Review of 'Uncharted' by Robyn Nyx

Chase Stinsen is a principled archaeologist who ends up in some yucky, mucky situations, always hoping to discover and save treasures for the benefit of all humanity. Rayne Marcellus tends towards the less lawful path. She keeps beating Chase to finds that she sells to unscrupulous rich men, instead of giving to the museums Chase favours. The women worked together in the past and have a difficult relationship due to Rayne screwing Chase over. When Rayne asks her to help find the fabled Golden Trinity, to prevent it from falling into the hands of a man who would stop at nothing to possess it, can Chase trust her? 

The story has an exciting and atmospheric start and the the adventure continues in the same vein. The archaeological and historical details are fascinating and give another layer of interest that hooked me from the beginning. Add to that the interpersonal dynamics between the two main characters and Robyn Nyx has a winner on her hands. But it was about so much more than adventure and mystery, although those were expertly done. The personal discoveries for Chase and Rayne and the realisations they came to – those were definitely stand out elements for me. There were powerful emotions, not just about the growing feelings the women had for each other, but for the peoples of the Amazon. The danger from incursions by treasure hunters and loggers made me want to weep for them. The setting was exquisitely described, so much so that I could almost feel the heat and humidity as I read. The creepy fear that could never leave them as they traversed through thick, lush jungle, with snakes and worse just ready to pounce. The denouement was thrilling, heart-stopping and full of wonder. I wait in eager anticipation for the next great adventure from this pair. 

And for lovers of lesfic, there are a few wonderful Easter Eggs in this book. I almost cried out in delight at the mention of some names and places from another favourite author of mine. I’ll leave you to find them for yourself – but suffice to say, the three I found made me a very happy reader. 

I loved this story and highly recommend it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of 'The Yellow Tandem' by Sam Skyborne

‘The Yellow Tandem’ is a lovely FREE story, heart-warming and beautifully described. Told from the point of view of a London commuter, it will resonate with those who see the same sights and sometimes the same people every day, but never go on to meet them. Our commuter wonders about the rider of the yellow tandem and I was intrigued too. Why would someone cycle to work every day on a tandem by themselves? Who are they? Finding out was fascinating. A great wee story. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Click on the links below for a copy:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Yellow-Tandem-binary-gender-romance-ebook/dp/B07VMMXHT1/

https://www.amazon.com/Yellow-Tandem-binary-gender-romance-ebook/dp/B07VMMXHT1

Review of 'Love For Auction' by Karen Klyne

‘Love For Auction’ is a story about two women getting to know themselves as well as each other. A nice romance with a few bumps along the way. Philippa Young is an estate agent and auctioneer living in a small English village, after making her name and fortune in London. She’s a love-em and leave-em type and doesn’t see that changing as she reaches her mid-forties. When she is hired to sell the family home left to Kim after her father dies, her life takes a new turn. She’s very attracted to Kim, but she a lot younger and seemingly straight. Will they be able to get past Phil’s reputation and Kim’s inexperience?

I liked the village setting and the minor characters. It felt very real and relatable. Phil was a woman at a crossroads and it was interesting seeing her struggle with her past and her hopes for the future. Kim’s story was multi-layered. She had issues from the past that had to be faced head on. Romantic with some angst along the way.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Holly and Ivy’ by T.B. Markinson and Miranda MacLeod

When workaholic Holly travels to Poppy Island in need of a complete break from her life as CEO of her own tech company, she is not a happy woman. She has to be forced to step back and think of her own mental health. Meeting a beautiful woman on the ferry piques her interest, but she’s confused about the goat the woman is transporting with her. Ivy is a conundrum she is quite willing to unravel. It would certainly help her sabbatical pass more pleasantly with a pretty woman to keep her company. But both women have secrets they’d rather not reveal. Can they really manage to keep it light and not get involved? Because once they begin to open up to each other, things might not go exactly as planned.

I really enjoyed this story. I knew it was written by two authors, but I was hard pushed to work out who wrote which parts. It blended seamlessly and kept my interest throughout . Holly was a complex character, with issues from her past that determined how she reacted to Ivy, and to the others on the island. I enjoyed seeing a different side to her as she began to see how other people lived. Her position of extreme privilege and being brought up in a military family had skewed her views in a particular direction. Ivy was able to let her see something else. Ivy was kind and determined to help others, often at the expense of her own dreams. Being with Holly let her do something just for herself. When they were together it was scorching – and something neither of them expected. Neither believed they would find ‘the one’ – but sometimes they walk into your life when you least expect it. I liked Ivy’s friends Betty and Scarlett – they provided some hilarious moments and an insight into island life. ’Holly and Ivy’ was heart-warming, emotional, very funny – and very sexy. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Tennesse Bound’ by Anne Hagan

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Mel and Dana just can’t seem to stay out of trouble! In ‘Tennessee Bound’, the latest in the Morelville Mysteries by Anne Hagan, Sheriff Mel Crane and her wife Dana Rossi escape to their cabin in the Tennessee mountains, hoping to find a solution to their future together. Mel needs a change and is seriously considering giving up her job and trying something new. The getaway should have been their time to plan and decide. When their Mamas join them to help decorate the new cabin, it seems that they can finally relax. But trouble is never far away when it comes to Mel and Dana. When an unexpected and dangerous situation arises, their plans are put on hold, and they become embroiled in something that puts everyone in peril.

I love this series and have been looking forward to ‘Tennessee Bound’. It did not disappoint. The story is exciting and full of mystery. It’s a very different kind of situation for the pair and kept me glued to the page. I really liked the setting too. Seeing them outside of their usual locale gave an extra element to the book. The story was full of surprises, but it always kept the feeling of a Morelville mystery. I especially liked the Mamas being involved more. They make a great pair and work well together. Chloe is a go-getter and has the ability to shock not just Faye, but the reader too. Faye, Mel’s mom is more buttoned-up and opinionated, but she is also very loving and willing to listen and adapt. We got to see a different side of Mel and that was very interesting. It told me that there are many more stories possible in this series – and that makes me very happy. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Review of ‘Back To September’ by Melissa Brayden

Melissa Brayden writes beautiful romances that never fail to be tender, loving and hot. ‘Back to September’ is no exception. But this time she went that little bit further. Hannah and Parker’s story had me gripped and I thought my heart would break in two. Here were two characters that needed to be together, but it wasn’t going to be that easy. 

Hannah liked her life to be fairly predictable and ordered. She was  not overly concerned about romance. If it happened it happened. In walks Parker Bristow to her life. She’s smart and sexy and full of positive energy and Hannah can’t help but fall for her charms. Parker is a world-famous romance author and just having her visit Hannah’s store makes a huge impact. When they are together it’s adorable and unexpected, but can it ever really work out? Long-distance relationships are hard enough, but other issues get in the way too.

I really loved Hannah. She was loyal and kind and seemed to blossom when Parker was around. Parker was wonderful, and who wouldn’t love a romance writer anyway? But it was her struggles that tore at my heart. I just wanted everything to come right for her. I wanted her to see she was worth it, worth loving. As with all of Melissa Brayden’s books I got my ‘aaah’ moment though. It was so beautifully written and love always wins. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Big Girl Pill’ by KD Williamson

Maya’s former best friend, Nina, is getting married and she’s going to be a bridesmaid. The problem is, she’s in love with her and it’s not reciprocated. Things between them ended badly, but Maya thinks going through with her wedding duties will help her get over Nina once and for all. Nina is marrying, but she doesn’t seem that keen. Her overbearing snob of a mother and deadly boring fiancé have her under the thumb. Life for her is all about doing what other people expect. Will she ever be able to be her own person?

This story had characters that were relatable and true and made me root for them. I could feel the emotions, the longing and the passion. And it gripped my heart. K.D. Williamson showed us that loving someone so much that it hurts just to think about it, can be heaven or hell. Maya’s pain was obvious and I wanted her to get her happily ever after. I wanted Nina to speak up for herself, to be the great woman I knew she could be. The boyfriend Drew was truly insufferable as was Nina’s mother. It was going to take a great deal of courage on Nina’s part to get out form under that. I really liked her cousin Rachel. She was sassy and forthright and the kick up the backside both Maya and Nina needed.     

I loved the sarcastic humour. KD Williamson used ridiculously funny situations brilliantly and showed the truth of relationships through them. It was about finding strength to be yourself  and not living for other people. It had a lovely vibe and some beautifully tender moments – as well as some very hot and sexy times. A great read.

I was given this ARC for review.

An Interview with Heather Rose Jones, author of ‘Floodtide’

 

Well-known historical fiction author Heather Rose Jones releases her latest book, Floodtide, today. I really enjoyed the story and wanted to know a bit more about why Heather wrote it and why she set it in her fictional world, Alpennia. In the following interview with Heather I was able to ask her more about her book:

Heather, ‘Floodtide’ is set in Alpennia, the setting for your earlier novels. Can you tell us about that world?

Alpennia is meant to be an ordinary small principality in central Europe–sitting roughly at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland–much like many other small regions that were still semi-independent in the 18-19th centuries. Alpennia exists as a convenience so I can set up certain social structures, certain historical events and people, without interfering with the history of an actual country. Other than the insertion of Alpennia, the world is much the same as ours, with the same geography, the same history, the same prominent figures.

Oh, and then there’s the magic. Magic, in the world of the stories takes the basic premise that certain forces and dynamics that we would consider supernatural or mystical or miraculous actually work. For some people. Sometimes. If you do them right.

Why did you choose to tell the story from the point of view of a servant girl, Roz?

In writing the earlier Alpennia books, I’d followed the usual Regency novel tropes of focusing on people in Society. Some of them are members of the aristocracy, some are wealthy, some are solidly middle-class business women and artisans. But they all move through the world with a certain amount of stability and confidence. I wanted to shake things up in this book by looking at that same world and some of those same events from the point of view of a working class girl. What is it like having queer desires if your every minute is under someone else’s scrutiny and at their mercy? What does magic look like if you’re learning it on street corners rather than in libraries and universities? And what do the effects of the Great Mysteries look like when your lives don’t figure into anyone’s calculations.

As part of your world-building you have some areas of language specific to Alpennia. What was your process for inventing it?

For some other projects, I’ve done fairly extensive conlangs (constructed languages). Linguistics has been a lifelong passion and is one of my academic degrees. But for Alpennia I didn’t need to get quite that detailed. I wanted to be able to create names and a few bits of specialized vocabulary that clearly indicated that Alpennia is a European nation, but is not any specific existing one.

Simple geography dictated much of the result. Situated where it is, you can expect Alpennia to speak a Romance language, influenced significantly in its vocabulary and names by a Germanic substrate. I wanted to have a unified “look and feel” for names that so that they were recognizable but clearly distinct, so I went back in time and picked a recorded language that didn’t leave any later descendents. The spelling and appearance of Alpennia is inspired by Langobardic, which was recorded in northern Italy–close enough for the connection. It isn’t meant to be a descendent of Langobardic; that simply gave me the material to set up certain sound-change and spelling rules. So I could feed names and words from the Latin and Migration Era into a set of rules and produce Early Modern Alpennia forms that felt like it’s own unique and coherent language.

Are you drawn to particular time periods? This book is set in the 19th century. Is that a favourite era?

I have a lot of favorite historic eras and hope to write stories (though not Alpennian ones) in many of them. But the setting for the Alpennia series is inspired more by my love for Regency romances. I love time periods when society was in flux–not necessarily times of violent disruption, but times of a more complex peaceful disruption when people were exploring new ways of being and challenging older norms. The specific location of the Alpennia series in time is tied to the general forces of western European history. The series had to start at a particular time relative to the Napoleonic wars, and it had to extend until a particular era of spreading political upset. But honestly, it’s all about the manners and the social functions and the clothing!

Thank you for joining me today Heather. If we have whetted your appetite for ‘Floodtide’, the Bella Books and Amazon links are below:

Bella Books

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Heather Rose Jones is the author of the Alpennia historic fantasy series: an alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure revolving around women’s lives woven through with magic, alchemy, and intrigue. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chronicles of the Holy Grail, Sword and Sorceress, Lace and Blade, and at Podcastle.org. Heather blogs about research into lesbian-relevant motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project and has a podcast covering the field of lesbian historical fiction which has recently expanded into publishing audio fiction. She reviews books at The Lesbian Review as well as on her blog. She works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech pharmaceuticals.

Book Links

Bella Books: http://www.bellabooks.com/Bella-Author-Heather-Rose-Jones-cat.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Rose-Jones/e/B00ID2LQE6

Social Media:

Website and blog: http://alpennia.com
Twitter: @heatherosejones
Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Rose-Jones-490950014312292/

Review of Borage (The Plague Tree Coven Book 1) by Gill McKnight

Astral is a Fireside witch of the influential Projector family. Borage, her familiar, is a cat with a rather prickly personality. She’s not a  powerful witch, but she makes up for it with her kindness and the ability to make anyone feel at home and comforted. The new High Priestess of her coven has a nasty streak and when she gives Astral an important task to fulfil, we wait for the other shoe to drop. I won’t say anything more about the plot as it would be too easy to give something away. But I can say it’s brilliantly done and wonderfully satisfying. 

The descriptions of people and places were delicious. Lush and imaginative . One particular character description was stunning and made me stop and re-read it-just to take in an amazing piece of writing. It’s also very funny and Astral is completely adorable. I want to know a Fireside witch just like her. Abby Black is more than we first think. Think Ice Queen boss mixed with hot, mysterious and enticing object of desire. It all goes in ways I didn’t see coming. This is the kind of book that grows on you more and more as it reveals itself. 

The world Gill McKnight has invented is beautifully crafted, with depth and humour and an addictive quality that means I will be eagerly awaiting the next in the series. Wonderful. 

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones

‘Floodtide’ by Heather Rose Jones is a historical fiction story, set in a land where magic and mystery has its place. Told from the point of view of a teenage servant girl, it lets the reader see all echelons of society, and how they deal with an impending flood – and the serious health and societal implications it brings. Roz was dismissed from her previous job as a laundry maid after being reported for indulging in indecent acts with another young woman. What looks like the worst thing that could happen turns out to be the start of a new life, with its share of challenges – but with new friends and a new purpose.

I was transported to another place and time by the author. Heather Rose Jones has a talent for meticulous world-building and her writing shows intelligence and a flair for her craft. The story was beautifully teased out, with secrets we get to know as Roz does. Roz was an interesting character. She knew what she could expect from life but there were some things she was willing to defy expectations for.  And that could get her into a lot of trouble. Liking girls was always going to be a problem – but she wasn’t the only one. The hierarchy of society was integral to this story, and adding that to the idea of charms and mysteries made it a fascinating read. The word that comes to mind when finishing this book is exquisite. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.