‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes’ is the wonderful debut novel from E.V. Bancroft. It’s a story told over two time periods, with two couples. Starting in pre-war 1939, Maud and Bea find love at a time when lesbian relationships were completely taboo. How can they find a way to be together when the world is against them? In the present day Hannah may be open in some areas of her life, but convincing the woman she loves, Suki, to do the same is not easy. It seems prejudices remain and they can be hard to push back against. Maud and Bea are now old and forced apart in different nursing homes. As the two stories intertwine, the women must fight those who would keep them apart – and fight their own pre-conceived ideas.
I was surprised this was a first novel, as the storytelling was so skilful and appeared effortless. The prose flowed beautifully and the characters were believable and brought truth to the story. It was the most compelling story of love, of fighting to be see and heard. I went through so many emotions reading these two love stories, each with problems to be overcome. The writing was powerful, emotional and exceptional.
I left it feeling happy and joyful. Highly recommended.
I was given this ARC to review.
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.
‘Scripted Love’ is a sweet romance and slow-burn. This is one of my favourite tropes and can be so good if done well. And Helena Harte does it very well. Rix has her own production company and is about to turn Layla’s precious books into a series of films. Layla knows how she wants her books to be adapted – and is not reticent about making that clear. When she meets Rix there’s a spark, but working together and pursuing a relationship could cause big problems. The women also have very different ideas about love and romance. Will they be able to reconcile their differences?
I liked Rix. She was a sensitive butch, with a social conscience. Not at all what one would expect from a Hollywood producer/director. Layla really appealed to me too. She was new to the Hollywood scene and it was interesting seeing it through her eyes. I found the Hollywood lifestyle and industry stuff fascinating and enjoyed the fact that it was shown from all levels of participation. There was plenty of sexual tension with a teensy bit of angst. But ultimately it was very romantic and sexy.
A lovely story.
I was given this ARC to review.