Review of ‘Escape to Pleasure’ by Victoria Villasenor and Sandy Lowe

‘Escape to Pleasure’ is an enticing collection of erotic stories on the theme of travel. Victoria Villasenor and Sandy Lowe are skilled editors and have brought together a perfect mix of hot and steamy stories sure to please. I enjoyed all of the stories but I particularly enjoyed Aurora Rey’s ‘The Lodge’, as the cosy Winter setting contrasted so well with the heat of a very sexy story. Her characters interested me so much that I wouldn’t mind meeting them again. I also loved Brit Ryder’s ‘Mistakes Happen’. This tale of a luggage mix-up and the resulting bedroom antics was perfect. Her wickedly sexy al fresco encounter was truly sublime. But Jeannie Levig’s ‘A Fantasy Getaway’ was my favourite. It is set in a lesbian resort and is beautifully written. She ramps up the sexual tension like a pro. It is so, so well done and the heat is off the scale. I can highly recommend this anthology.

I was given this ARC for review.

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Review of ‘Breaking Character’ by Lee Winter

‘Breaking Character’ is the story of Ice Queen, Elizabeth, star of top rated TV hospital drama ,Choosing Hope, and her new co-star Summer. Deep in the closet Elizabeth (Bess) is a respected British theatre actress and is widely seen as aloof and a bitch. Adorable former child-star Summer sees something different. As she struggles to be taken seriously as an adult in Hollywood, she brings something new to the show and to Bess’s life.

I really liked Bess. She had so many insecurities about her career and herself and it made her all the more loveable. Summer had a great heart and a lovely way of looking at life. I wanted them to be together so much. The twists and turns they had to overcome were so satisfying. I could have cheered at quite a few points in the story. The boo-hiss villain of the story was perfectly pitched and the coterie of friends and family  on both sides made this a very well rounded story. At times I felt the heartbreak and at others the passion and love was beautiful. An enchanting romantic story that had me swooning- especially the last paragraph. Perfect. 

I was given this ARC by Ylva Publishing to review. 

Review of ‘Goal Setting for Writers’ by Sandra Gerth

This is the kind of book I will go back to again and again as I go through my writing process. Sandra Gerth gives us a step-by-step guide on how to realise our goals. She makes us see that it’s great to have dreams but to make them a reality we first have to decide on achievable goals and work on them.

 I loved how she breaks everything down into achievable goals and made me be more specific about what I really want. And she makes the writer think about themselves, what is important and relevant to them. The task seems more manageable and realistic. Planning how to get that book written doesn’t seem such a daunting task . I can see me following a lot of the advice 

She also gives plenty of advice on other books to read for further information and links to online resources that expand the subject. An excellent book I can highly recommend.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘North of All Borders’ by Irene Hossack

Irene Hossack’s ‘North of all Borders’ is an impressive collection. I came away affected by the truth of her poetry, by that which I recognised. She has the power to shock as well as make the reader feel a part of her reality. The collection is about one woman, her life and experiences. It is also about us all. 

I loved the memories her poems evoked. Her love of Glasgow. And of words. She weaves these memories and the ordinariness of family, with the beauty around. ‘The Asylum Seekers’ is thoughtful and real. ‘My Father’s Mother and ‘Fairy Liquid’ jolted me out of my easy mood. She led me on only to hit me right in the gut. In ‘April’ she took my breath away. The emotion conveyed in that last line – wow! 

I loved this collection of poetry and will read it again and again. I see something different, something new each time. 

Review of ‘Music City Dreamers’ by Robyn Nyx

I’ve read Robyn Nyx’s work before and loved it, so I was excited to see that she had decided to try her hand at the romance genre. I was not disappointed. ‘Music City Dreamers’ is set in Nashville, the home of Country music. It’s not the most LGBT friendly city by any means and record company executive, Heather King, finds that staying in the closet is the only way to get on in the business. She wants to own a record label and make it open to a more diverse range of singers than any of the current, stuck in the mud, labels do presently. Songwriter Louie Francis is out, proud and no-one could ever mistake this gorgeous butch for being anything but a lesbian. When they meet the attraction is obvious, but how can two so very different women be together?

First of all I love Country music so the whole Nashville scene was a huge plus for me. I enjoyed finding out about the world of record labels, big stars, struggling songwriters and of course the famous Bluebird Cafe. The ambience was perfectly done. The story centres around an intriguing romance but also the struggle LGBT people face in homophobic industries and areas of the country. Ms Nyx managed to get across the tension and fear involved in living in such an environment. The racism in the South was also evident. I appreciated the way the author brought to the foreground the need for diversity and being true to oneself. It takes courage and sometimes people need to take their own time. I really liked the main two characters, Louie and Heather. Louie had been hurt a lot in the past but she had a strength of purpose and integrity that shone through. Heather fought every day to make a success of her career but until Louie came into her life she couldn’t see that she deserved more. There are a few unpleasant characters too and the homophobia and manipulation they brought to the story made it all the more interesting. I loved Louie’s friend, Gabe. They made a great team and I wanted things to work out for him too. 

I really enjoyed this story and I am so glad Ms Nyx made this foray into lesbian romance. She has captured the passion and intense emotions of the two women, as well as weaving a fascinating story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Seascape’ by Karis Walsh

‘Seascape’ has the most beautiful setting and that drew me into the story right away. Tess is a marine biologist forced to go back to her home town to help with a family crisis. Forks is the wettest place in the entire United States and holds no excitement for her and no chance to date. Or so she thinks. Britt is a woman facing her own crisis and ends up in the area, trying to decide what to do with her life. Their interactions are light and flirty at first but there is always an undercurrent that promises more. 

The strength of this novel is the way Karis Walsh has woven beauty, romance and an absolutely fascinating and enlightening environmental story together. Both Tess and Britt grow so much as they begin to question the choices they have made. I enjoyed going on that journey with them. I also found myself immersed in the world of killer whales, wolves and the fragile ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest. A really lovely story. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Unforgettable’ by Elle Spencer

‘Unforgettable’ consists of two wonderful love stories that warm the heart. ‘’Forget Her Not’ is the story of Sam, a woman who indulges in one-nights stands and stays away from relationships. A surprising twist causes her to rethink her life. The story is beautiful, so emotional and very sexy. I felt very invested in the characters and I cried when they cried. I was stunned at how Elle Spencer manages to make the reader feel so much and we end up really caring for the women in her novels. ‘Forget Her Never’ is sweet and funny and hot. Abby and Kendall are so obviously perfect for each other but life has obstacles in their way. I so desperately wanted it to work out for them and again the author pulled me so far into the story, that I couldn’t put it down. This book is perfect for those times you want to wallow in romance, intense feelings and love. Elle Spencer does it so well. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Doll Maker’ by Claire Highton-Stevenson

‘The Doll Maker’ is a seriously impressive thriller. It is gripping, well-written and an excellent example of the genre. It deserves to get recognition and should definitely appeal to a wider audience. I can see it transferring perfectly to TV – and if Ms Highton-Stevenson continues the story into a series, it should get snapped up. 

DI Sophie Whitton is on the trail of a serial killer – one who leaves macabre-looking dolls by the bodies of the victims. Her home life is a mess as she finds her relationship with her lover Yvonne becoming more and more strained. The story is disturbing and deals with unpalatable subjects. The realism is stark and the writing captures every nuance. The author has quite a turn of phrase and her descriptions of characters are so well done that I had no problem visualising exactly what she was getting at. As the story progresses the suspense is ratcheted up perfectly. I was on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed ‘The Doll Maker’ and highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next one!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Hiding Hearts’ by R.E. Bradshaw

‘Hiding Hearts’ is a wonderful book, a story that captures the essence of the Civil War immediately. As a huge fan of historical novels  I was delighted to find this novel and this particular author. This is my first R.E. Bradshaw book and it certainly won’t be my last. I loved her writing style and her descriptive powers are excellent. I felt as if I was right there. 

Lottie Bratcher, a poor illegitimate farm girl, has taken on so much to try and get her family through what is to come as the Yankees arrive in the area. There is much danger, especially for a young woman, but she is determined. She is also infatuated with Patrice Cole, a rich neighbour,  but has no idea how to deal with it. The romantic element was very touchingly written. For a few hours I could immerse myself in a world long gone, a world of war and bloody battles, of women left behind to pick up the pieces. The characters were realistic and sympathetic and I could feel their pain, their fear. As well as dealing with the collapse of their society, Lottie and Patrice are finding that there are so many secrets they have to keep. R.E. Bradshaw weaves a fantastic story and I adored it. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Killer Instinct’ by Barbara Winkes

Barbara Winkes has surpassed herself. ‘Killer Instinct’ is an excellent story, full of suspense, mystery and characters that seem so real.  I couldn’t stop worrying about them. Joanna, an ex-cop, finds herself unable to keep out of an investigation into a serial killer. She should know better – it didn’t end well for her before. Her friends warn her off but the danger is at her door and she wants to make sure no more women have to die. A new woman in her life, Rue, makes her feel good again, but does she really want to expose anyone to the darker side of life, a life that she can’t seem to escape? 

I was gripped by the story and found myself shocked and surprised at some of the twists and turns. Ms Winkes certainly knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Joanna really got under my skin too. She was a complex character, with a background that made her strong, resourceful and someone to rely on. Seeing her realise that was empowering. This is a definite must-read for lovers of high quality suspense and thrillers. 

I was given this ARC to review.