Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Step Into the Wind by Bev Prescott

When Alex Marcotte’s twin brother Jake took his own life at the age of fifteen, Alex’s life virtually ended too. Jake had taken all he could of the constant bullying over him being gay. Alex blames her parents for not putting an end to the bullying. Alex eventually leaves the family’s summer camp for kids in Maine and ends up in California, where she settles down to work and live. Well, if you can call it living. Alex is still suffering depression and anxiety, although it slightly lessens as the years pass by, it’s still lurking in the background, even now, fifteen years later.

Alex has agreed to return to Maine for the summer. Mainly because her mother is dying and her father needs her help to keep the camp running. Alex is intending this to be her last visit to Maine. She is saying goodbye to her parents and hopefully the ghosts from her past. But all these good intentions are before she meets wildlife biologist, Zoe Kimball and falls head over heels in love with her. Zoe is staying at the camp to study and oversee the safety and well being of a pair of eagles and their two offspring nesting on an island owned by the Marcotte’s.

Alex and Zoe become close during the summer. As Zoe studies the eagles behavior and Alex accompanies her on occasion, she begins to see similarities between the eaglets learning to fly and her own life. Just as the eaglets have to learn to trust their wings and step into the wind, Alex has to learn to do the same and to trust her own heart. But will Alex be able to do that? Can she finally be free of heartbreak and anger, free to get on with her own life and to love and forgive?

I loved Bev Prescott’s first book, My Soldier Too. This book however, is entirely different. It is equally as well written and an edge of the seat page turner from start to finish. Bev Prescott is a master storyteller. She’s honed her story to absolute perfection.

It is apparent that Bev has spent a lot of time on her research for this book. The details regarding climbing and the eagles are splendidly told in terms that even a layman like myself can understand. The facts and the story flow together seamlessly.

The two main characters, Alex and Zoe, are both multidimensional and easy to get to know and love. They compliment one another. They are backed up by a host of minor characters, each equally as essential to the progression of the story.

There is a lot of emotional family conflict. Conflict that simmered away for years until it reached boiling point, a point of no return and erupted.

We learn of how Alex barely coped with her brothers death over the years, but on returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Maine, something snapped. Alex had to find a way to keep her sanity and hopefully resolve old conflicts and hatred. The journey of anguish Alex takes is sympathetically penned. Sensitive issues are dealt with leaving the reader with a sense of wellbeing and understanding.

This story caused me to go through many emotions as I read through. Anger, outrage, happiness, humor, all leaving me in the end with the feel good factor of an excellent story that will resonate with me for a long time.

The little stories and sub plots that made up this book in it’s entirety were intricately and seamlessly meshed together, making this book impossible to put down. The story also taught me a powerful lesson of how we mere human beings can learn so much from nature and wildlife.

This is one book that I absolutely did not want to end. A book that will be re-read many times. I look forward to Bev’s next book, secure in the knowledge that she is one author whose books I would buy without hesitation or reading further than the title.

Friday, 22 February 2013

In Name Only by JM Dragon

Sequel to The Fix-it Girl

After the birth of their daughter, Tegan, Elise Ridge agreed to a marriage in name only with her beloved wife, Jill. Elise had screwed up. Their estrangement wasn’t what she wanted. She thought she could handle it, hoping against hope, that one day they would be able to repair their marriage and go back to the way things were in the beginning. Three long years later and it was beginning to look as though their marriage was over.

When Megan Dutton, Elise’s lover from twenty years ago suddenly turns up, Elise begins to question whether she should remain in a loveless relationship. Reluctantly, Elise makes the decision to move on. She loves Jill with all her heart, but she needs more, she needs a proper loving relationship.

Jill is still madly in love with Elise. She is questioning her own decision of the ‘in name only’ relationship. She can feel herself and Elise drifting further and further apart. Will Jill leave it too late to salvage their marriage?

Jill has to swallow her pride and reach out to Elise, she knows this. But doing it is harder than she expected. When Jill finally plucks up the courage to approach Elise, what will Elise’s reaction be this late in the game?

Two people, soulmates, have allowed outside influences to derail their love for one another. The questions are, will they continue drifting, is their love strong enough to make it a second time round, or will they call it quits?

This is the much anticipated, long awaited sequel to The Fix-it Girl. It’s here we learn of the outcome of Jill and Elise’s, ‘in name only’ pact.

As always, with previous JM Dragon books, I was pulled into the story right from the very first page and enthralled with the story right through to the last page. The story flows along at a nice pace. The scenic descriptions allowed me to lose myself in the story with the characters, to actually be amongst them as the story unfolds. Living the story, rather than reading it.

Both Elise and Jill are multidimensional characters, they are as different as night and day, but they are made for one another. Both women are so in love, the heat radiates from the page. Pride got in the way of their love and that pride has to be swallowed. It’s here we find out if it is swallowed and the choices that are made.

These characters are the same as those from The Fix-it Girl. Each and every one is essential in the progression of the story. There are emotional highs and lows throughout, written so that the reader can feel the angst or happiness. There is also a tender sweet romance, spiced up with some rather hot sex scenes.

Although this book concluded, I feel these characters have a lot more to say. It would be absolutely brilliant if JM Dragon wrote another book with Elise and Jill and their family. If any of you have read the Destiny series by JM Dragon, you will know that these characters are very much on a par with Catherine and Jace. Two wonderful characters that have stood the test of time. So, the more books, the merrier for me.

I eagerly look forward to another book from JM Dragon soon.

Miriam and Esther by Sherry Barker

Miriam was perfectly happy working in Dallas. She had no way of knowing that a life changing event would see her moving to the tiny town of Cool Lake, Texas. She needed time to think, time to re-group and time to come to her senses. Here she is years later still in Cool Lake.

Life isn’t easy for Miriam. Although she has met some nice people and amazing characters and makes some good friends, she still has to heal.

The owner of the Starship Inn, Maddy, took Miriam under her wing. She made sure Miriam was fed and helped her regain her physical strength. The mental healing is still on-going though.

Laverne, an East Texas woman, wants Miriam. Even after years of being told no, Laverne still persists in her pursuit of Miriam. Hoping one day Miriam will just give way. This of course doesn’t stop her from bedding other women along the way.

When Miriam first sees Esther, a waitress at the Some Like It Hot coffee shop, she’s immediately smitten. Unfortunately, Miriam is a gibberish nervous wreck around her. Even a conversation with Esther is painful. Will Miriam overcome her shyness? All is not lost. Maddy steps in. But will Maddy’s matchmaking work?

Eventually Miriam and Esther do become friends, but will either woman have the courage to take the next step?

This is Sherry Barker’s debut novel. It’s a mix of romance and comedy, but has a serious streak running through it.

Miriam has issues going way back. Issues that don’t become apparent very early in the book. Which of course leaves the reader wondering just what has happened in her life to make her the person she is. There is reference to an accident. Which to my way of reading it, didn’t seem to be an actual accident as such. I was a touch confused by this.

Laverne seems to be taking a bigger part than Esther, although Esther is billed as a main character. Laverne is a loud, brash womanizer. Definitely not a character I took to or liked.

Esther isn’t too sure of herself or what she wants at first. There isn’t a lot of background on her and I felt I didn’t get to know her.

There are a few stories with different characters thrown in throughout the book. Stories that I couldn’t actually see the relevance of having in the book. They didn’t seem to do much to progress the actual story of Miriam and Esther. But from the humor factor, were somewhat amusing.

I have to say, that I didn’t particularly enjoy the story or connect with the characters at all. But that is not say the book wasn’t well written. It was. Just unfortunate that the story didn’t grab me.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Awakening by Yvonne Heidt

Book one of the Sisters of Spirits Trilogy

Psychic medium, Sunny Skye, is the head investigator and founder of the Sisters of Spirits, a paranormal society. They specialize in helping people to understand what they can’t actually see. Sunny’s helped by her partners, Shade and Tiffany. Each woman has a slightly different role in their interactions with the paranormal.

Although Sunny is brilliant at her ghost hunting, she isn’t so good at running her own life. This is probably why she’s still single.

Tough cop Jordan Lawson, is in her own mind, a top notch cop. Jordan will trust only hard facts and herself. There is no way Jordan believes in ghosts. Not even when she comes face to face with one.

When Sunny and Jordan first meet, there is an instant attraction between them. But Sunny can see the demons Jordan is carrying around with her. Will Sunny be able to help rid the skeptical Jordan of her demons? Will Sunny even be strong enough without destroying herself?

Jordan is hiding deep, dark, secrets from her past. A past that may well ruin her entire future if she can’t let it go. Jordan can’t divulge these secrets, therefore, she can’t allow Sunny to get close to her. Will Jordan learn to trust Sunny enough to help her?

If these two women are ever to get together, the burning question is.....who will give way, Sunny or Jordan?

This is the second book I’ve read by Yvonne Heidt. Her debut book was excellent and I wondered if she would be able to top it with this new trilogy. She has. In fact this first book in the new series has got off to a running start. It’s a well written page turner from start to finish. A book I simply couldn’t put down and had to read late into the night.

The two main characters, Sunny and Jordan, are both well formed and multidimensional. There is a great cast of secondary characters all playing their parts to perfection in the progression of this story and interacting so well together.

Yvonne Heidt is proving herself to be a master storyteller. Her stories are based around the paranormal. They are mesmerizing and fast paced, keeping the reader intrigued throughout the entire book. This book is not a horror story. It can be read by anyone. There is an element of suspense and surprise, but it’s not at all scary. There is a nice slow burning romance too, just for good measure.

Although part of a trilogy, this book concluded and just left an opening for the next in the series, so, no frustrations with cliffhangers.

I’m now eagerly waiting for the second in this wonderful new series. I hope we don’t have to wait too long. This book is a re-read for me and I’ll do just that before reading the next in the series.

Every Second Counts by D. Jackson Leigh

Twenty eight year old rodeo rider, Marc Ryder (Ryder to her friends) is fearless. She has no regard for her own safety at all. As long as she stays on the back of a hyped up, angry bull for the eight seconds it takes to win the rodeo, that’s really all that matters to her. Unfortunately for her, her downfall was a bull named Funeral Wagon and she was badly injured. She ends up back in Cherokee Falls for the first time in twelve years to stay with her friends Skyler and Tory to recuperate.

Ryder hasn’t had an easy life. Abandoned by her parents to her uncaring, mentally ill, grandmother, when she was a child, now she can’t possibly allow anyone to get close to her. She’s a player, the love them and leave them sort. Until she meets Bridgette. It may just be that Ryder now wants more than just one night. But will Bridgette allow Ryder to get close to her?

When artist Bridgette LeRoy meets Ryder, it’s lust at first sight. It could possibly be more. But when Bridgette finds out what Ryder does for a living, she tries to avoid her at all costs. Bridgette has avoided people who take chances with their lives since the untimely death of her brother Stephan.

Avoiding Ryder isn’t easy when she keeps popping up in odd places at odd times. Before very long, both Bridgette and Ryder are on a rollercoaster ride of attraction, lust and complete denial. Something or someone has to give. What or who will give to allow the two women to love one another?

Things come to a head after Ryder leaves for Dallas to compete in another rodeo. Bridgette flies out to Dallas. She has to protect her heart and try to talk Ryder in to giving up bull riding for good. She’s on a race against time and all odds where every second counts.

I’ve loved all of D. Jackson Leigh’s books and this one, in my opinion, is her best ever yet. A sweet and tender, hot and sexy romance with some of my favorite characters from previous books. A real page turner from beginning to end, from a master storyteller.

The thing I love about DJL’s books is that there is always an excellent story wrapped around a really true to life romance. I’m always sorry to reach the end of a DJL book, knowing I’m going to have, what seems to me, a long wait until the next book. But, all good things are well worth the wait.

This story is set partly among the horse world, the art world and bull riding rodeo. From the scenic descriptions it was easy to just lose myself amongst the characters.

The two main characters, Bridgette and Ryder are so obviously made for each other, everyone can see it except them. They are both well formed and multidimensional and interact so well together along with the rest of the cast of characters. Each of these characters plays their parts to perfection in furthering the story to it’s most satisfying conclusion.

This will join the rest of D. Jackson Leigh’s books to be re-read. I hope to see more of these delightful characters among the horse world very soon.

Short Snippets of January Reads

It’s Not Always Murder by Kate Sweeney

A Kate Ryan Mystery

Ryan, Costello and Winfield Investigations are a little bit too quiet at the moment. So Hannah has been hard at work getting their office looking like a newsroom from the 1940’s.

Peace is finally over when they get some new clients. Local business owners who have been having minor problems with vandalism. But of course, nothing ever remains simple when Kate Ryan gets involved.

Soon the team are embroiled in a mystery, but unlike most of Kate’s previous cases, no one is dead. So, it’s not always murder.

A nicely written Kate Ryan mystery with the usual laugh out loud Kate Sweeney humor. It started out a little slow, but warmed up nicely. Star rating 4/5


Murphy’s Law by Yolanda Wallace

Experienced mountain guide, Samantha Murphy, (Sam) has an excellent safety record. She’s been a guide for over ten years. She might not have ever lost a client, but she has lost the most important person in her life.

Surgeon, Olivia Bradshaw, hires Sam’s company to guide her small team up to the summit of Annapurna 1. Failing isn’t in Olivia’s vocabulary. This climb is for an important fundraiser and must go well at all costs.

Sam and Olivia are attracted to one another. But each woman has secrets and reasons as to why they shouldn’t be together.

Will they both see sense or lose their chance of true love forever?

I’ve read all of Yolanda Wallace’s books and I personally think this is one of her best yet. I loved the characters. The scenic descriptions are fantastic. The book is exciting and a page turner from start to finish. Star rating 5/5


Sea Glass Inn by Karis Walsh

Divorcee, Melinda Andrews, (Mel) has just bought the Sea Glass Inn on the Oregon coast. This is Mel’s chance to make something of her life after her unexpected divorce. All Mel needs now is someone to love. Someone she can be herself with.

Gallery owner, Pamela Whitford, (Pam) supports other artists whilst being unable to paint herself. Once an up and coming artist herself, she lost the will to paint after a traumatic break up.

When Mel and Pam meet, Pam can’t help her feelings, she agrees to paint Mel some pictures for the inn. Will Pam be able to keep her promise though?

Will either woman give in and take the second chance they have of love?

A nicely written romance, although a little unbelievable in places. However, the romance and emotions between the Mel and Pam is real enough. Star rating 4/5


Love, Sam by Linda Rettstatt

Trish Garrity and Samantha Preston had been together for six years when Sam died from cancer. Trish is grief stricken and heart broken. She has to come to terms with Sam’s death and face the future alone. How will she cope?

Trish found twelve letters Sam had written to her before her death. One a month for the next year.

Trish slowly learns to cope and find her inner strength that she always thought she’d got from Sam.

A well written story of profound love and tragic loss. A story of hope and finding the strength and the will power to carry on. Powerful and emotional. Star rating 5/5


Friday, 1 February 2013

Ice by Lyn Gardner

Maggie Campbell and Alex Blake are both Detective Inspectors with the Metropolitan Police Service in London. England. They had worked together on a kidnapping case three years earlier. Although the case had a good outcome, the outcome for both Maggie and Alex was not good.

Maggie is a by the book, black is black and white is white detective. Alex is somewhat more of a hothead with a disregard for rules and regulations. She will do whatever it takes to solve a case, using threats of violence if necessary. This of course, doesn’t go down too well with Maggie. But this isn’t the sole cause of Maggie and Alex having a fight. Maggie is fighting inappropriate feelings for Alex. Feelings she thinks she shouldn’t be having. She’s never been attracted to a woman before and has no idea how to handle it. So Maggie provokes a fight. The fight results in suspensions for both women.

Three years go past, both Maggie and Alex take great pains to avoid one another like the plague. That is until the day comes when Interpol requests the services of Maggie and Alex to act as decoys. All they have to do is to take a plane ride, destination unknown.

Unfortunately, nothing is simple and tragically their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere in a raging blizzard. Their pilot is killed. Maggie is really sick and Alex is injured. Alex has to fight against all odds to find a way to keep them both alive. Will she succeed?

This book was an unexpected gem of a find. It was really well written and an absolute page turner from the first page right through to the very last. I simply couldn’t put this down until I knew the outcome.

This is a story of survival against a back drop of ice and freezing temperatures. The scenic descriptions had me shivering although I was cosy and warm in my home.

I loved both these characters, they are multidimensional and a delight to get to know. I particularly liked the way they set out hating each other. But out of hate as many know, comes love. I often feel there is a fine line between the two emotions. This is really well portrayed here.

It was a pleasure to read as Maggie and Alex’s story unfolded. They interacted so well together, even when they hated each other. The few other minor characters add to the story to progress it forward to it’s conclusion.

Then of course, there is the romance. Slow and burning until it comes to the boil. Then it’s hot, sizzling, smoking hot.

The story wasn’t predictable to me. I liked the tension throughout and the way the book concluded. I like to have all the ends tied up and they were. Although I have to say, I’d dearly love to see these characters again. They have a lot more they can say.

Lyn Gardner is a terrific new author. I’m looking forward to her next book eagerly.

This is a definite re-read, a keeper and will join the rest of the books in my favorites folder.

Miserere by Caren Werlinger

It’s 1968, ten year old Connemara Mitchell, (Conn) and her family are forced to move to West Virginia, her mother’s hometown, when her father is reported missing in action in Vietnam. Her grandmother’s old home has been neglected and is run down. It needs a lot of work to make it habitable.

The house is holding untold secrets of previous occupants. Secrets of forbidden love and of times long past and forgotten. Conn has no way of knowing that she is the chosen one. The one selected to take on the task of solving the mystery surrounding her Irish ancestor, Caitriona Ni Faolain.

Caitriona vanished without a trace just after the civil war. At the heart of the mystery is a very real and virulent curse that has taken it’s toll on Conn’s family for over one hundred years. Why has Conn been chosen to solve this mystery after all these years? What is so special about her?

Conn begins to have dreams and Caitriona appears to her. With each dream the mystery begins to unravel a little bit more. But will Conn be able to solve it?

This book is quite simply a masterpiece. Caren Werlinger is without a doubt, a master storyteller. The book is extremely well written and edited. It’s a page turner from start to finish.

The story begins in Ireland around the time of the great potato famine when people were literally starving to death. It goes between the past and the present seamlessly in an easy to follow dialogue. This is a rollercoaster ride of tumultuous emotions that radiates from the pages in waves. Caitriona’s story continues on through and beyond the civil war when it stops abruptly, until Conn is chosen to reveal Caitriona’s secrets.

I really liked the way this book was laid out. It’s actually two stories rolled into one. But the stories are linked together by one person. The person needing redemption.

It’s obvious that an enormous amount of research has been done in order to accurately portray the history of the times. The scenic descriptions enabled me to totally lose myself in the story so I was living it with the characters. The characters themselves were well formed and multidimensional. Each and every one of them played their parts to perfection in order to progress this story through to it’s dramatic conclusion. The fact that the main character is a ten year old child, (going on twenty) is just right. A really good decision of Caren Werlinger’s.

There is a lot more to this book than the actual story from a historical point of view. The time span gives glimpses into how people lived in times gone by. From Ireland to the Vietnam war and beyond.

This is quite honestly one of the best historical lesbian fiction books I’ve read for a long while. I will be adding it to my list of books to re-read.

Iz's Journey by Doreen Perrine

On Claire’s return home from her European holiday, she buys an old Brooklyn brownstone. It needs a lot of work doing on it. The work is going to cost money, so Claire has to take a job she hates at her father’s bank.

Claire is really missing Isabelle. She can’t get her out of her mind. She can’t seem to move on either.

When Isabelle suddenly turns up in New York, Claire’s whole world is sent spinning. The two women spend time together and eventually Isabelle moves in with Claire. Both women are in love with each other. But Claire can’t seem to settle for thinking that Isabelle will one day leave her and go back to Italy.

Isabelle is estranged from her remaining family in Italy. She’s trying hard to make a new life for herself. But she is also hiding a big part of her previous life. She has to learn to trust in someone. Hopefully, that someone will be Claire, because without that trust, they can’t move on.

Claire also has to learn to trust Isabelle. It’s a two way thing. But will either woman learn to trust the other? Is there any hope for them at all?

What with Claire’s past with her dysfunctional family and the dark secrets Isabelle is hiding, it is going to be an uphill battle to hold the relationship together. Will they have a chance at a happy ever after?

This book is well written, follows on from Clara’s Story and continues with the lives of Isabelle and Claire. It’s a bit darker than the first book and we finally get to hear all of Claire’s and Isabelle’s secrets. Secrets that have molded both women into the women they’ve become. Both women now have something to fight for, their love for one another.

We have the same characters as the first book and some new ones to help progress the story along. All these characters are multidimensional and interact well together. All are real and true to life. I’ve certainly met some like them myself.

This book could be read as a standalone, but I would strongly advise reading Clara’s Story first to get the complete background on the characters, their families and friends. Also you would be missing out on a really good book if you don’t read it.

This is far more than a romance between Claire and Isabelle. It’s actually quite heart breaking to read some of the things that have happened to these characters. Claire’s family go beyond being a typical dysfunctional family. Her mother is a truly vicious and horrid woman, her sister isn’t far behind her. When it comes to a point where Claire and her brother have to choose between keeping their mother happy or being happy themselves, I felt myself getting really hot under the collar and hoping they would choose their own happiness and that of their respective partners.

I’m not sure if there will be another book with Claire and Isabelle. I hope so. I love both characters and all their friends. I think they have a lot more they can say to us. But the book most definitely did conclude.

Clara's Story by Doreen Perrine

Claire has a great love for art. She works at a New York art gallery. When she meets Italian artist, Isabelle, she feels an immediate attraction. Claire has been fighting her feelings for women for years and has even acted upon them in the past. Will Claire give in to her desires for Isabelle though?

Young artist, Isabelle, is in New York for a showing of her paintings. When she meets Claire, she can’t help herself and flirts outrageously with her. But as much as she flirts, Claire resists. Will Isabelle break through Claire’s shell?

Isabelle returns to Italy. Life continues on for Claire. But Claire has changed. She’s now dating Liz. But they don’t seem to have much in common. Claire still has deep feelings for Isabelle.

When a turn of events leaves Claire jobless, she decides it’s time to venture forth and see the world. She needs a break away from her rich and vicious mother and the rest of her dysfunctional family. Claire travels to England, France and Italy, where she meets up with Isabelle again.

Will Claire find the love she’s been looking for or has Isabelle moved on?

This is a nicely written first book in a series. There is a lot packed in to this average length book.

Claire’s life within her family has been horrendous. Her mother and father split up when she was young. Her mother saw to it, that Claire and her siblings were estranged from their gay father. Claire fights her own feelings until she can come to terms with her sexual orientation. It’s no wonder Claire is dysfunctional also.

All the characters are easy to get to know, some are not easy to like though. I could feel my blood pressure rising rapidly as I read of the nasty, spiteful things Claire’s mother did and said. Her sister isn’t much better either. It’s hard to believe that such people exist, but they definitely do.

The book has a good humor throughout, which lightens what could have been a dark read.

I loved the scenic descriptions. It was very easy for me to immerse myself in the hustle and bustle of the European countries Claire visited.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series. I only hope Claire finds a happy ever after because if one character deserves it, she does.

Just an after thought, if you are wondering why Clara’s Story, Clara is Isabelle’s pet name for Claire.

Aftermath by Ann McMan

The sequel to Jericho

Syd and Maddie are back. Henry is still a part of their family. His father is still serving his country in Afghanistan. All is well in Jericho. Well, it was until a tornado struck, devastating the town and the residents. Businesses and homes have to be re-built. Relationships are strained amid the aftermath of the storm that destroyed so much of the town. But, hard as the job is to get the town shipshape again, the people pull together in ways that may never have happened prior to the tornado.

Although this is the sequel to Jericho, the book can be read as a standalone. There is a really good summary of Jericho at the beginning of the book, plus a list of characters. I would however strongly urge you to read Jericho first, because in my opinion, Jericho is the better book out of the two. I absolutely loved it.

Aftermath is well written, we have all the same loveable, well formed, multidimensional characters we have in Jericho, plus some new ones to add to the fun. All these wonderful characters interact so well together, they are a joy to know.

The story has a serious theme, but also a humorous, (maybe humorous is an understatement) hilarious, side splitting, laugh out loud side to it. There are highs and lows, emotions run wild. Sadness, pain, loss and romance are all just a small part of this book. Personally, I would have liked a little bit more on the romance side, maybe this is why I prefer Jericho to Aftermath. But none the less, this is a nice, longer than average, read.

This book didn’t quite end, so I am hoping there will be another book to follow. These characters have so much more to offer, I can’t believe this will be the end of the series.