Review of ‘Driven’ by Suzanne Falter.

This is book one of Ms. Falter’s ‘Oaktown Girls’ series following a group of lesbian friends in the San Francisco Bay area. There is a sequel coming out in March 2019, but this novel can be read as a standalone. It follows the story of Lizzy, co-owner of ‘Driven’, a garage for women, and Kate, an Irish immigrant working for its threatening competitor. When Lizzy and Kate meet by chance, there is instant attraction but Kate’s secrets get in the way of a meaningful relationship. Will they have a chance at love?

‘Driven’ is an entertaining butch-femme romance written from the point of view of both mains, Kate’s evil boss Mindy and Tenika, Lizzy’s business partner. The setting of East Bay is a character in itself, a lively backdrop to the story. It’s no wonder that the author lives in that area as her affection for the place comes across to the reader.

Both main characters are well rounded, specially Kate. As an Irish resident sometimes I find Irish characters unrealistic but the author was spot-on in her depiction of the strawberry blonde Kate. Her inner dialogues are funny and self-deprecating providing levity to the plot. The characters’ chemistry is good though the intimate scenes were fade to black which I think it’s a missed opportunity to bring it to higher levels. Maybe this will be rectified in the next installments of the series but for now this is a promising start.

Overall, an entertaining butch-femme romance, a very good beginning of the series. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Changing Seasons’ by BJ Phillips.

This is book 3 of the ‘Seasons’ series by this author but can be read as a standalone. It catches up with the lives of the three couples introduced in the previous books of the series, two in their late 30s or early 40s and one in their 60s. The plot mainly follows two couples. Andi and Kelly and how they cope with overwork and lack of time to develop their relationship, and Elise and Lauren, both in their mid 60s who are taking their time to move their connection forward.

The story has all the ingredients for an entertaining romance with enough conflict and a meaningful scenes. However, the overall tone of the novel is too cheerful even when the characters face a problem which for me it was a bit disconcerting.

There is a very good balance between show and tell with lots of dialogues to set out the conflicts and their resolutions. However, my main issue with this book is that all characters seem to have the same voice despite their differences in age, profession and class. As a result, the dialogues don’t sound natural and realistic. Having said that, the older couple intimate scene is well done and feels authentic. Kudos to the author to present a couple in their 60s as main characters which is rare in lesfic.

Overall, a good romance novel presenting an older couple. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Sweat Equity’ by Monica McCallan.

‘Sweat Equity’ by Monica McCallan is the first book in the ‘LadyLuck Startups Romance’ series. Seems the series will revolve around three Stanford graduate friends and co-founders of a lesbian dating app company. Brennan, Carter and Avery share two apartments in Brennan’s house in San Francisco. This book is Avery’s story.

Avery Simmons is the person in charge of the technical end of the startup company. Her life is in shambles after she discovered her girlfriend of three years cheated on her. This brings Avery to Brennan’s empty second apartment awaiting a new roommate. Enter Charlie Grant, Brennan’s old boarding school friend who is trying to start a new chapter in her life. She is attempting to leave personal tragedy, overbearing parents and a promising but unfulfilling career in New York City in order to try a more meaningful one as a personal trainer. The new roommate arrangement starts with some rocky moments until there’s a truce between the two characters as Avery asks Charlie to guide her in her journey to physical fitness.

Avery’s character is the youngest of the group and she is treated as such by her friends and family. This is something she tries to overcome throughout the book and plays a role in explaining her moods. However, the character does have some redeeming qualities and grows on the reader as the story progresses. Charlie, on the other hand, is more even-keeled and mature throughout the majority of the book but later falls into uncharacteristically immoral behavior which seems a bit forced. There is this constant pull and push and flip flopping of who was doing the right, mature thing in this book that was frustrating to read. The author moves the relationship forward through thoughtful, meaningful moments only to negate them with the characters’ next action.

The company setup and secondary characters were enjoyable and will no doubt serve well in the future installments of this series. The three friends’ banter is on point, entertaining and in my opinion the highlight of the book.

This book is available for purchase through Amazon or free through Kindle Unlimited.

Overall an okay read with a slow and at times frustrating romance. 3.5 stars.

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