Review of ‘McCall’ by Patricia Evans Jordan.

This is a debut novel by Patricia Evans Jordan, book one of her ‘Passport to love’ series. Sara Brighton is a chef based in Savannah, Georgia. After her restaurant is destroyed by a fire, she decides to start again in the small town of McCall, Idaho. There she meets Captain Sam Draper, the Lake Patrol chief. Their attraction is undeniable but Sara is planning to build a modern restaurant in Sam’s late father’s traditional diner which brings her up sad memories and unresolved issues. Will they be able to go past their conflict and build a strong relationship?

This is a slow-burn romance set in a small town with a stunning landscape which the author describes beautifully. ‘McCall’ follows a stereotypical butch-femme dynamic, knight in shining armour and damsel in distress couple; a dark, tall and handsome masculine woman with a blonde feminine southern-belle. This sharp distinction in the characters contrasts with the choice of their names. A rule of naming characters in fiction says that the names should be dissimilar. Unfortunately, in this case, I often found myself backtracking trying to tell apart the too similar names of Sara and Sam which was distracting.

The main characters’ relationship revolves a great deal around food. This romance is a culinary journey in which Sam and Sara build their identities through food and find each other in the process. There is a tension between modern and traditional cuisine that Ms. Jordan describes well. In my opinion, this is where the characters’ chemistry is strong and the book thrives. Having said that, I found that some scenes were a bit unrealistic and parts of the subplot – specially the planning of Sara’s restaurant – seemed delivered in a rush and as an afterthought near the end. Additionally, the main conflict didn’t have enough strength to build proper tension. However, the romance itself, the leads’ chemistry and the intimate scenes were convincing.

Overall, a good debut novel for those who enjoy a butch-femme romance and lots of food references. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘The neighbor’ by Gerri Hill.

Laura Fry is a novelist with a writer’s block who is forced to move back home to care for her incapacitated mother. With time to spare, she starts caring for her mother’s garden and making friends with her lesbian neighbor. Cassidy Anderson is a succesful business woman who has built a beautiful weekend house and likes to throw parties and bed a large amount of bimbo women. But when she meets her tomboy neighbor she starts to question herself about her choice of friends and lovers and realises that maybe she has looked in the wrong places all her life.

It took me some chapters to warm to this book as at the beginning both main characters seemed too immature. However, as their relationship progressed, the book really picked up for me. Ms. Hill knows damn well how to write dialogues that slowly unveil their pent up attraction. I particularly liked how the wall that divides both neighbours, help to connect rather than separate them. Some of the scenes in the pool highlight the eroticism of hot summers in Texas and, as usual, Ms. Hill delivers in the intimate scenes. Except for the bimbos who are a bit stereotyped, the secondary characters are multilayered, specially on Laura’s side. There are interesting conversations between Laura and her mother, some of them pretty hilarious. The growth in the mother-daughter’s relationship adds to the enjoyment of the novel.

To say that this is a slow-burn romance is an understatement, Ms. Hill creates their chemistry painstakingly slow but the wait is so worth it. One way the author builds the main characters’ relationship is through food. It’s funny how they communicate with their shared pleasure of eating in contrast with the bimbos’ pathologic relationship with food. There are a few mouthwatering moments that show the author’s ability to depict the sensuality of cuisine and its common ground with love. ‘The neighbor’ also challenges some prejudices around sexual roles (butch, tomboy, femme) within a lesbian relationship that aren’t as fixed as it seems. Everything is achieved in a feel-good, no angst story.

Overall, a slow burn, feel-good romance that highlights the eroticism of food and challenges some lesbian stereotypes. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Far from home’ by Lorelie Brown.

I read this book blurb at first and wasn’t interested. However, after seeing some very good reviews I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed as I really enjoyed it.

In the surface, this is a story about a sham marriage between Rachel, an American citizen with a hefty student loans debt, and Pari an Indian woman in need of a green card who eventually fall in love with each other. But it’s so much more. The story, written in first person from Rachel’s point of view, submerges the reader into her world of insecurities, low self esteem and her struggle with anorexia. Written in present tense, it resembles to a diary or a chronicle of her struggle. The reader gets into her head and it’s impossible not to suffer for her in the process. Despite this point of view centred in Rachel, the author describes Pari thoroughly and it’s very interesting to see the culture clash between them. In that sense, the secondary characters, specially Pari’s family, offer a multidimension and richness to the story so it doesn’t only navigate in Rachel’s issues.

All in all a great romance with more substance than the average. I recommend it highly. 4 stars.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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