Review of ‘Vision of Virtue’ by Brey Willows

‘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.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Of Light And Love’ by E.V. Bancroft

‘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.

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Just A Touch Away’ by Jae

‘Just A Touch Away’ by Jae is a feel-good romance set in Portland. Hannah Martin is a professional cuddler, a job that brings her a great deal of satisfaction. She is proud of that fact that she helps those who need a healing touch. One such client leaves her one half of a prestigious building in the city. The only snag is, she must share it with his daughter, Winter Sullivan. The two women must live together for 92 days in order to secure the inheritance. Surely Hannah can manage that? Winter proves to be an ice-queen of the highest magnitude, so it may not be as simple as Hannah first thought. Can they learn to live together – or will their differences end up being too great?

This book has lifted my mood in a way no other has this year. My oxytocin levels, also known as the ‘love hormone’, were overflowing by the time I had reached the final page. Hannah was kind and caring, and had a heart so big, she could have cured a whole city of the blues. Winter on the other hand was the quintessential Ice Queen who needed the right woman to melt her apparently stone cold heart. Jae hit the right balance with Winter, in that she made her vulnerable and not unlikable. I was rooting for the pair from the start. 

Their story felt like being enveloped in a giant cuddle. Sometimes you want to feel good and wallow in the romance of a story. Jae does that every time for me. And no more so than with ‘Just A Touch Away’.  Highly recommended.

I was given this Arc for review.

Review of ‘An Art To Love’ by Helena Harte

‘An Art To Love’ by Helena Harte is the heartwarming story of Lauren Gray, a non-profit CEO with big ideas. She has always wanted to make a difference, and in pursuit of her dreams, she left her home town and her family. When tragedy brings her back from Boston, she must face whatever it is that she has been avoiding all these years. Does she have everything she wants and needs? Or is there more to life than ambition? 

Jamie Nelson seems happy with her life as the town’s cemetery groundskeeper. Her artistic talents are a hobby and she has no desire to take them further. When the object of her schoolgirl crush returns to town she has to decide if she can take a chance and let her feelings be known. Lauren was so out of her league in High School, but maybe it is time to act on her feelings. Lauren can’t understand the lack of ambition of Jamie and those around her in the town. Should she push them? Or is there something to be said for being happy with what you have? 

I liked Lauren. She was kind and caring and determined to help other people realise their goals. But why did she feel the need to cut her family and her home town from her own life? She had a blind spot when it came to her own behaviour. Could Jamie make her rethink? Jamie had reasons of her own for living a safe life. Would their feelings for each other spark something new in both of them?

Helena Harte’s writing is insightful, romantic and passionate. She seeks out a deep emotional intensity in her characters. And makes me love them. I could see both points of view in this story, but ultimately I wanted them to find the missing piece in each other. A wonderful, life-affirming story, sure to put a satisfied smile on any reader’s face.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Hotel On The Riviera’ by Carol Kirkwood

If you’re looking for the perfect summer holiday read, then you can’t go far wrong with ‘The Hotel On The Riviera’ Carol Kirkwood. 

Glamorous settings, beautiful people and romance abound. Carol Kirkwood has it all in this second novel. Just lie back in the sun with a cool drink and wallow in the lives of the jet set. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Homeworld’ by Gun Brooke

‘Homeworld’ by Gun Brooke is the third book in the Dennamore Scrolls series, and the one where Velocity finally leaves Earth in search of Dwynna Major. Chief Engineer Claire Gordon is a vital part of the mission, but when her neural interface begins to malfunction she fears her skills won’t be enough to get them home. That and her increasing attraction towards the Captain, Holly Crowe, makes for a difficult journey ahead. Holly is determined to remain professional, and a relationship with another crew member is therefore out of the question. As they try to steer the ship through space and keep their fellow passengers safe, will they succeed in their mission? And will they ever find time for each other? 

Having read the previous book, ‘Velocity’, I was keen to find out if the inhabitants of Dennamore would find a way to get the ship ready to leave Earth. The desire to return home was strong in them – but there were some who didn’t want them to take that chance. There was always going to be some tension and preparing for the journey was a learning curve for them all. I enjoyed finding out how they coped as they prepared and got underway. I was desperate to find out what Dwynna Major was really like. Although the story was about their journey, it was also about discovering themselves. This was a well written sci-fi story, with touches of romance. I won’t give away what they find, but I was intrigued and hope for more stories from these characters. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Sweetheart Locket’ by Jen Gilroy

‘The Sweetheart Locket’ by Jen Gilroy is the heartwarming story of a family of women, told between two time periods. In 1939, Maggie Wyndham is in wartime London, and has defied the wishes of her family who want her back home in Canada. Instead she signs up to help the war effort. Her love for an RAF officer goes against the class conventions of the time, but Maggie is determined and brave enough to decide for herself. When life throws her a few curveballs, she has to make some difficult decisions. Decisions that will impact her whole future and that of her descendants. 

In 2019 her granddaughter Willow has taken a DNA test and, along with her mother, has been given some very interesting and unexpected results. She has long treasured the sweetheart locket left to her by her English grandmother, but is now faced with the reality that her grandparents may not have been all they seemed. What is she to believe? Her quest to find the truth leads her to London and research that may uncover some uncomfortable truths. 

I liked that the story was told over two time periods. It alternated between wartime Europe and the present day, when Willow began her research into her grandmother’s past. I loved finding out about Maggie’s time in London, and how she helped the allied effort to beat the Nazis. She made lifelong friends, and it was these relationships that helped shape her future. Her love for two different men was a situation lived by many women at the time. And who knows how any of us would have reacted in the same situation. 

Willow’s story was one of discovery – not just about her grandmother, but about herself too. She realised that sometimes we have to take a chance. And her grandmother’s courage gave her the impetus to consider change. 

‘The Sweetheart locket’ was about love, friendship, secrets and sometimes lies. It was heartwarming and made me feel some powerful emotions. I laughed and cried with  Maggie, Willow, Millie and Vi. I felt invested in their stories and left them feeling happy and satisfied. I loved this book and heartily recommend it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘It started With A Kiss’ by Clare Lydon

‘It started With A Kiss’ by Clare Lydon is a smile-inducing sapphic romance, with passion, sexual tension, and the author’s trademark British humour. Gemma and Skye meet in a bar in Cornwall and share the most amazing kiss either have ever experienced. But the strangers part, never expecting to see each other again. When they later end up working together, both agree that business and pleasure don’t mix well. But can they keep to their promise? With an attraction this strong it’s going to be a tall order.

I loved the connection between Skye and Gemma. It was intense, powerful and hot. Their chemistry was off the scale. But Gemma especially was determined that they could not let their feelings progress to the next level as long as they were working together. It caused tension between them – and not always of the sexual variety. 

As ever, Clare Lydon writes characters we can identify with. I could see where Gemma was coming from, but I so wanted her to change her mind. Skye was a woman dealing with hurt, but ready to find a way out of it. They were the right people at the right time for each other. They just had to get to the point that they could see that. This was a passionate, romantic, feel-good story. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Georgetown Glen: Queermunity Living At Its Finest’ by Annette Mori

‘Georgetown Glen: Queermunity Living At Its Finest’ by Annette Mori is a book you’ll want to devour. Lucy and Bea buy an old ghost town, with the hope of turning the ramshackle old buildings into a retirement village for sapphic ladies of a certain age. As they make plans, they hire Fi, an expert in architectural restoration, and Saville an electrician. With the help of Lucy’s niece they begin to knock the old town into shape – until the resident ghost objects. As the group are forced to deal with the spirit in their midst, they uncover secrets and start to investigate the history of Georgetown. And there might even be time for a love story in there too.

Mori has a winner on her hands here. Her trademark humour shines through, and she has managed to weave a fascinating tale encompassing love, friendship and sapphic history. I loved the multigenerational nature of the story and the historical aspects too. I think Saville was my favourite character. She tried to come across as confident and a player.  But she wasn’t. She was caring and sensitive underneath it all. I love the fact that there can be many more stories to tell with this group of characters and those who end up living there. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Christmas Proposal’ by Lisa Moreau

I know Christmas was months ago, and it might seem strange to be reading a Christmas romance in March, but ‘The Christmas Proposal’ is a book I would recommend reading any time of the year. 

Grace Dawson might be over her ex, Christina, but the thought of planning her proposal to another women makes her want to run for the hills. She has found a way past the hurt of their break-up and is ready to find that special woman of her own. Working for ‘Tie the Knot’ brings her face to face with romance every day, but so far she has yet to find love for herself. 

Bridget Cartwright is Christina’s new PA, and has been tasked with organising a romantic proposal for her. But Bridget doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body and doesn’t have a clue where to start. When she hires Grace for the job, the pair become stranded on Mistletoe Mountain, and it is there, in the most Christmassy town imaginable, that they begin to realise change is possible. Will they each be able to escape the past and find true love?

‘The Christmas Proposal’ is like a lesbian Hallmark movie. I wallowed in the wonderful Christmas feeling and forgot about the outside world for a few hours . Mistletoe Mountain was a beautiful small town, with warmth from Grace’s family and the townsfolk. It made me smile. It made me happy. I don’t believe Christmas novels are just for Christmas. In this case I would read Grace and Bridget’s story year round. It was the tonic I needed. 

Lisa Moreau writes heart-warming stories of love and romance. She makes me love her characters and the wonderful settings she chooses for them. I have read all of her books and adore them all. They are like a giant hug and a comforting escape when we need it most. 

I was given this ARC for review.