Review of ‘One way or another’ by A.L. Brooks.

This is book four in the ‘Window Shopping Collection’ series penned by different authors under the common romantic theme of two characters meeting while shopping. In this book, corporate lawyer Sarah Connolly meets primary school teacher Bethany Keane while they are browsing a sex shop. Sarah is a womaniser who keeps her sexual liaisons casual while Bethany is looking for a serious relationship. They are attracted to each other but they couldn’t be more different. Will they find a common ground?

This is a slow burn romance with a surprising side (not described in the blurb) of very light BDSM. Both main characters are very different from each other and the author does a good job in presenting them with all their layers and traits. Eventually the reader discovers the reasons for their actions which aren’t contrived or forced into the story.

The characters’ chemistry is good though, in my opinion, the indecisions in their relationship didn’t act as a build up but rather as a cool down. That’s where my rating of this book drops. However, once the intimate scenes unfold (quite late in the book), they are well done and have an interesting twist. Kudos to the author to raise the issue of safe sex that is normally avoided in lesbian romance or erotica but I’m not sure if it works well every time.

The secondary characters are well rounded and help define the main characters stories better, specially Sarah’s friend Jonathan and Bethany’s mother. The setting of London as the background of the plot is a secondary character in itself and makes the story more realistic and authentic.

Overall, a sweet slow-burn romance with a side of light BDSM. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Rescue’ by Juliette Renard.

Virginia is a famous actress recovering from addiction and a partying lifestyle in an isolated cabin in the middle of a crude winter. When a puppy accidentally lands on her doorstep, a series of events trigger a meeting with reclusive but renowned author Sage Volland. Soon they develop a friendship promising much more if only their pasts wouldn’t get in their way.

This is a short novel (44,000 words) by debut author Juliette Renard. Both main characters Virginia and Sage are well rounded though their chemistry isn’t off the charts. For me, it feels a bit rushed. On the other hand, puppy dog Denzel steals the show as he’s a great facilitator of the mains’ relationship and feels very authentic.

My main issues with this novel are two. One is that the story pace doesn’t flow seamlessly, it drags at some points while at others feels rushed. My other problem is that some scenes feel a bit unrealistic. I give a small example to avoid spoilers, for instance, one character is beaten badly and a few hours later the face shows no marks. Some of the metaphors used felt a bit crude, but maybe that was the intention of the author, though I personally didn’t find the appeal when describing a romantic relationship. However, I think it’s an interesting story with a good mystery twist that will keep the reader turning pages.

Overall, a good debut romance with a bit of mystery on the side. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘The sex therapist next door’ by Meghan O’Brien.

Diana Kelley is a sex therapist with emotional intimacy issues who needs to find a replacement for her impending hands-on sexual education workshop. She decides to ask Jude Monaco, her younger next door neighbour who secretly has a crush on Diana. As the workshop progresses, both women’s feelings and fears start to unravel. Would it lead to something deeper as Jude craves?

Meghan O’Brien is one of the best lesfic writer of erotica. There’s no doubt that she can write hot, different and wide-raging erotic scenes. ‘The sex therapist next door’ is a prime example of this. The best parts of the book are the erotic ones while the rest is just average; sometimes repetitive, others plain melodramatic.

Sex therapist Diana is a hard to like character, she comes across as self-absorbed, distant and sometimes manipulative person. At 39 years old, she refers herself as a ‘middle age’ woman but sometimes she is very immature. She plays the age-gap card (of 13 years) continuously though most of the time Jude seems the mature one. Jude is more likeable though her transformation into a needy character feels more like a plot device rather than the expected development of her relationship with Diana. Both characters spend a long time in their heads and some of Diana’s arguments for why she shouldn’t get involved with Jude are so repetitive that cause more irritation than empathy. However, there is a good subplot between Ava, Diana’s best friend, and Katrina, Jude’s cousin.

Having said all this, if you are looking for good quality, lesbian erotica and you don’t mind much of the rest of the plot, this books is right for you. 3.5 stars.

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

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