Review of ‘Nero’ by Valden Bush

I love sci-fi, so getting the chance to read a new voice in the genre thrilled me. And I was not disappointed. Valden Bush has imagined a fascinating universe of worlds and peoples, with a brilliant twist, in her debut novel, ‘Nero’. Stele Hosun is an outcast on account of her black eyes. In her culture on Nero those with this characteristic are banished, as are those women who love other women. Stele is angry and volatile, but who can blame her? When Colonel Kian Ray offers her an outlet where her skills may be useful, she has to decide whether to let go of her anger and take a chance. She also has to find a way to live without her love, Ariane. But when pirates invade Nero, Stele has to use everything she’s got to find a way to save the woman she loves and the society than shunned her.

‘Nero’ is a beautifully written story, with exquisite world-building, an intriguing mystery and a passionate love story. The connection between Stele and Ariane was powerful, enduring and intense. The mystery of the coloured shards in Neroan culture made for an engrossing tale, captivating my attention until the very last page. I loved this book and hope there will be more of these characters and their stories in the future. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Miss Graham’s War’ by Celia Rees

‘Miss Graham’s War’ is the story of the aftermath of WW2. As the world starts to recover and rebuild someone has to organise and make sure it happens. They also have to make sure those responsible for the atrocities of the Holocaust pay for what they have done. Edith wants to do her bit after spending the war teaching. She wants to escape from the drudgery and expectations of her life too. But as she soon discovers, reconstruction and retribution are complicated matters. And deciding who to trust won’t be easy.

Most books concentrate on the actual war, so I found this story unusual and refreshing. Although I had an inkling of what went on post-1945, I didn’t know the half of it. This well researched book took me into the heart of Europe as the Western Allies fought for control of their enclaves. The question of friends and enemies was not as clear cut as it once was. As the Cold War took hold it was interesting to see where loyalties lay. There were some disturbing elements obviously as the truth of what went on in the camps became clear, but it was the truth, and the truth must be faced. It packed a punch and shocked me – but there were also beautiful moments of humanity and love. I connected with the characters, especially Edith. There were some surprising twists and turns, making it an excellent read. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Outcaste’ by Fletcher DeLancey

Rahel Sayana wants to forge her own path, but in a society where choosing your own caste is not easy, her wishes are disregarded. Seeing no other way out, she runs away to Whitesun and a life on the edges of society. A life fraught with danger. Struggles become part of who she is and lead her into battles not of her own making. 

This has been the most challenging, but the most satisfying of the Chronicles of Alsea books for me so far. I must admit some of the subject matter was difficult. But it had to be done. Fletcher Delancey’s masterful storytelling took me to the depths and then turned it all around. Rachel’s story was multi-layered, with fascinating connections woven throughout. Seeing the story of Alsea from a different perspective, a different point of view added a richness I could not have anticipated.New characters so unlike any in the previous books opened up my mind. There were a few surprises that made me sit back and wonder at the imagination and skill of Fletcher DeLancey.  Utterly outstanding. There’s no other way to describe it. 

Review of ‘Penny on Parade’ by Penny Taylor and Gill McKnight

‘Penny On Parade’ is a biographical story of life in the British Army in the 1970. And it is excellent. Penny Taylor needs to get away from her home town of Darlington and a heartache that just won’t go away. Joining the army seems like the perfect way out and a way to start a new life. I really liked Penny. She was funny, a bit of a rebel and seeing the armed forces through her eyes was fascinating. Being a lesbian was a risky business and would lead to instant dismal if found out. Penny’s need to discover her true self led to situations that were dangerous for herself and those she was with. But the authors managed to balance the worry about discovery with a great deal of humour and insight. The stories of army life had me enthralled and I would love to find out what happened next to Penny. There’s another book or two in this tale.

I was given this ARC for review

Review of ‘Major Surgery’ by Lola Keeley

I think it was the exceptionally desirable characters in ‘Major Surgery’ that first grabbed my attention. Veronica appears to be a bit aloof and the classic Ice Queen, but appearances can be deceptive. Army medic Cassie makes quite an impression from the get-go. She is determined, unconventional and very, very hot. The London teaching hospital setting was perfect. It gave us a chance to wander the capital’s streets, which were recognisable and familiar and an integral part of the story.

Lola Keeley impressed me with her previous novel, ‘The Music and the Mirror’, so I was looking forward to this new one. She did not disappoint. She writes of small, seemingly insignificant looks and glances that could be missed, except we know what they mean. When Veronica can’t keep her eyes off Cassie we know why. The slow build-up was perfect – the sexual tension at some points was palpable. I couldn’t get enough. ‘Major Surgery’ is the kind of story of that will have you cheering . Wonderful !❤️❤️

I was given this ARC by Ylva Publishing for 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 ‘Shadow Hand’ by Sacchi Green

‘Shadow Hand’ is a refreshing story, of strong women, superpowers and a fight for good over evil. Ash and Cleo are soldiers who find themselves changing their lives completely after an encounter with an ancient statue in the desert. When Ash realises she can use her mind to move objects she is a person of interest. Choosing to use her powers for the good of others takes a bit of planning, and with Cleo by her side she must decide how to go about it. 

The story is unexpected and unlike anything else I’ve read. It is well written and uplifting – in more ways than one! I enjoyed the camaraderie aspect, as Ash and Cleo become involved in helping other women. It felt empowering.  The relationship between the two women was intense and sexy – what else could one expect from  Sacchi Green?  The tale goes in directions I didn’t see coming – and I appreciated the imagination and depth that went into the storytelling. I really liked it.

I was given this ARC for review.