Review of ‘Charming memory’ by E.L. Bossert.

Jamie Jordan is a famous actress whose son Max is saved from being run over by a truck. Max survived unscathed but the rescuer suffered severe head injuries. As a result, the savior lost her memory and has no recollections of her identity. Jamie is attracted to the mysterious woman who has a refreshing disregarding attitude towards Jamie’s fame and money. But under those strange circumstances, can they find a happily ever after?

This is a debut book and unfortunately the reader can tell. It would have benefited from
a more thorough editing process. The choice of an omniscient point of view with multiple characters without clear transitions confused me. I think that maybe writing this story from the point of view of both main characters would have helped in developing the story better.

Having said that, the chemistry between the main characters was believable and the intimate scenes were well written. The main plot idea was good in combining the amnesia and celebrity tropes but it just needed a better execution.

Overall, 2.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Shadow hand’ by Sacchi Green.

This is book four of ‘The superheroine collection’ featuring different Ylva Publishing authors under the common theme of lesbian superheroines. There has been a couple of very good books in this series such as ‘Shattered’ by Lee Winter and ‘Chasing Stars’ by Alex K. Thorne.

Lieutenant Ashton receives the power to move objects with her hand by a goddess while deployed by the US Army somewhere on the Middle East desert. When her abilities are discovered, she is sent to a special division in Germany to research her powers as a potential weapon of war. Separated from her longtime lover Sargent Cleo Brown, she looks for ways to get together again and use her powers for a greater good.

Sacchi Green is a seasoned author of short stories but this is her debut novel which, in my opinion, wasn’t successful. I feel that her writing style is a bit distant and impersonal. For me, the book reads as a chronicle or a bird’s-eye view of series of events. As the main characters’ intimacy is described in a detached way, their scenes together feel devoid of emotion, too clinical. That really affected my connection with the characters and the story as a whole.

The plot seems a bit contrived and unrealistic even for the sci-fi world the author built. For example, Shadow Hand’s lack of secrecy about her powers and real identity doesn’t follow usual superhero behaviour. I also feel that the book ended rather abruptly, it would have been good to see how the relationship between both main characters evolve.

Overall, a good idea that fails on the execution. 2.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘All of me’ by Emily Smith.

Dr. Galen Burguess is the chief surgical resident at Boston City Hospital. She works hard and plays hard, her reputation as a player is well known. But when she meets a new intern, Dr. Rowan Duncan, she’s soon smitten with the very reserved and very straight resident. As Galen decides not to act on her attraction, Rowan discovers new feelings for her boss. But she’s got a boyfriend waiting in Texas and she’s straight anyway, or is she?

‘All of me’ is a medical romance, Radclyffe style, with a butch/androgynous and a femme doctors as main characters in a fast and stressful hospital setting. Normally these types of books showcase several medical cases and emergency situations where patients’ lives are at risk. In this case, these elements are present with the addition of some family drama consisting of a cold and strict father (Galen’s) and a long-distance boyfriend (Rowan’s).

The medical scenes and a couple of secondary characters are the best parts of this book. However, I have a few issues that justify my low rating. My first issue is that the leads sometimes act out of character. For example, the reader is told that Rowan is shy but she acts anything but. To avoid spoilers, let me just say that both characters go through sudden and unrealistic changes from what would be their expected actions which is puzzling and sometimes downright annoying.

My other problem is that some parts of the plot are resolved very superficially, in particular Galen’s relationship with her parents. The story leads us to think this is a crucial matter while it was only mentioned in passing. It seems as if the author didn’t commit to the story completely. The main characters’ chemistry is ok but the insta-love is hard to believe.

Overall, sometimes ok, sometimes frustrating read. 2.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘If I loved you less’ by Tamsen Parker.

Theo Sullivan is a surfing instructor based in a small island in Hawaii. In her free time she enjoys being the village busybody and matchmaker and eating all things sweet at her friend Kini ʻŌpūnui’s bakery. As Theo is a lesbian, she normally enjoys no-string relationships with visiting tourists but she’d never imagined that the love of her life could be closer than she thought.

This novel is a retelling of ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen. The author mainly writes about m/f and m/m couples with the exception of a couple of f/f books. In the acknowledgements, the author admits that this book was difficult to write and, to be honest, it shows. Even though this book features two main women characters falling in love with each other, I wouldn’t consider it lesfic because most of the attention is focused on heterosexual relationships. Additionally, Theo affirms that she’s a lesbian (or queer as she prefers to call herself) but her attraction to women isn’t completely believable. I couldn’t feel the mains’ chemistry beyond the level of friendship and their romantic involvement is rushed and unconvincing. It doesn’t help that there no intimate scenes either and I’m not sure that they would have worked with that low level of chemistry.

The book is written in third person from the point of view of Theo. To say that Theo is not an easy to like character is an understatement. Most of the time, she comes across as self-centred, opinionated, superficial, immature and manipulative. Kini is the complete opposite and you can only wonder what she sees in the younger woman. There is an age gap between the mains of around 14 years, both characters are believable in their ages and they somehow balance each other. Kudos to the author to tackle an interracial romance in the beautiful setting of Hawaii. However, there are too many out of context Hawaiian words, specially when food is mentioned, which somehow interrupt the reading flow. Additionally, some of the secondary characters are a bit stereotyped and sometimes act strangely for the XXI century. I’m not sure that interpolating Jane Austen’s idiosyncrasy to a modern day lesbian romance worked in this case.

Overall, an unconvincing romance that probably won’t appeal lesfic fans. 2.5 stars.

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

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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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