Miss Havisham Says Yes

The details…

  • Title: Miss Havisham Says Yes
  • Author: Eule Grey
  • Publisher: JMS Books LLC
  • Publication date: January 28, 2023
  • Formats available: ebook
  • Digital file size: 3490 KB
  • Print Length: 68 pages
  • Genres: romance
  • Themes: finding love, finding beauty in yourself, family, friendship, women loving women
  • Tropes: rich girl/poor girl

The blurb from the publisher…

Kind-hearted redhead Cindi has a lot on her mind: Gran, college exams, bills, and what to wear at the Valentine’s Day student ball. She needs a Cinderella dress, glittery shoes, and a girlfriend to cuddle up with. What a pity fairy tales are only for kids. Aren’t they? All is not lost. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the sweetest magic is in the air … Cindi takes a tumble while mopping the floor and bangs her head. She opens her dizzy eyes to the gift of one magical wish. What will it be?

Tara, the climber. Childhood friend and daughter of Cindi’s employers. Wealthy, lithe, sexy, and thoughtful. Tara’s wish? To climb Mount Everest and to spend time with gorgeous Cindi. She’d love to take her best friend on a date to the college ball — and then go all the way from blushing student to confident girlfriend, from shy Cinderella to dancing queen. Pumpkin to … moped.

When two wishes collide, a spark is ignited, powerful enough to tickle anyone’s peak. When everything is laid bare, only one sparkling question remains: Will Miss Havisham say yes?

My thoughts…

Many people believe that short stories are easy to write; anyone can do it. I disagree. Short stories can be tricky to write and even more difficult to earn acclaim. Short story writers win readers over by remaining focused. Their words are meaningful but never superfluous. The narrative must capture a relatable moment, one that evokes a mood and enhances a theme. Readers need to quickly connect with the characters, and their development needs to make sense and have purpose. Furthermore, each character must serve a vital role in the story, not just provide fluff. Writers of short stories have a limited amount of space to accomplish all of this. If they don’t, readers will walk away. 

I once read an article about a fiction writer that was working on a collection of short stories. He reported that he was working himself into “a ball of despair” over the project. When his wife questioned why he was so anxious, he told her, “Every sentence worries me. None of them are doing enough.”

This is the plight of the short story writer. Every element needs to do its job, and the balance is critical. The approach can not be haphazard, not if one wants to be successful. Why do I mention all of this, and what does it have to do with Eule Grey’s new release? Because Eule Grey “gets” all of this and her short stories shine because of it.

Miss Haisham Says Yes is Grey’s 7th short/novella, and it’s a wonderful little journey. Grey takes risks with it and shows readers a place where characters can learn to see themselves as beautiful, even after enduring years of disappointing looks and unkind words. It’s a brave and heartfelt Cinderella-like story. The characters, plot, pacing and story structure work together to shine a light on a theme that never fails to resonate: We all come in different sizes and shapes and are worthy of love.

Final thoughts…

Eule Grey is a marvelous creator of the shorts because she grasps the fundamentals. Miss Havisham Says Yes gives readers a well-balanced blend of the basics: a narrative that is tightly focused and well themed, characters that push the plot in a clear, purposeful direction, and a wonderful story world that’s hard to resist. If you are one that likes quick, romantic reads with fairytale slants, then you’ll delight in this one.

Strengths…

  • Entertaining, engaging storyline
  • Likable characters
  • A feel-good read

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Eule Grey, author, has travelled all over and settled, for now, in the UK. Her mind, however, is often in the clouds or away with the fairies. Some might call her fey. Eule loves books, pets, and happy endings. Adversely, she also enjoys reading a creepy horror story, though she isn’t very brave.

Best of all, Eule adores creating cuddly, sparkling romances. She also writes all kinds of other queer stories and refuses to be squeezed into only one genre—she just isn’t tidy enough! Wish to connect with Eule?

Chaos Agent

The details…

  • Title: Chaos Agent
  • Author: Lee Winter
  • Publisher : Ylva Publishing
  • Publication date: February 8, 2023 (Ylva Publishing), no date set yet for Amazon
  • Available formats: epub, mobi, pdf, paperback (Amazon)
  • Length: 352 pages/105,000 words
  • IBSN: 978-3-96324-750-7 (ebook), 978-3-96324-751-4 (pdf)
  • Genre: romantic mystery/thriller
  • Themes: politics, political agendas, media, good vs evil, activism, corruption, espionage, greed, power, justice, vengeance, women loving women
  • Tropes: age gap romance, enemies to lovers, ice queen romance, opposites attract romance, workplace romance

The blurb from the publisher…

What happens when the sweetest employee learns her boss’s evil secrets? This opposites-attract ice queen romance asks: Can a villain truly be redeemed?

CEO Michelle Hastings has foolishly promoted a kind, clueless activist to her full-time staff. Now, on top of fighting her inconvenient feelings, Michelle must hide the evil they do.

Eden Lawless relishes her new job, the hot boss who gives her butterflies, and her eccentric workmates who tell weird jokes about their day. Blackmail? Hacking? Doxing? Hilarious! But what if it’s not a joke? Would that mean Eden has to fight the boss she’s falling for?

Chaos Agent, the last book in The Villains Series, is a lesbian romance filled with intrigue, humor, hurt, and heart. It’s set in The Red Files universe but can be read as a standalone series.

My thoughts…

I don’t even know where to begin to describe how bleeping fantastic The Villains Series is; I’m still trying to shove my brain back in my head after finishing the last installment Chaos Agent. To say Winter has outdone herself would be a gross understatement. She knocked it so far out of the park, it went home for a snack and strolled back before anyone could even figure out what direction it went!

When I sat down to write my review for The Fixer, book one of this series, I thought that it was one of the best books Winter has written, and that’s saying something because she’s amassed a long list of awards for her work. Chaos Agent, however, is a unique book. In this final book of the series, she not only ties up the loose ends efficiently and effectively, she does it with supreme skill and genius. It’s easy to see the beauty in this novel; it’s definitely award worthy.

Most sapphic fiction tends to be formulaic; writers have a tried and true approach to building the story and arriving at a HEA. Winter likes to toy with the formula though. She likes to play with archetypes, and it makes the storytelling very exciting. But in Chaos Agent, it’s beyond exciting; it’s riveting. She plays with archetypes in ways writers seldom do. She turns Michelle Hastings, her protagonist, inside out, stretching her shades of good and evil. I was often left wondering, “How is she going to write her way out of this one?” She does though, and Michelle’s character development expands the storytelling in ways that are jaw dropping. She is definitely one character readers will not soon forget.

When readers first meet Michelle in The Fixer, she is an ice queen like no other. She is ruthless, cruel and cold. In the beginning, readers can’t fathom finding any sympathy for her. Yet, by the end of Chaos Agent, readers will throw down and fight for her willingly. Why? Because Winter takes readers on an incredible character arc ride. She breaks Michelle down until she is almost unrecognizable. Yet, she is still very much worth knowing. Eden, her one time nemesis, even thinks she’s worth loving. Eden’s mother sums it up best when she tells Michelle, “Eden has a beautiful heart. And you, Michelle, ache to have one too.” In that ache, readers find compassion for her. They also find an ice queen that isn’t as icy as they had once believed.

As much as I love Michelle and the way she’s developed on the page, I find Eden equally as compelling. She’s a captivating and charming character; her goodness is hard to resist. However, she’s a bit too trusting and naive for her own good. Perhaps that’s why readers like her. She does have some “mommy issues” though, and the way Winter addresses them near the end is masterful. She scripts a big moment between the two that not only resolves their family’s tensions but pushes their character. It’s just one scene, but the story is made a bit softer for it.

As much as I enjoyed the character work in this book, I came to appreciate Winter’s use of literary devices even more. The way she deftly and craftily integrates secondary characters, dialogue foreshadowing and irony into this story and series is quite remarkable. Seemingly without knowing it, readers are pulled farther into the story, making them connect to the characters and storytelling on a deeper level. Be warned: Book hangover is a thing and this one will cause it.

As I mentioned earlier, the use of secondary characters is stellar. Safta, Ottilie (Tilly), Phelim, Aggie, River, and Eden’s dad Peter—though only secondary—are all important to the story. Each are interesting and unique in their own way, serving the story well. Most of all, their presence enhances the storytelling. They aren’t shoehorned in. Readers develop a fondness for them, but Winter never allows these characters to overtake the stage. Ultimately, it’s a testament to Winter’s talent as a writer and a storyteller.

Final I remarks…

The Villains Series got my attention in ways that few books do. Chaos Agent is a fantastic closer for the series and gives readers something they may not expect but certainly will appreciate. I’d encourage everyone to read it!

Strengths…

  • Well-written
  • Well-plotted
  • Great characters
  • Fantastic storytelling
  • Engrossing storyline
  • Must read

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Lee Winter is an award-winning veteran newspaper journalist who has lived in almost every Australian state, covering courts, crime, news, features and humour writing. She is now a full-time author and part-time editor.

Since becoming a full-time writer, Lee’s accumulated an impressive array of awards:

  • 2015 Lambda Literary Award finalist and Golden Crown Literary Society Award winner (The Red Files)
  • 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist (Requiem for Immortals)
  • 2017 Golden Crown Literary Society Award-Mystery/Thriller (Requiem for Immortals)
  • 2017 bronze winner for mainstream Independent Publisher Book Awards for E-book Mystery/Thriller (Requiem Immortals)
  • 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Award for sci-fi/fantasy (Shattered)
  • 2021 Golden Crown Literary Society Award-Romantic Blend (Hotel Queens)

Currently Lee lives in Australia with her long-time girlfriend, where she spends much time ruminating on her garden, US politics, and shiny, new gadgets. Wish to connect with Lee?

The Fixer

The details…

  • Title: The Fixer
  • Author: Lee Winter
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • Publication Dates: Ylva Publishing-January 18, 2023; Amazon-January 25, 2023
  • Length: 83,000 words
  • Available formats: epub, mobi, pdf, paperback
  • ISBNs: 978-3-96324-747-7 (ebook), 978-3-96324-748-4 (pdf)
  • Genre: romantic thriller
  • Themes: good vs evil, corruption, espionage, greed, power, politics, activism, justice, vengeance, women loving women
  • Tropes: age gap romance, enemies to lovers, ice queen romance, opposites attract romance, workplace romance

The blurb from the publisher…

A naive activist is hired by a corporate villain but doesn’t realize it. Cue one awkward farce, a twisty puzzle, and the slowest of slow burns in this opposites-attract, ice queen romance.

Nine years ago, aloof, icy Michelle Hastings chose career over love. She’s now living with that choice as she rules a secret corporation catering to the rich and powerful.

Enter Eden Lawless. The guileless activist finds it a bit weird being employed by a mystery organization to bring down a corrupt mayor. But, hey, she’s up for a challenge. Much harder is getting her beautiful new boss out of her head. The pull between them is electric.

Book one in The Villains Series is a lesbian romance filled with intrigue, humor, and heart. It’s set in The Red Files universe but can be read as a standalone series.

My thoughts…

I am in awe of Lee Winter’s craftsmanship and storytelling ability. It is beyond remarkable. As someone who grew up loving books and then went on to teach about the beauty inside them, I can proclaim nothing but appreciation for the brilliant construction of this well-penned work. Fans will want to rush ahead to unravel the who’s, the how’s and the why’s of the plot, but I’d suggest they don’t. This is a masterful tale that should be savored. Winter’s incredible application of skill and artistry is measurable and noteworthy. 

As per usual, Winter has created characters that are superlatively developed. There is no other way to describe it. Their arcs demand it, and Winter simply nails it. The way she takes Michelle Hastings, one hard-edged character with a despicable history, and turns her into someone readers actually like—well, that’s pure genius. 

As I mentioned earlier, the story crafting is spectacular; it is sound and unshakable. A quick mention should be made that Winter does use pieces of her previous books to push The Fixer’s plot. However, the nucleus of this tale remains original. It’s crafty, it’s clever and it’s gripping. Readers are hooked by the compelling characters and their engaging dialogue, and they do not want to be released. The Fixer’s story world is far too enthralling to walk away from.

Final remarks…

The Fixer is a twisty-turny tale that lovers of small-town political drama and intrigue will not be able to resist. The storytelling is absolutely scrumptious and sets readers up nicely for book two, The Chaos Agent, which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Strengths…

  • Well-written and well-designed
  • Fantastic story world
  • Engaging, compelling characters
  • A must read romantic thriller

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Lee Winter is an award-winning veteran newspaper journalist who has lived in almost every Australian state, covering courts, crime, news, features and humour writing. She is now a full-time author and part-time editor.

Since becoming a full-time writer, Lee’s accumulated an impressive array of awards:

  • 2015 Lambda Literary Award finalist and Golden Crown Literary Society Award winner (The Red Files)
  • 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist (Requiem for Immortals)
  • 2017 Golden Crown Literary Society Award-Mystery/Thriller (Requiem for Immortals)
  • 2017 bronze winner for mainstream Independent Publisher Book Awards for E-book Mystery/Thriller (Requiem Immortals)
  • 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Award for sci-fi/fantasy (Shattered)
  • 2021 Golden Crown Literary Society Award-Romantic Blend (Hotel Queens)

Currently Lee lives in Australia with her long-time girlfriend, where she spends much time ruminating on her garden, US politics, and shiny, new gadgets. Wish to connect with Lee?

The Hues of Me and You

The details…

  • Title: The Hues of Me and You
  • Author: Morgan Lee Miller
  • Publication date: January 10, 2023
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • ISBN: 9781636792293
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • Digital file size: 1473 KB
  • Print length:
  • Genre: romance
  • Themes: friendship, politics, art, family expectations, women loving woman, relationships, quarter-life crisis, forks-in-the-road
  • Tropes: second chance romance

The blurb from the publisher…

Arlette Adair has always done what’s right. From the day she was born, she’s lived the life her parents forced upon her. Now, she’s stuck in a sparkless relationship and a job she never wanted. Her father’s presidential campaign will forever root her in the world of politics that she’s trying to escape from.

Brooke Dawson has always made her own rules. She’s a struggling freelance artist by day and a catering bartender at night, but her heart is full…almost. When she picks up a bartending shift at a high society party, she hopes to bring home enough money to pay her rent. She never expects to run into Arlette Adair: her former best friend, the girl she spent all of college secretly crushing on, and the one who got away.

Now face-to-face with their unresolved past, Arlette and Brooke quickly fall back into their old ways while dancing around the biggest question: Why hadn’t they fallen in love all those years ago?

My thoughts…

The Hues of Me and You is an enjoyable second chance romance. Miller is known for them and those that like this type of trope will find that she easily nails their nuances. She understands the basics of a good second chance: She gets the main characters right. Arlette and Brooke are both compelling and likable. More than that though, they’re interesting. They have a complicated and layered backstory that neither woman can seem to forget. Once college best friends too unsure and afraid to ask for more, they now find themselves looking at an opportunity to reconnect. The prospect of something more has readers falling hook, line and sinker; the tried but true storyline is too enticing to resist.

This story reminded me of KL Hughes’s The Art of Us. In both stories, art, young love and heartbreak are central to its themes. However, Miller takes it a step further and adds politics to the narrative. This compelling dynamic not only makes the storytelling stand out, but it makes it intriguing as well. Miller paints modern Washington with irresistible power and persuasion, bringing real relevance to the page.

Arlette is an interesting character. She’s nicely developed, stirring emotions and garnering sympathy as any good lead should. Miller does a nice job with her. Be that as it may, what I find most endearing about her is her relationship with her grandfather. It’s a special bond and nicely captured on the page. Moreover, Miller uses it to flesh Arlette out and to drive her arc forward in steady measures. Unerringly, it plays perfectly on the page, making for some entertaining reading.

As far as Brooke, she’s an easy sell. There’s nothing to not like about her. She brings a softness to the story that’s heartwarming. Readers like her as much as they do Arlette. Furthermore, they can feel the affection she has for Arlette, underscoring the romance and chemistry between the women. Ultimately Arlette and Brooke work well together, bringing a sense of believability to the storytelling that’s needed for a true HEA. 

Final remarks….

The Hues of Me and You is a solid story and a good second chance romance. Miller has stated that she’s a sucker for this trope because they are not only entertaining, but relatable. Well, this one certainly is, and I hope she makes good on her promise to write more of them.

Strengths…

  • Tenderly written
  • Likable, engaging leading ladies
  • Interesting secondary characters
  • Interesting sub-plot
  • Engaging story world
  • Entertaining romance

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Morgan Lee Miller started writing at the age of 5 in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. Since there is absolutely nothing to do there, she entertained herself by writing her first few novels by hand.

During the day, Morgan works for an animal welfare non-profit, and at night, she’s procrastinating working on her next novel.

She currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her two feline children, Milo and Elsa. She has a serious problem with oversharing pictures of her cats on Instagram and promises never to apologize for it.

Connect with the author…

I Kissed Shara Wheeler (audiobook)

The details…

  • Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler
  • Written by: Casey McQuiston
  • Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 05/03/2022
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Other formats available: ebook, paperback, hardcover
  • Digital file size: 3665 KB
  • Print length: 361 pages
  • Genre: young adult LGBTQ+ fiction
  • Themes: coming of age/coming to terms with oneself, homophobia, high school drama, religion, private school, small town mindset, bisexuality, queer romance, women loving women
  • Tropes: enemies to lovers

The blurb from the publisher…

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and the puritanical administration of Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair and square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

My thoughts…

I got swept into the narrative of this young adult contemporary romance a few short minutes after pressing play. Listening to Natalie Naudus is a dream; she is a fantastic narrator and her performances are always a pleasure. She has mastered the art of character transition, and that is so crucial in good story narration. Her voices are unique and distinctive for each character, making it easy for listeners to not only follow the story, but fall into it.

As far as the writing, it’s top notch. Fans of McQuiston have admired her talents since her 2019 debut best seller Red, White & Royal Blue. Now with I Kissed Shara Wheeler, readers can easily see why McQuiston is met with considerable critical acclaim.

Listeners will find this young adult novel to be a real gem. It’s very southern small town, private high school and anyone who’s been there will definitely relate. The storytelling is unique and original; everything about it just works, especially the dialogue. McQuiston makes it jump off the page with her quick wit and sharp tongue. More than anything though, she uses it to effectively transfer an understanding of teenagers in a capable and compassionate way. Furthermore, her signature style and tone accentuate the mood of high school that is often found in this genre, enabling the narrative to glide along easily and naturally. Essentially, listeners are greeted with something that’s fun, inviting and hard to resist.

Final remarks

There is no disputing the fact that Natalie Naudus breathes the right kind of life into Casey McQuiston’s well-written contemporary tale. These two creatives are perfectly paired, making this audio well worth the listen. I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a funny and compassionately told coming of age story, and if you like those, then this one is for you.

Strengths…

  • Well-written
  • Well-narrated
  • Entertaining
  • Fresh
  • Original
  • Engrossing characters

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Casey McQuiston writes books about smart people with bad manners that falling in love. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue and One Last Stop. She was born and raised in southern Louisiana, which taught her how to love a good story and a great biscuit. She now lives in New York City with Pepper, her poodle mix and personal assistant.

Connect with the author…

A bit about the narrator…

Natalie Naudus is an Asian American audiobook narrator of over 250 titles, but she started out as an opera singer. She now narrates, relishing the emotional journey through each book, finding a unique and honest voice for each character, doing her utmost to honor the words of the author.

Her narration has been described as rich, evocative, and elegant. Her character voices range from sweet to insane and her language training gives her great accents and convincing foreign language dialogue.

Connect with the narrator…

Destination Bedding: A Summit Springs Novella

The details…

  • Title: Destination Bedding: A Summit Springs Novella
  • Author: Allison Temple
  • Publication date: January 17, 2023
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 2643 KB
  • Print length: 153 pages
  • Genre: romantic comedy
  • Themes: women loving women, family drama, ex-fiancés, weddings, longtime friendships, sisters
  • Tropes: second chance

The blurb from the publisher…

Kate’s fine. Just fine.

Sure, her ex-fiancé is marrying Kate’s little sister in scenic Summit Springs. Sure, her friends and family don’t think that plot twist is weird. And sure, her pink bridesmaid’s dress is a fashion crime.

But it’s fine. Just fine.

Until Kate comes face to face with Piper. They’ve known each other their whole lives, but Piper’s gone from awkward teen to walking temptation. And she’s not shy about showing Kate exactly how grown up she is.

Kate’s ready and Piper is willing, but it’s impossible to find time alone with alpacas and bridezilla on the loose. If they can just get the happy couple down the aisle, then Kate can reach her true destination: one night in Piper’s bed.

Destination Bedding is a 40k contemporary FF romance novella. It features a burned-out bridesmaid, a wedding weekend in the mountains, and a little sister’s best friend who plays by her own rules.

My thoughts…

I have to say I was a little surprised by this book. The cover had me all geared up for it to be a little Harlequin romancy and full of fluff. However, it wasn’t. Temple delighted me in the most pleasant ways with her storytelling. Destination Bedding has a real depth to it that is captivating. Temple does a fine job with the characters too. The development is strong and readers quickly connect to them. I was especially drawn to Kate. Her journey is a bit complicated and it tugs on one’s heart. Since it is told from her perspective, readers are easily pulled into her world; they emphasize with her strange predicament and really feel for her. Readers want Kate to get her HEA; she deserves it after the heartache and disappointment she’s endured.

Piper, the girl Kate develops a crush for, is adorable. They had “a thing” a year earlier, so one might even call this a second chance romance. Their spark from that first brief fling never burned out, so when they are put together as bridesmaids, things quickly heat up. I appreciate how Temple keeps the feelings real and honest. She doesn’t water them down or rush them. It’s a smart way to script Kate and Piper’s romance; it forces both of these women to grow and change in organic ways. Plus, the storytelling benefits from it as it comes off genuinely believable and heartwarming, a must for and good romance.

Final remarks…

This is a quick, easy read. The writing is solid. The dialogue is effective. The characters are charming. Overall, this is a very entertaining read. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Destination Bedding to anyone who loves fresh, witty contemporary romances.

Strengths…

  • Engaging characters
  • Entertaining plot
  • Inviting storytelling
  • Quick, fun and easy read

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Allison lives in Toronto with her very patient husband and the world’s cutest team of rescue pets. She tries to split her time between writing, exploring Toronto’s parks, and traveling anywhere that has good wine. Tragically, this leaves no time to clean the house.

Connect with the author…

Last Chance Chicago

The details…

  • Title: Last Chance Chicago
  • Author: Diana DiGangi
  • Publisher: Bywater Books
  • Distribution: Distributed to the trade by Ingram Publishing Services
  • Release date: December 6, 2022
  • ISBN: 978-1-61294-251-3
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • Digital file size: 5245 KB
  • Print length: 322 pages
  • Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Romance / LGBTQ+
  • Themes: ex-wives, second chances, insider trading, securities fraud, corporate conspiracy, coverups, legal drama, cocaine addiction

The blurb from the publisher…

Attorney and recovering cocaine addict Sam DiCiccio didn’t think she was ever going to see her ex-wife Amy Igarashi again, much less wind up defending her against felony insider trading charges.

But Amy’s been falsely accused, and Sam, who’s still in love with her, can’t bear to watch her take the fall for a crime she didn’t commit. Amy is holding on to resentment from their broken relationship and is hesitant to let Sam back into her life. But that all changes when her assets are frozen by a judge, and Sam is the best and only lawyer she can afford.

As Sam and Amy pull the threads of the alleged crime, they begin to unravel a mysterious corporate conspiracy that runs deep and wide. But as the clock ticks faster each day, the chance to prove Amy’s innocence and keep her out of jail begins to slip away.

Sam and Amy keep inching closer to the truth, but each step draws them closer to shadowy enemies and amplifies the heat between them.

My thoughts…

Last Chance Chicago blew me away! The plot is beyond intense; I couldn’t read it fast enough. I’ve enjoyed many thrillers over the years, but this one is remarkable. I have no doubt DiGangi will rack up some literary awards with this one. The storytelling is too exceptional to be missed.

Though Diana DiGangi is a seasoned journalist and writer, this is her first work of fiction, and oh what a work of fiction it is! The storytelling is exquisite; DiGangi proves herself to be an impressive storyteller with Last Chance Chicago. It is well-mapped and well-constructed. There is no way to escape the thrilling drama inside its pages.

Readers will absolutely love the leading ladies. Sam and Amy are flawed in ways that make them real and emotionally relatable. More than anything though, they are likable. They each have an appealing dose of personableness that readers find attractive; one can’t help but be charmed. Together they are even more captivating. Their history can’t be ignored and neither can their love. Readers want them to rekindle their romance as much as they want them to beat the security fraud charges.

Final remarks…

DiGangi is an incredible storyteller and this is an amazing romantic thriller. The pacing is fast and the suspense is gripping. Readers will not want to put it down. I wholeheartedly give Last Chance Chicago two thumbs up.

Strengths…

  • Page-turning suspense
  • Fantastically well-developed characters
  • Exquisitely, well-designed plot
  • Cover to cover entertainment

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Diana DiGangi was born and raised in the suburbs outside Washington D.C. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s in journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she started her journalism career in television news, then returned to the D.C. area to pursue work as an investigative journalist. She now covers the federal government full-time while writing fiction in her spare time. In the tiny sliver of her day that she spends not writing, she likes to bike the trails in D.C. and Arlington, grill out with friends, play video games, and help her parents take care of the family whippets.

Connect with the author…

With One Look

The details…

  • Title: With One Look
  • Author: Jamey Moody
  • Publisher: Indie Author/Publisher
  • Publication date: December 1, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • Digital file size: 577 KB
  • Print length: 180
  • Genre: romance
  • Themes: fated love, overcoming grief and loss, friendship, family, mother/daughter relationships, women loving women

The blurb from the publisher…

Can one look change a life forever? 

They say magic happens at Christmas. Eve Lux was about to find this out when she accepts a much needed ride from Carly Campbell to help fulfill her mother’s last wishes.

Come along on this holiday adventure complete with music, a road trip through a snowstorm, a very wise Grandma, and a Christmas miracle that comes in the form of an adorable little dog named Fletcher.

My thoughts…

Readers can always count on Moody to give them a heartfelt and tender romance. Her tales are filled with the stuff a true romantic can not refuse. These swoon-worthy love stories are told with a compassion and sentimentality that always appeal to fans of this genre. Her latest one is no different; With One Look hugs the heart big time, giving readers all the “feels.”

With One Look is a rather short story, so Moody sets the stage quickly and hooks readers. She keeps things tight by building the story around strong themes and solid characters. Readers find her romantic leads alluring. Eve has a lot of emotional appeal and readers are immediately drawn to her. The same goes for Carly. She is a caring, thoughtful and generous woman, and the reading audience easily bonds with her. However, it the pair’s insta-connection that readers find the most captivating. Together the two spark more chemistry than fireworks on the Fourth of July, and it results in one bewitching romance.

Final remarks…

This is a lovely, quick read. It mostly takes place during the Christmas season, so it makes for a great holiday read. However, it has such a wonderful feel-good quality about it that it would hit the mark on any given day of the year.

Strengths…

  • Quick and easy read
  • Sweet and tender romance
  • Likable characters
  • Heartfelt and appealing themes
  • Entertaining romance

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Jamey is a small town Texas girl that grew up believing she could do anything. Her mother loved to read, and romance novels were a favorite that she passed on to her daughter. When she found lesfic novels, her world changed. She not only fell in love with the genre but wanted to write her own stories. When she’s not writing her next lesbian romance, she can be found riding her bike, paddle boarding on a lake or in the middle of some adventure.

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Presidential

The details…

  • Title: Presidential
  • Author: Lola Keeley
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • Publication date: December 12, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • Digital file size: 1970 KB
  • Print length: 330 pages
  • Genre: romance
  • Themes: women loving women, bisexuality, the US presidency, politics, the secret service, family, gun violence, hospitals, doctors, heart surgery, widowhood, politicians, elected officials
  • Tropes: women in power, age gap

The blurb from the publisher…

How can you find love when the whole world is watching?

High-flying pediatric surgeon Emily Lawrence is new to Washington DC. Her first week in her new job puts her on a collision course with the most powerful woman in America, President Calvin.

Constance “Connie” Calvin’s first term is proving turbulent thanks to trying to juggle work and life as a widowed single mother to a 12-year-old boy. Running for re-election is imminent, and the critics are gunning for her. Worse, her famed icy cool is in danger of melting in the face of Emily’s passion, commitment, and charm.

Admitting the rising sexual tension between the women is just the start. How can they act on it while in the public glare? Giving into temptation comes with such risk. In a world that lives and dies on opinion polls, what will the country make of them?

A charged, age-gap, lesbian romance that puts the power in power couple.

My thoughts…

This story has a bit of a history, and I find it’s changes interesting. It was originally written as a Supercat fanfic a few years back, paying homage to the movie The American President. Keeley made it no secret that she absolutely loves the movie, noting before her 2020 original version’s release that it was like a love letter to Aaron Sorkin. The book garnered some concerns over similarities to the 1995 screenplay, and Ylva decided at that time it was best to pull the 2020 version. Keeley fans were disappointed but understood Ylva’s desire to steer clear of any potential legal action. They shrugged, thought that was that and patiently awaited her next release.

However, that wasn’t that. Keeley was determined to tell this story. She reworked the narrative to Ylva’s satisfaction and the result is something any fan of queer romance would gobble up, especially those that love political drama. I am happy she stuck with this story and brought it to print. The end result is a glamorous, political romance very much worth reading.

Keeley is a seasoned writer and knows how to construct an engrossing tale. She’s known for her captivating characters, and she does a nice job with the characterization of these powerful and magnetic women. Connie and Emily are compelling characters. They’re strong, passionate and enterprising women. Readers can not help but be drawn to their spirited energy. Their story arc is equally as engaging. Readers are intrigued by their romance; it’s dramatically drawn out on the page and hard to resist. Presidential is as entertaining as it is thought provoking, dipping its feet into relevant issues that need more positive action. To say it’s content is timely would be an understatement.

Final thoughts…

The narrative of this romance completely pulled me into its pages; I absolutely enjoyed my time with Connie and Emily. The behind the scenes look at a president’s life is fascinating; anyone that loves politics will most likely be enthralled. My only caution would be that readers should prepare for a bit of a fast-tracked love affair. However, I suppose nothing on the president’s agenda moves slowly, so why should their love life be any different? Aside from that, rest assured that Presidential is a fast-paced, exciting romance well worth the read.

Strengths…

  • Fantastic story world
  • Intriguing storyline
  • Dynamic and engaging characters
  • Relevant and timely subject matter
  • Fast-paced and highly entertaining

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Lola Keeley is a writer and coder. After moving to London to pursue her love of theatre, she later wound up living every five-year-old’s dream of being a train driver on the London Underground. She has since emerged, blinking into the sunlight, to find herself writing books. She now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her wife and four cats.

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Lady Hawthorne: SFMS Book 7

The details…

  • Title: Lady Hawthorne: The San Francisco Murder Series, Book 7
  • Author: Alexi Venice
  • Publisher: Palmer Publishing
  • Publication date: December 26, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook,
  • Digital file size: 2156 KB
  • Print length: 355 pages
  • Genre: mystery/crime/espionage thriller
  • Themes: biographical terrorism, mystical phenomena, Scottish folklore, women loving women, queer romance, friendship, infidelity, healing relationships, medical drama
  • Tropes: love triangle, forced proximity, cops & docs

The blurb from the publisher…

Fallout from Dr. Jen Dawson’s sexcapade with Victoria Marshall results in a bloody gash to Tommy Vietti’s head. Dr. Jen and Amanda Hawthorne take Tommy to the hospital where his wound is repaired with staples, but their relationship remains frayed. While there, the three bruised friends are recruited to pick up the pieces from a bioterrorist attack. Dr. Jen volunteers to treat patients in the Emergency Room while Tommy and Amanda join forces with Agent Roxy MacNeil to investigate.

On their dangerous international mission, Amanda summons her inner strength to avoid falling into old habits as she learns earth-shattering revelations about her Scottish ancestry. Titillated by Amanda’s discovery, Roxy pulls Tommy and Amanda deeper into the tangled web of her manipulative, duplicitous world.

Dr. Jen works day and night treating victims of the mass attack, including someone once very special to her. She desperately misses her daughter, Kristin, but makes a new friend in Nurse Denni Russo.

Tommy feels like he’s walking on shifting sands as he transitions from a city detective to an international agent, relying on his gut instincts, drinking abilities, and shooting skills. Roxy, Tommy, and Amanda might be outgunned and outnumbered on foreign soil, but they’ll never be outsmarted as they attempt to save humanity.

Will Jen and Amanda’s promise to let bygones be bygones withstand distance, temptations, and life-threatening circumstances?

My thoughts…

If you love fast-paced thrillers that are served over lovely helpings of romance, then you’re going to eat this one up! Lady Hawthorne is one part Robin Cook and equal measures Vince Flynn that are whipped and folded into a spicy mix of Michael Palmer and Harry Potter. Sound interesting? Well, it is, and if you are a fan of The San Francisco Mystery Series, you’re going to want to pick up Lady Hawthorne and find out what kind of trouble Amanda, Jen and Tommy get themselves into this time. If you’ve never read any of Alexi Venice’s San Francisco Mysteries, then this is a good time to check it out.

As always, Venice keeps her readers turning pages into the night. The plot is one twisty rollercoaster ride filled with hair-pin turns and sudden drops. Venice proves once again that she knows how to craft a story filled with excitement and suspense—right to the very end. I couldn’t read it fast enough. And when I turned to the last page, I wanted more!

Amanda, Jen and Tommy are the backbone of this series, and readers are easily drawn to them. The character development is well done and consistent. If possible though, book seven finds them even more appealing. Venice avoids the awful “character stagnation” that befalls many characters in a multi-book series by rounding them out with a unique sense of humor and intelligence. Long-time San Francisco Mystery Series fans will be as charmed as ever as they impatiently whip through this latest book.

Venice is the queen of craft when it comes to secondary characters. Roxy MacNeil reenters the series after a bit of a hiatus. Her reappearance is nicely timed and well arced. Readers have a complicated relationship with her as she is the reason for Amanda and Jen’s relationship woes. However, one cannot resist her beguiling ways; she’s so well drawn. Venice knows how to use her too; Roxy provides the perfect amount of push in this plot, giving it interesting shape and dimension.

Final remarks…

I was completely absorbed in the narrative of Venice’s latest thriller. I’ve always enjoyed this series, but Venice has outdone herself with this one. The Scottish folklore, the espionage, the bioterrorism and medical mayhem—it’s all quite riveting. It makes for great storytelling and fast-paced reading. Thrill-seeking, mystery lovers are going to want this in their TBR pile.

Strengths…

  • Fast-paced
  • Thrilling
  • Suspenseful
  • Well-developed
  • Entertaining

This book is available from:

A bit about the author…

Award-winning author Alexi Venice’s legal and crime thrillers with LGBTQ leads serve up deadly appetizers, spicy main dishes, and HEA desserts. Her bestselling legal thriller, Standby Counsel, A Monica Spade Novel, received the 2020 Lesfic Bard Award in Mystery and was named The Best Legal Thriller of 2021 by BestThrillers.com.

Venice is a member of International Thriller Writers, Golden Crown Literary Society, the Crime Writers’ Association, and Romance Writers of America. 

Thirty-four years of practicing law informs Venice’s legal, medical, and crime fiction. Her heart, imagination, and life experience are the pesto on the pizza.

Venice and her husband love wrangling grandchildren and dogs at their Wisconsin home.

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