Bold Strokes Nottingham 2019 – Books, Banter and Buddies

My signed book purchases

I’m just back from my first ever Bold Strokes event in Nottingham. What a weekend! After a delay getting there (due to a cancelled flight and subsequently four cities in a day to make it), I attended the ‘Meet and Speak’ at the Five Leaves Bookshop in the city. As soon as I was through the door I was greeted by a sea of friendly faces – Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx, Valden Bush, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz, Anna Larner and her wife, Jen Silver, Jane Fletcher and her lovely wife Joanie, Jody Klaire, Em and Ferb, Sam Skybourne, Lise Gold and her wife, Anne Holt and many more. After listening to some wonderful readings a few of us headed off to the Pitcher and Piano for drinks and chat. We sat outside in the warm night air until the early hours talking until we realised we had an event to get up for in the morning and headed off to our various hotels.

Lesfic Ladies deep in conversation
Anna Larner and Carol Hutchinson
Brey Willows

Saturday morning started with a welcome from the lovely Brey Willows. The room filled up quickly and we were treated to some fascinating panels – Challenging the Norms, Flowers and Wine, Playing with the universe, It’s a Writer’s Life and reading from the authors. I found hearing the authors read their own work made me want to buy more books. We were all able to mingle throughout the day and chat to the authors and get our book purchases signed. The After Party at the Pit and Pendulum nearby gave us a chance to socialise more. As we moved around the tables we all got to know some new people. The banter was fantastic.

Cari Hunter, Ileandra Young, Michelle Grubb and Charlotte Green
Cari Hunter
Charlotte Green, Robyn Nyx and Rebecca S Buck

Sunday brought some more panels, readings and a hilarious quiz. We all headed off to The New Foresters bar afterwards for a BBQ and lots of chat. Hours passed quickly as we met new people and old friends. The conversations brought us all together and made us realise just how much we all have in common. Getting to spend time together was energising and affirming – and I cannot wait for next year to do it all again.

Ladies Lunching – Kitty Kat, Sam Skybourne, Valden Bush, Jen Silver, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz
Michelle Grubb and Cari Hunter
Brey Willows, Ileandra Young and Stacia Seaman
Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows – our wonderful hosts for the weekend
A final farewell from our authors
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Review of ‘The Sovereign of Psiere’ by K Aten

K Aten has made me very happy. I loved ‘The Sovereign of Psiere ‘ , the first in a new series, where mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and romance come together in a fascinating story. Olivienne is the heir to the throne, the connate, and also a Historical Adventurist. Her work involves trying to translate the mysterious scrolls left behind by the Makers. But she is a handful and her security detail find it hard to keep up with her. None have managed to stay the course – until the dashing and committed officer, Castellan ends up in her sphere. Their story is immersive , as they work to solve mysteries that have stumped those before them. Their growing attraction was intense and very sexy. I enjoyed seeing them become closer. I also enjoyed the world-building – the word-building too. It was familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I like her writing style. Although she explains a new world and new ideas and people, she makes it easy to grasp. K Aten has managed to create a place I want to revisit again and again. She has laid a perfect foundation for the series in this novel. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Uninvited’ by Jane C Esther

I am a big fan of sci-fi, so this novel was right up my street. A mixture of sci-fi, love, old memories and a bit of a mystery, ‘Uninvited’ is a great story. Aerin McLeary is in Finger Lakes with best friend Zoe, undergoing a post-divorce cleansing ritual. Whilst in the water she feels a strange vibration and ends up with some unexpected changes and abilities. And the only person she can turn to is her old love, Olivia, now a professor. 

I enjoyed how the author moved back and forth between Aerin and Olivia’s teenage romance and the situation they find themselves in now. It was enlightening and I could see why they needed to find a resolution. The attraction between them was powerful. The fact that it all ended so badly in the past made it so difficult to move on. But I wanted them to. The sci-fi element was fascinating and an unusual take on how alien contact may happen. I really enjoyed it and would actually like to see more of these characters and their story. I was therefore delighted to find out that this is the first in a series. I’m looking forward to the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.

Books, Beer and Lesfic Buddies – Wendy Hudson’s Book Launch

I attended the book launch party for Wendy Hudson’s latest novel, ‘Meant to be Me’ in Glasgow last night. It was a night of books, beer and lesfic buddies. Wendy chatted about her book and signed copies for the queue of fans, family and friends who had come to toast the success of her new book. Fellow writer Wendy Temple, author of ‘Defensive Mindset’, had travelled from Edinburgh to join the party, and Trish L. Devoy had flown in from Dublin. Wendy’s lovely Mum Carol was on hand to help as was her partner Lynsey.

Wendy Hudson and Kitty Kat at the book launch for ‘Meant to be Me”

The launch was held at The Curler’s Rest, a popular pub/restaurant on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. As anyone who knows Wendy will be aware, she is an aficionado of craft beers and she made sure her guests were able to partake of some of her favourite beverages.

Trish L. Devoy and Wendy Temple

‘Meant to be Me’ is Wendy’s third novel and is set in the beautiful Scottish city of Inverness. It is a is a heart-thumping, nerve-jangling, suspense story that had me glued to the page. I loved it and highly recommend it. I was delighted to be able to get Wendy to sign my copy last night, and it has pride of place beside ‘Four Steps’ and “Mine to Keep’ on my bookshelf.

Trish L. Devoy, Wendy Hudson and Wendy Temple
Wendy and her guests enjoy a fantastic evening in Glasgow
Wendy signing ‘Meant to be Me’

Review of ‘Pretending in Paradise’ by M Ullrich

I love it when an author makes all my dreams come true in a novel. M Ullrich made me laugh, she made me cry – and she had me swooning over and over again. ‘Pretending in Paradise’ is the story of travel blogger Emma Morgan, a woman who takes advantage of everything on offer on her work trips – and that includes romantic dalliances. But this time it has backfired on her and her boss insists she takes new P.R. Exec Caroline Beckett as an insurance against any further bad behaviour. The only problem is, Caroline comes across as repressed and so tightly wound that Emma is dreading sharing a trip with her. But as they get to know each other – due to the fact that they are visiting a couples resort and have to fake a relationship – it appears the might just find they like each other. 

I really loved Emma. She was fun, gorgeous and had a very caring and considerate side to her nature. She wasn’t at all what I expected. Caroline may come across as prickly and uptight but I just wanted to hug her. I could see why Emma was so drawn to her. The setting of a brand spanking new couples resort in Florida was wonderful. I want to go there! I enjoyed seeing it through Emma’s eyes – as a seasoned professional blogger. Caroline’s perspective was very different but let me see how a rookie traveller would experience it. The romantic element was sweet and taken slowly but that was exactly how it needed to be. And the sex – oh my! It was hot and inventive and very, very naughty. A wonderful story – and another M Ullrich novel to add to my list of favourites. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Alone’ by E.J. Noyes

‘Alone’ is an addictive and fascinating, romantic psychological story. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Celeste Thorne signs up to take part in a psychological experiment that will earn her half a million dollars –  if she can last four years alone. With no family and no real ties Celeste jumps at the chance. We are inside her head and hear all the imaginary voices from her difficult past, and because of that the reader bonds with her. When a stranger wanders onto the compound, an injury means Celeste has to decide if she is going to break the rules of her contract and help her. As the story is told in first person it was so easy to sympathise with Celeste’s struggles and worries. The woman who appears in her life, Olivia, is endearing and caring and great company. I could see how Celeste was so tempted. There is so much more to this story than meets the eye though. Celeste’s journey was profound and life-changing and I wanted her to find happiness at last. But could she ever trust anything that happened to her while part of the experiment? At times the story was disturbing. But there were heart-warming moments too and an overpowering intense love that was beautiful and sexy and affirming. I couldn’t put it down. Afterwards I felt the need to sit and process what I had just read – it was very special. Highly recommended.

I was given this Arc for review.

Review of ‘Write Your Own Script’ by A.L. Brooks

‘Write Your Own Script’ is absolutely perfect! It is romantic, sexy and endearing – and had me rooting for Tamsyn and Maggie all the way. Tamsyn is a famous actress who has spent her whole life in the closet, for fear of losing her career. When she has had just about enough and needs some time away, she retreats to the quiet of the Norfolk countryside. Maggie is a writer with a serious case of writer’s block. She hopes some time away will make her want to write again. Their meeting is one of those beautiful instances when you just know that soulmates have come together. It feels right. A.L. Brooks gets into the minds and souls of her characters and as a result she makes me love them. The emotional impact is intense and the sex is off the scale amazing. It is hot and heavy and utterly exquisite. But the main strength of this exceptionally well-written book is that she makes me care. I cared that Tamsyn was terrified about coming out. I cared that Maggie had to be true to herself. And I cared that their love would find a way. A truly uplifting story and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Recipe for Love’ by Aurora Rey

Aurora Rey writes the yummiest stories – and in this case I mean the food as well as the romance. ‘Recipe for Love’ is the story of hard-working farmer Hannah Little and new chef in town Drew Davis. Set in the beautiful countryside of Upstate New York, with its fields of delicious produce, the setting is an integral part of the whole. I really want to go there now. Hannah can’t quite believe big city Head Chef will ever fit in. Drew arrives with the attitude that this will only ever be a stop-gap. But when they start becoming more to each other than friends, hard decisions may have to be made. I would find it hard to pick who was my favourite between Hannah and Drew. Hannah was kind and conscientious and had obviously found her niche in life. Drew thought she knew exactly what she wanted but meeting Hannah was not in the plan and seeing her deal with that made me love her all the more. The supporting characters were so well drawn and I especially liked Hannah’s sister, Clare. Through her eyes we saw so much of what was going on. It was a lovely romantic story, with just the right amount of will they-won’t they. It was also incredibly sexy. One particular element of the love-making was hot, hot, hot. But you’ll have to discover for yourself what that was! I adore Aurora Rey’s writing and will never get enough. She transports me to beautiful places, with beautiful women and I can guarantee I will have a happy, satisfied smile on my face by the last page. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Moonlight Avenue’ by Gerri Hill

‘Moonlight Avenue’ is an excellent mystery novel, sheer class. Gerri Hill’s writing is flawless, her story compelling and much more than a notch above others writing in this genre. Finn Knight runs her own one-woman detective agency but after many solitary years finds herself involved with two other women as they try to solve an increasingly puzzling case. Rylee Moore appears at her door looking for a job – but there is more to this young woman than Finn wants to admit. The dynamic between the pair was fascinating. Dee Woodard is a cop whose interest in Finn’s case forges an unlikely friendship. I really enjoyed the interpersonal relationships in this story. They were well observed and natural. The case they were working was full of twists and turns and had me desperate to find out more. I loved it and would be interested to find out what happens next for these characters if Ms Hill decides to make this a series. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Not The Marrying Kind’

Jae is the Queen of wish fulfilment. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in this story and she granted my wish. I completely and utterly adored Ashley and Sasha’s story. It was the most romantic, emotional and beautiful story of love, belonging and joy. I was smiling from ear to ear and for the rest of the day after reading this. 

Florist Ashley is as far in the closet as it’s possible to be. She is terrified her parents will find out she’s a lesbian and can’t face the reaction she suspects will come from the townsfolk. Baker Sasha has no desire to be tied down to anyone and her fear of commitment has been part of her life for so long. But when the pair begin to spend time together working on their friends’ Leo and Holly’s wedding, it becomes harder to stick to old ways. They are so obviously perfect for each other. And I found myself wishing and hoping it would be a happily ever after for them!

Jae increased the happiness level by bringing in characters from her other books – Leo and Holly – and others I’ll leave as a surprise. Having these wonderful women interact was wonderful. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 

I was given this ARC for review.