Thursday, 21 June 2012

Falling Colours - The Misadventures of a Vision Painter by RJ Samuel

Kiran is a vision painter, the only one in the whole of Ireland. She works part time as a waitress in a restaurant in Connemara to supplement her income. When Kiran is asked by a client to do an unusual vision painting, she is very apprehensive. It goes against everything she believes to be ethical. Unfortunately Kiran makes a serious error of judgment, which results in chaos and Kiran’s life being changed forever.

Added in to the mystery and intrigue is a woman. A woman Kiran finds irresistible, a woman Kiran feels she will never be able to have. But the path of true love rarely runs smoothly, or according to the best laid plans, is there a chance Kiran is wrong in her assumptions?

This is R. J Samuel’s second book. It is very well written and the dialogue flows. The story is most unusual and unlike any I’ve ever read before. This is more than just a run of the mill mystery, intrigue, romance book. It has a touch of supernatural elements and is humorous in parts too. It’s fast paced and a page turner from the first page through to the last. The story kept me on a knife edge throughout, it is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and had the effect on me of being on a rollercoaster. Totally delightful, mesmerizing and impressive.

The main characters are well developed and have a strong supporting cast of minor characters who all interact well together, (even the not so nice to know characters) to progress the story forward. The scenic descriptions are wonderful, and it’s easy to visualize the different places.

R.J has the gift for making the reader feel as though they are an actual part of the story, it is easy to get totally immersed in this book. The thrill and suspense with a romantic feel to the story, ensured that I had to stay up most of the night to find out how the story ended. In fact, I have read this book twice now. Once was not enough. I had to re-read it without the pressure of not knowing how the book ended. The second time was to savor the richness of the story and the wonderful way with words R.J has.

R.J Samuel is an up and coming exciting new voice in lesbian fiction. An author to watch out for and to add to my list of favorite authors. I am greatly looking forward to reading more from R.J soon.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Gay Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen & Kate Christie

Life for the Bennet sisters in the quiet rural County of Hertfordshire, England, is all set to change dramatically. A rich, single gentleman has arrived at Netherfield Park. Mrs Bennet is delighted. Surely one of her daughters will make Mr Bingley a good wife? After all, she does have five of them for him to choose from.

Elizabeth though has other ideas and marriage isn’t one of them. Elizabeth has been seeing Charlotte romantically for quite sometime. It’s only when Charlotte decides to marry Mr Collins, that Elizabeth must re-think her options. It’s not that Elizabeth doesn’t have choices. Men do ask for her hand in marriage, but not all women feel desire towards men, nor do all men feel desire towards women. There are some who prefer the company of their own sex. What will Elizabeth decide to do? Will Elizabeth ever find another to love?

First of all I’ll start by saying I haven’t read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, so I have nothing to compare this version with. I have no idea how much of the text is Kate Christie’s and how much is Jane Austen’s. I have seen the film version though, so I do know the original story. In my opinion, this book is as true to the original story as possible.

This is a wonderfully refreshing and cleverly written new take on a much loved classic. I think Kate chose exactly the right characters to write in as gay. She didn’t make the story all about the gay characters, which simply wouldn’t have sounded right. The dialogue is written in the style of the time the original book was written.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though I’ve never been too fond of reading the classics, I much prefer the film versions. I’ve always found reading them hard going, if only they were all re-written with Kate’s skill, I may have enjoyed reading them more.

I would love to see this version of Pride and Prejudice made in to a film or even a TV drama.

Well done Kate on what must have been a very difficult and time consuming task to get spot on.

Falling Snow by Graysen Morgen

Trauma surgeon Dr Cason MaCauley works at a large Denver hospital for ten months of the year and has a two month winter rotation in Aspen for the other two months. It’s more like an easy going working vacation for Cason in Aspen. It’s no where near as busy as her job in Denver.

When Cason is literally knocked off her feet outside of a ski store by professional snowboarder, Adler Troy, how could Cason know this encounter would change her life forever?

Cason is attracted to Adler right away. She has no idea of who she is. Adler is also having unusual feelings and can’t stop thinking about Cason.

When Adler is injured in a snowboarding accident, she ends up in the hospital being treated by Cason, the woman she keeps thinking about. Adler is questioning her feelings for Cason, a woman she only met once before. She is confused, after all, she is straight and married.

Cason hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Adler either. But when she finds out who Adler is, plus the fact she is straight and married, Cason knows she must back off. She cannot possibly allow herself to get involved with Adler.

Adler herself has a terrible shock when she finds out her husband is cheating on her, will this have an impact on her confusing feelings for Cason?

The more time Cason and Adler spend together, the more Cason becomes infatuated and the more confused Adler becomes.

Will Cason drop her guard and allow her feelings for Adler to develop? Will Adler sort out her feelings for Cason out before it’s too late?

A nicely paced romance. I loved the story and the scenic descriptions. The two main characters, Cason and Adler oozed charm and sex appeal. The passion between them is hot and steamy. The story has a great cast of supporting characters too. All in place to progress the story forward.

Unfortunately, this book has a number of typos and needs a good editor. The story was also on the short side. Add this to the editorial problems, the price tag is far too high. But if you don’t mind paying a high price and the typos, the story is good.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Sunkissed by Freya Publications

An anthology of lesbian love stories.

1997 by Rosen Trevithick

Karen owns a record store in Falmouth, Cornwall. When a gorgeous Asian woman, Anya walks in and asks her out for dinner, Karen is over joyed. Who knew that Anya was going to give Karen the shock of her life after dinner?
A nicely written story with a lot packed in to it and an extra special twist.

Five Guns Blazing by Emma Rose Millar.

Set in 1720, an action packed story that spans from London across the seas to Barbados. An exciting swashbuckling tale of deportation, gruelling plantation life and piracy on the high seas. Look out for Nathaniel Beedham, he’s not who he seems.
Excitement and thrills throughout this well penned story.

Break Away by Niamh Murphy

Sarah arranges a weekend away in St Ives, Cornwall with her married lover, Debbie. When Debbie lets Sarah down once again, Sarah and her landlady, Jen begin to get close. A startling surprise puts an end to anything romantic between them though. Will Sarah come to her senses in the end?
A nicely paced and well written story of love, lies, realization and awakening.

I Also Met You In Summer by Clare Ashton

A woman meets her future lover at a party. Unknown to her, her lover is not who she seems to be. When she catches her cheating, she hopes it is a one off. But how can she trust her again? What happens next is an unexpected turnabout of events.
A poignant story of love, hot sex, betrayal and finally justice to the two deserving it. Well written and fast paced. A lot packed in to a short story.

Spa Seduction by Kiki Archer

Anna and Josie, after being let down by their boyfriends, go for a spa break in Venice. Anna is intrigued by the spa’s owner, Sophia. When Sophia offers Anna a massage, Anna is hoping for far more from the gorgeous Sophia. But will there be more on offer?
A lovely well written hot and steamy short story.

The Darkness Within by Betty Flack

When young English Louisa is working in Cyprus, she sees a flame haired girl with pure white skin. She is intrigued by her, she can’t get her out of her mind and follows her several times before finally catching up to her. She gets far more than she bargained for though and her life is forever changed.
A haunting tale with an unusual twist. Nicely written with lovely scenic descriptions.

Signals by Sam Patterson-Sleep

One evening in a bar a woman watches the signals of two dancers on the dance floor. Watches as a dance becomes more intimate. She hadn’t known before that the two she came in with would end up being lovers. She hadn’t seen the signals. But she can go and make her acquaintance with the dancer across the room, who is giving out her own signals.
A somewhat unusual well written story.

One Weekend by Franki Morgan

When her boss wouldn’t swap her her shift and all her friends had gone away, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise when an unexpected guest books in to the hotel. Who knew that this would be one scorching, red hot, sex filled weekend?
A lovely well written story, with great characters, full of nice scenic descriptions and passion.

The Sighing Sound, The Lights Around the Shore by Toni James

Two women meet in a bar. They feel as though they know each other. After a hot encounter on the beach, they return to the bar where they had met. When one asks if they could meet again, she was given the impression they may have been lovers before and would possibly be again.
A well written mystic story of a love past, present and future.

Summer of Samantha by Melody Breyer-Grell

Set in the hot summer of 1977 in Manhattan.
Nineteen year old Maura is an operatic singer. Samantha is a graduate student. Maura has been warned off of Sam by her flatmate, because Sam is a lesbian. Maura struggles with her feelings and wants Sam badly. One night during a blackout, Maura relents.
A hot and steamy nicely written story.

Retreat by Niamh Murphy.

Grace’s personal assistant causes her more work and stress than actually not having help at all. When Grace goes to a health retreat to unwind, she turns off her phone. It’s here that she meets Alex and flirts with her at a wine tasting class. Both Grace and Alex are strong women and Grace is used to being in charge, will Grace give up control to Alex?
A nicely paced story of flirtation and control.

The Ballad of Iska and Marikit by Emma Rose Millar

Set in Antique, Philippines in 1587.
Iska and Marikit are lesbian lovers. Datu is married, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting Marikit. When Datu lies about Iska and Marikit, it sets about a chain of terrible events that will change the lives of everyone around them all, resulting in the ballad of Iska and Marikit.
A haunting legendary tale that will chill you.

The short stories in this book are widely diverse and well written by a variety of different authors. Some authors have been published before, but some are debut authors. Each and every story in this book has obviously been carefully chosen and the overall standard is very high.

As with most short story books I have my favorite stories. You will too. The one thing I will say about this book is, I think Freya has discovered some wonderful new authors. Authors that I feel will be quite prominent in lesfic in the future.

I’m finding myself reading more short stories just lately than I’ve ever done before. I’ll admit, I’ve always preferred a full length novel to short stories. However, this book is is great. Most of the stories are not too short and there is a story to get your teeth in to.

I’ll be looking out for more from Freya Publications and the authors in this book in the future.

Secluded Heart by Graysen Morgen

Thirty year old cardiac surgeon Chase Leery is living a life of all work and no play. She is in a dead end relationship and she’s coming to the conclusion that she has to change her lifestyle.

When Chase meets artist Remy Sheridan at her friend Frankie’s art gallery, she is immediately attracted to her. But Chase is with Yelena and Remy is straight and has a boyfriend. It’s not long before Chase ousts Yelena from her life, leaving her single for the first time in years.

Chase and Remy meet each other in passing several times. Neither woman can seemingly resist the other. It soon becomes apparent to Chase, that she wants more than Remy is prepared to give. Chase doesn’t want to be second best anymore. But Remy can’t or won’t end her relationship with her boyfriend Brian to be with Chase.

When a tragedy occurs and Chase finds out the secrets Remy has been hiding, will it be too late to tell Remy what is in her heart?

I enjoyed this story very much even though it was quite short. Graysen Morgen is a wonderful storyteller. Even though the story is short, there is a lot packed in to it and it is fast paced, with numerous twists and turns. I liked the group of close friends and the interaction between Chase and Remy was sensual and hot. There are numerous well described scenic settings from Mount Sinai Hospital, Miami, where Chase works, to as far as New York.

I have a few issues with this book though. There are editing problems. Typos and grammatical errors, plus quite a lot of blank pages making an already short book, even shorter. Normally I can ignore these things. But as this book cost over $10, I expected a longer story and better editing.

Having said this, if you don’t mind the price tag and the editing issues, the story is a jolly good read.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Flowers from Iraq by Sunny Alexander

The Storyteller and the Healer

This book is about the story of Dr Kathleen Moore. Kathleen is a physician in the small town of Canfield. She was abused as a child and after a family tragedy, grew up in foster care. Kathleen’s childhood was made more bearable by her living in a fantasy world. The book Alice in Wonderland played a big part in her early years.

Kathleen went from foster care to being a closeted physician in the United States Army. Kathleen eventually served in Iraq and was badly injured and traumatized, which ended her army career. After her discharge and recuperation, Kathleen applied for and accepted a post as family physician in Canfield. It’s here that she meets Claire Hollander. Kathleen is smitten. Unfortunately for Kathleen, it appears that Claire is straight. Or is she?

When Kathleen and Claire spend more time together and get to know one another, it is apparent that the feelings Kathleen’s been having are mutual. What will it take though for one of the two women to make the first move?

When Kathleen and Claire do eventually get together, Kathleen can’t let go of her inhibitions. She has to stay locked away deep in the closet. Hiding all her deepest darkest secrets. Will Claire be able to help Kathleen over come her insecurities? Will Kathleen be ready to trust Claire with her secrets from the past? Until Kathleen can come to terms with and leave her past behind, she can’t possibly hope to move on and have a future with Claire. So although Kathleen and Claire love each other, will this be enough to base a future on? The answer of course, is no. Kathleen has to cast aside her demons first, but even if she does, will it be too late for her and Claire?

This book is a wonderfully well written page turner from start to finish. Sunny Alexander has an extraordinary way with words. She is an incredible story teller.

Although the title is Flowers from Iraq, the book is mainly set in the USA.

This is a story of Kathleen’s lack of self esteem. How she likens her life to sowing flower seeds in Iraq and how the young plants all die. Kathleen has to learn she is worthy of love and she has to learn to love herself before she can move on.

The story is told with flash backs to Kathleen’s past. The way this was done was brilliant. Each flash back shows the part it is playing in Kathleen’s present time. The reader has no doubts as to what Kathleen is suffering, why and how it all began way back.

The main character Kathleen is supported by a wonderful cast of equally important characters. Gayle and Robert are her mentors. Over the years, they have become like a second set of parents to her. Without their support both in the past and present, Kathleen’s life would have been even harder to bear. Gary is her best friend and her beard. Then there are Sam, Helen and Kevin. Last but by no means least is Claire. All these people and others seamlessly slot in to progress the story to it’s excellent conclusion.

Sunny Alexander has done her research very well. The PTSD Kathleen suffers from radiates off the page. This book is of the highest quality, both for storyline, dialogue, characters and scenic descriptions. It is beautifully presented and error free. This book is a definite re-read for me.

I am pleased to see there is a sequel to follow, God Laughs. I hope it’s published soon.

Minus One: A Twelve Step Journey by Bridget Bufford

Twenty six year old Terry Manescu, is an alcoholic and also a drug user. Terry is at a point in her life where she knows she has to make changes. So, after a course of treatment, Terry moves in with her friend Angela. There are conditions though. Terry has to remain clean and sober and she has to pay her share of the household expenses. Angela helps terry get a job and it looks like Terry is on her way to sobriety.

Terry attends AA meetings, but somehow she doesn’t ‘get’ the concept of why she is attending. Terry thinks all the longer sober members are out to tell her what to do and rule her life. Terry isn’t having any of it though and inevitably makes mistakes.

However somewhere deep down, Terry knows this is the path she has to take. She has to admit once and for all she is powerless over alcohol and drugs and that the twelve step program will be her salvation. Only then will Terry realize that AA will not change the person she is, but the way she thinks.

Terry has always associated alcohol with her love life. The endless rounds of lesbian bars and women she met in them, played a huge part in her life over the years.

Terry has lost the love of her life due to a drunken rage. This seemed to be the catalyst in her life to get sober. But ultimately, Terry has to want to get sober. Can it be that Terry is finally getting what AA is all about?

Unfortunately along the way, Terry has to overcome other problems in her life. Will she be strong enough to avoid drinking again?

There is a wonderful cast of supporting characters. All with their own offerings throughout this book, making the journey we follow with Terry very interesting. These characters are so real, just like so many people I’ve met.

Terry’s brother tries to help her, he gives her a place to stay. But like most non alcoholics, has no idea of what Terry is going through or her struggles to remain sober. He seems to think that she won’t need to go to AA, she’s not an alcoholic and just needs to cut down on her drinking. This is all very confusing for Terry. Will Terry listen to her brother or AA?

Along the path to sobriety, Terry meets and tries to have a relationship with Holly. But quickly finds that Holly isn’t a lesbian. Will this be Terry’s downfall?

Terry has many obstacles to overcome, losing jobs, her family don’t really understand her, all these things could send Terry back to minus step one at any time. Will Terry be strong and listen to her sponsor?

We follow the highs and lows of Terry’s struggle to remain sober. She’s has to hit her rock bottom, her minus one step. Only then can she claw her way back from the bowels of hell caused by her addiction.

This is a wonderful, heart-breaking, yet heart-warming story of a young woman’s addictions to alcohol and some drug abuse. It is more than just another book about an alcoholic finding sobriety. This book is also the story of self discovery. A journey that anyone of us could take whether we suffer from an addiction or not. You don’t have to have an addiction for your life to spiral out of control. The concept of the twelve steps, or even just ‘the one day at a time’ AA teaches, could be used by each of us for many situations. Therefore, please don’t think this book isn’t for you to read because you are not an addict or family of an addict. There is something to be learned in here for each of us.

If you are an addict or think you maybe, this book will certainly give you an insight into some of the help that is available to you, wherever you live in the world. If you know someone who is an addict, a family member or friend, this book will help you understand more about their condition.

Having said this, Minus One: A Twelve Step Journey is a story full of love and hope and makes for an interesting and page turning read. From my own personal experience, Bridget Bufford has got this story spot on.

But She is My Student by Kiki Archer

Newly qualified teacher, Miss Katherine Spicer got quite a shock on her first day of teaching in her new school. Sitting hidden in the corner is Freya Elton. Freya is the woman Kat met at a gay bar over the weekend. Freya is the woman Kat kissed heatedly. Freya is the woman that just disappeared. Now here she is, as large as life sitting in Kat’s class. Freya is Kat’s student. Will Kat’s career be over before it’s even begun?

Freya Elton is a student in her final year at school. Freya is confused about her sexuality. However, she’s not confused about her feelings for Kat. Just that one evening and the kisses they both shared has been playing on Freya’s mind ever since.

In spite of how Kat feels, she knows she must push Freya away. Forget the kisses they shared that are seared into her brain. Although both Kat and Freya know they can’t take things any further, it doesn’t dampen their feelings for each other. But Kat can’t and won’t allow anything to interfere with her career. If only Kat would give Freya a small sign that she is interested, Freya would wait for ever. But Kat shows complete indifference. Will Freya win Kat over?

I came across this book quite by chance. I decided to buy the book on impulse. I’m delighted that I did.

This book is really well written, the storyline is both serious and humorous. Kiki Archer has taken a subject that could be potentially explosive. The teacher/student scenario. Kiki has handled this topic in a really excellent way. Although at the beginning I was rooting for Kat and Freya to be together, I had hoped that that the teacher/student code of conduct would not be breached, leaving the story compromised. I needn’t have worried though. The story that follows has the characters acting within the boundaries of the teacher/student code. The age gap between Kat and Freya isn’t great and if one or the other had been in a different job, a relationship between the two would not have created any problems. I’ve added this before anyone thinks this is a story involving minors.

The interaction between the two main characters was superb. I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happens to them. They are backed up with a great cast of supporting characters. Kat’s friends, Lucy and her boyfriend Ben, Jess and her boyfriend Gary. Even Bea and the two nasty school teachers, Miss Pity and Miss Mews all added to progressing the story along in a nicely paced manner.

There was just one thing I didn’t like about this book. The hetero sex scene between Lucy and Ben. Yes, we all know it happens, but this is a lesbian book. I felt that it was uncalled for and could have been alluded to. Fortunately there wasn’t too much of it.

I got a huge surprise when Bea’s secrets were revealed. It was a brilliant twist, I didn’t see it coming.

The ending was a little sudden, I would have loved to have read a bit more of what happens next. But as there is a sequel being written, I guess I’ll have to wait.

All in all, this is a wonderful debut book with some equally wonderful characters, written by an exciting new author. Definitely a re-read, definitely an author to watch out for.

An Affair of Love by S. Anne Gardner

Blayne’s mother, Abigail Anberville had married Arthur Aston-Carlyle when Blayne was just four years old and her brother Chaz was seven. Two years later their half sister Diana was born. Now after over thirty years, Blayne is hearing for the first time that her step father had sired another daughter, Gabriella. Worse still, he expects Blayne to go and bring her to him. Arthur is dying and wants to make amends. Blayne is horrified, but knows she must do as he asks.

Gabriella Matheson is married with two children. She has no idea of the secrets her mother has hidden all these years. So, she gets a tremendous shock when Blayne turns up on her doorstep and tells her that her life has been a lie. Even more disturbing is the fact that there is an immediate and explosive attraction between Blayne and Gabriella. An attraction that won’t be denied. But at what cost and who will suffer?

This book has a really good storyline. Although it follows the tried and tested format that a lot of lesbian books follow, ‘girl meets girl, girl loves and loses girl, girl gets girl again’, this book is far from run of the mill.

The characters are strong and well developed. Blayne appears to be the strong and untouchable head of her step father’s company, until she’s brought to her knees by a tiny four letter word, love. Gabriella is also strong, but in a different way to Blayne. Together the two women could be dynamite, apart they are damp squibs. Along with the two main characters, the supporting cast of characters are essential to enhance and progress the story. Some of the characters are not very nice to know, I felt myself getting quite annoyed with them.

There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the book. Also a lot of angst and passion. Lots of reasons why Blayne and Gabriella should not be together. Lots of reasons why they should. This is a page turner right the way through and once I started it I couldn’t put it down. I simply had to know what happened.

One thing I will say about this book, it does tend to hop about a bit, but it doesn’t spoil the story and is easy to follow. So, if you want a nice beach read, with lots of excitement, this book will hit the spot.