Review of ‘Not The Marrying Kind’

Jae is the Queen of wish fulfilment. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in this story and she granted my wish. I completely and utterly adored Ashley and Sasha’s story. It was the most romantic, emotional and beautiful story of love, belonging and joy. I was smiling from ear to ear and for the rest of the day after reading this. 

Florist Ashley is as far in the closet as it’s possible to be. She is terrified her parents will find out she’s a lesbian and can’t face the reaction she suspects will come from the townsfolk. Baker Sasha has no desire to be tied down to anyone and her fear of commitment has been part of her life for so long. But when the pair begin to spend time together working on their friends’ Leo and Holly’s wedding, it becomes harder to stick to old ways. They are so obviously perfect for each other. And I found myself wishing and hoping it would be a happily ever after for them!

Jae increased the happiness level by bringing in characters from her other books – Leo and Holly – and others I’ll leave as a surprise. Having these wonderful women interact was wonderful. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 

I was given this ARC for review.

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Review of ‘The Pet Boutique’ by Suzie Carr

‘The Pet Boutique’ is a heart-warming, romantic and healing story that left me with a happy feeling. It is the first novel I’ve read by Suzie Carr and won’t be the last. The author really sees people and what makes them tick. She brings this understanding to her writing and I found myself loving the story more and more as it progressed.

Taylor is a successful author with a serious case of writer’s block. When her friend Maya suggests she help renovate a store with her, it seems this might be the distraction she needs. Maya’s niece Lexie, another helper in the quest to open a Pet Boutique, brings out something in Taylor she didn’t think possible again. Their story was slow and gentle and beautifully written. I loved the coterie of characters around the whole project – especially Lexie’s dog, Cashmere. She had a calming  and steadying role and seemed to be at the centre of everything good and positive in everyone’s lives. Both Taylor and Lexie had issues from the past they had to overcome. I enjoyed finding out how they dealt with their problems. I especially appreciated the positive representation of bisexuality. An excellent story and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Colette’ by R.D DeLisle

‘Colette’ is the story of a woman facing her past and finally deciding what she really wants in life. The main character, Colette, moves back to Paris for a while after many years in the States. She sees her sister for the first time since she left and painful memories begin to surface. How she deals with them and the all too real disturbing presence of her brother-in-law form the basis of the novel. But it is about more. It is about love, desire and admitting the truth. It is also about realising that sometimes we have to put ourselves first, even after a lifetime of being there for others.

I liked the fact that R.D. DeLisle chose to focus on older women, older lesbians. That in itself is very unusual. I have read her first book, ‘Miranda’, and it is useful though not entirely necessary to read it to understand some of the background to ‘Colette’. In some ways this book was gentle and romantic, but there is also a storyline which deals with a figure from her past and that is quite brutal. Colette chose to deal with this in a particular way that I found infuriating but it was true to the character. She wouldn’t have done it any other way. I liked the story and the concentration on the more mature woman.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Alice’ by Sam Skyborne

‘Alice’ is one of those books that surprises, engages and takes the reader off in unexpected directions. It is the story of a young woman trapped in an awful marriage. When she decides she can take no more and leaves, her life becomes one of secrets, new friends and a fight to keep her new found freedom. Sam Skyborne made me feel an affinity with Alice. I felt as if I was along for the ride and worried about her as she became more involved in her new life in Cape Town. A PI, Toni Mendez, is sent to track her down and her part in the story opened up a whole lot of other issues. This book had so many layers and was intelligently plotted. I could never have guessed the twists and turns and I take my hat off to the author. Bravo!

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Hooked On You’ by Jenn Matthews

Ollie was seriously injured during her time in the army. She now owns a craft shop and runs a crochet group in the evenings. When teacher Anna joins the group they fall into an easy friendship, but there is more. What that might be is confusing for seemingly-straight Anna. She is dating total prat Liam, a colleague. Boy, did I want her to see the light regarding that one!

I enjoyed the slow build up in this story. It was so worth it. Ollie and Annie are grown -up women, with full lives and interesting histories. It was so refreshing to read a romance between mature women. Each touch, each kiss was special and tender. It was beautifully written. We got to see how Ollie struggled with her physical problems and how that affected her confidence in pursuing a new relationship. Anna’s struggles were of a different nature – that of being attracted to a woman for the first time. I was literally ‘hooked’ on their stories. 

I also really enjoyed finding out about their families. Anna’s adopted son, Timothy was on the Autistic Spectrum and I loved his way of looking at the world. His depiction was spot on. Jenn Matthews has an excellent understanding of someone with autism and I really appreciated how she put across how wonderful it can be and how rewarding it is to know someone with autism. Thank you for that Jenn. 

Finally the fact that the women met through their love of crochet was fascinating. I have, like Anna, watched multiple YouTube videos to try and learn the skill, to no avail. After reading ‘Hooked On You’ I’m feeling inspired to follow Anna’s lead and join a class. An excellent first novel –  I look forward to more from Ms Matthews in the future.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Royal Court’ by Jenny Frame

‘Royal Court’ has a wonderful set of characters; many I have grown to love over this series. But Captain Quincy and Holly will hold a special place in my heart. Their love story was so touching, so emotionally intense and beautiful. I believe Jenny Frame has surpassed herself. Quincy is a royal protection officer in charge of looking after Queen Beatrice, the Queen Consort. Holly Weaver is the royal dresser and Bea’s friend. Holly is easy going, happy-go-lucky and a delight to be around. However happy she seems though, she hasn’t found love and wonders if she’s been looking in the wrong place. Captain Quincy is buttoned-up, a stickler for the rules and for protocol. She is also gorgeous and Holly has noticed. I loved the will they-won’t they part of the novel. I was also hooked on the significant tension of someone wishing to put a big spanner in the works. 

But it is the slow unravelling of Quincy that is the pivotal element of this whole story. We see more and more of her and can really empathise with her. I could feel Quincy’s pain and I just wanted to hug her. She brings out feelings of protectiveness and desire, even though she’s supposed to be the protector. Holly wanted to do a lot more than just be a good friend to her and seeing that dawn on the Queen’s dresser was fascinating. There were unbelievably hot sex scenes as I have come to expect and look forward to in Jenny Frame’s books. Passions slowly rise until you feel the characters may burst! The encounters are intense and desperate. And Ms Frame’s highly imaginative invention intelliflesh- oh my goodness!!! ‘Royal Court’ is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

I was given this ARC by Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books for review.

Review of ‘The Way You Smile’ by Kiki Archer

I have never laughed so much in my entire life. Ever. And this woman knows me! I recognised so much of myself in this book and I bet a lot of women will. Kiki Archer has the amazing knack of seeing the humour in situations we all can recognise. She is hilarious and so observant. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was reading this book. That and laughing out loud.  My chuckling every two minutes got me some very strange looks from the kids.And when I was doubled over in fits  of laughter at a certain scene in Boots they thought I’d gone mad! 

The story of thirty-something Camila, a mum returner to the workforce and Harriet, high-powered famous business woman is  funny, scorchingly hot and romantic. There is such a lovely connection between them and an honesty that shines through. This story has it all. Kiki Archer gets under the skin of Women-loving-Women. She really sees them- and it shows in every beautifully crafted page. A brilliant story that deserves 10 Stars! Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Speak Its Name’ by Kathleen Jowitt

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’Speak Its Name’ by Kathleen Jowitt is ostensibly about the  political interactions between various Christian factions within Stancester University. Lydia Hawkins is part of the Christian Fellowship and is trying to keep the faith while dealing with a secret she does not want to get out. As she mixes more with other christians of various denominations she is exposed to views that are very different from her upbringing and the version of Christianity she is trying to preach in her role as Hall Officer. But it is about a whole lot more.

This book made me think, made me laugh and cry. It was about love and friendship and becoming the person you need to be. I adored it. I really liked Lydia and I admired her struggle with her faith and the secret she is trying to keep. The characters as a whole were very realistic – some wonderful people I would be happy to know – others were appalling prigs, full of their own self importance. It is an excellent story of self-realisation and was very well written. The descriptions were stunningly accurate – both of student life and of the people encountered there. I highly recommend this novel.

I was given this book for review.

Review of ‘Watch City:Waltham Watch’ by Jessica Lucci

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‘Waltham Watch’ is a steampunk novel with strong female characters, wondrous inventions and a fight against evil and oppression . Tess is a professor, an accomplished scientist and inventor. She finds herself spending time in Waltham unexpectedly and soon discovers that she can’t sit back while turmoil reigns around her. I found the group of women who become her friends a fascinating bunch. They each had a contribution to make and their strengths were vital to the fight. The language is formal and certainly fits with the era. It is also poetic and the story itself is imaginative. I enjoyed reading about the modes of transport and the different mechanical inventions. An interesting novel that kept me reading.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The London of Us’ by Clare Lydon

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The latest book in Clare Lydon’s London series ‘The London Of Us’ is the coming out story of Alice Di Santo, a woman in her 30s who has always been mistaken for a lesbian, but never was – until now. When she can’t stop thinking about her friend Rachel in some very hot and steamy scenarios she knows she has to do something about it. Can she deal with the repercussions? Will Rachel even feel the same way?  I loved this story with a passion. Claire Lydon writes the most beautifully romantic and funny stories with characters we can identify with. ‘The London Of Us’ is perfect.  It’s like getting together with old friends every time I read one of her books. We get to meet characters from the previous three books in the series and that makes it all the more special. There is a familiarity and feeling of warmth of joy that permeates every page.  I will keep going back to this particular author again and again because her work is of the utmost quality. I know I won’t be disappointed. It just feels right.

I was given this ARC by the author.