Review of ‘A wish upon a star’ by Jeannie Levig.

Leslie Raymond returns to her hometown in LA after a bad relationship that left her wary of straight women with children. Erica Cooper has a 7 year old girl with special needs and has learnt to stay independent and not to rely on anyone else. Not even her new next door neighbour Leslie who is so good to her daughter. It doesn’t hurt that Leslie is caring and gorgeous too. Will the stars align for them?

This is another fantastic book by Ms. Levig. It is not only a romance but also a story about maternal love, friendship and loyalty. Kudos to the author for featuring an older couple both in their early fifties but so full of life. Alongside them, there is Siena, Erica’s daughter who has ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’. She is portrayed with incredible authenticity as both a child and a person with special needs. It seems that the author did her research well not only in Siena’s personality but also in her relationship with others.

They say that children and dogs steal a show and this is no exception. Side by side with the trio is Gus, a stray dog rescued by Leslie who is the epitome of the (wo)man’s best friend. I’m more of a cat person but Gus’s loyalty and bond with the mains really won my heart. Without him, the story would have lost some of its most inspiring and moving moments.

The romance is slow burn and the mains’ chemistry builds up exquisitely. These are women with some baggage but nothing feels contrived or forced. The dialogues are natural sounding and all the characters, main or secondary, human or otherwise, are well rounded and credible. Every single part of the story flows seamlessly and the setting is perfect. This has been a joy to read.

Overall, a fantastic romance with very credible characters and a believable story. 5 stars.

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

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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 ‘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 ‘Add romance and mix’ by Shannon M. Harris.

This is a slow burn romance between Briley Anderson and her next door neighbour Leah Daniels. Briley is a property developer who loves to bake in her free time, she’s also shy and hopelessly attracted to Leah who is sixteen years her senior, divorced, mother of two and a grandmother. Will Briley be able to overcome her shyness to approach her neighbour and will Leah give a chance to a much younger woman?

‘Add romance and mix’ is a very sweet story, as sweet as the baking goods made by Briley. So much so that sometimes it sounds too good to be true. The main characters show almost no flaws and seem upbeat in a ‘loves conquers all’ way even when life throws them a big curve ball. There’s nothing wrong with upbeat characters like that but the story sounds a bit unrealistic. The secondary characters follow the same pattern of ideal behaviour. It is quite obvious in Leah’s teenage boy and the two year old toddler. The conflicts or tantrums are just mentioned as an afterthought but in the plot’s interactions they act like ideal children, the same as the adults. The story delves a lot in inconsequential details but rushes past conflicts and challenges. Again, too sweet and too good considering the circumstances.

Overall, an ok read if you like baking and don’t mind a bit of ‘too good to be true’ characters. 3 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Review of ‘Up on the roof’ by A.L. Brooks.

Lena and Megan are neighbours living in adjacent flats of a converted Victorian house in London. They couldn’t be more different: Lena is obsessed with order and routine, Megan is carefree and messy. Their relationship starts badly as Megan clumsiness gets her into trouble with her uptight neighbour. However, everything changes when a storm leaves Lena homeless and Megan offers her to move in her spare room. Will they manage to get along and what happens when they realise there might be attracted to each other?

This was a frustrating read for me. There’s so much potential in this story, for example, to explore homophobia in the first generation of Indian immigrants in the UK or how is to live with an obsessive compulsive disorder but unfortunately, this novel fails not only in achieving that but also in the romance part. Paradoxically, its main strength – the main characters’ development – is the cause of its demise. I think that Lena is well rounded as a person suffering from OCD and Megan as a carefree though insecure character. However, put them together and their interactions aren’t believable and their chemistry inexistent. The secondary characters are stereotyped and flat, maybe with the exception of the ground floor neighbour. There was a great amount of description that made this read tedious and boring. Considering that this is a romance and a happily ever after is expected, the plot development and the end weren’t believable at all. It’s a pity because Ms. Brooks’s previous novels are much better and I was expecting an enjoyable read.

Overall, a frustrating read. 2.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Hearts like hers’ by Melissa Brayden.

This is the second book of the ‘Seven shores’ series which follows the lives of four friends living in a condo in LA. The first book, ‘Eyes like those’ focused on Isabel and presented the rest of the characters. This book succeeds in shaping their personalities better. There’s no denial that Ms. Brayden is one of the top lesfic authors. Her ‘Soho loft’ series was highly acclaimed for its entertaining, witty and romantic portrayal of love and friendship and one of my favourites. In my opinion, the ‘Seven shores’ series hasn’t reached that level yet.

The plot revolves around Autumn Primm, owner of the ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ coffee shop and her relationship with Kate Carpenter, an out of town firefighter who’s escaping from a traumatic experience in her past. There’s almost instant chemistry but will their budding relationship be as fleeting as Kate’s stay in LA?

‘Hearts like hers’ have all the ingredients that readers can expect from Ms. Brayden: witty dialogues, heartfelt relationships, hot chemistry and passionate romance. I would have given it a straight 5 star rating if it wasn’t for some plot twists that dampened the romance a bit. Despite that, it’s a very enjoyable and entertaining book which I highly recommend.

Overall, another enjoyable book by Melissa Brayden. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

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

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