The Fierce Five have been friends since early childhood. Once close, they have drifted apart as adult life takes hold. In an attempt to rekindle the feelings they all had for each other, Gail invites the women to her cabin in the Scottish Highlands for the weekend. Will they find that friendship again, or will they discover that the lies we all tell each other are too big and too serious?
‘We Are All Liars’ is exhilarating, terrifying and very, very, clever. Told from the point of view of Allie, we see the lives the women lead now and how that has affected their friendship group. But the past cannot and will not be forgotten. There are secrets and lies that have remained hidden for twenty years, but once the women are together it becomes increasingly difficult to keep them from surfacing. I was shocked and surprised and could never have guessed where it was all going. Carys Jones took me on a rollercoaster ride, one I could not get off until the brilliantly conceived twist was revealed. What an amazing story.
‘The Fair Botanists’ by Sara Sheridan is the standout novel of the year for me. It’s the wonderful story of two women and the connections they make in Edinburgh in the early 1800s. Elizabeth is a widow moving to Edinburgh to live with her husband’s family, and hoping for a better life. Her interest in botany and especially illustration, brings her into contact with those working at the new botanical gardens. The imminent flowering of a special tree has the city fascinated, as has the expected visit of the King. Belle has a secret identity and a plan for the future. She knows her present career will be short lived, so is using her interest in botany to ensure her comfort later. These two very different women find a common bond, forming a friendship that defies society’s expectations .
Elizabeth and Belle’s stories weave in and out with those of other prominent and not so prominent members of Edinburgh society. It is this that captured my attention and did not let go until the last page. Sara Sheridan builds each layer, and connects each strand, with beautifully written descriptive pose. It’s a story of life, of friendship and of love. Highly recommended.
Shivers ran down my spine reading this book. The author, Christina Sweeney-Baird, could never have known just how prophetic she was being when she wrote it, but it is astounding how much she has predicted. The world is in the grip of a viral pandemic that only affects men. Dr Amanda MacLean tried to warn the authorities, but no-one was willing to listen. Men soon realise the folly of ignoring her warnings as they begin to die. What follows are first-person accounts by women from all over the world, documenting the fall of the male-dominated patriarchal society we knew, and the rise of a female-led one. The storytelling is wonderful – perfectly paced, with an immediacy and emotional intensity that made me gasp. She amps up the tension, opening out the story as the virus spreads, and lets us see how society could be if women were in charge. If I had read this last year, before the pandemic, it would still have been a great story, but this year makes it even more so. I could not put it down. ‘The End Of Men’ deserves to be the hit book of the year.
If there is one book you must read this year, ‘Spirited’ is it. Viola Worth has a passion for photography, a skill taught by her father. When her photographs begin to show the unexpected and intriguing, she becomes friends with celebrated medium Harriet Blackthorne, and her life changes forever. Viola’s husband Jonah struggles with his own demons and a notoriety he feels he does not deserve. As their lives intertwine, secrets emerge that must, in the end, be faced.
The writing is beautiful and poetic and places the reader in a time and place, where rules were different and society was not ready for the truth. This is a slow-build, with a gentle style, where the casual cruelty of the Victorian era is all the more shocking. It’s about secrets and lies, about love and friendship. But also about believing the impossible and above all the enduring nature of love. My heart was bursting as I turned the final few pages. A masterpiece.
‘Silk and Leather’, edited by Victoria Villasenor will be released tomorrow, and I have a very special reason to be excited about that. My story ‘Taking A Leap’ was accepted for the anthology and I can’t wait to see it in print. I have fulfilled one of my dreams – being published by Bold Strokes Books. I can’t thank Victoria and the whole team enough. They have made it a wonderful experience and one I will treasure. I hope that you enjoy reading my story.
Victoria Villasenor has brought together some of the most well-known and respected authors in the world of lesbian fiction in this anthology. It will be available from Bold Strokes Books on the 1st April here:
Superheroes, hot federal agents and an evil baddie mixed together to make a funny, exciting and empowering new novel from A.L. Brooks. ‘Never Too Late For Heroes’ is the story of Agent Geena Fox, an agent just waiting for retirement, and her involvement with a group of very special old ladies in a care home in Missouri. When Agent Fox is assigned a new young partner, she is surprised when Leigh Walker comes back from a routine missing persons case with an unexpected and welcome piece of information. Information that will lead her on a dangerous path back to some old friends and a foe that refuses to go away.
The characters were engaging and full of surprises. Although Geena Fox had a tendency towards gruffness and irritability, she was actually a principled woman, with an important job and a big secret. I liked seeing the vulnerable side of her and the change in her behaviour when she was around one particular person. Her formidable reputation was well-deserved, but there was so much more to her. Her new partner, Leigh, was nervous and unsure at first, but she had steel and as her confidence grew, she really shone. The romantic element of this story was very sweet, especially with Agent Walker and the object of her affection. My favourite characters though were the Powers. Those older ladies were adorable and feisty and hilarious. The mix of personalities worked so well. When the adventure kicked into gear it really held my attention. I loved it.
‘The Trophy Wives Club’ by Ali Spooner is a fun, sexy and empowering read. Lindy Fremont decides that the women of Atlanta need a very special type of club all to themselves. One where they’ll get a great workout in more ways than one. She recruits the woman who has been giving her the most wonderful massages every week for the past few years – and leaves it to her to staff it with a few of her friends. One of them is Luna, a hot stud who Marley is attracted to, but would never let her know. She’s the settling down type and Luna appears to be all for a good time and no commitment. Will that change as they spend more time together setting up the club?
Now, when I realised what kind of club this was I wasn’t sure what to think. But Ali Spooner allayed my fears. The women do what they do because they want to. It’s all about women and they are always in control. It’s respectful. Within a few pages I knew this was a fantastic idea for a book, and the more I read, the more convinced I was. It is light-hearted and very hot and steamy. I really enjoyed it and was happy to find that this is part of a series – and one of my favourite authors, Annette Mori is writing the next one.
I’ve published my short story ‘The Woman By The River’ and it is free on Amazon and all other ebook outlets. It is a prequel to a forthcoming novella set on the west coast of Scotland, where you will find out more about the mysterious woman and her life. I hope you will click on the link below and read all about Gillian.
‘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.
‘Love’s Portrait’ is a perfect mixture of love, romance and belonging. Molly Goode is a fine art curator in Leicester, wishing to bring more diversity to the museum where she works. Georgina Wright is an important benefactor, albeit a reluctant one. She comes across as a bit of an Ice Queen but spending time with Molly begins to thaw her cool exterior. When Georgina needs help to research a painting in her collection, Molly is instructed by her boss to take on the task.
I liked Molly from the start. She was sweet, a bit ditsy and completely unaware of how wonderful she is. She worries about saying and doing the wrong thing and I found her completely adorable. Georgina was a woman in pain, dealing with grief and hurt, and I had high hopes that Molly would be the woman to see her through that. I felt compelled to follow their story. The mystery behind the painting drew me further into the story and I loved the historical aspect of it in regard to the research on the painting. Anna Larner’s writing has a gentle beauty to it, an engaging tone throughout. Her characters feel real to me and she makes me want to know more about them. This is the second book I have read by this author and I must admit she has become a favourite of mine. A lovely story.
I was given this ARC for review by Bold Strokes Books and Netgalley.