Romance

Calendar Girl – Georgia Beers

Calendar Girl – Georgia BeersAddison Fairchild has spent her whole life trying to impress her powerful mother, creator of the extremely successful Fairchild empire. Now her mother has announced her retirement Addison has given up all semblance of a real life and is working herself into the ground to show she deserves to step into the top job. When her health collapses under the strain Addison is forced to accept an assistant, but determined to use her in the most basic ways, collecting her dry cleaning and picking up her groceries.

Katie Cooper accepts a part-time second job at Fairchild Enterprises because, quite frankly,  her family need the money. Her father’s dementia is deteriorating and they need full time care, but the bills are mounting along with her mother’s worries. Having given up her business degree to move home and help her mum, Katie will put up with almost anything to hold on to the well paid PA job, however difficult her new boss is to work for.

This is a classic office “ice queen” romance and an excellent example of opposites attract. The main characters are likeable and well developed, Katie’s backstory is particularly poignant and Beers explores the impact of dementia on a family with subtle but keen observation. Addison’s relationship with her Mother and sibling rivalry are the building blocks of her character and her intensity has made her blinkered to the fact they are, first and foremost, a family that love and care about her. And thus the stage is set for Katie to find room for her own life while also helping her family and Addison to find that her family desperately want her to have a life.

Both families are important to the story and again reinforce the “opposites” theme, the Fairchild’s as high powered business people who can barely meet once a month at a restaurant for dinner and whose absentee father never appears; the Coopers, warm, domestic, welcoming and close-knit where caring for each other comes first. I also really liked our main characters BFFs and there is definitely room for a follow up to allow Sophie and Samantha’s stories to develop.

Georgia Beers writes some damn fine romances, we all know where this is going and how it will end, but there as some fun moments along the way. The cast are loveable and the main characters have genuine journeys they need to take. I thoroughly enjoyed it, excellent ‘happy place’ reading.



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 (November 13, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07JHG5YY3
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Love All – Rachel Spangler

Love All – Rachel SpanglerAs one of the senior tennis players on the women’s tennis tour, former star Jay Pierce has lived through the ups and downs of life on the court, as well as surviving vicious personal slander and the worst of the paparazzi. Making a final comeback with her signature sarcastic wit and humour, she battles her demons and keeps her self shut-down in self-defence.

At the opposite end of the spectrum up and coming Destiny Larson breaks into the senior tour at 17, expecting to be a star and finding the competition much tougher in the bigger pond. Supporting her in every way is tennis mom Sadie Larsen, a woman who chose to be a single mother from the start, rejected settling for anything, and who will fight like a Grizzly for her daughter.

When Destiny’s coach throws them together to help both their tennis and their finances, sparks fly on and off the court between all three women; the bitter older player, the precocious and sometimes bratty teenager and the Mom trying to keep the peace, bring up a well-rounded human under the pressures of the tour and the woman who has never allowed herself to have a life.

This is Rachel Spangler’s best book yet. She continues to grow as a writer, to refine her craft, deepen her emotional pull and combine wit, humour, pathos and tension into a wonderful story about the growth of three women all wrapped into Spangler’s well-researched sports settings.

Jay is damaged goods but so easy to love as a character, she simply resonates as a deeply traumatised and hurt woman. Her tennis, her personal life, her mental health and her professional standing have never recovered from a spiteful incident that rocked the tennis world and essentially destroyed her career along with her self-belief. She fights on a daily basis to maintain some level of decorum in the face of unending attacks from the press and the drain that has on her emotionally and physically.

Destiny is a teenager thrust into the big stage; hating the limelight, impacted by the pressure, her game falters. A typical teen she must learn to play the ‘professional’ game, make nice in the post-match interviews, smile for the cameras, and realise that sponsorship and her professional standing depends on more than just her ability on court. She must also learn that a spiteful comment can have severe consequences and that, as a grown up, she must take responsibility for her childish actions.

Sadie is the rock, the mum we wish we had, but also an adorable woman inside and out. She is the foundation upon which her daughter’s life, character and career is built; she becomes the strength that supports their doubles partnership. But she must learn to let Destiny become a woman and, after 17 years of putting her daughter first, that she has a right to her own life, a life that includes standing up for, and with, the woman she loves.

The tension in this story is palpable. On the court, back stage, in private – between each of these women locked into a triangle of mutual need, want and pressure. To call a sports-based romance a page-turner might seem extreme, but the emotional anxiety makes it very hard to put this book down. Spangler has created a wonderful trio of characters, ably supported by a few key secondaries who also have lessons to learn, and she literally pulls you into their world. It is so real you feel like you are eavesdropping on the tour, not reading fiction. And the crescendo is nerve-wracking; having become so emotionally invested in the characters, the cliffhanger of who will hold up, who will do the right thing, who will step up… breath taking.

It is wonderful to see a romance writer hone her craft, work to grow and improve, and follow along on the coat-tails. This story showcases Spangler’s ability to develop the emotional intelligence of her characters, tackle multiple complex women and their individual needs, and merge the whole into a spell-binding story of personal achievement and growth. 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: 299 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (October 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H8NQ427
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Isle of Broken Years – Jane Fletcher

Isle of Broken Years – Jane FletcherCatalina de Valasco, daughter of a powerful Spanish Count, is on her way to the America’s to marry a man she has never met; just part of the life of a seventeenth century noblewoman. Life changes dramatically when the ship she is on gets taken by pirates, and she is suddenly at the mercy of a bunch of cutthroat men who haven’t seen a woman in months.

In an effort to protect her the Captain puts her ashore with the cabin boy and a couple of sailors more interested in each other than her, while they wait for the ransom to be paid by her husband to be. Unfortunately for the Captain and his crew the island they found was in what we now call the Bermuda Triangle and here the real adventure begins.

This is an unusual story which definitely falls into 2 sections, the adventure at sea and the mystery on the island. The first is a more typical build up and sets the scene for both the role and actions of several characters in the later part of the story. The island takes us to a setting that is sci-fi/fantasy in nature but feels almost paranormal with the ongoing influence of the ancients shaping the lives of the islanders. Add in ongoing action adventure, murder mystery and romance and you begin to see why it’s hard to describe.

The group trapped on the island form an interesting mix, and their backgrounds and personalities form the core of a well-drawn ensemble piece. Each takes a role and plays a part, from stoic hero to warrior philosopher, lover to murderer. The characters are lightly drawn but stay in the mind as we root for them to succeed in their quest. The romance is definitely a secondary plotline, it adds an empathy to the main character but takes a back seat to Catalina’s ‘coming out’ as a scholar and adventurer. Her journey from reserved, stuck-up and self-important Condesa to Greek translating computer expert is well done.

An interesting story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Curious mix, intriguing concept, it captured my interest and kept me hooked. The descriptions are vivid and the island literally came to life in the in the imagination. Love it or hate it you can’t help but want to know what happens 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: 301 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (October 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07H9DZ4XL
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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.



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: 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.

(publisher review copy received)

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.

(publisher review copy received)

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.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (September 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07GGVBZN8
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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 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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