jen Silver’s books and the north coast of Cornwall provides a stunning backdrop to the golfing and romance. Drawn with loving humour the golf itself is a constant thread, but doesn’t overwhelm or baffle a non-golfer, in fact the women at the resort are just as bemused, and through them we learn at least some of the basics.

Well written and well plotted, Jen Silver has given us another solid exploration of relationships new and old, examining how women interact and behave in a variety of situations. I would have liked to see more exploration and discussion of why Beth left, but that is just me wanting to explore the deeper psyche of these characters.

Another enjoyable read, entertaining and amusing at times while dealing with very real emotions of heartache, loneliness and fear of commitment, in a world where far too many women still have to worry about what society will think of them.



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: 301 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071ZRGRLR
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Love in the Stacks – Cara Malone

Love in the Stacks - Cara MaloneThis is a fast-paced emotional rollercoaster with some serious erotica. The story starts off with the rather unlikely premise of somebody being given a job despite completely inappropriate behaviour at their interview, but develops into a decent plot with enough twists and turns to keep the attention. The work place intrigue might be obvious to the reader, but it adds a good sup-plot to the story and saves it from being simply an erotic romance.

The main characters are well done, both flawed, both need to grow and the author has done a good job of maturing them throughout the romance as one takes more responsibility and the other learns what is really important to her.

The scenes are well drawn, descriptions well done, the library has real character and is a pleasing background to the plot.  The sex scenes are hot, explicit and with enough variety to make them fresh, definitely no fade to black here. There were grammar and editing issues which was a shame as it did detract from the experience, but not so badly as to make me stop.

I want to say lesbian Mills & Boon but don’t mean it as an insult. It’s a good fast read, enjoyable and definitely erotic. The improbable opening coloured the whole book for me, which is unfortunate as from then on the story settles down into a solid well-conceived plot.



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: 316 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Amazon  (May 1, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06Y4STR5P
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Heartland – Vickie Adams

Heartland - Vickie AdamsCam was the archetypal troubled teen, ran from home the day she finished school and never went back, has a memory block from her early childhood which hides a chronic trauma. As an adult she has made a life, avoided entanglements and has anger issues.

When a call from her hated Uncle to say her GrandaPa is dying pulls her back to Tennessee she is reluctant to visit for the first time in so many years, but feels the need to pay her respects to the man who held the family together. Believing her mother to be a cut off and unemotional woman who never cared for her, she is completely unprepared for the revelations that her GrandPa’s deathbed confessions unleash.

Vickie Adams first full length novel shows huge potential. The main story is excellent; shocking and deeply moving at times. It’s a complex and convoluted plot with visions, murders, an extended family drama and some very nasty history. Add in a typical lesbian “U-Haul” romance with some steamy sex and it adds up to a great combination.

Cam is a strong main character and the other leading players, her family and former school friends, are distinct and well portrayed. The relationship sub-plot, sudden and intense, is the rekindling of a high school crush, it did feel a little like an except from an erotica short story – well done but slightly off kilter with the serious emotional drama of the main story.

It’s a fast paced read with plenty of edge of the seat moments that definitely make it interesting as layer after layer of the wholly dysfunctional extended family comes unglued. The writing is solid, but perhaps lacks some emotional maturity given the extremely serious nature of some of the plot threads. There is nothing wrong with it at all, but as an author develops her craft emotional depth gets woven into the fabric of a story, and Heartland, for all its complexity does feel like a first novel.

I dont mean to be overly critical however, there is a good balance between the narrative structure, dialogue and interior monologue. I look forward to reading future works from this author who clearly has an excellent imagination and the ability to create complex characters and deal with difficult emotionally charged themes.

A personal gripe – I don’t get the jacket at all. It looks like an erotica cover, with a provocatively dressed woman who looks nothing like any of the main characters and suggests a steamy romance. This is a good emotionally charged drama touching on complex issues and the cover does not reflect that at all.


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: 200 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Wicked Publishing (May 10, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071L8RXQJ
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Under Parr – Andrea Bramhall

Under Parr - Andrea BramhallWhen a skeleton is found in a previously sealed up WWII bunker Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon is faced with a cold case which some intriguing twists. Scraps of women’s clothes on a man’s bones, different names on the labels, different sized shoes on the wrong feet. Kate isn’t sure they will ever find out who he was, let alone how he died and ended up in a bunker that has been sealed since the storm floods of 2013, but she is determined to do her best find out.

As the investigation unfolds the twists and turns become more of a puzzle, unusual activity at the golf course, above average deaths at the local care-home, and a series of clues that just make the detective’s radar ping.

Book 2 of the Norfolk Coast Investigation Stories series and the events of book 1, Collide-O-Scope, are still being felt in the fishing village of Brandale. Gina has recovered physically but emotionally the scars are deep. Sammy is having nightmares and being bullied at school by kids whose fathers are either waiting for trial or out of a job. The impact on Kate and Gina isn’t good either, Gina has withdrawn, and Kate doesn’t know how to get through to her.

As always Andrea Bramhall’s story arc are excellently thought through and executed. This is a solid detective story, occasional leaps of intuition and faith, but essentially the local “Plod”* following a series of interrelated clues and gradually uncovering how the events we see in the prologue came about.

The characters are becoming old friends, deepening as we get to know them, filling out details, colouring in history; their friendships and relationships growing over time. The police team has a new member who doesn’t quite fit and is definitely causing friction, but Kate and Stella’s friendship provides wonderful light relief and flashes of laugh out loud humour.

Sammy is particularly well drawn and the combination of childhood simplicity and trauma induced maturity is intriguing to read. Bramhall always manages to introduce a serious theme in her novels and here we have several; Sammy’s bullying, Gina’s emotional struggles and care-home abuse. However this is not a heavy book, these serious threads add to the reality without detracting from the gentle romance. The flashes of humour and the reasonably fast paced unfolding make it a genuinely pleasurable read.

Andrea Bramhall biogUnder Parr is set a few weeks after the events in Collide-O-Scope and while it stands alone as a story arc there is no doubt it is firmly part of a series; indeed we are left with a tantalising thread to carry over into book 3. I would definitely recommend reading them as a series, if you like romance/crime and excellent writing, this is one you don’t want to miss.

Set on the east coast of England these stories have a decidedly English feel, and are a delight to read. The characters are solid, the events fit the time and place, even the weather has a very English role to play. The angst is there but underplayed, the emotions and relationships are realistic and the whole is grounded in a very English setting. Midsomer Murders with a lesbian twist.

*Plod is English slang for the local police, affectionate although implying slow thinking and moving, comes from the old-fashioned Bobbies walking the streets with their slow heavy pace.


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: 289 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva (May 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072HMT2DB
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Unbroken – Donna K Ford

Unbroken - Donna K FordThis is a classic combination of the “quiet girl/player” and the “opposites attract” theme, but with a serious sub plot.

Kayla is a therapist, open hearted and caring but badly damaged by previous loss, she would love to settle down with a life partner, but is too hurt to consider looking. Jackie is the big brash confident and extrovert player.. except underneath it all is a woman scarred by childhood abuse.

When they quite literally collide the attraction is immediate, but Kyla runs a mile. She may think, wistfully, of the attractive woman she met, but she wont allow herself to make that call. Fate, however, has different plans, throwing them back together when Kyla needs a PT after a violent encounter, and the stage is set for a rather tumultuous relationship.

Kayla and Jackie are complex women with recognisable strengths and weaknesses but both wracked by their own fears. As usual Donna K. Ford has created real life women with classic characters that are people we can believe in and relate too. Their fears shape their behaviour and are founded on solid life experiences we can all empathise with.

The main subplot to the romance, of Kayla’s colleague Jen’s problem marriage and drug addicted husband, provides both the action that re-connects the main characters and the cause of their subsequent estrangement. At the same time Jackie is searching for her mum, or at least information about her, and the plot themes intertwine as the story progresses.

Donna K Ford bioThe issues of abuse, violence and addiction threads its way through the novel and grounds the romance into something more serious. While the romance remains the core story, the impact of addiction and violence on both women, and Jen and Jackie’s mum, is dealt with strongly as you would expect from Ford, who always intertwines a serious sub plot with her traditional romances.

Well written and expertly handled, the sub plots deepen the emotional integrity of the characters. The romance is slow moving, and the internal dialogue plays an important role, but while there is a lot of angst, it is well founded and well portrayed within the complex emotions of abuse survival.

I always enjoy Donna K Ford’s writing style and the balance she achieves between romance and the more serious issues she tackles, making them feel real for the characters rather than a bolt on for effect. Definitely on my recommended list this is a slow burn and thoughtful read that also has some seriously hot encounters.



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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (May 16, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071H7V44C
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Sawmill Springs – Gerri Hill

Sawmill Springs - Gerri HillWhen two new cops join the local force in Sawmill Springs nobody had any idea the small town would need their big city skills. Homicide detective Murphy has escaped from the drug wars of Houston to a quieter life, while ex FBI agent Kayla is returning home to join her Police Chief father’s force after a career turned sour.

Within hours of Kayla joining the squad the murders start, and before long the bigwigs of the town all seem to be in danger. While Murphy and Kayla have the skills, they are the newbies on the force, the only women, and the locals are not used to dealing with high powered women cops.

As the investigation gets more and more murky, touching on the lives of Kayla’s family and friends, the attraction between Kayla and Murphy grows, but despite her best efforts at flirting Murphy seems immune to Kayla’s obvious charms.

This is classic Gerri Hill; crime, cops, romance. Well written and executed with a great story line, Hill pulls you in from the start and immerses you in the life, death and loves of the small town characters. The pace is excellent, no thriller chases, but a strong ‘move-along’ plot that keeps you interested and waiting for more.

Gerry Hill biogThe main characters are great, strong independent and powerful women who have made it elsewhere and taken a step back to slow down and re-group. Both likeable and amusing, they bounce of each other from the start and their happy ever after is guaranteed, however long they take to get there.

The small town characters are amusing, interesting and drawn in with loving detail, the gossips and busybodies highlighting all the issues of living in a fish bowl. At times the clumsiness of the local cops did seem a little over the top, surely even they watch CSI, and I did expect our two heroines to kick off about the total lack of procedure, but maybe I misunderstand the politics of a small town police force and the authority of the Chief.

Gerri Hill fans will love it, and if you haven’t read any Gerri Hill where have you been? Always entertaining, she has a knack of quickly setting up a situation and giving a full story arc, while subtly developing her characters and building their connects through the action. Highly recommended – another great crime/romance from one of the masters of her trade – here’s hoping this is the first of a new series as I would definitely like more.



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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 16, 2017)
  • ISBN: 978-1594935503
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Forget-Me-Not Kris Bryant

Forget-Me-Not - Kris BryantWhen her great-aunt dies and unexpectedly leaves her everything, Grace flies to Dublin to sort out the estate and sell her aunt’s flower shop. Alone because her bestie cancelled last minute, she intended to get the shop sold and everything sorted as quickly as possible, fit in a small amount of sight seeing, and be back at work in a week. Work is her life and this trip is just an annoyance she can’t avoid.

Stepping off the pavement to take a photo, forgetting the cars are on the other side of the road, Grace causes a fiery redhead to drive into a bollard, and so set the scene for a less than friendly relationship with her realtor, Kerry. There is clearly more to the tension that a buckled bumper though, and as the story unfolds Grace gets to see how much the flower shop means to the local community. While she feels some guilt about the lost jobs and impact on Kerry’s family, ultimately Grace has every intention of cutting and running – just as soon as she has kissed an Irish girl.

This is a light and fun romance. The characters are endearing; Kerry’s family and the locals take Grace to their hearts in the way of welcoming small villages, especially as they loved her aunt. Grace is the archetypal workaholic who comes to realise some things are just more important. And along the way we learn a little of her great-aunt’s life and the impact the young Grace had on her when they met years earlier.

We get a great insight into the workings of a small Irish village, different in feel from so many American ‘Small Town’ tales, and the author clearly loved both the atmosphere, the community and the countryside, as it is drawn with loving care. The village and surrounds play an important part in the story, grounding and solidifying the characters and sense of belonging, Kerry is very much a part of her landscape.

Ultimately of course the story is one of girl meets girl, resists because it’s only a week, gives in and then we suffer the angst of whether they can make it work, how it will resolve. It’s a very traditional tale, but with enough of a spin to make it feel original and engaging. The angst is real enough, without being too overdone, the attraction is palpable and there is a lot of very hot sex… after all it can only ever be a week long fling.

Kris Bryant always seems to find something new to say and a new way to say it, taking a very simple story and making it original and engaging. Definitely an enjoyable summer 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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (April 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XPGT5QW
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The Color of Love – Radclyffe

The Color of Love - RadclyffeDerian Winfield is the typical bad boi butch. Rich beyond most people’s dreams, rebellious and bored, she spends her life on the Formula One circuit holding parties, smoozing donors and picking up women – women with whom she is unfailingly polite but who mean less than an excellent bottle of scotch.

When her beloved aunt, Henrietta, collapses with heart problems, Derian drops everything to go home. She finds Henrietta’s beautiful protégé, Emily May, sat outside her hospital room and a turf war for the literary agency Henrietta and Emily adore.

Emily, orphaned by a plane crash, responsible for her non responsive older sister and now threatened by deportation, resists the charismatic jet setter with all her will, and when she succumbs knows it is extremely temporary – literally until the next race, the next casino or the next woman attracts Derian’s attention.

RadclyffeThis is another in a line of relatively formulaic romances from Radclyffe, but I enjoyed it, and who am i to judge when so many readers adore these books. For me the romances don’t come close to the series; Provincetown, Honor, Justice and First Responders (in my personal favourite order) but I really liked the characters and found myself pulled into the story.

Derien is the typical playboy but not only charming, she has integrity and deep down, knows her life is a sham, simply a way of escaping the fact she was never good enough. Emily appears all sweetness and light, the archetypical good girl, but underneath all that goodness is a tiger waiting to be unleashed, and of course Derian is just the woman to unleash her.

Some of the background characters are a little shadowy, but Derian’s adoring best friend Aud is amusing, some of the agency staff are solid and most of all Henrietta herself is a real character, irascible yet inspiring, she is what really holds the plot and the agency together.

I was slightly confused by Emily’s history; needs a visa, comes from Singapore and yet is clearly not Asian from her description or the jacket. That and some of the other back stories, such as the feud between brother and sister Martin and Henrietta, could have done with more detail, but as with any good traditional romance, be it book or movie, we forget unimportant facts in the rush to the ‘happy ever after’ and only remember afterwards that there was something missing.

The writing is excellent, fast paced and enthralling, and I genuinely wanted it to all work out.. not that I had a moments doubt. Definitely Radclyffe at her romantic best.


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: 256 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes(July 12, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01H2VLZPI
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Strawberry Summer – Melissa Brayden

Strawberry Summer - Melissa BraydenThrown together in school when Courtney arrives mid semester and sits next to Maggie in History class, these two polar opposites form a strong friendship that deepens into more. But time and life have a way of forcing hard decisions and not all is well in paradise.

Jump forward and Margaret is a successful realtor still living in the small town she grew up in, happy enough but aware of missed opportunities. When she bumps in to Courtney the overwhelming emotion is anger towards the woman who walked away. But as the author perfectly encapsulates, “Just because you’re through with your past, doesn’t mean its through with you.”

This is another excellent romance from Melissa Brayden. The flashback is well done, the then and now always clear and well managed. The story arc is a perfect balance from anger through acceptance and into hope. The setting may be an extremely traditional American small town school and the strawberry farms of SoCal but it is extremely well drawn, evocative and full of sensual description.

Margaret and Courtney are both loveable and we cannot help want to see it all work out, to long for that HEA, through their trials and tribulations, their losses and pain. Margaret, with the perfect family and home life seems like the solid and strong character, while in fact it is Courtney with the domineering father and broken home who shows the strength both to leave when she can no longer bear the pain and come back to fight again.

Melissa BraydenIn addition we have some excellent secondary characters, Margaret’s parents and older brother are adorable, and her friends are well drawn characters who each have their own journey and growing to do as the timeline unfolds. The friendship between Maggie and Travis is fun, and Mel’s growth from school bitch to good buddy is a great example of personal growth.

Ms Brayden always writes excellent traditional romances, full of beautiful women and witty dialogue, but this is my favourite to date. I felt it was more mature and had more depth. The tragedy is real, the angst well done without being over the top, and the character development palpable in both the main characters and their friends. While perhaps the then and now could have been more mixed, to intersperse the young adult angst with the more witty adult Ms Brayden is the master of, it felt more personal, with deeper emotions, and turned another good romance into a great one. I have no doubt this will be a favourite with many many romance readers, 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: 264 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes(April 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XPFSZCN
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