Love by the Numbers by Karin Kallmaker
Lillian Linden-Smith jumps at the chance her uncle offers for her to act as assistant on a book tour to one of his company's more difficult authors. Hounded by a revenge-minded public, a brash TV lawyer and relentless paparazzi, Lily thinks her best chance for anonymity and peace rest with getting out of the country and fast. Enter Professor Dr. Nicole Hathaway, a behavioral scientist with a secret of her own who has inadvertently written the latest love manual sensation. Oil and water get along better than these two at the start. Each is determined to keep her own secrets safe while getting through an international whirlwind tour. Toss in Nicole's mother, Indira, who thinks Lily is wonderful and her almost ready to pop pregnant sister Kate who lives to toss the f-bomb into any family conversation, a fact Nicole hates since she can't seem to get away anything similar in their mother's hearing and it's another excellent romance by the master of the genre, Karin Kallmaker. There's laughter, tears and more than a little sizzle.
Hot Line by Alison Grey
Christina is a sex line worker trying to pay her way through school. One night she receives a rather strange call from a woman named Linda. Linda is a successful psychologist with a few issues of her own. The result is a bizarre business arrangement between two women from entirely different worlds, a pay for play contract which will give avowed lesbian virgin Linda her first experience of loving and being loved by a woman. They're both more nervous than a 'ho in church' and talks themselves into and out of the arrangement several times, and this is on the first evening. There are a few tears, a few giggles and a rather tasty sizzle factor. It's a fun read with two well-developed characters who you can't help screaming at to "Just kiss her already!!"
Something in the Wine by Jae
Annie's brother Jake has pulled one too many practical jokes on her. This time he's set her up with old school friend, Drew, except he forgot to mention that Drew is both a woman and a lesbian. Drew, on the other hand, is not only unaware that Annie knows none of this, but is told by Jake that Annie returns her interest. That date that should have been a disaster of epic proportions turns into a pleasant event for both woman when they decide to turn the tables on Jake and convince him it was love at first sight for them both. Jake proves harder to convince than they first thought, but both Annie and Drew are determined to pull the ultimate prank on him. Threw it all, with Drew's support, Annie learns to stand up for who she is and what she wants. It's sweet, it's hot and everything we've come to expect from Jae.
The Princess Affair by Nell Stark
Who doesn't love a good princess story? Especially when the princess in question is a lesbian. Set in the present day UK, but with an entirely different Royal Family (The Carlisles) on the throne, American Kerry Donovan arrives at Oxford to take her place as a Rhodes Scholar. Determined to concentrate on her studies in sustainable architecture and her favorite sport of soccer, or football as she finds it called, Kerry didn't count on one very determined distraction in the person of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra Victoria Jane, Sasha to her friends and "Sassy Sasha" to the tabloids that thrill to her love'em and leave'em exploits. Sasha keeps her secrets buried, and her exploits with women strictly one-nighters. With an instant attraction that has them both unable to stay away, passion that threatens to ignite the Commonwealth, and Sasha deep in a gilded closet, how will these two ever work it out? The Princess Affair has a well-written plot that has the romance fan in us cheering them on.
The Not So Immaculate Conception, Hocus Pocus Baby, House of Magic by Scarlett Cantrell 2012, 2013 JAF Publications Review by quiethearted
A good read is a good read, no matter where it's found. I went a bit further afield to find these gems, but it was definitely worth it. They're all novellas that together make one excellent novel-length fic.
Leanne Evans has a whirl-wind one-nighter with a woman that who takes her breath away. Thinking she'll never see Melissa Rowe again, Leanne is surprised not only to have Melissa reappear, but it seems her fantasy woman is a 400-year-old witch who is none too happy to announce she is now pregnant...with Leanne's child. Wicked doesn't even begin to describe Melissa and when the baby hormones kick in, Leanne can't find enough places to hide. This series of 3 novellas is well worth the read. They take the reader from the first meeting and subsequent pregnancy, to magical baby Megan's determination to have both her mommies at home, and on to Leanne's desire for a real family just when Melissa seems to be seeing someone else. How the heck do you woo a 400-year-old witch who's seem it all, done it all, and found most of it just irritating blather the first time around? This series is laugh-out-loud funny and well worth loading on the old e-reader.
Always by Nicola Griffith
The third novel of Aud Torvingen by Nicola Griffith is as strong The Blue Place and Stay. Our heroine travels to Seattle this time and finds more than her money at risk. We get to visit again with her mother and her new husband, reacquaint ourselves with Dornan, and meet a new cast of characters as Aud hurtles herself in between danger and those whom she loves. Some of what Aud faces won't take her strength of body to make right but will call on her wounded heart to open, forgive and to love again.
Nicola is an artist who, with a few bold strokes, can paint a portrait of exquisite detail. Her characters (including the cities where her novel's take place) are deftly drawn. Their failings are laid bare and they are even more appealing for their flaws.
I admit that I'm a big fan of this author's work. As I read this long awaited sequel, I found myself turning the pages with both an eagerness to see how the story played out and a sadness for knowing that it would be over too soon. Pick up your copy of this one (and her others) and you'll not be disappointed.
Lady Knight by L-J Baker
Lady Knight is one of the few fantasy novels that tackle the medieval time with any accuracy. Too many speculative fiction books wish away inconvenient truths in the search for a good story. In this novel, there is no shrinking from facts. There is filth and blood and a realism about the few rights afforded women. The book does not fail with such honesty Rather, because of that well built foundation, it was a pleasure to lose myself within the pages.
The background for the story is a buildup to war as seen through the eyes of three players. There is the Lady Riannon. She is an outcast daughter who earned her knighthood in battle. She killed the son of a foreign Emperor and so, earned the title Vahldomne. Her cousin, Aveline, is sister to the queen and is rising quickly in the ranks as high priest to her Goddess. Her ambition, while clothed in piety, turns all around her into tools for the greater good. There is also Eleanor, who was twice widowed and the rarest of women with her ability to read, write and manage her estates with success. She travels to offer payment to the queen to go another year without having to have a husband to rule her or over her people. Little does she know that she is about to be caught between the fiery Knight and the ruthless Priest.
I recommend this work to fans of fantasy and to fans of well-written tales.
Grave Silence by Rose Beecham
I finished reading Grave Silence by Rose Beecham and can definitely recommend this title to readers of lesbian fiction. This isn't just your run of the mill mystery, nor is it a typical romance. Her descriptions of the land are vibrant and evocative but it is the characters that make this such a good read.
Jude Devine is a sheriff's detective who must solve the mystery of a murdered teenager. Her search takes her into the secret world of a Mormon fundamentalist sect and into a sexual relationship, both of which cause her plenty of disquiet. As she gets closer to the truth, the tension increases and a Waco like siege situation results.
Plural marriage, the ages of many of the women being forced into it and the crimes against women within it, are all very deep issues and the author handles them well. The characters have an authenticity that is usually lacking in the treatment of cults and extremists. When I found out that the author had gone undercover to research for this book, I was duly impressed.
After finishing this title, I remained fascinated by the topic and so I read Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. Not lesbian, not fiction but an astounding bit of reporting. If you want further reading on a particularly American brand of religious fanaticism, this is a good place to start.
I recommend both titles.
Tristaine Rises by Cate Culpepper
The third title in the Tristaine series is as exciting a read as the previous two. It is the continuing story of the Amazon women as they head into the wilderness to escape the oppression of the City. Their flight leads them to an abandoned village where the Clan faces their toughest challenge yet. They are being stalked by an evil that will pit them against each other and their sisters from the past.
The author has a deft touch with characterization and populates her novel with the authentic voices of many diverse women. I like how she employs Brenna as an outsider and seer to help narrate the plot. I also enjoyed the deepening relationship between Jess and Brenna. The book is fast paced and gives the readers plenty of twists and turns before the final page. It also begs for another title in the series (hint, hint).
The first two titles (The Clinic and Battle for Tristaine) are available in new editions put out by Bold Stroke Books. They have the benefit of tighter editing and additional back-story to several of the characters. I would recommend them as well.
The Clinic. ISBN 1933110422
I had the great pleasure of attending the Golden Crown Literary Conference in Atlanta earlier this month. I purchased so many books that I'm not going to be able to buy groceries until after the next paycheck.
Some of the ones I've just finished:
Home for the Holidays by Mavis Applewater (ISBN 0-9770318-4-5). A very steamy romance with Mavis' usual deft touch with the sex scenes (and there are plenty) and the humor. This is the story of two lovers lost to each other, who find their way back with the help of their very supportive families.
The Feel of Forever by Lyn Denison (ISBN 1-59493-073-2). A heart-warming story of two women, parted by prejudice and their own fears who rekindled their love. It is very similar to Lyn's other work but still a good read for anyone who likes a little angst with their romance.
Sugar by Karin Kallmaker (ISBN 1-59493-001-5). A well crafted tale by the Queen of Romance herself. A fire in her oven brings three powerful and different women into Sugar's life. After taking each for a taste test, she finds the one who is just right. Funny and passionate.
Greetings from Jamaica, Wish You Were Queer by Mari SanGiovanni (ISBN 1-932859-30-6). There is a warning on the back of the book that the book may make you laugh out loud in public. There are people in the San Francisco and Atlanta airports that can attest to the truth of it. The voices in this book are so original that you won't believe that this is her first book. The characters that make up the Santora clan put the fun back in dysfunctional.