‘The Doll Maker’ – Online reading by a full cast. Get your tickets now!

Claire Highton-Stevenson’s excellent thrilling detective story, featuring Detective Sophie Whitton will be performed live via Zoom – and you can be a part of it. Get your tickets for this fantastic opportunity – and help contribute to the NHS Emergency Fund at the same time. Performed by Jessica Clark as Sophie, Victoria Broom as Rachel, Tom Lister as DS Saint and also featuring Susie Trayling , Leon Scott , Don Gilet and narrated by Kate Magowan.

Buy Your Tickets at the link below:

https://www.outsavvy.com/event/4582/the-doll-maker-by-claire-highton-stevenson-with-jessica-clark-tom-lister-victoria-broom-susie-tra-tickets

Review of ‘Blood From A Stone’ by Rose Madon

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Lark is homeless and desperate for money after being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. She answers an ad to sell some of her blood to a stranger. Thea is the older woman buying blood. But why? Vampires aren’t real, are they? When the issue of sex comes up, will Lark take that step – especially since she’s not at all sure who or what Thea is?

Lark is down on her luck but hasn’t lost her sense of humour. I really liked her and wanted her to find a way out of her situation. Since I love vampire stories I wanted her to find it with Thea. Thea was unexpected in many ways.  Could she ever be with someone in a relationship? I could understand why she would worry about people finding out her true nature. It’s sexy but also quite touching and tender. The story was very well-written and I hope to read more from this author in the future.

I was given this ARC for review.

Amazon UK Buy Link

Amazon US Buy Link

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 ‘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

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 ‘Changing Course’ by Brey Willows

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‘Changing Course’ by Brey Willows is a beautifully crafted sci-fi story with exquisite world-building. Jessa Arabelle, privileged intergalactic spacecraft captain, crash lands on Indemnion, a planet most people would be well advised to avoid. Whilst attempting to save her crew she meets worldly-wise Kylin Enderson, a scrounger whose life couldn’t be more different to her own. The attraction between them is powerful, but how can two women with such different outlooks ever be together? As they work together to get to safety they begin to see that there is so much more than what appears on the surface. But will it be enough?

Brey Willows sees into people’s emotions, sees what motivates them. She has taken the genre of sci-fi and injected that emotion and love and made us care for the characters. I loved how she took us to different places on Indemnion and let us see the peoples. I was drawn to one of the groups in particular, but won’t spoil it for anyone by elaborating – but I’d be surprised if a lot of readers don’t feel the same. Feelings can be wonderful but she doesn’t shy away from the reality that love can hurt. And sometimes we have to be prepared for that if we’ve ever to find true happiness.The story is about realising that we don’t have to follow a path determined by society. Our destiny doesn’t have to be decided by our birth – sometimes life throws a spanner in the best laid plans . And taking a chance with someone can be the best decision we’ve ever made. In a planet without hope and full of injustices and cruelty, it takes someone who can see past that. See that there’s a different way. The romantic element was touching and the sex was so hot – but it takes something special to blend that with a fantastic story. ‘Changing Course’ does all of that. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Secret Masquerade’ by Anne Hagan

Mel is my favourite character from my favourite series – The Morelville Mysteries. So when I discovered that Anne Hagan had written an erotic short featuring the sexy sheriff, I just had to have it. 

The story piqued my interest right away. It had just the right amount of tension and mystery . The writing was wonderfully descriptive and enticed me further into the tale. I was desperate to know where it was going. The erotic teases were so well done and blended in perfectly with the mystery element . It was compelling.  And so, so hot!

I loved this story. It captured Halloween to a  T.  But for me having Sheriff Mel Crane in an erotic situation was amazing. I’ve been waiting a long time for this and Anne Hagan didn’t disappoint. Brilliant!

I was given this ARC for review .

Buy from Amazon UK

Buy from Amazon US