‘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.
‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten is the first in her new MythWorld Series. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of shapeshifters, mythical creatures and destiny. Ellys is a half-elven swordsman and a great one at that. She hires out her skills to help keep body and soul together for herself and her companion steed, Roccotari. When dragon shapeshifter, Aderri offers her more than the usual rate to help her get home for an important family ceremony she agrees. But the journey is fraught with danger and the threesome find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for. Add in the beginnings of an attraction that grows hotter as they near Aderri’s homeland. As each grapple with their own and others expectations, life becomes a whole lot more interesting.
The world-building is superb in ‘Elemental Attraction’ and K Aten has once again hooked me with her imaginative storytelling. The mixture of different creatures is fantastic and seeing how they interact with each other made me laugh and sometimes shed a tear. Ellys is strong and fearless and loyal. She strives to achieve balance in everything she does. Her relationship with Roccotari is funny, sarcastic and joyful. They have an amazing bond and it is the most significant relationship for both of them. As they travel with Aderri we begin to see that love does not have to be static, and change can be embraced. I loved the banter between the three, but also the traditions, mythology and history that made them who they were. A great 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.
I have read every book in Clare Lydon’s London Romance series and enjoyed every one. ‘Big London Dreams’ is the best so far. As well as love and romance, we are taken back to the 1950s, and to a time where girls were expected to find a nice young man and settle down. For Eunice Starling and Joan Hart that’s not so easy. Neither have been able to find a man that remotely interested them, and when they fall in love everything seems to click. But this was the late fifties and it took more than love to keep them together. Sixty years later they meet again and tell their story. Will it be happily ever after for them at last? You’ll have to read this wonderful book to find out.
‘Big London Dreams’ was the most heart-wrenching love story. A story of it’s time. But it was also joyful and heartwarming. Clare Lydon told the most amazing tale of true love, where time could not diminish the passion the women felt for each other. It was also beautifully written and the descriptions of London were so evocative. I could imagine it all so well. So much effort was put into making it just right. Although I knew there would be heartbreak, I could not stop reading. I knew that love would conquer all, and Ms Lydon did not disappoint. The fact that it tied in with my favourite romance series and the friends I had come to love, made it all the more special. Highly recommended.
‘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!
Are you supposed to fall in love with the characters in the book you’re reading? If not, I must have missed that directive. Because it is impossible not to fall for Emily and Skye in KJ’s latest novel, ‘Change of Plans’. Emily is a stickler for planning every last detail of her life. Skye is not. Emily is unsure and worries a lot, and finding a way to be happy is not easy for her. Can she find a way to change? Will Skye be the one to help her do that? Her life as a bike courier suits her. She goes with the flow and hopes for the best. Can two such different women ever make it work?
I loved Emily. Kind, adorable and thoughtful, with her own outlook on life. She is who she is, and that’s fine by me. It takes different strokes and it’d be boring if we were all the same. Skye could see how wonderful she was and felt quite protective of her. This is the kind of book that makes the reader feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s about finding your person. The one who gets you. Because not everyone will, and that’s fine too. It made me feel hopeful, because there are good people out there. We’re so used to hearing the bad stuff on the news – and we forget that there are good people out there with hearts of gold, ready and willing to help others.
It made me smile with joy and happiness. KJ looks into the hearts of her characters and sees the best in them. She has a wonderful outlook, and it comes through in her writing.
Chase Stinsen is a principled archaeologist who ends up in some yucky, mucky situations, always hoping to discover and save treasures for the benefit of all humanity. Rayne Marcellus tends towards the less lawful path. She keeps beating Chase to finds that she sells to unscrupulous rich men, instead of giving to the museums Chase favours. The women worked together in the past and have a difficult relationship due to Rayne screwing Chase over. When Rayne asks her to help find the fabled Golden Trinity, to prevent it from falling into the hands of a man who would stop at nothing to possess it, can Chase trust her?
The story has an exciting and atmospheric start and the the adventure continues in the same vein. The archaeological and historical details are fascinating and give another layer of interest that hooked me from the beginning. Add to that the interpersonal dynamics between the two main characters and Robyn Nyx has a winner on her hands. But it was about so much more than adventure and mystery, although those were expertly done. The personal discoveries for Chase and Rayne and the realisations they came to – those were definitely stand out elements for me. There were powerful emotions, not just about the growing feelings the women had for each other, but for the peoples of the Amazon. The danger from incursions by treasure hunters and loggers made me want to weep for them. The setting was exquisitely described, so much so that I could almost feel the heat and humidity as I read. The creepy fear that could never leave them as they traversed through thick, lush jungle, with snakes and worse just ready to pounce. The denouement was thrilling, heart-stopping and full of wonder. I wait in eager anticipation for the next great adventure from this pair.
And for lovers of lesfic, there are a few wonderful Easter Eggs in this book. I almost cried out in delight at the mention of some names and places from another favourite author of mine. I’ll leave you to find them for yourself – but suffice to say, the three I found made me a very happy reader.
‘Wrong Number, Right Woman’ by Jae is one of those stories absolutely guaranteed to put a smile on your face. When Denny receives a text from a woman she doesn’t know asking for advice, she’s stumped. But also intrigued. As texts fly back and forth between the two women, they begin to get to know each other, in an anonymous and therefore stress-free manner. Eliza desperately needed an opinion on the right outfit to wear to yet another date organised through the latest dating app. She wants to find the one, the person who makes her feel the way they tell it in the movies. It’s never happened yet and she’s beginning to think it never will. Her messaging with Denny is a lot more interesting than any date she’s been on. But Eliza is straight, and surely the person of her dreams can’t be a woman. Or can it?
Denny and Eliza are two of the most adorable characters ever. They both have big hearts, are there for their friends and family, and deserve to be happy. I loved them both so much. And I wanted them to be happy. I had my fingers and toes crossed the whole time I was reading this book. It is a beautifully told romance about seeing the real person behind the fronts we all put up. It’s about falling for someone unexpectedly and realising that love comes in different guises. I adored it.
Clare Lydon has created the perfect recipe for romance in ‘Hot London Nights’. She gives us a bit of humour here, a lot of sizzle there, a pinch of love and friendship, plenty of heart-stopping emotion – and a cracking story. India Contelli, Tv star and high powered business woman, has had it with love. Moving on from a disastrous relationship, she’s ready to be her own woman, and that means buying her own home at last. As lovely as her family are, she needs her own space. When Gina Gupta is recommended as the estate agent to trust with her dreams, she doesn’t expect to start feeling an attraction. That’s the last thing she needs. Gina has never been in love, maybe she never will be. Having come out late, to a family that disapprove, she’s concentrating on building her business. But is that enough? The connection she feels with India makes her reconsider.
This is book 7 in the London Romance Series, and we get to see snippets of our old friends, as their lives intertwine with each other and these new characters. That wonderful feeling is there again, as this particular group of lesbians live out their lives in the city. As they prepare for Pride, and try to help old lovers reconnect, there is a vibrancy and joy that made me so happy to be back with them. This was exactly the kind of book I needed to read right now. Because when I can’t travel to London in person, Clare Lydon takes me there, to be among great women and fabulous sights.