Romance

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 The impact on Kate and Gina isn’t good either, Gina has withdrawn, and Kate doesn’t know how to get through to her.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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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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