Review of ‘Up on the roof’ by A.L. Brooks.

Lena and Megan are neighbours living in adjacent flats of a converted Victorian house in London. They couldn’t be more different: Lena is obsessed with order and routine, Megan is carefree and messy. Their relationship starts badly as Megan clumsiness gets her into trouble with her uptight neighbour. However, everything changes when a storm leaves Lena homeless and Megan offers her to move in her spare room. Will they manage to get along and what happens when they realise there might be attracted to each other?

This was a frustrating read for me. There’s so much potential in this story, for example, to explore homophobia in the first generation of Indian immigrants in the UK or how is to live with an obsessive compulsive disorder but unfortunately, this novel fails not only in achieving that but also in the romance part. Paradoxically, its main strength – the main characters’ development – is the cause of its demise. I think that Lena is well rounded as a person suffering from OCD and Megan as a carefree though insecure character. However, put them together and their interactions aren’t believable and their chemistry inexistent. The secondary characters are stereotyped and flat, maybe with the exception of the ground floor neighbour. There was a great amount of description that made this read tedious and boring. Considering that this is a romance and a happily ever after is expected, the plot development and the end weren’t believable at all. It’s a pity because Ms. Brooks’s previous novels are much better and I was expecting an enjoyable read.

Overall, a frustrating read. 2.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Lesbian romance: The energy between us’ by Josslyn Scott.

This is a debut novella about Erin, an allegedly straight office worker, and her yoga instructor Dione. Erin starts practising yoga because she feels the need for a life change but gets a different outcome than the one she expected, a change that questions her sexuality.

As a yoga enthusiast myself, the book’s main idea appealed to me but, in my opinion, it fails a bit short on the execution. Written in third person from Erin’s point of view, the reader gets into her headspace and can only guess what Dione is thinking or feeling because very little is shown by the author.
The reader learns about Erin’s growing infatuation and questioning of her sexuality but gets little or no clues into Dione’s mindset and sexuality. The mystery surrounding a character is not necessarily a bad thing but, in this context, the latter developments in the story seem a bit forced, if not
unrealistic. Personally, I would have liked the author to show the main characters’ chemistry, ‘the energy between them’, and build it up more in the early stages, especially considering that the yoga class was their only interaction. There are a few witty dialogues that show the potential of the author and, I think that her stories – and character construction – will benefit with more of that.

Overall, an ok read. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Life pushes you along’ by Emma Sterner-Radley.

This is the debut novella by Emma Sterner-Radley. The premise of the book is that if people are stuck in their personal situations, “life pushes you along” in many different ways: it can be by chance, by self determination or by someone else’s help. The latter is what happens to Zoe, a 26 year old bookstore employee who feels dissatisfied with her job and lack of love life. With a little help from her best friend, her brother and Rebecca, a sexy job hunter she’s secretly attracted to, Zoe tries to change her life.
While it is positive that the book departs from the ubiquitous lesfic romance by presenting a mixed race relationship between two women with an age gap of 14 years, it falls short in delivering realistic situations and there is a good amount of telling but not showing.
The book is written mostly from Zoe’s point of view with a few chapters of her best friend’s and a couple of Rebecca’s. The author clarifies the pov in each chapter title which I don’t think it’s necessary. Some parts of the dialogues (specially Rebecca’s lines) seem to belong more to written speech and sound a bit unnatural or too long. Additionally, the relationship seems to evolve too fast in the last few chapters (with some degree of “insta love”) compared to the slow pace at the beginning of the book.
Overall, an ok summer read. 2.5 stars rounded to 3.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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