Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cowgirl Up by Ali Spooner

Ex army ranger, Coal Bryan, returns to Texas after her lover Tessa and friend Mitch were both killed in Afghanistan. She ends up working and living on the farm belonging to Melissa, the wife of Mitch, Coal had no idea who Melissa was, her arrival on the farm was pure fate. So it was a great shock to see photos she’d taken in Afghanistan of Tessa and Mitch on display in Melissa’s living room.

Coal is still hurting and fighting off the ravages of being at war and the loss of the love of her life and her best friend. She throws herself into the hard work on the farm and fits right in with the rest of the all male crew and soon earns the respect of the men. Coal, Melissa and the crew are as tight knit as any regular family.

When Melissa’s sister, Mary Leah, a cancer survivor, arrives on the farm to stay after a traumatic break up with her lover, sparks begin to ignite between her and Coal. Is it possible for Coal and Mary Leah to move on and find love again with each other? Both women have baggage. Both women have their own demons to overcome.

A beautiful, poignant story about love, survival and second chances. A story that sympathetically and tenderly deals with the aftermath of the devastating  destruction caused by a bomb in Afghanistan, the PTSD Coal suffers afterwards and Mary Leah’s triumphant comeback from her traumatic cancer surgery and subsequent chemotherapy treatments.

Both Coal and Mary Leah have been badly hurt and are desperately trying to overcome their pain. Together they both stand more chance of healing and finding the happiness they both deserve. These two wonderful characters are so realistically  written, I feel that I know them well. The scenery is so perfectly described, I felt like I was actually watching a film. Ali Spooner is a natural for showing the reader rather than telling them. I could almost smell the horses, the scent of the rodeo and feel the Texas heat.

Both Coal and Mary Leah have many sides to them and are backed up by a cast of excellent characters to take the story forward to it’s satisfactory conclusion. Having said that, I feel this could be a great series. These characters have a lot more to tell us and are too nice not to see again.

This book started out as a novella, so anyone who thinks they may have read it would be half right. This is now a full length book with lots more added and a page turner right the way through.

As always when I’ve finished an Ali Spooner book, I eagerly await her next one.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Sharpshooter by Leslie Murray

Ex Marine scout sniper, Captain Seven Michelis, is now a top notch black ops sharpshooter with an impressive record. The US government branch she’s currently working for is tasked with putting an end to terrorism. Unfortunately, her current mission to eradicate a financier who has been bank rolling terrorist groups goes horribly wrong. The team are ambushed and Seven is injured and running for her life.

Doctor Jenny MacKenzie is a Peace Corps volunteer. There is a surprise in store for them both when Jenny meets and helps the badly injured Seven. Jenny and Seven end up on the run trying to survive the dangers of Bolivia and a cold blooded killer who will leave no stone unturned to find them both.

With no idea who they can trust, their lives are fraught with danger. Even if they manage to reach home, what awaits them, or who awaits them? The attraction between the two women is intense, but will they survive long enough to see where it leads?

This debut book is without a doubt a blockbuster. The well written story is a mixture of danger, adventure, excitement, intrigue and romance all perfectly portioned out so that one does not overshadow the other. Primarily this is an adventure story, but there is a tender sweet romance integrated in with it. The book was a touch on the slow side to begin with, but it soon picked up pace and clipped along nicely. Once the story picked up pace, it was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, twists and turns. Although the book is lengthy, I couldn’t put it down until exhaustion overcame me. Even then I was up early to get stuck into to it again. It’s an edge of the seat page turner right the way through.

Both main characters are strong women in different ways. Seven is the tough guy, at the top of her game. Jenny is more feminine, strong and an excellent doctor. Together they make a formidable pair, complementing each other with their different strengths. There is a wealth of secondary characters interspersed throughout, all enhancing the story in their own ways. They are all fully formed, multi-layered and essential to the story. The scenic settings are so vividly described I felt as though I was living the story with the characters. A true sign for me of good penmanship.

I’m looking forward to reading more from Leslie Murray in the future. A sequel would be nice too.


Sunday, 2 November 2014


Hi all,

After several years writing reviews and hundreds of reviews later, I’ve decided the time has come for me to take time for myself and my family and retire. The December reviews will be my last offerings.

The pressure over the last few years to ‘just fit me in’, ‘how can one more make a difference?’ has finally got to me. I have to say that most people have been very supportive and understanding. For the most part, I’ve derived great pleasure from helping author’s sell their books and readers to find new books. There are other reasons too, but I won’t go into them here.

To those of you who have been generous to a fault with your books and your encouragement to carry on, thank you very much. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way, a lot of whom will remain my lifelong friends. You all know who you are.

I’ll still be around and I may put out the odd review here and there of a book I particularly liked or even disliked. But, there won’t be an abundance of reviews and I won’t be accepting books for review anymore.


Second Thoughts by Jade Winters

When Melissa’s partner Sara, the love of her life walked away from her four years earlier to pursue her career in America, Melissa was devastated. It was only in the last six months that she’d been able to put the past mostly behind her and move on with her life. Melissa is now engaged to Bettina.

Unfortunately for Melissa, Sara shows up unexpectedly causing Melissa to have serious doubts and to question her love for Bettina. All the familiar feelings and desires come rushing back to her. What on earth can she do? She’s committed to marry Bettina now and can’t let her down.

Bettina is hiding a secret of her own. Which if revealed may cast further doubts in Melissa’s mind.

This is a time when Melissa should be ecstatically happy, her wedding is fast looming, as is the insemination date for impregnating Bettina. Instead, Melissa is profoundly unhappy and her life is disintegrating around her.

As well as Sara’s return, Melissa’s sister Eli discovers a deep, dark family secret which rears up to cast further anguish for them all. Will the pain never end?

Will Melissa marry Bettina? Or will Sara win her heart back again?

As with each new Jade Winters book, this has now become my firm favorite, at least until the next book. This romance with an unexpected twist, is well written and is a page turner from the very first sentence right through to the last. The story had me sitting on the edge of my seat feverishly ripping through the pages until I reached the end. The suspense was spellbinding and the intrigue intense.

Melissa had a hard choice to make. In her head, she knew what she should do, but what is she to do when her heart was telling her to do something different? This book had me actually rooting for one person and then changing my mind as the story progressed. I won’t add in any spoilers, that wouldn’t be right, but nothing is as it seems in this story, which is what made it such an emotionally charged book to read.

Usually there are two or maybe three main characters. But, I feel that almost all of these characters are main characters. All are multi-faceted and well written. They seamlessly interact with one another to progress the story along at a really nice pace. All play a huge part in the Melissa, Bettina, Sara love triangle and are essential to the plot.

One of the many things I love about Jade Winters books is that I can identify with the characters. They are real to me, everyday people we have as friends and acquaintances and I can lose myself totally in their stories. The settings are everyday settings, easy to visualize with Jade’s way of showing the reader instead of telling them.

From the first book I read of Jade’s and up to this last one, I can see how her writing has improved. Her storytelling has earned her the title of master storyteller on my list of excellent and worthy authors. Jade’s name is up there with some of the biggest names in lesbian fiction as a ‘must buy, must read’, for me. I eagerly await her next book.


Memoirs Of The Happy Lesbian Housewife by Lorraine Howell

This was a difficult book to write my usual conventional review on. I usually write a synopsis first, being careful not to give away too much information. Then the next part is what I think of the writing, characters, settings and the story. Well, this book had me stumped as to how to write this review. It’s not like it’s a conventional romance or any other genre. In fact, this book is unlike any I’ve read before. So, I’m simply going to tell you what I thought this hilarious, zany, whacky book of memoirs.

This wouldn’t normally be a book I’d choose to read. Mainly because I’m not a lover of comedic writing and I don’t always ‘comprehend’ American humor. But, I’m so pleased I gave it a chance. I enjoyed it immensely. There really is no difference in the laugh out loud moments between this book and a book written by an English author. It’s not only the written humor, but the visualization of the antics of the person’s concerned that had me curled up with laughter.

It sounds strange, but I only had to read the names of some of these characters to be highly amused and sniggering. I mean, who has a name like Sweetie? Then there is Bubba, Buddy and Sissy, all integrated into a maelstrom of delightful hilarity and interactions.

I would advise you to not read this in public and not to read it in bed. (You’ll be too wide awake to sleep afterwards and your partner will not be happy with the sniggers and guffaws you’ll be making). Also, DO NOT read this whilst eating or drinking, that would be a health hazard. Lorraine Howell should have put a health warning in this book for all the afore mentioned reasons.

If you are looking for some light hearted reading and a good laugh, this is the book for you. It’s well written, extremely witty and complete delight to read. I’m looking forward to more exploits from the lesbian housewife soon.


As Years Go By by Harper Bliss

When Jodie attends her son’s graduation ceremony, she is taken completely by surprise to see her ex partner Leigh there. Jodie’s break up with Leigh was painful. All the raw feelings and emotions come rushing back to her.

Circumstances cause Jodie to open herself up again to Leigh. Whether she’s doing the right thing though, remains to be seen.

Soon Jodie and Leigh are reliving old memories and making new ones in an explosive and intense passionate way. But, what will happen after that one night?

As always with any Harper Bliss story, this is well written and edited, hot, sweet, tender and erotic and actually has a great storyline unlike some erotica books. Both Jodie and Leigh are mature, fully formed, multidimensional characters. Although this story is primarily focusing on the two of them, there are some good secondary characters that are bolstering up their story.

The fact that Jodie and Leigh had parted ways eleven years previously, really wasn’t obvious by the way they seemed to pick up where they left off. In other words, they appear to be made for each other.

There is an element of mystery and intrigue in the beginning too. No spoilers from me though. But, suffice it to say, although this is a novella, there is a lot packed into it.

It would be nice to see Jodie and Leigh back again in another novella, short story or even a book.

If you are looking for a short erotic read, look no further. You’ve found it.


To Love Free by Chris Paynter

Famous artist, Madison Lorraine hasn’t picked up a paint brush in over three years. Not since she lost her wife and muse Callie to an aggressive form of uterine cancer. Madison and their nine year old daughter Mo are still living in their house in Islamorada, Florida, trying to come to terms with their tragic loss.

Top notch model, Gabrielle Valenci, has left New York and a dying relationship with her girlfriend Eva, to stay in her home in Islamorada to finish the last of her chemotherapy treatment. Her uterine cancer was caught early, her outlook is positive. The treatments however are debilitating. Her arrival has an unsettling effect on Madison, bringing back memories of Callie’s unsuccessful battle with cancer.

When a playful dolphin puts in appearance in their cove, little did Madison or Gabrielle know what a profound affect he was going to have on their lives. Each time the dolphin, (Mo named him Free) shows up he pushes them closer together.

When Madison starts taking Gabrielle to her treatments, their affection for each other grows as does their attraction. Both women, for different reasons, are wary of becoming involved with each other.

Will Madison be able to put aside her fears and learn to trust in the power of love again? Will Gabrielle trust that her cancer will not be a factor in who she loves and who loves her?

One beautiful, worldly wise dolphin named Free will be showing them the path and the light.

This book is extremely well written. Almost poetic. It’s heart aching and heart breaking, but has a wonderful uplifting spiritual aura and love entwined throughout. Although cancer is central to the story, it’s a beautifully, sympathetically written testament to anyone who has had any dealings with this dreadful disease. The message here is that cancer need not be a killer. The earlier this disease is caught, the better the chances of survival.

Two very different women, Madison and Gabrielle, have to come to terms with surviving not only the cancer, but the aftermath of it’s destruction. Madison who lost her beloved wife to cancer has to battle her own demons from her grief and loss. Gabrielle who is just finishing up her final chemotherapy treatments with her ravaged body, who doesn’t see herself as being attractive to anyone, must take a second look at herself.

Both Madison and Gabrielle are attracted to each other. But, Madison feels like she’s betraying Callie and Gabrielle has to look beyond her scars, weight loss and hair loss. It’s their journey here that we read about.

This isn’t a story to take lightly, but it’s not all doom and gloom either. It’s a story about survival, second chances, love and hope too. Hope for a future after cancer. A story of how cancer has affected a family and how they struggle out of the mire with the support of family and friends. A story of getting one’s life back, beating cancer and kicking it out.

I know Chris Paynter has first hand knowledge of this awful disease, a disease that has no respect for age or gender. I admire her for being able to write this book. Chris is a superb writer and master storyteller. Her books are a delight to read.

I will read this book again, it’s characters are too loveable not to meet again. Especially Mo and Free.


Love Is Enough by Cindy Rizzo

Angie Antonelli’s life is well ordered and going smoothly. Her political career is jogging along steadily, she has a loving family backing her every step of the way and some fantastic close friends she’s known since college. There is one thing Angie’s missing and dearly wants, a loving relationship with her dream woman.

Jan Clifford has a top notch job in her family’s investment company. After breaking up with her previous girlfriend, she’s currently taking a break from dating. That is, until she’s set up on a date to go sailing with Angie and meets her.

Both Angie and Jan are immediately smitten with one another. The pull of attraction is there from the beginning, it’s magnetic and draws them close together quickly. But, Angie and Jan are from two very different worlds. Angie fights for the underdogs, Jan is the financier moving in the country club, rich elite sets. Just like Cinderella and Prince Charming, their backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

Their fledgling relationship has hardly got off the ground, when Angie’s ex lover, Nicky, the woman who had shattered her heart fourteen years earlier, appears on the scene. To further add to Angie’s distress, her world of politics and Jan’s in finance comes crashing together creating havoc for them both. Jan refuses to forgo a lucrative business deal that could over throw Angie’s re-election and her second term in congress, which of course, impacts on their relationship.

Will their love be strong enough to keep them together? Will Angie put her political career before her love for Jan? Will Jan reconsider her position and see things from Angie’s point of view?

The romantics amongst us would say that love is enough. To find out if this is true for Angie and Jan, you have to read their story.

When I read Cindy Rizzo’s first book, Exception To The Rule, I immediately knew it begged for a sequel. Here it is. I wondered if Cindy would be able to top her debut book, she has topped it and exceeded it. Love Is Enough is superb. There is no need to read Exception To The Rule first, there is more than enough background for this book to standalone. But, why deny yourself the pleasure of another excellent book? Exception To The Rule focused on the college days of Robin and Tracy with Angie as prominent third character. This story focuses on Angie and newcomer, Jan, and is set when all women are well settled in their careers some years later.

Angie is a politician, so it goes without saying that there is a fair bit of politics in the story. But, it doesn’t over power the budding romance between Angie and Jan. The balance in my opinion, is just right. I don’t know an awful lot about American politics, other than watching the entire series of West Wing, so I can’t possibly comment on this aspect of the story. But, I enjoyed the whole book very much and couldn’t put it down.

When two different worlds collide, all sorts of problems ensue. Do Angie and Jan sort out their differences? Or is there simply too much of a division between their worlds?

Angie and Jan are backed up by a cast of wonderfully well formed secondary characters, including Robin and Tracy. Angie’s mom is a delight to read about too.

I tore through this book in my haste to find out how it ended. I’ve put it in my re-read folder for a slower read to savor the story and the characters.

If you are looking for a well written book with a great story, filled with politics, intrigue, discrimination, romance, wonderfully described settings and much more, look no further. This is it.


If I Were A Boy by Erin O'Reilly

Katie McGuire’s life seems perfect to the outside world. She has a husband who idolizes her, a great job she loves and she wants for nothing. Yet, Katie feels she’s missing something.

Top notch financial director of a high class investment company, Helen Swenson, is married to an unfaithful, bad tempered man and does not have many friends.

Once a year Katie and Helen’s husbands take their wives on a vacation to Padre Island National Seashore to reunite with their old Air Force Pilot Squad. This annual meeting becomes the highlight of the year for Katie and Helen. Both women feel the overwhelming pull of attraction until at last they are powerless to resist it. They give in and their love making is explosive, awakening feelings in them both they have never previously experienced. Hiding their love is becoming impossible. Will their affair last or will it be just another vacation dalliance? Once they return home, will regrets begin to surface?

Even if Katie and Helen are willing to pull out all stops to make a go of a life together, they are both still married. Plus others around them may use their influence to destroy their love for each other. Will their love be strong enough to survive?

Doubts, family misgivings, homophobia and pressures upon them may well try to convince them their love is wrong. But will Katie and Helen stand fast and prove them all wrong?

I always enjoy anything written by Erin O’Reilly. Each of her books is so very different from others. So, it’s always a delight to see what is between the covers of her new books. Erin has certainly written a blockbuster story this time around.

Both Katie and Helen are fully developed, multidimensional characters. They are bolstered up by a strong cast of secondary characters all equally as well formed. Some of these characters are so obnoxious that I wanted to slap them. But, they are so true to real life. I’ve met many like them.

This story goes far beyond a simple ‘finding one’s new sexual identity’ and being a run of the mill romance. It’s full to the brim with things like love, passion, hate, acceptance, violence, homophobia, family issues and much more. But, unlike some other books in this genre, the story is told with tenderness and a deep understanding.

Katie and Helen are two women, unhappy in their lives and searching for something. Although in the beginning neither woman is sure what is missing from their lives. When they find out what is missing, their pent up emotions take them both completely by surprise. Thus begins the crux of the story in this book. This is all I’m going to say about the actual story. No spoilers here. But, suffice it to say, this book, in my honest opinion, is a cut above the rest in it’s genre.

So, without further delay, I urge you not to miss out. Another for my re-read folder. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to Erin’s next book. Sooner rather than later would be great. Please!