Review of ‘Language of love’ edited by Astrid Ohletz and Lee Winter.

‘Language of love. A flirty, festive anthology’ is a collection of eleven lesfic short stories with the common theme of holiday season traditions around the world. Ylva is a very international and multicultural publishing company and this is reflected in this compilation. The mains characters in these stories includes an ice-queen, a shy lesbian, an allegedly straight woman, young and mature. It is also surprising the mixture of genres like romance, mystery, drama, crime and young adult.

I have to say that normally it’s hard to keep a high level of writing quality in a book with so many authors and different types of stories but this one achieved remarkable results. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every story will please everyone but they will surely enrich your knowledge of holiday festivities. Here I review my favourite ones.

‘The friend’ by Lee Winter. Great story about conflicting family dynamics focusing on an Australian Christmas summer celebration inspired by English traditions.

‘Deck the halls with bullets and holly’ by Alex K. Thorne is a quirky story about a rookie hired assassin and her attractive target. This story is set in South Africa and features an interracial couple.

‘Mask’ by Sheryn Munir is a fantastic coming-out story between two best friends secretly in love with each other with the background of Christmas celebrations in India. It deals with difficult issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and being a lesbian in the present and past.

‘Orphans’ Christmas’ by Cheyenne Blue is a superb story about an Irish family of immigrants in Australia, trying to keep traditions alive, while dealing with bereavement. A great personal bonus for me is to see an authentic portrayal of Irish characters, so often mentioned in lesfic but rarely described accurately.

‘And the bells are ringing out’ by Lola Keeley is an excellent interracial love story set in Edinburgh for Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) celebrations from the perspective of a Senegalese woman living in London.

‘Paula gets a pony ranch’ by Patricia Penn is a very original, funny, sarcastic and irreverent Christmas tale set in Germany about a no-nonsense business woman who inherits a pony ranch.

‘Four Chanukahs and a Bat Mitzvah’ by Cindy Rizzo is a great story about Jewish traditional celebrations of Hanukkah in the context of a coming of age story and two young women going through different life stages and finding love.

‘It’s in the pudding’ by Emma Weimann is a great romantic story with the unusual setting of a dentist practice along with a German tradition of hiding an almond in the pudding and granting a wish to whom discovers it.

Overall, a fantastic compilation of holiday season lesfic stories, great to get you in the mood for celebration. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Happily ever after’ by Jae.

This is a collection of thirteen short stories by Jae with the common theme of a happily ever after ending. Some of these stories are stand alone (for example, ‘The midnight couch’) and others act as an epilogue of published books (i.e. ‘Seduction for beginners’ it’s a catch up of ‘Something in the wine’). All these stories were previously published but it’s good to have them together in one book and definitely more value for your money.

It’s hard to rate such a compilation as the themes are very different (Christmas, writers, radio programme, etc). Additionally, the book sequels are more enjoyable if you are familiar with the stories. However, if you’ve never read anything by this author, ‘Happily ever after’ is a good start.

Overall, a very good compilation of short stories for Jae fans and new readers alike. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Face it’ by Georgette Kaplan.

This is the second book of the ‘Scissor link’ series that I recommend to read chronologically as this book reveals a couple of spoilers from the first book.

Elizabeth Smile is contacted by Michelle Harlow, an old college fling, to pose as her girlfriend to beat her cheating husband. For Elizabeth, it’s good money and an opportunity to help her old friend, provided she can ignore her feelings towards Michelle and an awkward week with her fake girlfriend’s family. Will they succeed in their deception? Will it change their relationship?

There’s been a number of fake relationships books in lesfic lately with diverse success. It’s hard for me to rate this book as it has its good and not so good parts. I liked that it’s got some twists and unexpected situations and it’s generally well written. Most of the plot describes the time Elizabeth spends with Michelle and her family during the Christmas holidays. Each member of the family (dog included) has a distinctive personality and quirks which made them easy to recognise in a relatively short novel. However, the dialogues and their banter sounded artificial, as if the author was trying too much to be witty. There are also a lot of references to popular culture (actors, books, films, music, TV shows, etc.) which are a bit excessive even for a well informed person. So much so that in a decade’s time this book will probably be outdated. There are also long parts of the book dedicated to phylosophical discussions between the characters around a number of subjects such as racism, environment, feminism and religion, among others. While some discussions were interesting, I kept wondering if this is the type of book to dwell on them as the plot loses focus on the romance. Consequently, the end seems a bit rushed and the ‘I love you’ moments too fast.

Overall, an ok read if you don’t mind a few philosophical discussions and multiple references to popular culture. 3 stars.

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

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