‘Outcast’ by KJ is a whirlwind of a fantasy adventure story, with lashings of lovely romance thrown in. Talented metalworker, Rhiannon Clarke I having a terrible week. Her identity is stolen and there are some decidedly dodgy thugs on her tail. When she falls through a portal at the back of the laundromat, her week is about to become a whole lot stranger. The land of Bruela is definitely not Melbourne, and the inhabitants insist on renaming her Sevich. Her talent for manipulating metal make her important to them and she must decide if going back home is what she really wants. Especially since she has feelings for Ori, a princess of the realm.
I liked the world building. It was impressive, and not at all stuffy. There were medieval elements, but it was built on, and the imagined universe was cleverly constructed. Although this was a love story, it was also a fantasy adventure.
With her usual irreverent and down to earth style, KJ took the reader on quite a ride. Sev didn’t take herself seriously and the humour really added to the story. The parallels to some pertinent issues of our time impressed me, and I found the novel thought-provoking. A very enjoyable read.
MyQueerSapphfic.com has a huge festive sale on at the moment and one of my books is part of it. You’ll be able to find Kilbirnie, Scotland – one of the Loving Blue in Red States series on sale for $0.99. If you love sapphic romance, then I’m hoping you’ll give it a try.
‘Christmas In Heaven’ by Lise Gold is the story of Helen, a professional matchmaker working for Heaven, a high-end company specialising in bringing wealthy couples together. When she is tasked with organising the Christmas party, she turns to the services of Matilda, a corporate events planner. When attraction bubbles between them, their own self-imposed rules about love may prevent them from acting on it. Helen has a very scientific approach, which tells her she and Matilda are a match made in hell, not heaven. And Matilda tells herself she is far too busy to even think about love. Will they be able to stick to their own rules? Or will true love conquer all?
This is the first book by Lise Gold I have read, and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. I adore her writing style and the beautiful descriptive touch she has. Told from alternating points of view, this is a fun, cosy and wonderfully romantic novella. I loved London in the festive season. Lise Gold captures it so well. She notices every little detail, and through her writing, she allows the reader to feel as if they are really there.
This was a refreshing story, with originality and the feel-good factor. The perfect, heart-warming Christmas romance.
‘Lines of Love’ by Brey Willows is the story of Eris Ardalides, the Muse of Love. A Muse who has lost any interest in love. As she sees it, love doesn’t mean anything anymore. Why bother? Grace Gordon, a divorce lawyer, is privy to the worst of relationships, and has no desire to become entangled in one herself. Like Eris, sex is fine, just don’t expect her to settle for anything less than perfection.
When Eris is sued for failing in her perceived duty to those seeking love, Grace takes on the case. Attraction is certainly a factor between them, but since they’ve both sworn off love, how can it ever work out? As they fight to save Eris’s reputation and what it might mean for the rest of the gods and immortals, will they give in to their passion?
I love the world Brey Willows has created. She writes about the interaction between gods and mortals in a fascinating and engaging way. Although I’ve read the whole series, and the previous books about Afterlife Inc, there is no need to have done so to enjoy this book. It works just as well as a stand-alone. But you’d be missing out if you didn’t check out the entire body of work.
This isn’t just romance, there’s peril and danger this time. And boy, does she know how to up the ante! It was great to have some of my favourite characters show up and play a part in this novel too. My favourite Afterlife Inc character, Dani, is always a welcome addition to any story.
It’s emotional and passionate and utterly beautiful. Love conquers all. Brey Willows excels again.
Flick Colonna is used to action, adventure and danger. But tragic circumstances have put her back behind a desk, and she’s itching to get back out there. Zamira Saliev has tried to escape her background, and the soul destroying consequences of being the daughter of a rebel. When she is kidnapped by those trying to get at her father, she can only hope he sends someone to save her.
Flick can’t refuse the assignment, and must put the past behind her if she’s to be successful in saving Zamira. Can the pair escape from a regime intent on destroying Zamira’s family for good? And will they learn something about themselves while trying?
I’ve come to expect immersive and well written stories from Valden Bush. This is no exception. She cleverly ramps up fear, tension and dread, as we hope upon hope that Flick will succeed.
The women are polar opposites, but a connection grows between them. Initially there is friction between them as they travel and get to know each other. Their journey is not just about getting out of danger to a safe country. It is about self-discovery and realising that sometimes you have to take a leap into the unknown.
‘Zamira Saliev’ is a heartwarming and tender story at its core. The adventure sets the scene, and allows the women to learn about themselves, and how far they are willing to go to realise their goals. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anne Hagan’s writing never fails to delight me. ‘Crevice Chaos’ is no exception. Bethany decides to treat girlfriend Renn to a Halloween adventure in Crevice Cave, hundreds of feet under ground, with the prospect of flying bats, cold and damp. For women who spend their working lives in such conditions it’s actually quite a fun idea. But Bethany’s plan is to search for a long forgotten witch’s coven meeting room. When things don’t go according to plan, the women must keep their wits about them if they are to reach the surface intact.
Anne Hagan build up the tension magnificently in this story. One can almost feel the cold and the creepy feelings engendered in the women as they crawl through the caves. I love short stories and this author has mastered the art. ‘Crevice Chaos is a spine-tingling story with a great twist.
Everyone has crushes, don’t they? But not like Leece Dresden. Just one look at supermarket worker, Frankie, changes her forever. Leece’s life is a mystery to her, as she can’t remember anything from before her nineteenth birthday. None of that matters though. Frankie becomes her everything and she’ll do anything to keep that wonderful feeling whenever she is in her presence. When memories of her past start to seep through she must find out what it all means. But will that jeopardise her relationship with Frankie?
‘Only Human’ was an intriguing story and kept me reading, as I needed to find out the true story behind Leece’s past. I felt invested in the relationship between Leece and Frankie and wanted it to work.
‘Only Human’ is an intriguing story – satisfying surprising and with heart. I couldn’t stop reading. I enjoyed it.
‘The Christmas Catch’ by Clare Lydon is what happens when the object of a teenage crush comes into your life 20 years later. Ali has been crazy about Morgan Scott since Morgan was best friend to Ali’s big sister years ago. Mooning over the delicious Morgan Scott took up most of her waking hours back then, and she can’t quite believe they are now living in the same city. As both board a plane for Devon to spend Christmas with their respective families, they are about to start an adventure that will change their lives forever.
This story had it all. A snowy road trip, a romantic adventure, and a love story in the making. When Ali and Morgan are forced to find a way home in the depths of winter, they begin to see each other in a new light. They were funny and sweet and ultimately extremely passionate. I loved their interactions.
I found the settings in this story absolutely wonderful. Starting in Glasgow, I recognised so many of the locations. I loved a Lake District interlude too, and finally the beautiful county of Devon. It makes an huge difference to find new places to set a novel. Clare Lydon hit the jackpot with these.
‘A Christmas Catch’ is about second chances, love and passion. It’s about realising what it really important in life – and having the courage to take a leap. A wonderful Christmas story.
‘Vision of Virtue’ by Brey Willows is the second story in the Memory’s Muses series. This time we are with Clio Ardalides, the Muse of history and virtue. She seeks to show the good in every situation. Positivity is her mantra. But sometimes her TV show veers too far towards the superficial.
Kit Kalloway is the complete opposite. She is for truth and reality, whatever the situation. It irks her that Clio focuses too much on appearance and the lighter side of life. She may find the Muse extremely attractive, but that won’t stop her voicing her disapproval.
When the pair are pushed together in a terrible situation, can they see past first impressions? And can they find a way to take their mutual attraction further?
Brey Willows breathes new life into classical characters. Characters who would otherwise have remained in dusty tomes, unknown to the majority. Her stories are thrilling, exciting and fascinating. The world she has imagined, where gods and mortals coexist, is a stroke of genius.
Clio wasn’t the person I thought at first. She had lived a long life and had witnessed some awful things. She didn’t want to dwell on all that horrible stuff – and who can blame her? Sometimes we all need to shut off the news.
Kit had a huge chip on her shoulder, but spending time with Clio let her see that immortals are not all the same. She didn’t seem to consider the feelings of others. Until faced with some home truths – and the fear of losing a chance for love.
Brey Willows took Clio and Kit to a place where they had to face who they really were. Humans and immortals can both be guilty of self delusion. Sometimes it takes a kind soul to point out the truth. Or an inciting event forces reflection. It takes courage to change and a desire for something more than the status quo.
I loved being back with the muses. All of them. Tying their stories together works so well and I look forward to the next in the series. Highly recommended.
‘Of Light And Love’ by E.V. Bancroft is ‘thawing the ice queen’, but with a twist. Two years after the death of her wife, Caro is still mourning as if it happened yesterday. With a shrine to her wife in her bedroom, she cannot see a way out from the dark desperation she feels everyday. Believing that they were soulmates, she sees no possibility of ever finding happiness again. Her financial situation is becoming precarious, as she can no longer paint and earn money. She needs to take in a lodger, but is not happy about it.
Masters students Laura desperately needs a place to stay for the duration of her course. The only place on offer at such short notice is with a woman whose grumpiness knows no bounds. Her icy demeanour doesn’t put the sunny young woman off, though. Can she break through the hard shell Caro has built around her heart? Is it possible to move on from different types of heartbreak and find love again?
I liked the drawing out of Caro, from her static grief-filled stage. She was stuck and unwilling to move on. She felt she would be betraying Yvonne if she let go for just a minute. E.V. Bancroft skilfully developed both of her characters, made them feel real. We experienced the changes in both Caro and Laura, as each woman recognised their own flaws.
I loved that the story revolved around art. Caro and Laura came from different areas of the art world and had much to teach each other. I enjoyed finding out about the high-end exhibitions Caro was involved in, and also the newer animation-studio based industry familiar to Laura. The Bristol setting was especially interesting, as it is refreshing to encounter different places. The descriptions were vivid and enlightening.
‘Of Light And Love’ is a well-written and engaging novel, with imagination, warmth and passion. Highly recommended.