Lesbian YA Book review

Tough-to-read but well written YA book

Lesbian YA Book Review of ‘The Women of Dauphine’ by Deb Jannerson

 

3.50 Stars. This is a lesbian YA book that was well written but hard to read. Trigger warnings include violence, abuse, sexual assault, suicide, and the one that really bothered me, conversion therapy. Actually, had I realized this book included children in conversion therapy I would have passed on it. I do want to make clear though this is not NineStar Press’ fault or the author’s but mine for not reading the whole book blurb.

I find book blubs to often contain spoilers, so I tend to skim or ignore them altogether. I read the first paragraph, saw that this was a lesfic YA-paranormal-romance, and immediately grabbed this book. I just ignored the conversion therapy part that is clearly sitting right there in paragraph two of the blurb.Read More »

You won’t fall hard for ‘Hard Fall’

Lesbian Book Review of ‘Hard Fall: A McStone and Martinelli Thriller’ by Pascal Scott

San Francisco, 1989. The dead body of Emily Bryson, a university student and part-time exotic dancer, appears on a beach. The police rule it as a suicide but her partner, K. M. “Stone” McStone, has doubts about it. She enlists amateur private investigator Zoe Martinelli to find out the truth.

‘Hard fall’ presents a good depiction of LGBT life in San Francisco in the tumultuous 1980s troubled by AIDS and homophobia. The book also explores different issues such as women sexuality, gun control, bereavement, alcoholism, philosophy, and psychology. The main characters, Stone and Zoe, are well-written and multilayered, and Stone struggles with bereavement and alcohol are realistic and believable.Read More »

‘The road to Madison’ is a bit bumpy.

As a teenager, Madison Prescott, the sole heir to her family’s banking empire, falls in love with Ana Perez, the maid’s daughter. Madison’s father doesn’t approve of their relationship and, through threats and lies, he forces Madison to break up with Ana. Fifteen years later, when her father dies, Madison is determined to make amends but Ana feels betrayed and hurt. It seems that time doesn’t heal all wounds, or does it?

This is the third book by Elle Spencer whose writing career started with the acclaimed bestseller ‘Casting Lacey’. I find her books on the angsty side and this one was no exception. ‘The road to Madison’ is, in my opinion, her weakest novel and, by far, the most dramatic. I know that many readers like a good amount of drama in their lesfic romances and might disagree with this review but I think that this story is borderline with melodramatic.

The novel is told by multiple points of view, which is not necessarily a problem, but in this case, it seems that some characters only have a voice to urge the mains to get together. As a consequence, some secondary characters sound too unrealistic and excessively honourable. Of course, there is nothing wrong with ethical characters, but their widespread presence in this story makes their voices sound very similar.

As the story takes place in two time periods, now and fifteen years ago, there are a few flashbacks intertwined with the present. I felt that they were a lost opportunity to showcase the strong bond and love between the characters that justified such amount of heartbreak and angst. In my opinion, Ms. Spencer fails in building up their chemistry at the start of their relationship. ‘At seventeen’ by Gerri Hill, while not perfect, is a prime example on how to describe the intimacy between teenagers, a long-lasting love that makes it worth fighting for in adulthood, despite the dispute that separates them. In ‘The road to Madison’, however, pain and conflict outplay love and chemistry, which sometimes made me wonder if their relationship was really worth fighting for.

Overall, an ok romance with a great amount of drama and angst. 3 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Not the marrying kind’ by Jae.

Ashley Gaines is a florist adamant to remain in the closet as she lives and works in a conservative small town. Her neighbour and bakery owner Sasha Peterson is a pansexual who likes to stay away from relationships. Living in a small place, they know each other but aren’t friends. When they are asked to help organising Leo and Holly’s wedding, they start sharing more time together and eventually realise that they are attracted to each other. But Ashley is determined to stay in the closet and Sasha isn’t the marrying kind anyway. Will they find their happily ever after?

This is book two of the ‘Fair Oaks’ series which started with ‘Perfect rhythm’. Even though this novel reads as standalone, many events refer to the previous book and it catches up with Leo and Holly’s relationship. Having said that, Ashley is not a likeable character in ‘Perfect rhythm’ so, if you read that first, it might take you long to warm to her in this new book.

To say that this is a slow-burn romance is an understatement as the author takes her time to develop both characters’ personalities and their budding relationship. This makes the story credible in redeeming Ashley’s hurtful actions of the past and in challenging Sasha’s assumptions about commitment. Even though Ashley’s self-inflicted repressed sexuality might feel alien to younger generations or people living in big cities, Jae’s description of the circumstances that force Ashley to remain in the closet will strike a chord with many readers. In this series, the author continues to challenge our views about sexuality by introducing a pansexual character, in addition to the asexual and non-binary characters that were featured in book one.

‘Not the marrying kind’ balances the above-mentioned serious issues of diverse sexual preferences and society’s pressure on LGBTQA+ individuals, with the sensual world of baking and flowers. The use of the hidden meaning of flowers and baking metaphors, in addition to a few playful scenes and wonderful slow-burn chemistry, introduces lightness and beauty to the story. As usual, Jae excels in bringing out the romance and depicting the characters’ intimacy with, for example, an excellent remake of a famous ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ sequence plus a very steamy undressing scene. As a bonus, readers who enjoyed Jae’s ‘Damage control’ will have the chance to catch up with Grace and Lauren’s relationship.

Overall, an entertaining, sensual and fun slow-burn romance which raises deep issues of sexuality and coming out. 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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Review of ‘Autumn’s light’ by Aurora Rey.

This is book 4 of the ‘Cape End Romance’ series by this author featuring love stories for each season set in Provincetown, Massachusetts. As this novel presents characters from previous books in the series, especially book 3 ‘Spring’s Wake’, I recommend to read them in chronological order, or at least read book 3 first. The whole series features the beautiful landscape of Cape Cod and ‘Autumn’s light’ showcases the Portuguese heritage in Provincetown, particularly the fishermen who migrated to that area of Massachusetts a long time ago. The book captures the spirit of this tight community that keeps their traditions alive with Portuguese festivals and traditional food.

Mat Pero is a lobsterman (apparently, female lobster catchers are called like that) who comes from a established Portuguese family of fishermen. As her family is traditional Catholic and not completely supportive of her homosexuality, she prefers to keep her relationships casual and hidden from them. When she meets marine naturalist Graham Connor, her intention to keep things light don’t go according to plan. Will they have their happily ever after?

This is a butch-femme relationship that begins with insta-lust but is slow-burn in the romance department. Both main characters are well rounded and credible. Mat is the epitome of the dark and strong butch who, at the same time, wants to avoid family conflicts when dealing with her sexuality. Graham is a femme (paradoxically with such a masculine name) conflicted between her attraction for Mat, who offers her no commitment, and her desire to find a serious relationship. Their conflict is believable and makes the reader wonder how is in reality the coexistence between the traditional Catholic Portuguese and the liberal lesbian communities in Provincetown. Having said that, in my opinion, Mat’s family issues could have had a more developed resolution in the plot considering its importance.

The secondary characters are multi layered and complement the plot skillfully, kudos to the author for introducing a trans character and opening an interesting view into the world of fishing and marine habitat. However, there is an amount of paragraphs telling more than showing how the characters feel, which is a pet peeve of mine but it might not annoy other readers. My relatively low rating is because even though the story background was interesting, the romance didn’t appeal to me much.

Overall ‘Autumn’s light’ is an enjoyable read with the charming background of Provincetown. 3.5 stars.

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

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