One of the best second chance lesbian romances I’ve read

Lesbian Book Review of ‘Always a love song’ by Charley Clarke

4.25 Stars. This was a really good read. I believe this is Clarke’s full-length debut and that makes this book even more impressive. I have actually read one of Clarke’s fantasy short stories before called ‘The Flamebringers’. I thought it was really sweet with my only main complaint was wishing it was longer, so when I heard YLVA picked her up as an author, I could not wait to sink my teeth into this book. I had pretty high expectations and I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed this read.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a fan of lesbian celebrity romances so this book already had a check in the win column for me. But what surprised me and what made this book so good is that it was a second chance romance. It’s not just that it was a second chance romance, but that it is one of the most realistic second chance lesbian romances I have ever read. This book was pretty emotional at times and not only did I find it gripping but it really affected me too. The anger and betrayal of a break-up, the hurt that both parties cause, it was just really believable and well written.Read More »

‘Summer Isle’ isn’t too hot.

Lesbian Book Review of ‘Summer Isle’ by Morgan Routh.

This is a new adult novella, the first in the’Love by the shore’ series by this author set in an undetermined tropical holiday island. This book features Melody and Jill, two girls just out of high school, who discover feelings for each other. But Melody is all set to go to an Ivy League university and Jill is staying on the island. Will they have their happily ever after?

‘Summer Isle’ is a coming of age lesbian romance with a side plot of nautical sports. Even though the story is sweet and cute, the attraction could have been developed better and I found their chemistry a bit lacking. There is very little angst or conflict considering that the plot is dealing with first love and a big life change in front of them. I found that the conflict resolution was a bit rushed at the end with no opportunity to see what are the consequences of both characters decisions. Hopefully, the next book in the series will bring more light to both characters’ lives after high school.Read More »

‘Alice’ not in Wonderland.

Alice is visiting South Africa with her husband Dr. Magnus McCroy as the full-time carer of his mother. After a crisis with Magnus, she decides to leave him and embark on a trip of self-discovery. In the meantime, Dr. McCroy sends private investigator Toni Mendez to South Africa to find Alice and take her back to England. But nothing is as it seems and Alice will have to learn who to trust…

This is a novel hard to categorise and even harder to review without giving anything away. Let’s just say that the story follows the premise that, as the blurb says, ‘all reality is subjective’. Even though there are scenes of lesbian love, this isn’t a romance but there is a good amount of intrigue and psychological thriller. This is the second book featuring P.I. Toni Mendez which follows her story after Ms. Skyborne’s ‘Risk’. It’s not necessary to read them in order and ‘Alice’ can be read as a stand-alone.Read More »

Review of ‘The disappeared’ by Nicole Pyland.

Ada Cramer’s brother went missing when she was fourteen. On the tenth year anniversary of the disappearance a TV series features the cold case and Ada is reunited with the officer assigned to the case, Dylan Easton. Ada holds a grudge against the officer because when her brother disappeared Dylan had promised she’d find him. But after all those years, what Ada and Dylan didn’t expect is an attraction between them. As Dylan investigates a new lead on the case, they have to deal with new and unexpected feelings for each other.

This is an ok romance with a small amount of mystery on the side. For me, one of the issues of this book is the balance between mystery and romance. The title, cover and the blurb suggest that the mystery is going to take most of the plot or at least as much as the romance. Instead, the mains’ relationship takes the majority of the book, while the mystery is handled mostly in a rush and as an afterthought. It’s a pity because the mystery has good potential and the twist near the end is surprising and original.

The imbalance between romance and mystery also affects the tone of the novel. I was expecting a more somber and sad tone but, instead, the focus of the plot is on the almost constant bickering and banter between the mains. Additionally, the content and the amount of sex scenes in the book are bordering with erotica and don’t seem to help setting the tone of the story of a boy’s disappearance. Both characters are well-rounded but they are both hard to like, specially Ada. The secondary characters seem a bit stereotyped and the relationship between Ada and her parents feels a bit simplified.

Overall, an ok romance with a bit of mystery on the side and a surprising twist. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Full English’ by Rachel Spangler.

Emma Volant is an American best-selling author that, after a nasty divorce, decides to leave the US for a small town in North Eastern England. Full of insecurities and low self esteem, she slowly starts to interact with people in the village, specially Brogan McKay, the pub’s bartender and job multitasker. As Emma and Brogan’s friendship grows so does their mutual attraction, but, Emma needs time to heal and Brogan thinks Emma is out of her league. Will they have a happily ever after?

According to the author, this book was conceived after Ms. Spangler and her family spent 9 months living in the north east of England. In her notes, the author described the challenges of writing a book set in England with American and English main characters. As a reader based in Northern Ireland, I appreciate her efforts to explain her spelling choices and pronunciation guidelines for the otherwise perplexing Irish names. I’ve heard so many times people butchering my sons’ Irish names that her endeavour is appreciated.

This book is as much a romance as a crash course in British culture. The author goes beyond highlighting the obvious differences in spellings and regional words and opens up a world of different types of food, habits and social conventions. I found that Ms. Spangler researched the issue well and I found her descriptions of the landscape, the weather and social classes’ issues very realistic. As a foreigner in the UK, I concur with Emma’s problems while driving on the left side and her newfound love for scones and clotted cream!

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, I found the book slow in developing the romance mainly because there are a good number of secondary characters and a whole set of cultural differences that needed to be introduced. Some readers who aren’t interested in the clash of cultures or life in small towns might find the pace of the romance too slow. However, once the romance part of the story starts developing, their personal issues and their conflict is realistic and credible.

Having said that, while in most of the book both characters voiced their feelings so well, the later stages of their conflict felt a bit forced. The secondary characters are well rounded, even considering that there were lots of them. While I recognise the ubiquitous gossip of small towns, I’m not convinced that the meddling in the mains’ love life is characteristic of British or Irish families. The McKays might be an exception but, in my experience, I find that both British and Irish people, while they love their gossip, they tend not to voice or meddle with other people’s affairs. That’s my only criticism in the depiction of British and Irish cultures as I found that the rest was spot-on.

Overall, a very good story about American and British culture clash with a moving romance at the side. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Hearts of Emerald Bay’ by D.G. Barnes.

Romance author Dana Lawson goes for a relaxing summer holiday to a small seaside town in Nova Scotia, where she meets local bar owner Mac Mackenzie. Their attraction is undeniable but what started as a summer fling soon develops into something more meaningful as both women face different challenges. Will they have their happily ever after?

‘Hearts of Emerald Bay’ is an entertaining romance by debut author D.G. Barnes. Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the story is sometimes light and funny and others take a more serious and angsty tone. I think the author managed this balance well. Mr. Barnes builds Dana and Mac’s chemistry skillfully and their intimate scenes are hot and realistic. The secondary characters are well rounded, specially Mac’s niece Ellie and Dana’s best friend Jennie. The different subplots keep the story moving forward while dealing with difficult issues such as homophobia and bereavement.

This is the first lesfic book I read by a male author (I’ve never read anything by Erik Schubach). I have to say that Mr. Barnes’s depiction of a lesbian relationship is well-written and realistic, including the intimate scenes. There’s even a reference to Melissa Brayden’s ‘Soho loft’ series. Even though there are a few typos and the main conflict seemed a bit forced by out of character miscommunication, I found the work of this author very promising and will definitely read his next book.

Overall, an entertaining romance with a good balance of chemistry, angst and playfulness. 4 stars.

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

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