Monthly Archives: July 2014

Destination Alara – S.Y. Thompson

Destination AlaraSY Thompson’s newest novel, Destination Alara, transports readers to a science fiction plot replete with nearly everything for which an aficionado of such books could wish: the creation of a unique galactic world with its own historical backstory, strong female protagonists, a romance which enhances the plot rather than overwhelming it, sophisticated political intrigue, and vivid, descriptive settings which are richly sensory in nature.  It isn’t surprising that Thompson delivers a novel in the tradition of Ursula Le Guin, with a bit of Elizabeth Lynn, and Mercedes Lackey tossed in for good measure.  Thompson creates a unique world, with incredibly nuanced characters, and a view of a matriarchal social structure that is not overly simplified or stereotypical, but possible.  Needless to say, I loved this book.  Thompson brought a bit of glee to my sci-fi soul.

Thompson creates a rather post-apocalyptic setting with its own historical backstory (not just a few years prior, but layers/generations of societies, not completely unlike that of Star Trek or Star Wars, but unique unto itself).  That history is useful in that it helps stage the current a political struggle, cast, (aptly), with gender, class, imperialist issues.  If Thompson had simply inserted a matriarchal society in place of the patriarchal one in which we live, the tale would be simplistic.

SY ThompsonInstead, the use of matriarchy allows for a tension between the antagonists in such a way that demonstrates the oppressive nature of male centered culture toward women; particularly with respect to women in power, the means by which rape culture would attempt to strip the power from any woman, as well as the disdain patriarchal societies hold for lesbians.  These themes play out well in the dynamic character of Admiral Meryan as a daughter of the ruling family and the circumstances in which she is placed within the plot, as well as how Van, the other protagonist, military hero, and love interest, works within that dynamic.

Desiination Alara - revised jacket
Alternate jacket image

Certainly, I could go on for pages about the themes at work in Destination Alara, it seems more appropriate for this review to clue the reader into the incredibly, no, sensuously vivid descriptions that Thompson provides the reader.   Each scene can be felt, heard, visualized completely, as if the reader is along side the character.   If one has ever watched an episode of Star Trek, then take that visualization and double it – that’s how intense the descriptors are written.  With respect to dialogue, each character has a unique phrasing, accent, emotional range, even with respect to minor characters.  Thompson delivers such a rich complexity to each moment of the plot that it seems genuine – an excellent rendering of a possible world.

All in all, SY Thompson delivers outstanding science fiction with a lesbian fiction focus.   The lesbian focal aspect should not dissuade non-lesbians from picking up this book, because it is outstanding and transcends gender identity.  It is simply put, wonderfully written science fiction.  I highly recommend this book.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Regal Crest/Silver Dragon (June 4, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00KSNFA22
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Fractured Futures – S.Y. Thompson

Fractured FuturesAs a hard-core Dark Urban Fantasy fan, it takes a clever plot to surprise me any more. More often than not, it seems as though every story harkens back to one prior, often as just shy of plagiarism, or as accidental homage. So, when I opened Fractured Futures, I was prepared to for disappointment. Happily, what I discovered was a strong dark urban fantasy, complete with intense female protagonists and romance that was rich, inviting, and sexy (oh, and between woman!)

SY Thompson takes a futuristic landscape, reminiscent of a blending of Orwell and Ridley Scott, dark, centralized, and fraught with layers of discord and corruption, yet she reaches further into that realm, casting a glance at the oppression of women service workers via the near cyborg effect cast upon Ronan as a police officer, serves as tool both owned and employed by the state.  This reductionism becomes further enhanced by her connection to technology, especially intriguing as the technological component leads to an even daker and complex plot line.

SY ThompsonFurther, Thompson explores sexuality, via intense dialogue and an inter-play of provocative themes of class — within both regime and intimacy. Additionally, as the plot revolves around serial killing, violence against women provides another important social element. It is the complexity of this interplay that ultimately strengthens the romantic relationship.

Certainly, I could easily say that I loved the book and call it a day. However, Thompson deserves recognition for how well she fused aspects of social justice into a police drama cum DUF cum lesbian fiction book. I highly recommend it. Hand down, this book will be re-read multiple times.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher:  Silver Dragon(September 10, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619291225
      Amazon.comTo buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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Anything your heart desires – AJ Adaire

Anything your heart desiresAmanda, Mallory, Nick and Dana, friends from AJ Adaire’s series Sunset Island, Awaiting My Assignment and Anything Your Heart Desires, decide to set up a translation business and offer language training together. Their new office is overlooked by an intrigued author, Stacy, who realizes her plot issues could be solved by making her character a lesbian.

Enter policewoman Jo Martin, friend of Mallory’s. Injured, in need of help, and an obvious candidate to teach the ‘straight’ Stacy all about the lesbian lifestyle for her novel. And nothing could possibly come of them living together. Stacy is confident of her sexuality, and Jo has a strict rule never to date straight women. They can be friends though right…


As always AJ Adaire writes charming traditional romances that entertain with warmth and affection. This is the fourth in the ‘Friends” sequence, and although it will stand alone, is definitely better read as part of that series.

The characters are pleasant women we all recognize, leading down-to-earth normal lives, battling their own demons, struggling like we all do, and sometimes battling the prejudice of friends, co-workers and families. These women aren’t heroes or superstars, they are literally the girls next-door and very easy to like.

The plot is slow to develop, but reflects the gradual change in Stacy’s life. She steadily becomes aware of her feelings, and even more gradually battles through Jo’s prejudices. It is interesting to watch the usual ‘conversion’ turned around and the lesbian being dragged kicking and screaming.

AJ Adaire biogWith a touch of humor and occasional laugh out loud moments Ms Adaire keeps the plot moving along – just. Jo’s rehab, the friends new business and Stacy’s novel steadily develop and giving a gentle pace.

The characters are well drawn. Not deep and exciting in any significant way, but they are the people we know, they have a realism that doesn’t make them overly exciting, but speaks to us as real people.

If you like traditional romances you will definitely enjoy these books. Watching the friends lives develop, meeting new members of the group and participating in the everyday lives of normal women. They aren’t challenging, but they are a most pleasant read. Old fashioned romances with gentle plots, charming characters and real life situations that will speak to us all. Definitely a pleasant read for the beach.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Desert Palm Press (March 10, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00IX5H0OI

To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.

Musings on a reading journey

As any of you who read my reviews will know I read almost exclusively lesbian novels, mainly romance, adventure, crime and similar. It has struck me recently, while reading a couple of fantasy stories, that I used to read almost exclusively sci/fi fantasy novels.

womens press booksI studied Women’s English Literature for my first degree so part of my education included Lessing, Perkins Gilman and Le Guin. Post University it was the 1980’s when English lesbian authors were on a high, with publishers like The Womens’ Press, Silver Moon, Virago and the like. Winterson, McDermid and Scott were all bright new stars in the lesfic orbit and Katherine V Forrest and Claire McNab were creating wonderful crime series in the US. I was hooked.

5071572488_ee2eceda19The Women’s Press had a Sci/Fi imprint, I remember collecting them all and had a whole shelf of fade to grey edged books alongside the stripes of the general fiction and the dark green of the Virago Classics.

<And yes I know its not normal to shelve books by publisher but it just looked so good.. I got over it and they were filed by genre, author, series.>

Virago Classics
When I got a job in a bookshop I was given the scifi/fantasy section to manage and I was in heaven – a whole new world to explore.

I loved Pratchet, and Gemmel, Feist and Eddings, but also read everything written by the women I could find at the time like McCaffrey, Kerr, Lackey, Baudino and Moon. I had forgotten how much I loved those books, and being a series junky of the worst kind those authors fed my addiction. So much so I must now go find the boxes in storage and re-read my favorites.

SassinakI think what drove me away from the genre was the lack of women leads, even from the women authors, and characters like Sassinak and Killashandra were a rareity. And then, of course, the complete lack of lesbians. <criminal Sassinak wasn’t written that way IMHO>. So I gradually moved away from fantasy with a soupcon of science fiction and migrated into the realm of the modern LesFic genre where a whole range of amazing authors are writing everything from BSDM to romantic tales, fantasy, thrillers.. every genre a growth area.

And then I got asked to review a couple of fantasy books and got chatting to a fantasy specialist and it brings back all the memories. Now there is a growth in the lesbian fantasy genre, some of which has come from the fanfic explosion. There are facebook groups, reviewers, bloggers, artists and some excellent authors producing a whole heap of fantasy material. I am out of date and it seems the world has moved on. There are sub-categories I had never heard of. If you want to know what’s what in terms of types of fantasy you need to check out Reading on the Dark Side and the Realm of In-Between at

If you want an amazing starting point from a Fantasy Geek who makes my series addiction look mild in comparison, check out Liz Hodge’s blogpost “FINDING MY WAY TO LESBIAN SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS — PART 1, BOOKSHELVES”

We will be reviewing some fantasy on the Lesbian Reading Room – details to follow shortly – but there is just too much to read, I can’t see me moving too far away from my soppy romances, at least in terms of reviews. But I will certainly take more note of the Scifi/Fantasy/Speculative releases and pick out some to re-ignite those futuristic fires.


In A Heartbeat – RJ Nolan

Ina  heartbeatSam McKenna is the ultimate chilled lesbian cop. Confident of her skills and abilities.. except when it comes to relationships. Like many she chooses to stick to no strings affairs while she sadly watches her sister find true love and pines for the same

The chance run-in of a local drunk takes her to the ER just when a madman drags a doctor into a cubical and threatens her life. Sam rushes to the rescue – but at what personal cost?

Dr. Riley Connolly, closeted trauma surgeon, has never met her family’s expectations and leads a very unsatisfying life. She feels a deep connection to the cop who risked herself to come to her aid and is drawn like a moth to the flame.

The incident binds them together. But can there be any future for a commitment-phobic cop and a closeted, workaholic doctor?


This is a follow up to LA Metro, but stands alone perfectly well. A very traditional romance full of lesbian angst over relationships, family rejection, fear of coming out and self-doubt.

Sam is very much the lesbian cop stereotype, but not in a bad way. She is strong, confident, fearless and sure of herself. But her heart has been broken too badly for her to trust herself in relationships. Riley is the archetypal-closeted career woman, repressed by family judgments and expectations, fearful of living her life. Attracted to the sexy cop, but terrified of acting on it.

RJ NolanThe characters are likeable and believable. We can empathize with their pain and engage in their struggles. The relationship between Sam and her sister Jess continues to delight and is added to by glimpses of the ongoing relationship between Kim and Jess (LA Metro).

The plot is solid, but at times it did feel a little drawn out. The whole book is spent on the angst, and the romance felt a little rushed at the end. Riley’s fears, in particular, seem to melt away in an instant after a whole book of pain about them. And the antagonism Jess feels towards Riley may be a useful plot tool, but feels rather forced. The story is good, but perhaps a little unbalanced in execution.

Having said that I enjoy Ms Nolan’s books and look forward to the next. She writes well, I like her characters and her style. If you loved LA Metro you will undoubtedly love this.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (May 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.
      UK .uk
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The Real Story – RJ Layer

The Real StoryKate Bellam was always in the closet, her parents “casting out” convincing her it was too risky to be open. When her sister died of a brain tumor and she took over raising her niece Megan, it seemed logical to bury her sexual needs. 10 years on and she has rarely acknowledged or acted on her real self, keeping her lesbianism buried from the world.

When Megan gets an internship with sports-writing “Tommie” Tommelson Kate’s initial reaction is twisted by a chance encounter at the local bar. Tommie is a typical butch dyke – Love them and leave them – “player”. But over the months that follow Kate realizes there is far more to Tommie than the surface impression. Can she find the courage to show her real self, and if she does can she hold Tommie’s wandering attention?


“The Real Story” is a very Traditional romance. Tommie assumes Kate is straight, Kate knows Tommie is a player, and we spend the novel watching their growing feelings for each other and waiting to see how, rather than if, the author will resolve the situation. Interwoven into their plot is the growing up of Megan, about to leave for college, exploring her own sexuality and pushing the boundaries.

The story is one we are all familiar with. Ms Layer shows Tommie’s “player” status and Kate’s fear of coming out. The two women’s attraction, the attraction of opposites, is reflected in their behaviors and sexual activity – one in the bars, the other in the bath. The sex scenes and sexual fantasy is suggestive rather than overly explicit which will please some readers but may frustrate others.

The characters are engaging, but they need more development. Tommie grows as she realizes she wants something different and recognizes how badly she treats her conquests. But Kate is drawn early and shown as being almost too perfect, despite her secrecy and deception. When she finally comes out there are no questions, no consequences, not even any hurt at the deceit.

The plot idea works, but the wanting, longing and near misses are frustrating at times. Not that every story needs to be a ‘U-Haul’ moment, but there needs to be more soul searching, more development and growth to fill the month long gaps between progression. And when they do finally act – it is instant U-Haul -again no angst or development, just instant ‘happy ever after.

The growing up of Megan is a bonus, and leaves the opportunity for a follow up, but again we are shown a glimpse of the real person and no real exploration. We see her, but don’t feel her. And while Kate’s over-protectiveness and care is understandable, her over-reaction to relatively minor accidents like a broken arm jar with her profession of surgical nurse.

This is a decent first novel, and I will happily read Ms Layer’s next work. It is a pleasant way to spend some time. But the build is too slow, the coming together too fast and the angst too forced.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bella Books (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the Paperback – click here.
      UK .uk
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The Addendum – Sandra Moran

The AddendumIf you haven’t read Nudge yet, why not? It is one of those books which stays in your thoughts, sort of lodges there as an idea and has a subtle but persistent effect on one’s semi-conscious mind.  Sandra’s first novel, Letters Never Sentjust won the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Dramatic/General Fiction Golden Crown awards, again if you haven’t read it –really– why not? Based on that you might have expected Nudge to be another well-written and moving romance of some sort.

But Nudge is not a romance. Nudge is a story about the major religions and how they got to be how they are. It sounds heavy, and it is certainly thought provoking and intellectual, but in a way that even if you don’t have a huge knowledge of other religions, makes sense.

I reviewed Nudge here.. but as a synopsis, Sarah Sheppard, ambitious marketing exec and definite atheist, gets rather forcefully headhunted by a strange middle eastern man who claims to represent God, now called Infinity to be inclusive. The job is to write a book that will speak to everyone, across the religious divides. To explain to them what God – sorry Infinity – really meant and how far our religions have moved from the message he (oops IT) meant to send.

Mmmm I hear you say. I did too until I read it and got engrossed in the concept.. and the excellent writing. So Nudge is this rather radical atheist’s journey of learning, understanding, and self discovery.

So why, I hear you cry, are you blathering on about Nudge when it’s a review of The Addendum? Well, of course, the book Sarah Sheppard was recruited to write was an addendum to the religious texts. And Sandra Moran being – well – Sandra Moran, she couldn’t leave the concept of the book actually being written alone. So now we have a literal addendum to Nudge.. helpfully called The Addendum. (Bet you never thought to that was a word that was going to be banged into your head).

Whatever your view of religion, whatever your religion, The Addendum is an interesting read, although one has to say its existence is rather a plot spoiler for any suspense Nudge might have held.

Anyway – The Addendum introduces us to the major ‘Nudges’ that have appeared in the last 2000 years. These Nudges were sent by Infinity to ‘nudge’ humanity along, but as we have free will, and because the message of the nudges were often written after the fact, the religious texts do not always represent what Infinity intended. The Addendum is Infinity’s explanation and correction.

It is hugely interesting, informative, well researched and brilliantly written. Ms Moran’s editing has clearly made Ms Sheppard’s marketing copy immensely readable. Sandra Moran always makes you think. Whether it is a moving romance set across a time in history when being gay was a life threatening option, or challenging us to think about how our religions have been twisted and tormented into institutionalized bigotry and hatred of anything ‘other’. The Addendum is no exception and will make you take a second look at the major characters included – at how they impacted the world and what we, humankind, have done with the messages they brought.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 47 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink  (July 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LJ8HDG6
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
To buy the paperback – click here.
      UK .uk
To buy the Kindle edition – click here.
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Goldies 2014 – the Winners

2014 GoldGCLS clean logoie Awards

Click on the highlighted titles to read our reviews


Ann Bannon Popular Choice

 Letters Never Sent  Sandra Moran  Bedazzled Ink
 All That Lies Within  Lynn Ames  Phoenix Rising Press

Anthology/Collection (Fiction)

Best Lesbian Romance Radclyffe (ed) Cleis Press
Beyond the Trail Jae Ylva Publishing
Three Ann McMan Bedazzled Ink

Debut Author

Exception to the Rule Cindy Rizzo Self-published
In Between Jane Hoppen Bold Strokes Books
Laughing Down the Moon Eva Indigo Bella Books

Dramatic/General Fiction

In This Small Spot Caren J. Werlinger Corgyn
Letters Never Sent Sandra Moran Bedazzled Ink
Picking Up The Pieces Brenda Adcock Regal Crest Enterprises


At Her Feet Rebekah Weatherspoon Bold Strokes Books
Switching Gears Rhavensfyre Sapphire Books Publishing
Wild Girls, Wild Nights:
True Lesbian Sex Stories
Sacchi Green Cleis Press

Historical Fiction

Passion for Vengeance Patty G. Henderson Blanca Rosa Publishing
Reflected Passion Erica Lawson Blue Feather Books
Silver Wings H.P. Munro H.P. Munro


Point of Betrayal Ann Roberts Bella Books
Turning the Tide Jenna Rae Bella Books
Yellow Vengeance Liz Bugg Insomniac Press


 The Awakening: Book One in the
Sisters of Spirits Trilogy
 Yvonne Heidt  Bold Strokes Books
 The Horde  Linda Kay Silva  Sapphire Books Publishing
 The Lone Hunt  L.L. Rand  Bold Strokes Books


 Chopper! Chopper!  Veronica Reyes  Red Hen Press
 Roses Read  Various, edited by Beth Mitchum  UltraVioletLove Publishing
 The Finely Human Experience  Monique Finley  UltraVioletLove Publishing

Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure

Code of Honor Radclyffe Bold Strokes Books
Mountain Rescue: The Ascent Sky Croft Regal Crest Enterprises
The Gemini Deception Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou Bold Strokes Books

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Deep Deception Cathy Pegau Carina Press (Harlequin Enterprises)
Saving Morgan MB Panichi Bella Books
Shell Game Benny Lawrence Bedazzled Ink

Traditional Contemporary Romance

Every Second Counts D. Jackson Leigh Bold Strokes Books
Homestead Radclyffe Bold Strokes Books
I Remember Julie Cannon Bold Strokes Books

Young Adult

 Orphan Maker  D Jordan Redhawk  Bella Books
 Secret City  Julia Watts  Bella Books
 Secret Lies  Amy Dunne  Bold Strokes Books

Blogspot – 6 questions for Cheyne Curry

cheyneCheyne Curry was born in Vermont, raised in New York, and spent most of her adult life in California. She now resides in the Midwest with her wife, Brenda, and their rescued pets. Cheyne’s first novel, Renegade, was published in 2009, and was a finalist for the Golden Crown Literary Society Debut Novel Award. Cheyne is also a founding member of 3 Grunts Productions.

Her The Tropic of Hunter is a Goldie finalist in the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure categories. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.

mockingbird1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’m not sure I could adequately explain why I hold this novel so dear. I loved the character of Scout and her narration of her loss of childhood innocence much too soon at 6, through the hatred and ignorance of the people in the town she lived in. I loved the way Lee made human the quirky, imperfect and sometimes horrible residents of Maycomb, Alabama in the mid-1930s. I also loved the nobility and tolerance of Atticus Finch as he tried to provide Tom Robinson with fair representation in a time where injustice and inequality was the norm, especially in the south. And I loved how, as a single father, he tried to raise his two children morally and without prejudice. There is just so much to love about this book, published in 1960, elements of which are still relevant today. It’s also one of my favorite films.

2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?

Music inspires me to write. My taste inRudi Jetten music is quite eclectic. One day I’ll be in the mood for Big Band Swing and the next, head banging Rock and what I listen to sometimes directly determines the scene I work on. I even get inspired by some Rap songs, although not many as it is my least favorite genre. Then, if I can’t find a particular musical inspiration, I’ll compose my own (you can sample some of my compositions on the My Music page of my website.

3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
My wonderful, patient, encouraging, compassionate wife, Brenda. She has worked with lesbian writers for years, first with a now-defunct lesbian publishing house and then she put together a few Bard events. We met when she wrote me a “fan” letter for the online version of The Tropic of Hunter and became friends through email. We met in person some time later and the sparks flew but we didn’t take it further for quite a while (we lived in different states). One of the things that attracted me to her was/is that she fully comprehends what it takes to get the work out from within and really nurtures the creative process.

4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
I used to never understand when people would say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated,” but, now I do and, especially in this case, (the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award), it’s an honor just to make the finalists.  Renegade made the short list in the Golden Crown Literary Society Awards for Debut Fiction in 2009 and it was an honor just to make the short list.

I have this cartoon on my refrigerator that shows these 2 men walking down a street and pigs are flying all around them and it has one of the men looking up and saying, “Cheyne must have sold a script.” But it used to say, “Cheyne must have gotten published.” So, to see my work in print (and actually selling) is a long-time dream come true. The swine are indeed airborne.

5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
Putting together a film team for a local contest called the 3 Days of Comedy Chaos, where you make a film in 3 days (write, cast, film, edit, score and complete in three days).  Everyone donates their time and talent and equipment (if they have it, otherwise they rent it) and the only expense is on the producer to provide beverages (usually water, coffee and Gatorade) and at least one main meal a day during filming, and snacks. I have learned that Twizzlers are a huge staple on local film sets, so there will be plenty of those. I’m also going to be making a short, horror film with my usual screenplay buddy, Chris Westfield, which I am looking forward to.

6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
Next is a revised Renegade which will be published by Blue Feather. This re-edited version will have a couple more chapters added to the beginning. Since PD Publishing went out of business last year that meant that there would be no more printing of the original. When the rights were reverted back to me, I offered it to Blue Feather and Emily said yes. So when it comes out this time, it will also be available on eBook, which wasn’t an option before.
After that, I have about 5 irons in the creative fire, two as a co-author (both so vastly different in content and in contrast with anything I’ve ever written before). One is almost finished and the other is just beginning. I love being challenged and these two projects are certainly doing that.

Huge thanks to Cheyne for taking part. You can read a full biography and see all her books on her Cheyne Curry author page.