Review of ‘Lost in paradise’ by Rachel Lacey.

Nicole Morella is a recently divorced New Yorker taking some thinking time in a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. When she meets Fiona Boone, a British artist living in France, they hit it off immediately but their budding attraction is interrupted when the cruise is hijacked. Both women escape in a lifeboat and they will need to fight together for their survival and their chance at love.

Rachel Lacey is a seasoned author of almost twenty romance novels but this is her first LGBT and f/f book. According to the author’s notes, she wrote the first draft in a week which is a big accomplishment because the plot is original and well crafted.

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the story is varied in thrilling moments, romance and drama, all of them well balanced and realistic. Both women face setbacks in their fight for survival and the reader cannot help but cheering for them. The secondary characters are mostly in the background but it makes sense as a big part of the story happens with both women isolated from anyone else. However, when the secondary characters make their appearance, they are well-rounded and believable, specially Nicole’s parents.

There’s a trigger warning of abuse but just narrated by one of the characters in a couple of paragraphs. The sex scenes are well written and realistic and show the characters’ growing intimacy. I think that this book will appeal not only the usual lesfic reader but also to Ms. Lacey’s fans.

Overall, an entertaining book with a well-balanced mix of thrilling scenes, romance and drama. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Cameron’s rules’ by Baxter Brown.

After an accidental meeting in which writer Julie Carter spills coffee on corporate lawyer Cameron Kassen’s clothes, Julie gets hooked and invites her on a date. But Cameron lives in Toronto and Julie in San Diego and the distance between them isn’t just physical…

One of the issues I have with this book is that, in my opinion, it is marketed completely wrong. I have three reasons to support my argument: first, it is under the romance category while it should have been categorised as general fiction. Second, the cover suggests a light read which is completely the opposite. Third, the book blurb is misleading, again suggesting a playfulness that this novel lacks. It’s not wise to mislead the readers as it can backfire when the expectations don’t meet reality. The proof is in the reviews, don’t take my word, see what other readers say.

‘Cameron’s rules’ is written in first person from the point of view of Cameron which gives the reader a prime access to her headspace. To say that Cameron isn’t a lovable character is the lesfic understatement of the year. In 90% of the book she comes across as a self-centered, manipulative and irredeemable person. She would be a great evil character. Unfortunately, she’s not very good romance novel material. Being in her headspace for long feels a bit claustrophobic but luckily there is a story inside the story that it’s written in third person from Julie’s point of view. Not enough to balance things out but at least to give the reader a break.

The book is not badly written, as a matter of fact, it’s a very good standard for a debut novel. The balance between showing and telling is fine, the dialogues sound natural and the characters are well rounded. However, in my opinion, if the author was trying for a romance, the plotting and the characters’ development should have taken another direction. Unfortunately, 90% of the book is spent on why the characters couldn’t be together. So much so that the author successfully convinced me that they shouldn’t. Not the best of ideas for a romance. I’d downright call it anti-romance.

As much as I appreciate the effort that the author put in her work, I found this read unrewarding and, unfortunately, I cannot recommend it if you are looking for a romance. However, I’d read another book by this author in the future as I see talent and potential in her writing.

Overall, 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

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

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Review of ‘Three reasons to say yes’ by Jaime Clevenger.

When Julia Maguire meets Reed Baxter in a holiday in Hawaii, she knows that their relationship has no future. Reed is the mother of 4 year-old twin girls and a busy doctor with no time to have a full-time girlfriend. But their attraction is undeniable and Julia decides against her own convictions to engage in a holiday fling. Soon she realises that she has feelings for Reed but a relationship with her is impossible. Or is it?

This author has caught my attention since the release of her erotica novel ‘Party favors‘. ‘Three reasons to say yes’ is a slow-burn romance with some family and inner conflict on the side, set in the idyllic island of Hawaii. The main characters are well rounded and beliavable, and kudos to Ms. Clevenger for introducing an interracial couple. Writing this novel in third person exclusively from Julia’s point of view is a great choice as Reed is a mystery to the reader that slowly reveals to Julia and to us. The butch-femme relationship works here perfectly as Reed fits ideally as the dark and broody type of butch. But her character is far from being a stereotype and so is Julia. The secondary characters are multi-layered and well written, specially the twins and Julia’s best friends, Kate and Mo. The only flaw I found is that the 4 year-old twins seem too mature and eloquent for their age but it doesn’t affect the story at all.

The plot is tightly woven with attention to detail. It has a perfect balance between angst and joy, conflict and harmony. All the intimate scenes are convincing and sizzling with a little twist that is not usually dealt with in lesfic. Ms. Clevenger handles it skilfully (if you don’t want to read spoilers about this I recommend you to avoid reading the ‘extras’ section in the Bella Books website). Additionally, there is an exciting secondary plot that is left unresolved but I think that the author is going to pick up from the end of this novel in a new book as Ms. Clevenger states that ‘Three reasons to say yes’ begins a series of romances all set in island locations. Can’t wait for a second book and hopefully it’ll be as original and well written as this one. This is a promising start of the series.

Overall, a well written slow-burn romance with some family and inner conflict on the side. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

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

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