Category Archives: Reviewer

3.5 Stars for Secrets by Barbara Winkes – #F/F @demeter94

Secrets

Title: Secrets
Author Name: Barbara Winkes
Publication Date & Length: November 1st, 2013 – 152pgs

Synopsis

To save your life…would you trust a stranger with your secret? Disillusioned with the direction her life is going, Marsha Taylor wants to get away, to find out what’s left of her dreams. Picking up a hitchhiker along the way wasn’t her intention, but Jessie, a woman with troubles of her own, is hard to resist. A mishap on the road forces them to make a stop in a small town called Diamond Lake. Residents are on edge since a brutal murder happened in the area not long ago. Everyone has their secrets…some of them are deadly.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This book is an interesting tale of a cop turned private investigator who really just wants a vacation and can’t seem to get one. I have to admit, I started reading this at night and learned very quickly I couldn’t. There are point of view sections from the mind of the serial killer, and that’s what did me in. I think I was up half the night because I’d psyched myself out.
After finishing this book during the day, I can definitely recommend it as a good thriller. There’s two or three plot lines going at once. You have the relationship that’s budding between Marsha and Jessie, their pasts coming to haunt them, and then the serial killer who is out to get them.
The plot is what interested me the most and what kept me reading. However, the relationship between Marsha and Jessie wasn’t as believable as I wanted it to be. I wanted them to find comfort in each other, but the constant back and forth of Marsha about being attracted to Jessie annoyed me after a few chapters. It almost would have been better for the relationship to start with sex and move into comfort from that point.
Secondly, the constant berating of woman got really heavy handed. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, and trust me, it’s a lot more advanced in equal rights than this book makes it out to be. I currently live in the back flatlands of the country and they are not so advanced. Had this book taken place where I currently live, it would have been far more convincing to see the snarky comments about women in “male” roles. Particularly for a lesbian book, this came off as trying to pivot one group against another.
The last issue I had with this book, and why I am rating it 3.5 stars instead of 4, is because of transitioning. There were countless points where I got lost with what was happening because of lack of transitions and setting up the scene. For example, there’s a part where Marsha and Jessie go to get breakfast after talking with the police about Jessie’s crazy stalker who’s come back for a second round. They get to the diner, and then suddenly they’re having lunch and waiting for Jake and the stalker comes charging in. There wasn’t enough scene set up for it to work smoothly enough. I had to read the paragraphs multiple times just to make sense of what was happening. This is just one example. The first time Jessie and Marsha get together is also another prime example. There is absolutely no transition from shower to couch to Jessie suddenly being there on top of her.
This is really a good book. It succeeded in creeping me out, which is very hard to do, and it kept me interested throughout. Revealing the secrets of the two main characters throughout was a very good way to keep interest in a story that could have otherwise gone too quickly or too slowly.
3.5 Stars
~AJ

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AuthorBio

A psychologist/trauma counselor by training, Barbara Winkes left her native Germany to live with her wife in Québec City. Telling stories has always been her passion. She loves to write suspense and romance with female protagonists who try to solve the puzzle of their love life, a murder case, or sometimes, both.

Lesbian fiction with high drama and happy endings:

Barbara’s debut novel “Autumn Leaves” and the follow-up, “Winter Storm”, published by Eternal Press, tell the love story between two women in a small town, where neighbors take an interest in the life of others. The thriller “Secrets” followed November 2013.

2014 releases will include “Spring Fever”, book three in the series about Callie and Rebecca, and the standalone romance “The Interpretation of Love and the Truth”.

SocialLinks

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Author’s Website: http://www.barbarawinkes.blogspot.ca

4 Stars for Illicit Relations by Lucy Felthouse #M/M #Romance #erotic

IllicitRelationsCover

Title: Illicit Relations
Author Name: Lucy Felthouse
Publication Date & Length: December 18, 2013 — 64 pgs

Synopsis

Terry’s had a crush on his second cousin Justin for what seems like forever. He’s hidden it as well as possible, knowing that the other man is out of bounds, forbidden fruit. Second cousins getting together isn’t actually illegal, but for Justin the relationship is too close—he just can’t contemplate them being together.

But when some new information comes to light about Terry’s birth and his place in the family, the whole game changes. Suddenly the relationship isn’t so impossible, and things soon begin to get hot and heavy.

Review

FourStars

I was given this in return for an honest review by Inked Rainbow Reads.

Lucy Felthouse portrayed a very close knit family that celebrates everything together.  The story begins mid struggle for two cousins, Terry & Justin, who love each other on a romantic level, but social norms dictate they should not feel that way about each other.

I thought the author did an amazing job in portraying how Terry was feeling – his inner struggle with wanting more of a romantic relationship with someone he was related to. I wish we could have known more from Justin’s point of view, however, Felthouse was great at creating an amazing family for both characters.

You see that Terry has very perceptive parents – so perceptive that they risk a lot in revealing long held secrets to both Justin and Terry. Those secrets held the power to either heal or destroy the family, but because of the love they felt for their son, Terry’s parents were able to not only ensure their son’s happiness, but also their nephew’s too.

The story was short, the sex was hot and the family was one any person would be lucky to have.

~AvidReader

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AuthorBio

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati.

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3 Stars for Loved, Settled and Understood by @KirstyGrant2 #F/F #lesbain #romance

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Title: Loved, Settled and Understood
Author Name: Kirsty Grant
Publication Date & Length: July 24, 2014 — 126 pgs

Synopsis

Following the death of her best friend, Laura, Sophie’s life is thrown into turmoil. Torn between the stability of her long term relationship with her boyfriend, Jeff, and the unexpected raw desire for Laura’s sister, Jane, Sophie finds herself questioning her sexuality. Acting upon her desire, Sophie discovers that following her heart has unforeseen consequences and she finds herself tangled in a web of complicated love and heartache. Loved, Settled and Understood is a passionate love story which takes Sophie on a life altering journey of grief, lust, love and anger. How many hearts will be broken in the quest for true love? Is it easier to walk away from love to avoid heartache? Will the words of her late friend, Laura, echo true and will Sophie ever be loved, settled and understood?

Review

ThreeStar

This novel is a fairly quick read. I was able to finish it in a single evening. It’s reasonably fast-paced with a cohesive plotline that moves along without sidetracking and unnecessary elements.

There were some things I liked and some things I think could have been improved upon. I was drawn in by the part of the plot involving the death of Laura, the main character’s best friend. Having lost a good friend to breast cancer a few years ago, I felt a sense of solidarity with Sophie in her grief.

Second, I enjoyed the sex scenes between Sophie and her love interest, Jane. They are steamy and descriptive, but not over-the-top with either flowery language or graphic vocabulary. They were nicely sensual. I also appreciated the realism of mild experimenting between Sophie and her friend Val without them suddenly developing lust or love for each other.

As far as things that could have been improved: I think the book as a whole could have benefited from higher quality editing. At times, the style was excellent, particularly at its most romantic. However, the rest of the story often felt like lower-quality filler in order to advance to the next romantic interlude. The entire first chapter had errors in punctuation and verb tense which were somewhat distracting.
I was disappointed that Sophie assured us multiple times that she was “not gay” as she came to terms with her sexuality. She seemed to have the common mistaken belief that there are no bisexual people or that she could not be one. This might have been all right if it weren’t overused multiple times each chapter before Sophie finally accepted her identity.
Finally, I was uncomfortable with some of the plot elements, particularly those that seemed like or actually were domestic violence. It’s difficult to believe, for example, that a woman who had been attacked by an intimate partner would eventually develop a warm friendship with that person. I was also bothered by the way Jane came across as a bit of a stalker, yet the reader was supposed to hope she and Sophie made things work.
Overall, this was an all right story. It was mildly entertaining, but I don’t feel as though I’ve come away from it changed in any way. On the other hand, I believe this author has potential, and I would enjoy reading her other work as she grows in her writing.
I give it 3 stars.
~ Amy
ThreeStar

This is a quick read, but it took me awhile to get into it. The writing is not great. The novel is written in first person, but the main character is lacking in personality until more than halfway through the novel. The plot is what helped move this piece.

I did, however, have some issues with the plot. Jeff, Sophie’s boyfriend, seems to have three or four different personalities. He goes from being a douche who just wants sex and cares only about his pleasure, to a total gentleman who will do anything for his girlfriend in the span of two chapters. Later on, he becomes violent to the point of almost raping Sophie, and then he’s perfectly normal and cute again at the end of the piece. The violence is what shocked me the most. For a relationship that has lasted either 2 or 4 years, unknown as it was a continuity error, Sophie should have known whether he was an abuser or not. If he was, that should have come through before halfway through the novel. I also did not like the fact that Sophie let him back into her life after something like that

The relationship between Jane and Sophie was the driving force for the first half of the novel, and it was great to see a budding relationship that had a lot of issues to overcome and seemed to overcome them. I think this is where the story was best woven and written. The anticipation was built, the struggles Sophie faced were felt, and the scenes were most vivid and well- written in this section.

By the end of the novel, I didn’t want Jane and Sophie to be together because Jane had sufficiently creeped me out. It was hard for me to want them to be together even though I knew that was what the author had intended. I have high hopes for this author and the stories she has in her head, the characters she has created. She just needs a bit more time to let the writing technique get better to match the plots she has.

I rate this novel a 3 because the plotline is developed and the basic of the story is there. This novel could have used help from a few more edits and beta readers to flesh out the writing and make it seem more alive. I look forward to seeing where this author will go in the next few years and seeing if her writing improves.

~AJ

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AuthorBio

My name is Kirsty Grant. I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and raised in a little town called Bonnyrigg with my mother, Eleanor, my step-father Ian and my big sister Marion and two younger brothers Jon and Chris. I have been writing for many years but it was only recently, after the death of my mother that I decided to give up a long career as a retail manager and study English at the University in Stirling, where I now reside.

I am in a happy and loving relationship with my partner, Helen, who supports me in my ambition to be a successful writer. My plan is to continue writing and studying and I look forward to all that life will throw at me along the way.

My mother, Eleanor, was an incredible inspiration to me and a talented poet and I would like to dedicate my work to her in the knowledge that she will be proud of all I achieve.

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Email: kirstgrantauthor@gmail.com

4.5 Stars for Say Yes by Silvia Violet Book Blast #M/M #eroticromance #erotica

Say Yes Cover - Silvia Violet

Title: Say Yes
Author Name: Silvia Violet
Publication Date & Length: August 18, 2014

Synopsis

Rex Aiken recently started his own business, Grass Fed Texas, supplying organic beef to restaurants and catering companies. When he hosts an event for potential clients at a prestigious hotel in Asheville, the event coordinator, J, impresses him with more than his professional expertise. They indulge in a delicious one night stand, but Rex’s taste of J leaves him wanting more. Rex intends to savor J, and he refuses to see the distance between them as an obstacle. He’ll do whatever is necessary to convince J to say yes.

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Review

FourandHalfStars

I have to say based off the cover of this book, I wasn’t expecting much. I don’t think the cover does this book justice at all. It was sexy, it was romantic, it even had a bit of angst. It was, however, not about steak. Sure, Rex sells steak but the book isn’t about that. It’s about the unexpected situation that occurs between Rex and J and what they do about the intense heat that engulfs them both every time they barely touch.

1/4 star reduction for the cover that isn’t nearly as good as the book. 1/4 star reduction for lacking flow at times.

Teaser

SayYes600x600Banner

Excerpt

“So…um…you’re going to do some sightseeing tomorrow?” Jordan asked.

“I am. I haven’t been to this area since I was a kid, and it’s so beautiful this time of year.”

Jordan nodded. He’d picked up a pen and was rubbing the end of it over his full bottom lip. Rex wanted to replace it with his tongue. Jordan put the pen down and flipped through papers in a folder. When he licked the tip of his finger to help him unstick a few pages, Rex had to cover a groan by turning it into a cough.

Jordan glanced at him quickly before closing the file and slipping it into a drawer. “If there’s anything in particular you’d like to do, I could help you find the best—”

“I’d like to kiss you.” Rex hadn’t meant to be so bold, but he’d never been particularly good at restraining himself. His bluntness had served him well in business and almost as well in his attempts to pick up men.

Jordan made a strangled noise and looked up. “Mr. Aiken, I’m not sure that would…um…”

He looked terrified. Rex realized he was doing the same thing to Jordan that Lucy had done to him—putting him in a position where he could easily believe saying no would affect his job.

“I’m sorry. That was out of line. You did me a favor, and you deserve more respect from me.”

Jordan’s cheeks were now bright red. “I’m not offended, sir. I’m just surprised.”

AuthorBio

Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary, sci fi, and historical. She can be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinfully delicious treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading to her incorrigible offspring.

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4.5 Stars for Disappear with Me by L. Dean Pace-Frech #M/M #historical #romance

disappearwithme-510

Title: Disappear with Me
Author Name: L. Dean Pace-Frech
Publication Date & Length: Dec 4, 2013 — 261 pgs

Synopsis

Love is greater than hope or faith, but can Reverend Leander Norris convince a jury that the love he shares with another man is natural?

In 1910, the United Kingdom was in turmoil. King Edward died after only nine years on the throne. The social class system that upheld British society for centuries was being chipped away by social, political, and economic unrest across the Commonwealth. Amidst this backdrop, Reverend Leander Norris is accused of sodomy. After discovering his own self-worth and unconditional love, Leander finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right and pleads not guilty to the charges. Throughout the trial, Leander’s past is revealed, including the temptations that bring the accusations against him. By the end of the trail, Leander is once again reunited with a romantic interest from the past by the end of the trial; it may be too late to rekindle any love that might remain, given the circumstances of the era and Reverend Leander’s likely sentence.

Review

FourandHalfStars

Once again, I’m out of my typical, comfortable box when it comes to genre literature. I’m not usually one to pick up historical fiction, let alone historical romance. However, this one piqued my curiosity for the faith/spirituality angle, and I’m glad I took a chance.

When I think of a good story, the element that is most important to me is the characters. From the first pages I was drawn to the main character, Leander, and his world and struggles. Yet I also felt connections with the other supporting players, from those mentioned only briefly–such as the jurors at his trial–to his closest companions and lovers. There are no weak, flat characters in this story.

Though the storyline itself is tender and romantic rather than exciting and action-packed, the flow was still fast-paced enough to grab my attention and hold it. I read it on and off over the course of a couple of days; I didn’t want to put it down.
For me, the best part was that it was both deeply romantic and deeply spiritual, an expert blending of both. I have no doubt this is intentional–the main character himself sees his love for his various partners as spiritual. And though other characters attempt to impose shame on him, he never accepts it, maintaining his right throughout to live his life in peace and happiness.
Reading this was an emotional ride for me. Leander’s strong love for God, his lovers, those under his care, and the Bible shine through every part of the story, as though he is simply so full of life and love that he can’t help spilling it over into every act, including standing strong in his convictions. I am convinced this is what it means to truly be like Jesus.
I have no misgivings about  recommending this book to just about anyone. Although the themes might be considered “adult” in nature, there is no explicit content, and I would not feel strange about giving this to my own children in a few years when the religious and social contexts will make more sense to them. Nor do I feel any hesitation about recommending it specifically to my religiously-minded friends.
I give this 4.5 stars.
~Amy

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AuthorBio

New bw headshot

With inspiration from some historical tourism sites, the love of reading, and a desire to write a novel, L. Dean Pace-Frech started crafting his debut novel, A PLACE TO CALL THEIR OWN, in 2008. After four years of writing and polishing the manuscript, he submitted it for publication and Musa Publishing offered him a contract in early 2013. DISAPPEAR WITH ME is his second novel.

Dean lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his partner, Thomas, and their two cats. They are involved in their church and enjoy watching movies, outdoor activities in the warmer weather and spending time together with friends and family. In addition to writing, Dean enjoys reading and patio gardening.

Prior to novels, Dean did some technical writing in his career. He plans to write a sequel to both A PLACE TO CALL THEIR OWN and DISAPPEAR WITH ME.

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4 Stars for French Kissing: Season One by Harper Bliss – #F/F @HarperBliss #LBGT

French Kissing

Title: French Kissing: Season One
Author Name: Harper Bliss
Publication Date & Length: June 13, 2014 – 510 pgs

Synopsis

French Kissing: Season One (Episodes 1-6)

Paris… City of lights, City of love

French Kissing follows a group of Parisian women as they navigate the stormy waters of love and life.

Claire and Juliette have been best friends for twenty years. Together they own a successful PR agency, but their journey to success has come at a price. Juliette and her partner Nadia have drifted apart after ten years together while Claire hasn’t been on a real date for as long as she can remember. Meanwhile, their happily single employee Steph is getting a bit too close to a new, high-profile client.

Warning: This title contains sensual language, ladies making love and possibly more feelings than you can process.

Review

FourStars

This is the whole season for French Kissing, all six episodes. Based out of France, there is some French in the books, that I didn’t always understand, but for the most part it added to the overall feeling of being in France with the characters.

Claire and Juliette have a PR business together. Both are lesbians, but after a brief time together, they parted ways and eventually started a business together. After much time and energy, the business is thriving while other parts of their lives have suffered.

Juliette has been with Nadia for over ten years. While she was focused on getting her business off the ground, her relationship started to fall apart. Nadia has come to a point where she is focusing on her career instead of Juliette all the time, not to mention she has a haunting secret in her closet. They try to repair their relationship, but inevitably, they run into many obstacles which makes it hard to get back to where they once were. A lot of the time I didn’t care for Nadia. I felt like she didn’t really want to make the relationship work and was constantly looking for anyway to make it not work. Juliette seemed to be wholeheartedly trying to make things work and not solely focus on the parts of the relationship that weren’t working. Throw in the drama of Juliette’s new assistant, Sybille, and you have a whole book worth of drama with this couple alone.

Claire, on the other hand, has no one important in her life because she been so focused on work. She has some play things on the side, until one night Nadia introduces her to the quiet and reserved Margot. Initially thinking they had nothing in common, they find they really do, but need to take it slow if they really want to see what is there. The ex that stomped all over Margot’s heart hits the scene and stirs up the newly developing couple. Claire had my heart in this relationship, I really wanted to see her get her happy ever after. Margot was fun too though since she had a hard exterior and was hard to get to know at first, but I really liked her most of the time once was saw she was just laid back and chill, not stuck up.

Stephanie works for Clair and Juliette at the PR firm. She is the youngest out of their group. She once had a fling with Claire, but that went no where fast. She succeeds in signing the firms first politician, who happens to be female. Dominique has hired them to help her weather the divorce that she is going to be going through all too soon. Dominique is in a party that is completely against gays and their rights. Oddly though, she has a dirty little secret in her past. And she signed with Steph for a very specific reason, one that turns on both of them. Stephanie was the comedic relief of the group. I didn’t care for Dominique at first, I couldn’t figure out what her game plan was. Then towards the end she surprised me and I liked her a whole lot more.

All in all, not a bad book. Very well written. Sucks you in and makes you want to read more. I really came to like the characters and feel for them as they stumbled through the troubles that they faced. However, in the end, it was just a little too much drama for me and I found myself predicting what was coming in the stories before it happened. But I would highly recommend to readers who don’t mind drama (just have too much in my life for any more)

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AuthorBio

Harper Bliss has travelled the world in search of sexual satisfaction. She now resides in a hot Asian country and dedicates her time to writing down the stories that have inspired and aroused her.

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3.5 Stars for Sweet Spot by Lucy Felthouse #F/F #LBGT

Sweet Spot

Title: Sweet Spot
Author Name: Lucy Felthouse
Publication Date & Length: June 18, 2014 – 70 pgs

Synopsis

Virginia Miller is an up-and-coming tennis star. She’s gone from a ratty tennis court in a park in south London, England, to the world’s top training facility—Los Carlos Tennis Academy in California. In awe of the talent around her, Virginia is all the more determined to make the most of the opportunity and show that she’s worthy of her place there. Her mentor, Nadia Gorlando, has every faith in her.

But Virginia finds herself distracted—Nadia, as well as being a top-notch tennis player, is seriously sexy, and Virginia’s mind keeps wandering where it shouldn’t. Will her crush get in the way of her career, or can she find a way to push the other woman out of her mind before it’s too late?

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Review

 

ThreeandHalfStars

This novella had very good pacing in it, and I was able to get into the mind of the MC very quickly. What I loved was being able to hear V’s voice in my own head as I read through the novella. The plot line is quick, but it still allows for anticipation of the romance aspect to be built. I was definitely rooting for V to get over her fears and do something about it.

The twist in the middle of the book was an interesting one, and one that I saw coming. It was not unexpected, and I’m glad it wasn’t. My only issue is the resolve from the twist seems to have happened far too quickly to be 100% believable to me. I felt the resolve had to come about more quickly in order to get enough sex into an erotica romance novella, which I can understand, but at the same time, with the twists subject, it didn’t seem like it flowed together well.

The erotic aspects of this novella were very hot and tantalizing. It fit with the two characters and kept the story moving. Overall this is a very well-written erotic romance novella. I wish there had been more erotic scenes throughout it, but alas, can’t always please a young woman’s heart!

3.5 stars – AJ

***

ThreeandHalfStars
This is a short, sweet, sexy romance. It was a quick and fun read

I tend to prefer a lot of plot, even in romance and erotica. Sweet Spot delivers a pleasantly surprising amount of interesting storyline for such a short work. Another thing I enjoyed was that although there is good, steamy sex, it doesn’t overbalance the rest of the story.

There were only two disappointments with this work. First, the women in the story fit what I call the “acceptable lesbian” stereotype–feminine-but-not-girly, athletic, and attractive even by men’s standards. I prefer to see a bit more diversity in both body type and along the gender-expression spectrum. Second, the sex had a few too many erotic cliches, such as “tongues battling” and a whole lot of female ejaculation. Again, some diversity in sexual experience would be nice.

Even so, the characters are likeable and the story is cute. I definitely appreciated the side of social justice delivered in the second half of the novella. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to checking out other works by Ms. Felthouse.

3.5 Stars – Amy

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AuthorBio

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati.

SocialLinks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lucyfelthousewriter
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cw1985
Author’s Website: http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk/

3 Stars for Spring Fever by Barbara Winkes – #F/F #LBGT

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Title: Spring Fever
Author Name: Barbara Winkes
Publication Date & Length: August 1, 2014 – 176 pgs

Synopsis

What does not kill love… makes it stronger.
Callie has a hard decision to make when her ex, Nicole tries to blackmail her with an old secret. The timing could not be worse as Maggie still suffers from nightmares related to previous traumatic events. Andy, a new resident, is eager to make friends and promote the prejudice Callie and Rebecca have grown tired of. They have learned that trust is the most important thing in a relationship, and when you have it, hate cannot touch you.

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Review

ThreeStar

Spring Fever is the third book in a series, and yes, it’s important to read the first two books first. I dropped into a story that was in many ways already concluded. The whirl of romance has passed. The acute threats have been conquered.

What’s left is a sweet, cozy story of two women building their life together in a small town. Familiar and presumably beloved characters make cameos with successes and struggles of their own. It’s a book about family, and while it may lack passion, there’s a great deal of warmth.

The “villain” is one-dimensional and behaves in histrionic ways that couldn’t quite get me to suspend my disbelief. However, her behavior reminds me that the internal and external conflicts involve people who aren’t villains, just people—the unhappy ex-husband, the questioning minister, the recalcitrant parents and teenagers. There’re good lessons in this pleasant, communal novel.

~C. E. Case

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AuthorBio

A psychologist/trauma counselor by training, Barbara Winkes left her native Germany to live with her wife in Québec City. Telling stories has always been her passion. She loves to write suspense and romance with female protagonists who try to solve the puzzle of their love life, a murder case, or sometimes, both.

Lesbian fiction with high drama and happy endings:

Barbara’s debut novel “Autumn Leaves” and the follow-up, “Winter Storm”, published by Eternal Press, tell the love story between two women in a small town, where neighbors take an interest in the life of others. The thriller “Secrets” followed November 2013.

2014 releases will include “Spring Fever”, book three in the series about Callie and Rebecca, and the standalone romance “The Interpretation of Love and the Truth”.

SocialLinks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barbara-Winkes-Author-page/289940881121860
Author’s Website: http://www.barbarawinkes.blogspot.ca

4.5 Stars for The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen #trans #lgbt #ya

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Title: The Other Me
Author Name: Suzanne van Rooyen
Publication Date & Length: Dec 18, 2013 — 218 pgs

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.

But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

Review

FourandHalfStars

This is a fairly quick read, as it’s young adult and not long. It’s relatively fast-paced, as I expected. The YA genre and length should not be deterrents for anyone interested in the subject, however. This was hands-down one of the best works of YA queer fiction I’ve ever read.

It is the story of a South African trans teenager, though it is also in part a love story. Not merely in the romantic sense (though there’s a bit of that too) but in a general sense, including self-acceptance and love between friends or family members. Most people, not only teenagers, would be able to relate to the themes of feeling like an outsider and of being trapped in a life or body that feel wrong.

The first thing that impressed me was that it’s about a trans boy. More often than not, trans fiction focuses on people living their authentic lives as girls/women. Of the several YA tans-themed books I’ve read previously, all were about trans girls. The second thing of note is that it’s told mainly from Treasa’s perspective and with Treasa’s feelings about actually being a boy. Other books have told trans stories mainly from the perspective of lovers or family members. Finally, the last thing that stood out was that Treasa is also not straight. Again, the vast majority of my previous readings have involved trans people who are presumed gay until they transition, but Treasa maintains a preference for boys throughout.

Another aspect to Treasa’s identity as a gay boy is that often, trans stories are incredibly binary. In other words, someone “proves” to be a “real” boy because of a love for sports and typically masculine pursuits and interests. Treasa is, even as a boy, still somewhat gender-non-conforming. I appreciate that the author didn’t go overboard to assure us just how much of a boy Treasa truly is.

Those things alone make the book an absorbing read. In addition, the two main point-of-view characters, Treasa and Gabriel, are both very different from the teenagers who populate many YA novels. They both have secrets and things about which they feel hurt and shame, however, both are highly sympathetic characters. They are the sort of people who feel like friends after reading their stories. Characters are always my favorite part of any story, and I found myself drawn to both of them.

The only things about which I had any concerns are a few minor implications. First, Treasa muses that it must not be normal for a girl to want to write fan fiction about two boys. It’s hard to tell whether this is the author’s view as well or whether Treasa just feels like an “alien” already that everything is suspect.

My other concern was that Gabriel insists throughout the book that his few very minor gender-non-conforming behaviors (mainly music and nail polish) don’t make him gay. But he does it to the point that I couldn’t help wondering who he was trying to convince–himself or the reader. Again, it was hard to tell if this was the author’s insertion of her views or genuinely part of his character, an unwillingness to question his own sexuality. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the story.

These concerns are not reasons to dislike the book. On the contrary, they provide excellent talking points. Rather than making assumptions about the author’s intent or rejecting the book for perceived flaws, we should have open dialog about what those things mean.

Overall, I rank this as one of my all-time favorite YA books. Despite the fact that I’m well past the target age and rarely read the genre, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who has adolescents, in part because the beginning of empathy is understanding. Provided the book is still in print, I fully plan to make sure my kids read it when they are older.

I give this book 4.5 stars.

~Amy

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AuthorBio

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego.

Suzanne is also the publicity manager for Entranced Publishing and is rep’d by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Works include:
Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir)
Obscura Burning (Etopia)
The Other Me (Harmony Ink)
I Heart Robot (Month9Books)

SocialLinks

Facebook
Twitter: @suzanne_writer
Author’s Website: suzannevanrooyen.com

3 & 3.5 Stars for A Perfect Dream by Raven J. Spencer #F/F #Erotic Novella

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Title: A Perfect Dream
Author Name: Raven J. Spencer
Publication Date & Length: June 22, 2014 – 48 pgs

Synopsis

Sex and politics can be an explosive combination. Beatrice, wife to a conservative lobbyist, can’t imagine being out in the open about her preferences and orientation, but lucky for her, there’s A Perfect Dream. Secret parties that only the privileged have access to fulfill every fantasy and need she can think of. Beatrice didn’t count in meeting Sage, a woman who not only satisfies her in every way, but challenges everything Beatrice has believed about herself so far.

Review

ThreeandHalfStars

I was given an ARC of A Perfect Dream for an honest review.

I read A Perfect Dream in a few hours, following the storyline of one character, Bea, as she discovered herself through a lot time of repressing it. I’m rating this book at three and a half stars mostly because it didn’t wow me. It’s difficult to wow with erotica in such a short space of time, but I was impressed with the writing and story line.

This novella has quite a bit of sex in it, as one can imagine, it is erotica after all. It’s an interesting premise, the “Gay for You” trope turned into “Out for You” and it definitely works in this piece. Raven takes a character who most would assume to be unlikable and gives her a story that makes her likeable.

This rating is a 3.5 because I felt the erotic scenes could have been better, more sensual, more sexy and spicy. They seemed fairly vanilla for a woman going to a sex club. Even though the character wanted to try all different sex acts when she went to the club, she did not, and it turned out, she was much more comfortable with what she knew. Most women these days, however, know what a vibrator with clit stim looks like and how to use one—so Bea not knowing where certain parts went was a bit unbelievable to me, particularly if it was not her first visit to A Perfect Dream.

The writing was great. My only issue was in the beginning when it would switch from third person to second person. I think the story would have been a lot stronger and better if the author had stayed in third person and described everything from Bea’s POV. It would have also allowed the reader to get into her head more quickly. There were only a few grammatical issues I found (and… I’m picky about grammatical issues, so this is a HUGE compliment).

This book was good for a quick read late at night. I would definitely read another from Raven.

~~AJ

ThreeStar

A Perfect Dream by Raven J Spencer is a short story about Beatrice, the wife of a conservative politician who spends time at A Perfect Dream with Piper, the woman with whom she is having an affair. A Perfect Dream is exclusive, expensive, discreet, and offers almost anything Beatrice can imagine. On one of the weekend get-a-ways, she meets Sage, the woman of her dreams, who turns out to be more than meets the eye.

I was excited about reading this story because it seemed like it had a lot of potential. The premise is strong, with a lot of possibilities and room for growth and I was excited to see where Spencer took it. So, first, the good:

The writing is well done. There are a few stray commas here and there, and a few odd word choices, but overall, it’s well written. Better than a lot of things available on the market, and it’s highly readable. It’s also a quick read. This took me less than an hour to get through. Lastly, it’s a completely self-contained story. No cliff-hangers here. You get a beginning, middle, and an end where everything is wrapped up.

Second, the meh: Let’s talk about the sex. This is supposed to be an erotica. The majority of the story takes place at a resort where the whole point of going is to have sex with as many people as you want in as many ways as possible. There is actually not a ton of explicit content in this book. Some readers will prefer the softer descriptions and having things left up to the imagination. However, for me, I would have preferred to have had fewer more descriptive and explicit sex scenes than what we got. This just didn’t seem like erotica to me. It’s erotica-lite.

Also a meh is the plot. It’s an interesting plot and I’d have liked to have seen more done with it. At 48 pages, this is getting almost into novella territory and if the author had taken some time to give more development to the plot twist with Sage(which was totally out of left field, by the way. Seriously, some foreshadowing would be good) it would have felt more complete to me.

Now for the bad: The beginning is not good. I had a hard time getting past it. There is a lot of exposition in this story and it detracts from the plot and the movement of the story. It feels like Spencer gets lost in the minutia of the details in some places and in others she doesn’t give some very needed descriptions about the surroundings. Also, just a minor thing, but there are apparently a hundred bathrooms in A Perfect Dream. Character development gets lost here, too, and some of the characters feel a little one-dimensional.

The bottom line: I think it’s worth a read. I don’t feel like it was a waste of my time, but I’ve read better, and I don’t feel like this is erotica. Spencer has good writing skills and the plot had promise but it needs developing. I would be much more interested in this as a novella or a full-length novel. She’s tried to cram too much into a short-story and lost a lot of the elements I like to see in order to feel satisfied after finishing a story.

Rating: Three Stars

~Sirena

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AuthorBio

Raven J. Spencer, lesbian, married, loves everything sensual and indulgent which led her to write erotic romance and fantasies. When she’s not writing, you can often find her on Pinterest in the pursuit of inspiration.

SocialLinks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Raven-Spencer-Author/155042611370427?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RavenJSpencer
Author’s Website: http://ravenspencer.blogspot.ca/