Romance

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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Trial By Fury – KG MacGregor

Trial By Fury - KG MacGreogorTrail By Fury takes the ‘old boy’ attitude of Universities and exposes it for the outrage it is. Picking up on the ‘locker room’ mentality of Trump, MacGregor has written a fine piece of fiction to highlight the reality.

Performance Studies Professor Celia Perone is horrified when one of her pupils is viciously raped, humiliated by social media photos and then ignored by the campus authorities. When Celia tries to take up her cause she is threatened by the University. Hoping for a chair, but infuriated by the callous response of the administration, she is determined to take it further.

Theo Constantine is a high profile women’s rights attorney regularly contacted by the rich and famous for celebrity divorces, a champion of sexual abuse cases and the heroine of class action suits for inequality. When Celia turns up with her tale of an institutionalised rape culture Theo knows this is a fight she needs to take on, but recognises that there is slim chance of creating a civil case under the current Georgia statues.

Forging ahead with what is always going to be a controversial battle, Theo and Celia are determined to not just get justice for Celia’s student, but bring down the administration that has created such a monstrous system of sweeping rape under the carpet to protect its reputation.

KG MacGregorKG MacGregor has taken a difficult subject and made it into an extremely readable courtroom drama with a side order of romance. The stories of the women are horrible, the actions of the authorities are callous and uncaring, and yet Theo and her team care so much, and fight so hard, that we are left with a sense of fortitude and strength rather than depressed by the harsh reality.

The characters are solid, complex and passionate. The plot is full of fact and detail, well researched and unfortunately undeniably credible. The story arcs beautifully from celebration to celebration, yet keeps us on the edge of our seat with the angst of the battle, the facts of the situation, and the personal cost of taking up the fight.

The romance is definitely secondary, but adds a subtle lightness to what could be an overwhelmingly stressful story. Initially reluctant to engage for ethical reasons Theo cannot resit Celia’s passion for justice that so clearly matches her own. Yet it is ultimately that passion that will strain their relationship.

Excellent reading, highly recommended. Not an easy read in terms of the subject, but with iKG MacGregor’s first-rate writing style, fast paced action and a sweet romance this is definitely one of the books of the year.



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 2016
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 31, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01GAM5T3O
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Falling Hard – Jae



Falling Hard - JaeJordan is a player, honest, straightforward and caring about it, but a one-night-stand or friends with benefits type of woman, nothing else. She puts her energy into her job as a surgeon and her fun time is strictly that. Her mother’s decision to give up a career for a family has left a deep felt conviction that for Jordan her decision will always to put her career and life first.

>When an attractive woman moves into the duplex next door Jordan instantly turns on the charm, only to be flat-out shut down in seconds. Emma is recently divorced and hurting badly from finding her plastic surgeon wife wasn’t as committed to the marriage vows as she believed. She is determined to stay single, look after her daughter and build her business, keeping her heart securely locked away – especially from attractive but dangerous women like Jordan.

As always Jae’s books are well done, with clever construction, strong storylines and excellent delivery. In ‘Falling Hard’, we also have a strong element of personal development. Emma needs to let go of her ugly past, never an easy option, and be prepared to open up to take a chance with her heart, for her and her daughter. Jordan has a bigger hill to climb, changing the conviction of a lifetime that she will never fall in love, never want to settle down.

Jae - biogJae’s characters are strong women, complex and interesting. In this we have the addition of a charming 5 year old who almost steals the show. Jordan and Molly’s blossoming friendship creates a subplot of amusing adult learning opportunities. Molly’s instinctive take down of a nasty racist belittling Jordan is a classic way to make a point in the most understated way, just as Jae has pointedly underplayed the inter-racial relationship aspect of the story.

I love Jane’s writing style, and always enjoy her books – this was no exception. However, despite all the good – solid plot, classic storyline, interesting characters and the normal “will she wont she” tension – it wont be top of my favourite books by this author. It was good but not as good as others and left me a little flat, perhaps the whole was just too classic and underplayed. I guess when you are as good as Jae we readers come to expect the best every time and judge more harshly – hard price to pay for being such an excellent storyteller.



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: 367 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva (April 19, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06Y1SMC6R
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Captivated – Annette Mori

Captivated - Annette MoriWhen you open an Annette Mori novel you literally never know quite what you are going to get. Her stories are all very different, quirky, with unusual characters and served with a huge dollup of humour.

In ‘Captivated’ we meet Juliet who almost defies description. Beautiful, but completely unaware of it, she has suffered from a bizarrely strict upbringing and developed into somebody with decided idiosyncrasies.. she’s OCD and fanatical about hygiene and germs, but she is also the town snoop who just cannot keep her nose out of everyone else’s business. She isn’t a gossip, which redeems her, but the amateur sleuth just has to know what every one is up to.

The local law enforcement is hard nosed loner Tanner Sullivan, scarred from the loss of her partner and set on revenge. When Juliet see’s her take out the local drug dealer, apparently in cold blood, Tanner has no choice but to stash her in an out of the way, and extremely dirty, cabin. Juliet knows she is in deep trouble, that her obsession has caught up with her. She also knows her best chance for survival is bonding with the handsome cop.

The characters are extremely unusual for a lesfic romance/crime novel, but they grow on you, inexorably digging into your heart with their nutty moral code and eccentricities. Most of all they both know themselves enough to understand how unusual it is to find anyone who will accept them, and out of this comes a huge sense of tolerance for the oddities of others.

Annette Mori BioThere is a large cast of townsfolk who flit through the scenes and gradually take shape. From the cheating estate agent to the dirty pharmacist Mori has created a strong background of complex characters who are drawn with great detail despite their minor roles. She has an amazing ability to create a sense of being there, knowing these people, as though you could walk into town and recognise every players.

The story is a combination of madcap coincidences and solid murder mystery, with a side order of undercover agent and a strong thread of keystone cop. It’s about serious crimes, but while the actions are deadly, the scenes are almost comedic at times, particularly Juliet’s total inability to do what she’s told.

It took me a little while to get into this one, the characters need time to grow on you, but it is worth every second; funny, serious, entertaining, amusing and sweet. This could definitely become a series, and I would love to know what they get up to 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: 206 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity (March 30, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XYF5FVJ
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What Matters Most – Georgia Beers

What Matters Most - Georgia Beers Enjoyable and easy to read as always, Georgia Beers’ latest is a classic traditional romance with a sweet likeable heroine.

Kelsey has moved city and started a new life away from family and her ex, opening her own business and making new friends. When she meets a gorgeous woman in her local Starbucks there is an instant attraction that quickly leads to more. But Kelsey’s shop is soon under threat from an unexpected change of landlord, and suddenly her dreams and her personal life are in tatters.

Kelsey thought she had her life sorted, or at least moving in the right direction, but she soon learns how quickly things can fall apart, and, more importantly, what really matters the most.

Georgia Beers BioGeorgia Beers has a talent for making a fairly straightforward traditional romance come alive and making her characters feel like old friends. We engage so easily with her main characters that we feel part of their lives and are soon rooting for them to sort things out. Kelsey is no exception, we feel her pain, but also the frustration of wanting her to get over her hurt and ‘do the right thing’.

Kelsey’s speciality, selling perfumes, adds a layer of unusual interaction, everything for her is led by scent, how she interprets people and interacts with them. This adds an interesting nuance to the story and a depth of sensory colour that fills out the background very nicely.

Another sweet and charming romance from one of the best, always an enjoyable read and a happy ever after resolution.


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 2017
  • Publisher: Brisk Press (March 26, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XWCY4WG
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Delay of Game – Tracey Richardson

Delay of Game - Tracey RichardsonSet in the world of women’s international ice hockey Delay of Game is an excellent combination of sports based intrigue and rekindled romance.

Niki was one of the top players on the Canadian olympic team, now retired and teaching, she has moved on, married, become a parent and been widowed. When team Canada come knocking her first response is to say no, but her country and her team need her for the upcoming olympics. Eva is still playing and still one of the best on the young American team, but her body is giving out and its a constant struggle to get on the ice.

Their relationship ended bitterly many years before and they have avoided each other ever since, but now they are bound to meet in the run up to the olympics. Old feelings spark, rivalries run deep and some will do literally anything to win. When it comes to the crunch both women have to choose who they want to be, and where their loyalties lie.

This is a great read, fast moving, full of intrigue and action, on and off the rink. The spark between Eva and Niki is excellent, one having settled, literally, the other having spent her energy being a player in every sense of the word. The constant battle between their obvious passion for each other, Niki’s determination to stay loyal to her past and their commitment to their teams makes for great romantic tension and some hot sex.

Tracey richardson bioBoth women are interesting characters, well drawn and complex. You want both to succeed, clearly impossible for opposing teams, but off the rink you can’t help but want them to work it out. The intrigue between the teams adds a great dramatic energy that lifts this above a straight forward romance. Even though it is obvious who is playing dirty Ms Richardson keeps the tension high until the very end, we may know who, but we don’t know why – or if good will overcome.

Thoroughly enjoyable read, one of her best yet, and given they are all on my re-read pile that’s saying a lot.


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 (February 21, 2017)
  • ISBN: 978-1594935268
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Secret Hearts – Radclyffe

Secret Hearts - RadclyffeThe new Rad is an excellent lightweight traditional romance: quick and easy with little angst and a sweet charm.

Kip comes from money and power, but finds herself on the wrong side of at least a misdemeanour when she tries to make sure her brother doesn’t drink and drive. Being assigned to 400 hours of service at a local Community Garden is a million mies from her normal life, but she quickly realises just how much life she is missing.

Jordan was born a farmer and it’s in her blood, but tragedy has left her living a life with very little commitment. Sort term projects using her Ag skills, very few friends and a sense of always moving on. She is passionate about her projects though and not at all sure she sees the help of a criminal she never even asked for.

I really liked Kip and Jordan. They both have a complex family back history and are deeply scarred by tragedy. They both live restricted and unemotional lives because of their losses. Their coming together is a classic “happy ever after” without much angst, their attraction is overwhelming and overcomes any minor obstacle, but who doesn’t need an extremely rosy HEA now and again?

RadclyffeThere are touches of realism. Kip’s enabling behaviour to her wayward brother, the dysfunctional family, the fear of an illegal when the feds show up, even Kip’s claustrophobic reaction to a jail cell. Enough grounding to make it real, especially the heartfelt energy to make the project work, bring the garden to life.

Well written, fast paced, easy reading – an enjoyable way to spend the evening being swept away by romance and passion.  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: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: BBold Strokes Books (March 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06X3ZKY8K
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The Termination – Annette Mori

The Termination - Annette MoriAnnette Mori writes the most unusual books. No two have anything in common except for their distinctiveness. The Termination starts out as a seeming political thriller, prophetic and apt for the events which have happened since it was written, but resolves into a sweet traditional romance.

The political thread of the story was clearly written, as the author mentions in her closing note, as an outrageous political satire, taking the worst case scenario for the 2016 election to an extreme of neo-nazi dictatorship. The action adventure is fast paced and while, intentionally, far fetched is a great read.

Without giving away the plot its very hard to explain what happens next, so suffice it to say that out of the satirical drama comes a sweet romance. The plot links between the political drama and the main characters lives are cleverly done and quite fascinating. The story cross’s several genre boundaries which adds unexpected twists and turns.

Annette Mori BioThe main characters, Codee and Sawyer, are genuine, well drawn and complex women with layered and realistic backstories that make them very authentic. The secondary characters add depth and, if Ms Mori was a series writer, could easily be the basis of another romance novel, while I personally would vote to read Erma’s story which i suspect would be most intriguing.

The writing is well done, quite face paced despite describing a slow burn romance. The authors style and tone pulls you in and carries you along like the great storyteller she is. While you might know there is going to be a happy ever after ending, there is always that sense of expectation, waiting for another twist in the tale.

A lovely read, i thoroughly enjoyed it.


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: 183 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Affinity (January 31, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N171BC1
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Amounting To Nothing – Karis Walsh

Amounting to Nothing - Karis WalshBook three in the Tacoma Mounted Police series, although this will definitely stand alone if you haven’t read the previous stories. This is a sweet and gentle romance with a frisson of crime drama.

Billie Mitchell is a vet with PTSD who has found a place in the Tacoma Mounted Police. Despite considering herself a nomad after a disruptive childhood and years in the army, she is settled in Tacoma and has made friends in the neighbourhood and on the force.

Merissa Karr comes from a very privileged background and although she lives on her grandfather’s estate and runs a polo team, she is determined to make her own way as a project manager and designer in urban renewal. When her boss is shot the suspect list is small, and the motive hard to believe, but she needs both Billie’s protection and understanding in the aftermath of murder, and she is determined to find out why her boss and friend were killed.

Karis Walsh biogAs always with Karis Walsh’s books the characters are well drawn and the inter-relationships well developed. The friendships grow as the books unfold, and these are people we can genuinely care about and want to succeed. Ms Walsh has a subtle and enjoyable way of developing her characters and portraying their interactions, with an excellent narrative balance and a writing style that makes the plot flow.

There isn’t a huge amount of tension, and the crime is solved quite easily, but the crime is a vehicle for the romance, and I always enjoy Karis’ gentle and sweet stories. Well written and edited, this is an easy read, but definitely a great way to send the evening in front of the fire.


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: 214 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (February 14, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N6SVDY7
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The Devil’s Due – Ali Vali

Devil's Due - Ali ValiThis is the sixth book of the Devil Series, following the ongoing mafioso saga of Cain and Emma’s family and business life in the now Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. The threat of Juan Luis and his mother are gone but rogue FBI agent Anthony Curtis has disappeared. While trying to juggle friends, allies and family, a new baby on the way, new threats, and old family secrets, Cain must be all things to all men: wife, mother, leader, schemer and ruthless killer, loyal friend and honourable adversary.

This is an enthralling, nail biting and ultra fast moving addition to the Devil series. Casey now has so many irons in the fire it’s a case of smack one down and another pops up. The Casey alliance with the Jatibon and Carlotti families is strong but old and new enemies appear at every turn. Bizarrely some of her closest allies are cops and FBI agents who should be trying to take her down, but with whom she has a bond built over time. Detective Sept Savoie makes an appearance so check out “Calling The Dead” for her and Keegan’s story line.

Minor characters take centre stage while others take a backseat. In this episode the FBI takes a lesser role while rogue cops and angry in-laws take the lead in the non mafia life, and old enemies regroup in the underworld. Talking of minor previously minor characters, add “Girls With Guns” to the series if you want Finley and Abigail’s back story

Ali Vali BiogDevil’s Due is so fast paced you seriously have to concentrate, but once again Ali Vali has produced a brilliant story arc, sold character development, incomparable bad-ass women in traditionally male roles, leading both the goodies, baddies and cross-breeds. This episode closes off some of the loose ends, but sets us up for even more drama in the stories to come.

This is a stand-alone, but I would seriously recommend starting this series at the beginning. The overarching story arc is so good, the interrelationships so complex, that while it might make a good read, you will simply be missing too much backhistory and nuance of personal interplay to get the most from it.

Roll on the next in the series.. I mean really. Why can’t people write faster???


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: 288 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (January 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B01N9IULCC
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