‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali is a romantic fantasy novel set in Atlantis and New Orleans. Vivien could never forget meeting a girl on the beach years ago. She appeared to dip beneath the waves in the company of sharks – but how could that be? Years later she finds out when Kai Merlin, heir to the Atlantean throne, comes back into her life and they fall in love. As they plan their wedding Vivien finds out about the world beneath the sea and is astounded at the scope of it all. But Atlantis is under threat and the women must fight for their lives and the home they will now share.
This is the second in the series and I feel reading the first one is important to understanding the whole story. It’s a truly amazing world and the concept is so well thought out. I loved finding out about the history and technology of the Atlantean people. The love story between Kai and Vivien is beautiful and tender and extremely hot. The heat level is scorching, with very descriptive love scenes. But underneath all of the happiness at the impending wedding is an undercurrent of fear and tension as they battle an enemy from the stars. I loved to wallow in fantasy and this let me do that. An enjoyable story.
‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton is outstanding. My book of the year by a long way. Lady Sophie Melling is lady of the manor, but the men of the village will not accept it. Her former schoolfriend Beth Harris is back in the village after years away. Like most people she has a secret, and when nasty notes begin appearing it looks like her secret may be revealed to all. Who is leaving the notes? And what does it have to do with unexplained events twenty years ago? As the tension builds, a sense of foreboding clings to the village and its inhabitants.
This is the best novel Clare Ashton has written. My jaw dropped again and again as the shocking realities were revealed. The exquisite writing, beautiful descriptions, and insight into the welsh language and people had me mesmerised. I could feel the fear of the villagers as they received their vicious notes, and the all-pervading abuse of power by certain men of the village. But I could also feel the growing confidence of the women as they tried to be true to themselves and fight against it all. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. If you only read one book this year, let it be ‘The Tell Tale’. You will not regret it.
‘A Con Con’ by Anne Hagan is an excellent short story, showing her mastery of mystery. After arriving at the GCLS Convention, she is tired and just wants to freshen up before the activities all begin. But an intriguing mystery has her flummoxed – until she uses her innate skills to solve an interesting mystery. It’s a fun story, with lots of humour. I really enjoyed it and it shows just how much the author loves a good mystery.
‘The Fog of War’ by A.L. Lester is a historical paranormal romance set in England after the First World War. As Dr Silvia Marks settles back into life in the small English village where she grew up, she tries to forget the grief tearing at her heart. The disappearance of her lover during the war has left her scarred. With the help of army nurse Walter, she becomes the local G.P. and runs her own practice. When a friend from the battlefield hospital comes to stay, she begins to see some purpose again. But a strange mystery with one of her patients throws everything up in the air. She must decide if she had the courage to find out what’s going on. Because doing so has far-reaching complications.
This was an imaginative story, with an interesting premise. I liked the time period, as it was a time when women began to venture out into the workplace due to the lack of male labour available. Sylvia was strong and capable, but was still struggling with heartbreak. Lucy came into her life at just the right time, and she had a positive influence on her. The paranormal element was intriguing and there is so much scope to develop it further in the next books in the series. I was certainly very curious as to where it would lead. I enjoyed the book and eagerly await more.
‘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.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love KJ’s writing. But this one surprised even me. It’s absolutely wonderful. Completely different from anything I’ve read from her before. It’s a gripping, chilling, and at times scary, mystery.
Felicity is the headmistress of Rawson Girls Grammar school, and lives a controlled life, where she calls the shots. But she’s no Ice Queen. She’s kind and charitable, but just doesn’t shout about it. When disturbing events begin to happen in her vicinity, Inspector Tal Diamandis is assigned to the case. As they work together to find out why, secrets from the past threaten to surface. And an attraction between them flares, forcing Felcity to rethink her self-imposed rules.
I love mysteries, so was thrilled that KJ has decided to dip her pen in this genre. Is there anything this woman does not excel at? She blended a brilliant story with romance and passion perfectly.
‘Ignis’ is compelling reading and I couldn’t put it down. It’s an excellent story, full of heart. It has pain, hope, love and power. The best KJ book so far.
‘Guin The Emerald’ is the second in the Shift Series by Louisa Kelley, and is even better than the first. Guin leads a team cleaning up the mess left behind when the world, and specifically Portland, became aware of the existence of dragons. Miriam is back as the only human who knows the real story. But can she be trusted? And why is Cellie compelled to seek out the answer to a very strange mystery?
I loved finding it more about the Draca and their magic. Their world opened up more and I couldn’t get enough. The developing attraction between Guin and Miriam was especially welcome. It was surprisingly tender and passionate . The story had adventure and mystery and fascinating insights into the lives of the Draca and their connection to Earth. There was a little ‘Easter Egg’ for fans of sapphic fiction too. You’ll know it when you see it.
The book had a lovely family feeling and made me wish for more in the future.
‘Under Her Influence’ by Amanda Radley is a sweet love story and leaves the reader feeling happy and contented. And that’s exactly what I want from a romance these days. Ms Radley keeps angst to a minimum and lets her readers enjoy the blossoming of love between her characters. Beth Fraser runs Fraser Park, a theme park in Scotland, where she takes the brunt of the responsibility and decision-making, whilst her brother apparently skates through life without a care in the world. When social media influencer, Jemma Johnson comes to the park to check out all it has to offer, Beth is perplexed. What is an influencer? She barely knows what Instagram is, so the idea that hundreds of thousands of people would follow Jemma on her travels around the world is beyond her. But as a hostile board threatens everything Beth has worked for, she realises that the park needs new ways of attracting customers.
I loved this story, as it was gentle and endearing, with two main characters I could really get to know. Beth was determined and focused and worked non-stop. In her way Jemma was the same. But the way they chose to deal with life was completely different, and bringing them together worked so well. It was a fee-good love story, with wonderful descriptions of the park. So wonderful that I want to go to Fraser Park. Tell me its a real place please Amanda Radley!
‘Do You Know Dorothy?’ is part of a series, following the lives and loves of gay people in New York City in the fifties. We follow Al Huffman as she builds on her career and tries to save the night club she helps run with her friend Max. She still pines for her soul mate Juliana, but here she learns more about the secret world of lesbians and gay men in that era. She also finds out things about herself and how she feels comfortable as a lesbian. Not that following the ‘rules’ comes easy.
The story was interesting from a historical perspective, in that we find out how gay people lived, and how they were treated. The fight for equal rights was in its infancy, and in this novel Vanda explores the movement through her characters. Attitudes were different, even between one minority group and another. Although there is some romance in the story, I get the feeling this will be explored more fully in the next book in the series.