Coven be Charmed

The details…

  • Title: Coven be Charmed
  • Author: Caitlin Ryan, indie author and publisher
  • Publication date: March 13, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 1283 KB
  • Print length: 409 pages
  • Genre: fantasy fiction
  • Tropes: magical realism, fantasy romance

The blurb from the publisher…

A little charm goes a long way with witches.

Rose Cromwell is a life coach but that doesn’t mean she believes in all that woo-woo stuff. When her romantic weekend away at the mysterious Honeydrop House turns supernatural, she doesn’t believe it. A witch? She can’t be.

It turns out it’s harder to escape who you are than it is to outrun a bushfire. Rose is thrust into a world of witches, warlocks, witch hunters, and demons where ancient tensions put her in the middle of a fight to destroy not only the coven but Rose herself.

With no choice but to turn to the coven, Rose discovers none of the coven are what they seem. In fact, nobody is what they seem. Not even her girlfriend.

My thoughts…

Coven be Charmed is a fast, fun and easy read, geared for those that enjoy witches, demons and warlocks. If you are one that falls into that category, then this one might pique your interest.

This enchanting tale requires one to suspend their beliefs, and that includes Rose, the main character. She’s a life coach, a planner and a doer. More than that though, she’s a firm nonbeliever of all things magical. However, all of that changes when she’s thrust into the supernatural. Entertaining and somewhat strange events begin to puzzle Rose after a romantic weekend with her girlfriend and a grand mystery ensues. Rose’s world—and her reality—is turned on its head and she’s never the same again.

Though Rose is captivating enough, it’s her merry band of witches that’s most engaging. They bring the charm in spades, Hayley and Serena especially. Alice and Lottie, the two others in the “bewitching” group, are also quite likable and lovely. Together these women—and a goat—push the narrative in interesting ways.

Final remarks…

I was entertained by this fun fantasy. The editing snags a bit here and there, but it didn’t distract me enough that I didn’t want to finish it. This is the first story in the series, so there’s room for things to be tidied up. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Strengths…

  • Imaginative
  • Appealing characters
  • Interesting plot

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Love Dies Twice

The details…

  • Title: Love Does Twice
  • Author: Barbara Wilson
  • Publisher: Cedar Street Editions
  • Publication date: May 27, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 1665 KB
  • Print length: 362 pages
  • Genre: mystery
  • Themes: murder, cover-up, wrong-doing

The blurb…

Cassandra Reilly, the Irish-American translator and amateur sleuth, shares a flat in London with her long-time friend, retired bassoonist Nicky Gibbons. Their lives are disrupted when Cassandra attends a lecture on the beguines, laywomen who lived in sisterhood in thirteenth-century Belgium. The beguines were the subject of a popular historical mystery series by Stella Terwicker who died ten years before, but whose literary estate is still creating problems for those who knew her, including her biographer. Cassandra is soon pulled into investigating a possibly suspicious death, a task that takes her from the Ladies’ Pond in London’s Hampstead Heath to the medieval city of Bruges to the seacoast of Devon. With Nicky’s help, Cassandra must unravel a story of desire, lies, and love that stretches back decades to decades to the rabble-rousing years of queer liberation and feminist publishing.

My thoughts…

Cassandra Reilly’s unsolicited nose-poking yields yet another captivating story for mystery readers to enjoy. This time Cassandra’s first-person narrative leads readers through the inner workings of the publishing world as she tries to ferret out who killed Yvonne Henley, a well-known and outspoken feminist and author. The trail to her murderer is intriguing, and the ending is surprising. Fans of Wilson’s Cassandra Reilly series will not be disappointed.

Cassandra Reilly is probably one of the more interesting mature queer female characters in wlw fiction today. She’s more or less a modern-day Agatha Christie, employing a talent for amateur sleuthing. She snoops around in places that have piqued her curiosity and aroused her suspicion, even if her volunteer detective work is unwanted. However, that never deters her; she digs around until she’s extracted the answers she needs, even when it’s dangerous. Her curiosity is the ultimate conduit for the tension and suspense of this mystery, making Love Dies Twice a real page-turning thrill.

Wilson’s storytelling in Love Dies Twice is everything readers have come to expect from her. It’s tightly constructed, well-formed and engrossing. Readers are easily caught up in the drama of this mysterious tale. As always, she brings something unique and interesting to the story, giving readers detailed content that provides the plot with a mantle of substance and dimension. Readers walk away learning something about the publishing world and the kinds of people that inhabit it. It’s a nice bonus. Not only do readers get a well-written, engrossing mystery, they get a smart, well-researched story.

Final remarks…

If you like well-written, shrewdly designed mysteries and haven’t yet become acquainted with Barbara Wilson’s riddling whodunits, then I’d strongly recommend picking this book up. Her well-layered, complex plots are splendidly constructed and original. Her writing style is well-suited for mystery, with its well-formed prose and intelligent, but precise word choice. Readers can count on a solidly constructed story world filled with interesting characters and plot-twisting drama. Love Dies Twice is cover to cover, intriguing adventure, and a solid two thumbs up.

Strengths…

  • Well-written
  • Well-plotted
  • Intelligent
  • Layered, complex
  • Engrossing
  • Entertaining

This book is available from…

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Not in the Script: A Branded Hearts Romance (Audiobook)

The details…

  • Title: Not in the Script
  • Author: K.E. Morrison
  • Print Publisher: K.E. Morrison
  • Print Publication date: June 27, 2021
  • Print length: 226 pages
  • Audio Publisher: Audible
  • Audio Release Date: April 20, 2022
  • Audio Narrator: Sara Vonn
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 35 minutes
  • Other formats: ebook, paperback, hardcover
  • Genre: romance
  • Tropes: closeted celebrity romance

The blurb from the publisher…

Charlie Evans leads an ordinary life. Boring in fact, by many people’s standards. So, when she unexpectedly finds herself tutoring a student on set at Pinewood Studios, the last thing she imagines is that the lead actress is none other than global superstar, Robyn White.

The same Robyn White her three closest friends have lusted after since they first met back at university a decade-and-a-half ago. Robyn White might be renowned for her enormous smile on the red carpet and her happy-go-lucky attitude; however, it’s all a well-constructed front. Behind the façade is a woman who struggles to fit in, not least because she has a secret, one which on-set tutor Charlie Evans threatens to expose. With tensions rising all around them, will Charlie and Robyn’s attraction reach blockbuster heights or be discarded on the cutting room floor?

My thoughts…

Not in the Script is a self-published book that was first released in 2021 as a Kindle Unlimited selection. Last month it was made available as an audiobook by Audible. Sara Vonn, a first-time narrator for Audible, performs the narration.

This classic celebrity romance is typical for stories in this trope, but it’s fun just the same. The storyline is simple. Robyn White is an A-list Hollywood actress and Charlie Evans is a high school English teacher. The two women orbit in two completely different worlds until they are brought together on the set of Robyn’s new film. Both are there to work, one as the lead actress and the other as a private teacher for a teenage actress in the movie. Sparks fly quickly between the two likable characters and of course the inevitable happens; they fall in love. There’s only one problem though, Robyn is not out to the world at large.

The story is cute, but it is a bit predictable. Yet, most celebrity romances are, so that isn’t a turn-off. It ticks all the boxes, and that’s the important part. Not in the Script gives you a hot, closeted celebrity, a sweet and beautiful “regular” girl, an insta-attraction with serious chemistry, some well-oiled romantic tension and on-set drama. Blend all of that together and you have an entertaining romance that readers love to devour.

Final remarks…

This is a classic celebrity romance in just about every way. If you are one that enjoys this trope, then gear up, this one is for you. You’ll no doubt be entertained by the storyline. Take note though; the narration does require a bit of patience. Vonn’s voice is pleasant enough, but her performance does come across a bit flat at times. However, once you fall into the story, you don’t pay too much attention to it.

Strengths…

  • Cute
  • Fun
  • Likable characters
  • Entertaining

This audiobook is available from…

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Beyond Any Experience

The details…

  • Title: Beyond Any Experience
  • Author: Anne E. Terpstra
  • Publisher: NineStar Press
  • Publication date: May 31, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 1101 KB
  • Print length: 388 pages
  • Genre: romantic fiction
  • Themes: grief, recovery, falling in love again, family, parenthood, autism,
  • Trope: grieving widow, single parent

The blurb from the publisher…

Olivia Northman’s world shattered the day she lost her wife to a drunk driver. Three years later, she still struggles with grief and the demands of being a single parent to their autistic son, Ben. After her first attempt at a new relationship crumbles, Olivia retreats to the simple, the predictable. It’s what’s best for her son and her heart.

Ellie Vasquez isn’t simple or predictable. In fact, she’s charmingly impulsive, as well as gregarious, confident, and attracted to Olivia, which she reveals in an unguarded moment. Olivia doesn’t know what’s more surprising—Ellie’s interest, or her own—but a quiet conversation over drinks soon spins into something more. As Olivia’s caution gives way to hope, she sees another chance at love, both for her, and for Ben, who takes to Ellie with a tender openness. Ellie is fearless about love in a way that makes Olivia want to be brave, but the deeper their passion, the closer she gets to drowning—in grief, in fear, in guilt. To have a future with Ellie, Olivia must come to terms with her past. If she can’t, she risks losing the second love of her life.

Anne E. Terpstra’s Beyond Any Experience is an intimate, emotional debut that explores grief, parenting, neurodiversity, and the vulnerability of love after loss.

My thoughts…

This is a complex and well-layered piece of fiction. The storytelling is exceptionally well done; the characters get under one’s skin. It’s an emotional story though, and its brutal honesty squeezes the heart at times. However, its tenderness is so warm and sweet, one can’t help but smile. This is one of those love stories that grabs readers. It’s the kind that readers enjoy a second or even third time. Why? Because it’s driven by emotions readers can understand and easily relate.

Besides being easy to fall into, Beyond Any Experience is well-mapped and character driven. The internal conflict is laid bare within the first chapters and readers are hooked. They clearly understand Olivia’s fears as well as her desires. They can also see that the two are in battle with one another. Olivia’s constant blame-game with herself over her wife Sophia’s death holds her back from truly living. In turn, it holds her son Ben back too. As a result, readers are glued to the pages watching the struggle play out. They appreciate the power of blame and guilt and understand the effect it has on Olivia’s grief. Furthermore, they want Olivia to push through this dark tunnel of despair and loneliness so that she can embrace joy and happiness again.

Ellie is the heroine in this heartfelt romance and a nice counterbalance to the strong personality of Olivia. She is everything this story needs. Most importantly though, she is everything Olivia and Ben need. Readers fall in love with her; she simply and effortlessly charms them. She is strong without being hard, vulnerable without being weak and more generous with her love than she probably should be. Readers are sympathetic to her. Ellie only wants to care for this fragile family. It’s a two way street though; Ellie has some emotional scars of her own that need healing, past hurts that have cut her deeply. By caring for Olivia and Ben, she restores her confidence and patches her heart. Moreover, her willful spirit provides a conduit for them all to recover and return to life.

Though the story construction and character development is beyond solid, it’s the honesty that really attracts readers. Terpstra has an uncanny ability to peel back the emotions in a straightforward way, one that feels real and authentic. She doesn’t shy away from illustrating the pain experienced by grief or hesitate to dig into the messiness it. It’s ugly, and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. She flays it wide open and these characters’ actions expose the realities that exist under its weight. And since it’s a part of Olivia and Ben’s life, she makes it a part of their journey. Because it is a part of their journey, it is also a part of their growth. Readers see them change and transform, an imperative part of this story. Their acceptance of Sophia’s death rehabs their ability to engage life, not sleepwalk through it.

Final remarks…

This is an emotional and heartfelt story, one that’s compelling as well as affecting. Readers are drawn to the characters inside these pages. They relate to their past hurts and deepest desires. Terpstra does an excellent job spinning this story. She infuses it with the right amounts of sadness, hope, joy and love, making it believable and beautiful. This is definitely one for the must-read pile.

Strengths…

  • Well-written
  • Solid character development
  • Wise, likable secondary characters
  • Relatable
  • Sticks with readers after they’ve finished
  • Re-readable
  • Compelling
  • Engaging

This book is available from…

A bit about this author…

Anne E. Terpstra (she/her) writes heartfelt, sex-positive fiction that is grounded in realism and centers LGBTQ+ characters. Her debut novel, Beyond Any Experience, will be published in 2022.

Anne graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has degrees in journalism and technical theater. She has worked as a copy editor/proofreader, and she is a member of the Chicago Writers Association. In addition to being an author, Anne is a potter and photographer. In all of her pursuits, she enjoys exploring the unexpected angle or unappreciated detail.

Anne and her wife live in Chicago with their son. When she isn’t writing, throwing pots, or taking photos, she procrastinates by baking and gardening.

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The Teachers’ Room

The details…

  • Title: The Teachers’ Room
  • Author: Lydia Stryk
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (May 24, 2022)
  • Publication date: May 24, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 2163 KB
  • Print length: 310 pages
  • Genre: historical romantic fiction
  • Themes: teaching, living in secret, discrimination, living in fear, same sex relationships , small towns, public school, politics, public policy

The blurb from the publisher…

A novice fifth-grade teacher embarks on a clandestine love affair with another teacher, which sets her on the tumultuous path of self-discovery.

It is 1963, one of the most turbulent years in American history. The escalating tensions and conflicts in society at large are playing out in classrooms, principals’ offices, and school boards across the country, along with the first stirrings of social transformation, though the past still holds its suffocating grip. And behind the closed door of the teachers’ room in one small Midwest town, two teachers set eyes on each other and find it hard to look away.

Karen Murphy, fresh from college, has taken on her first teaching job. Despite her best efforts, she can’t seem to stick to the subjects in her fifth-grade school books, helped along by the antics of a girl who upends all her lesson plans. She has a lot to learn, and her women colleagues are there to offer their advice, especially the enigmatic fourth-grade teacher, Esther Jonas. As Karen quickly discovers, the devoted spinster teacher with no life beyond the classroom is a myth—the school is teeming with passion and secrets, her own perilous desire for Esther Jonas included.

The Teachers’ Room offers both a panoramic view of a changing America and an intimate portrait of the hidden lives of teachers.

My thoughts…

This is one of those books that affects readers in quiet ways. Long after they’ve finished this book, snapshots of scenes and dialogue come to the mind and stir them in unexpected moments. This book makes one think. It makes one feel. Most importantly though, it makes one appreciate the the characters inside these pages, characters that were inspired by real people that only desired to live and love as they wished—safely. They, much like these characters, persevered in spite of the injustices served to them. This story, though fictional, mirrors their struggle for acceptance.

Though this is Stryk’s first full length novel, one would never know it. One would think she’s been happily writing best selling novels for years. Her words flow across the page with ease; readers glide through the story with rapt attention. Space and time drifts away as readers absorb these characters and their distinct voices. Because it does, the story world wraps itself around readers, gets into their cells. They see it, they feel it and they’re swiftly transported back to 1963. It’s as if they aren’t even reading it; they’re just melting into it. When a writer can create that kind of experience for the reader, one knows it’s exceptional.

It is evident that Stryk put many hours of research into this book. She combines the history with effective literary devices to elevate the storytelling and make it a masterful work of fiction. The Teachers’ Room is well-thought out; nothing is happenstance. The characters and setting work to underscore the themes while the setting pulls back the curtain on homophobia and discrimination with cutting clarity. Karen, Esther, Lydie, the O’Connor sisters—they’re all tangible representations of the varied fears and desires of queer women in America during the 60’s. The Midwestern small town public school is also purposeful. It works to provide readers with perspective and context. Together, these elements create a moving and relatable story.

Besides being a wonderfully well-written story, The Teachers’ Room is an important story as well, and Stryk gets it right on every account. She gets the characters right, she gets the setting right and she gets the history right. This feels real, and in a sense it is. These things happened—are still happening to some degree. With the present political and climate such as it is, this story couldn’t be more relevant and timely, and it needs to be read. The Teachers’ Room speaks to our history, a history we should learn from and not repeat.

Final remarks…

The Teachers’ Room is a a captivating read, start to finish. Readers will not be able to put it down. It’s affecting and important, a real must read. If you are a part of a book club, choose this one for your next read. There is much to talk about, much to discuss. It will not disappoint.

Strengths…

  • Relevant
  • Affecting
  • Relatable
  • Well-researched
  • Well-written
  • Compelling storyline
  • Intriguing sub-plots
  • Fantastic character development

This book is available from…

A little bit about this author…

Award-winning playwright Lydia Stryk was born and raised in DeKalb, Illinois, the birthplace of barbed wire and flying ears of corn. After high school, she trained at the Drama Centre in London and pursued an acting career in New York for exactly one year before returning to school to study History and Education. While completing a Master’s degree in Journalism, she wrote a first play, coming full circle back to the theatre, this time as a writer. She has taught in schools and colleges, and her plays have been produced across the country and beyond. She also writes essays. The Teachers’ Room is her first novel.

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Spotlight: Indie Author Luisa Cia

In Hell’s Satan

Bella Kiyosuki knew that she had died from an accident, yet when she opened her eyes, it’s as if she was in another dimension. Why does she have her memories? Why was she chosen to be beside the satan? What happens when she finds herself caring for her majesty more and more? Little by little she gets closer to the truth; little by little her feelings blossom. When things slowly start to unravel, Bella’s heart accelerates ‘This isn’t what I thought it would be.’

An lgbtq fantasy fiction

Print length: 156 pages

Wrong Love Letter

What happens when the love letter that Chloe wrote for Jevon two years ago suddenly resurfaced, and now everyone in school knows about it? What is worse is that the cheerleading team and the student council are still not on the best of terms for years now. And, the more she spends her time with Natalie, her irritation slowly turns to attraction. Did she write a love letter to the wrong person after all?

A slow burn high school lgbtq romance.

Print length: 340 pages

Get these book from Amazon.

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Suspecting Her

The details…

  • Title: Suspecting Her
  • Author: Mary P. Burns
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Publication date: September 14, 2021
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 1170 KB
  • Print length: 268 pages
  • ISBN: 163555960X
  • Genre: contemporary romance
  • Theme: love, friendship, trust, self-confidence, racism
  • Tropes: age-gap

The blurb from the publisher…

Erin O’Connor is broke in more ways than one. A rising star in the art world, her last showing crashed and burned, wrecking her marriage on the way down. Now her finances are in ruins, and she may have to leave New York City. To help Erin out, her best friend, journalist Nat Robicheaux, hires her to help research a story about racist practices at a local realty company.

Catherine Williams, Sumter Realty’s top saleswoman, thought she was done with relationships when her last one imploded. But when Erin walks into one of her open houses, all bets are off. She invites Erin to a private showing. Then, she asks her to dinner. And a friend’s wedding. The more time she spends with Erin, the deeper she falls.

My thoughts…

This book grabbed my attention within the first few pages and it did not let go. Erin O’Connor, the romantic lead in this heartfelt tale, tugged at my heartstrings and endeared herself to me quite quickly. She’s a flawed and somewhat broken character trying to regain her confidence and get her career back on track after having it shattered by her ex. She seems unable to move forward from this heartbreaking experience and it affects nearly every aspect of her life, especially her art. Fortunately, her best friend Nat Robicheaux is always there for her, offering support and encouragement at every turn. Nat finds her jobs when she’s floundering and keeping her from becoming dead-broke. Because of her unwavering support, Erin is incredibly loyal to her. She would do anything for Nat, including letting a real shot at love slip through her fingers so Nat can get the big break she so deserves at her online newspaper.

This is a great story. I loved the sub-plot. The dynamics between the characters are wonderfully manipulated to create a big effect, making the storytelling rich and layered. Burns uses Erin and Nat’s friendship to create a unique tension, one that places Erin in a moral dilemma and risks road-blocking the romance with Catherine. This all works to make the storytelling a bit suspenseful and unnerving at times. Readers are never quite sure how it’s all going to play out. Will Erin honor her friendship with Nat, or will she take a chance on love with Catherine? Theses questions create a bit of angst for readers and lead to some no-regrets, late-night reading.

Burns is a skilled writer. Her character work is solid. She gives her readers characters that are believable and sympathetic. Readers like these people and want them all to get what they deserve. For Nat, it’s success. For Erin and Catherine, it’s love. Even though the friendship is important to the story, it’s the romance that really gets the readers. Burns does a nice job setting it up too. Readers like Catherine and they want to see her with Erin. Burns plays on readers’ sympathies, giving them all the feels they expect in a good romance.

Final remarks…

This was my first Burns novel, but it won’t be my last. She’s a solid writer and strong storyteller. Her writing style flows naturally across the page, making her a real joy to read. Suspecting Her has real substance. It’s an engaging romance built on a solid plot and well-developed characters. I was a little sad to see it end, but I’m excited to see what she comes up with next.

Strengths…

  • Engaging
  • Entertaining
  • Likable, interesting leading ladies
  • well-formed and constructed story
  • Interesting sub-plot
  • Captivating romance

This book is available from…

A bit about the author…

Mary Burns is a longtime resident of New York City. When not writing, she is…writing, because after breaking a twenty-year-long writer’s block, she doesn’t want to do anything else. Except see her therapist once a week, and maybe a couple of Broadway or cabaret shows every month.

Mary received a master of fine arts in playwriting from Columbia University in 1991 and lives with her partner of sixteen years, a retired teacher.

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Ghost Trio

The details…

  • Title: Ghost Trio
  • Authors: Phyllis Irwin & Lillian Faderman
  • Publisher: Bywater Books
  • Publication date: April 5, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 2716 KB
  • Print length: 276
  • ISBN: 978-1-61294-229-2
  • Genre: paranormal romantic thriller
  • Themes: long-term relationships, grief, music, friendship, good vs evil, justice

The blurb from the publisher…

A grieving pianist visits the site of her true love’s death hoping to find answers that will help her to move on, but what she finds leaves her with more questions than answers.

Lee Howe, a professional pianist, comes to Southern California from New York on a mournful mission: She believes that if she can see the site where her beloved Devorah met her death, she will begin to accept that she must move on with her own life.

Devorah Manikian had been rehearsing for a starring role in Carmen and was living in Eggerscliffe, a 1920s-style pseudo-castle belonging to the wealthy and eccentric impresario, Annajean Eggers. Devorah was gone only a few weeks before Lee was notified that she was dead—tragically killed in a tower fire at Eggerscliffe.

But as Lee stands alone on a deserted patch of beach just below the castle, she hears Devorah singing. Is it the cocktail of tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety drugs Lee has been taking since learning of Devorah’s death that makes her hallucinate her beloved’s voice—or is Devorah being kept a prisoner somewhere in Eggerscliffe?

My thoughts…

This is a great mystery/romance for one to lose themselves in for a few hours. Centered around a love that seems to transcend time and space, it captures one’s heart and squeezes it like only a heartfelt romance truly can. It’s well-written, well-constructed and filled with engaging characters. Full of twists and turns, this unusual romance is sure to keep readers guessing till the very end.

Though there is a lot of action in this tale, it is very much a character driven story. Irwin and Faderman do a nice job creating Lee, the story’s protagonist. She is a flawed, believable and sympathetic character. Readers feel her grief in their bones and they connect with her. When Lee develops suspicions about Devorah’s death, readers become very invested in her little investigation. They hope for a positive outcome and justice to be served.

Devorah is a unique character. When she enters this story she’s dead. Because of this, readers learn about her desires and fears second-hand through Lee’s memories and recountings. Readers like Lee, and because they do, they accept Devorah. They grow to care about her and her untimely death. Subsequently, they get behind the mystery that surrounds her death and hope for the impossible—for Devorah to return to Lee, even as impossible as that may seem. Irwin and Faderman flex their creative juices here and send readers on a wild and mysterious ride, one they won’t soon forget. The journey proves to be completely captivating and quite engrossing.

The antagonist, Annajean Eggers, is also exceptionally well-developed. She’s diabolical and very creepy. One almost has the urge to yell, “No! Run!” when other characters enter a scene with her. Her presence in this captivating drama is craftily designed; she’s meant to heighten the chills that trickle down the spine. Most importantly though, she’s meant to challenge Lee and push the mystery in this paranormal romance, making it a real edge-of-your-seat read.

Final remarks..

This is an engaging read, start to finish. Irwin and Faderman give readers a mysterious and suspenseful tale that’s fresh and original. Lee’s devotion to Devorah is deep and abiding; it drives this story forward in interesting ways. Readers’ curiosity is piqued with the many unanswered questions surrounding Devorah’s death and they want resolution for Lee. Because they crave it almost as much as she does, they find Ghost Trio hard to put down.

Strengths…

  • Engaging
  • Entertaining
  • Suspenseful
  • Mysterious
  • Well-written
  • Interesting characters

This book is available from…

A little bit about the authors…

Phyllis Irwin, a professor of music emerita, is the author of two college music textbooks and the co-author of a music education textbook. (As a teenager, she wrote short adventure stories in which she flew an airplane to rescue beautiful damsels in distress—never published of course.) At 92, she is still performing publicly as a pianist.

Lillian Faderman is a writer of lesbian history books such as Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, and To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America—A History. Her memoir, Naked in the Promised Land, was reissued by Bloomsbury in 2020.

Phyllis and Lillian have been together for fifty years, though they were married in 2008.

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Above All Things

The details:

  • Title: Above All Things
  • Author: Roslyn Sinclair
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
  • Publication date: May 4, 2022
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • Length: 97,000 words
  • Genre: romantic fiction
  • Tropes: ice-queen, age-gap, workplace romance, opposites attract, slow burn, rich girl/poor girl
  • Themes: love, family, parenting, pregnancy, relationships

The blurb from the publisher…

The Carlisle saga continues…

Aspiring writer Jules Moretti and iconic fashion editor Vivian Carlisle have been through the wringer.

As Vivian’s personal assistant, Jules was there for her ice queen boss’s whims, commands, and the shocking discovery of her pregnancy. Just as shocking was Jules’s realization that she was falling hard for Vivian…and that the feeling was mutual.

Now Jules is forging her own path. At the same time, how can she and her workaholic lover balance romance in the midst of backstabbing bosses, meddling families, and the impending arrival of a baby? Will their explosive chemistry fizzle, or can they take their relationship to a new level of passion—and commitment?

Above All Things is the second part of the two-book Carlisle series. This age-gap lesbian romance is a steamy tale of discovery, desire, and the rewards of opening yourself up to love.

My thoughts…

Sinclair is a talented writer and this series further proves why people should be reading her books. She writes her characters in a way that readers can understand them and connect with them. Just as she did in Truth and Measure, she scripts gorgeous scenes with powerful dialogue, scenes that display Vivian and Jules’s vulnerabilities, fears and desires. Readers clearly see what drives these women and what holds them back. Readers like them and they want them together. Simply put: they are irresistible.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book in this series, Truth and Measure, Sinclair can really make her ice queens jump off the page. Vivian is a fantastic frosty woman and Sinclair’s character work is phenomenal. However, Vivian isn’t the only character that makes this series absolutely delectable. Jules is just as wonderful. Together, they are a complex couple with intriguing dynamics, and they make this series positively addicting.

If you haven’t read the first book in this series, many of the details in Above All Things will probably be lost on you. This is a rich and layered story meant as a follow up to Truth and Measure. Together they work to create a full bodied story arc full of drama and romance. They dovetail together exceptionally well and give readers a fantastic reading experience. By its conclusion readers are more than satisfied. However, they’re a little bit hopeful too. They’re hopeful that Sinclair doesn’t end things here and that Vivian and Jules’s story has some more chapters to it. Time will only tell what Sinclair has planned, though. If she does have more to say about these characters, one can be sure readers will grab it up faster than free samples at Costco.

Strengths…

  • Well-written
  • Fantastic characters
  • Engaging and addicting story
  • Wonderful story world
  • Great secondary characters
  • Marvelous follow-up to Truth and Measure

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A little bit about this series…

The Truth and Measure series originally started out as a fanfic back in 2013. Sinclair posted it under the pen name Telanu and it’s been haled by “Mirandy” shippers as one of the best Devil Wears Prada lesfic/fanfics. At nearly 236,800 hits, it still remains quite popular among TDWP fans.

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Two of a Kind

The details…

  • Title: Two of a Kind
  • Authors: T.B. Markinson and Miranda MacLeod
  • Publisher: indie authors/publishers
  • Publication date: March 23, 2022
  • ISBN: B09WKNM1LR
  • Available formats: ebook, paperback
  • File size: 1124 KB
  • Print length: 414 pages
  • Genre: romantic fiction
  • Tropes: butch/femme, grumpy/sweet, country girl/city girl, accidental marriage, insta-connection,
  • Themes: family, family business, self-doubt and insecurity, money, ranch life, mistrust

The blurb from the publisher…

Could something you can’t remember be the best decision of your life?

Maisie Sullivan is a hard-working marketing assistant from Milwaukee who wants nothing more than to earn a promotion and finally finish her college degree. But when she’s swept off her feet by a charming cowgirl while on a business trip to Las Vegas, she decides there’s no harm in having a little fun.

Drew Campbell is a no-nonsense Wyoming rancher with a talent for horse training. Her only goal in traveling to Las Vegas for a riding competition is to win enough money to pay off her family’s debts. But when a beautiful stranger catches her eye and then some, she figures she might as well let loose for a night on the town.

What takes place after that, neither can recall. But months after parting ways, when both their fortunes have fallen, they discover what happened in Vegas has followed them home. A quickie divorce will solve the problem, but each woman has something the other needs, and neither will budge until she gets her way.

They just want to get on with their lives, but will they end up falling in love with their wives?If you enjoy a smoking hot clash between a city girl and a ranch girl with a one night to forever romance, don’t miss the latest collaboration of Miranda MacLeod and TB Markinson.

My thoughts…

T.B. Markinson and Miranda MacLeod once again deliver a delightfully entertaining romance for readers to enjoy. This adorable story is filled with fun tropes. The dynamic duo neatly stitch together several of lesfic’s favorites: grumpy/sweet, butch/femme, country girl/city girl, accidental marriage—just to name a few. Furthermore, the storytelling is wonderfully supplemented with healthy doses of humor that enrich the storytelling and make it a real pleasure to read.

Markinson and MacLeod have always been known to produce well-constructed, character driven stories. However, in Two of a Kind they have a little fun with tropes and add another dimension to their storytelling. The accidental marriage trope has always had great appeal amongst romance readers; it adds levity and humor to the storytelling, and that’s certainly the case here. The “oops, we drank too much and got married” provides giggles and fun while stirring passion and romance between Drew and Maisie. However, it contributes more than just grins; it lays the foundation for story tension and complexity, and that’s what really draws readers to these characters and their unusual romance.

Markinson and MacLeod always deliver great characters, and it’s evident that they put the time into developing Drew and Maisie. Both are appealing and work well in this story. Readers understand each of these character’s fears and desires; they realize what holds them back and what drives them forward. Their internal conflict is logical and pushes the story forward as their character growth unfolds. Not only is Drew and Maisie’s character development solid and well-plotted, it provides a strong theme. The end result is a dynamic journey that’s richly layered, interesting and engaging.

Final remarks…

These two women never stop managing to come up with fresh story ideas and engaging characters. Their creative approach produces entertaining, rich stories that readers can’t seem to get enough of. Drew and Maisie’s romance is sweet and charming; readers will smile and giggle at their crazy courtship. Bottom line, Two of a Kind is a solid romance, and I wholeheartedly give it a thumbs-up.

Strengths…

  • Well-written, rich and layered story
  • Engaging story arc
  • Likable, engaging characters
  • Sweet romance
  • Fun and delightful storytelling

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