Not Alone in praising Noyes

Review of ‘Alone’ by EJ Noyes

Uff, this one was intense!

I just need to start at the beginning of my experience reading this novel. Literally, as I read the first sentence, I smiled. Yep, happy sigh. First person POV, you have become my favorite. First person POV written by EJ Noyes, I love you! Ms. Noyes, at the risk of sounding like a lunatic to you (again), you singlehandedly are responsible for my first person POV obsession. Your first person POV is simply genius. I’ve read other books written in first person, but none that resonate with me like when written by this author.

Did I mention my smile right? Well, that’s the last time I did until later, later in the book. This is Celeste Thorne’s first-person POV recount of her participation on a psychological study. The goal is for her to endure four years in close to complete isolation from human contact. The story begins after the third year, when suddenly Olivia Soldano, a lost hiker, appears on the edge of the compound. Suddenly Celeste must readjust to this person who is simply everything she ever wanted. The problem is that after such isolation, Celeste’s feelings are in disarray and she struggles to determine what is real and what is part of an elaborate lie.Read More »

Review of ‘Alone’ by E.J. Noyes.

Celeste Thorne is taking part in a scientific experiment that involves solitary confinement for four years with a final prize of half a million dollars. More than three years into the study, she finds a woman lurking in the border of her compound. Olivia Soldano is beautiful, caring and enigmatic but her sole presence in the house breaks the rules of the experiment and ultimately, can Celeste trust her?

Oh well… E.J. Noyes cannot stop surprising her readers, can she? ‘Alone’ is a book hard to categorise: it’s a game of contrasts. It’s dark but also optimistic, it’s about solitude but features a couple, it’s unsettling but, at the same time, hopeful. If you are acquainted with Ms. Noyes’s work, you will recognise the imprints of her style that readers have learned to love. Her books are always written in first person usually from the point of view of a broken woman with her co-lead presented as a flawed but righteous rescuer. What I consider outstanding is that, despite this apparent repetition, the stories have very different settings (war zone, corporate world, sports and now a psychological experiment) that make them all very distinctive, original and, at the same time, realistic.Read More »

A ‘Perfect Match’ made in Japan.

Review of ‘Perfect Match Book One’ by Mildred Gail Digby.

This was different from the usual romance books I get to read. Although still a medical romance, the setting made it seem far from what we are used to.

Megan Maier is a pediatrician returning to work after losing her partner the previous year in an unfortunate accident. She is taken by Syler Terada, a pediatric surgeon with dashing, androgynous looks. The attraction is immediate and was mildly disappointing since it happened on the heels of Megan’s panic attack. However, the rest of the interactions are great and not rushed, so overall the romance was done very well.

As mentioned above, the singular element in the book is the Japan setting. I was not sure initially where they were as it was only clear that Megan had been in Thailand the previous year. I also could not tell which language they were referencing. The narration is obviously in English, but there are Japanese words sprinkled throughout the story. The author, later on, mentions that the characters were speaking Japanese at times and even mentions how English and German are other languages spoken at the hospital. I enjoy other languages, wanted to see how Japan’s medicine was portrayed and certainly, the author showcased her knowledge of Japanese, but these words were a reading disruption for me as I did not have a clear translation readily available for many of them and I frequently found myself searching for definitions on the internet.Read More »

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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Review of ‘Shadowboxer’ by Jessica L. Webb.

Former boxer Jordan McAddie had a hard childhood and now she’s
dedicated to help street kids by teaching them the discipline of
boxing. With her mentoring duties, a full time job and her social
worker studies, she’s got enough on her plate and the least thing
she needs is her first love walking back into her life. As she
struggles to open up to a possible relationship, the street kids
are being targeted by an extremist group. Can she keep the kids
safe and give love a chance?

Throughout her short but productive career, Ms. Webb has written
action, mystery and psychological thrillers with romance at the
side. While ‘Shadowboxer’ has a mix of these genres, it’s her most
introspective work. There is a criticism of the social services
system and, more specifically, how adults fail to protect their
children and youth. Through boxing, Jordan and the teenagers under
her care learn more than the physical activity of fighting: they
build their self-esteem, learn to trust each other and to boost
their confidence. It’s not a fight against each other but rather a
struggle against their own ghosts, a bit like shadowboxing. No
wonder that, compared to the rest of Webb’s novels, this one feels
oppressive and darker. The author works with the lights and
shadows in the characters’ states of mind as reality throws
punches at them. It’s not an easy read but the heaviness is
balanced by the sweet redemption of romance and friendship.
Regarding the mystery and action scenes, they are short but
effective in keeping the reader hooked in the story. The
characters are well written and even though there are a good
number of secondary characters, they all have depth and feel real.
The romance is slow burn and sweet, both mains complement each
other and send a light of hope to the darker sides of the plot. My
only criticism is that the last couple of chapters seem a bit
rushed. However, this book is definitely worth a read.

Overall, a darker novel by Ms. Webb with a mix of action, mystery,
psychological thriller and romance. Not an easy read but highly
recommended. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Party wall’ by Cheyenne Blue.

This is a slow-burn romance between Freya, a yoga teacher and wellbeing shop owner, and Lilly, her next door neighbor and sex shop owner. At the beginning, their different personalities and lifestyles clash but their feelings eventually change following the formulaic plot of ‘hate and then love’ relationship.

I’ve read a couple of books by this author and for me her books are a bit of a hit and miss. This book is well written but the reason behind my 3.5 stars is that I couldn’t empathise with Freya. Mind you, there were reasons why she acted coldly and arrogantly, but those reasons were explained nearly at the end of the book when I’ve already lost any sympathy for her.

On the positive side, the book explores an interracial relationship between two women of different size and shape which is a breath of fresh air with so many lesfic characters who are white, slim and beautiful.

Overall, an ok read if you can put up with an annoying character. 3.5 stars

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

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