A ‘Perfect Match’ made in Japan.

Review of ‘Perfect Match Book One’ by Mildred Gail Digby.

This was different from the usual romance books I get to read. Although still a medical romance, the setting made it seem far from what we are used to.

Megan Maier is a pediatrician returning to work after losing her partner the previous year in an unfortunate accident. She is taken by Syler Terada, a pediatric surgeon with dashing, androgynous looks. The attraction is immediate and was mildly disappointing since it happened on the heels of Megan’s panic attack. However, the rest of the interactions are great and not rushed, so overall the romance was done very well.

As mentioned above, the singular element in the book is the Japan setting. I was not sure initially where they were as it was only clear that Megan had been in Thailand the previous year. I also could not tell which language they were referencing. The narration is obviously in English, but there are Japanese words sprinkled throughout the story. The author, later on, mentions that the characters were speaking Japanese at times and even mentions how English and German are other languages spoken at the hospital. I enjoy other languages, wanted to see how Japan’s medicine was portrayed and certainly, the author showcased her knowledge of Japanese, but these words were a reading disruption for me as I did not have a clear translation readily available for many of them and I frequently found myself searching for definitions on the internet.Read More »

Review of ‘Twice in a lifetime’ by Jodie Griffin.

Talia Wasserman is a widow with grown-up daughters who just got a job as a civilian assistant to Lieutenant Eve Pope, chief of Police Community Relations. Their chemistry is hard to ignore but boss-subordinate relationships are frown upon. To make matters worse, there is a criminal on the lose endangering female police officers. Can Talia find love twice in a lifetime and not lose her partner again?

‘Twice in a lifetime’ is an interracial romance with a small side of mystery. Kudos to the author to feature two women in their early fifties, both with grown-up children and a bisexual protagonist who is in a lesbian relationship for the first time. This provides a realistic view of a bisexual character who didn’t have to deal with homophobia before because she was married to a man.

The story is written in first person from the point of view of Talia which, in my opinion, restricts the development of the plot. As a result, the mystery part is very much on the side, because Talia isn’t involved in the criminal investigation. Most of the action, which is lead by Eve, is told by the author and not shown by the characters’ actions. Unfortunately, this takes the thrill off the story a bit. The second half of the book, however, is better paced and more enjoyable.

The dialogues are well written as the author builds the mains’ chemistry through their banter and witty remarks. The book could have done with more of these conversations. It’s refreshing to see that the mains talk about their disagreements in a mature way and the sources of conflict aren’t forced into the plot. Both characters present their feelings with clarity and maturity that comes from their life experience and is coherent with their ages.

The relationship between Talia and her two daughters is very credible and enjoyable to read. In my opinion, the author got the tone right for these relationships and the description of Jewish traditions and family life enriches the plot tremendously.

Overall, a good interracial romance with older characters, well-rounded secondary characters and a bit of action on the side. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘When the stars sang’ by Caren J. Werlinger.

Kathleen Halloran spent every summer of her childhood in her grandmother’s house in Little Sister, an isolated island in Maine, until her younger brother died in an accident there. Twenty five years later, after her grandmother died, she decides to move back permanently. But the islanders are a tight community and her arrival stirs old memories and distrust. Among them is Molly Cooper, the attractive part-time sheriff that is less than enthusiastic about the newcomer. But as they get to know each other, their attraction grows and Molly wonders if Kathleen’s past will make her bond with the island or take her away forever.

This is a very good novel by Ms. Werlinger with many different ingredients like drama, angst, humour and romance in a delicate balance. Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters Kathleen and Molly, the story unveils slowly ideal for taking all in.

Ms. Werlinger builds an interesting world in this small island. She takes her time describing how the islanders blend their Irish and native (First Ones) heritage, their mix of Paganism and Catholicism, a culture not attached to consumerism or property laws and very close to nature.

There are lots of secondary characters but Ms. Werlinger introduces them slowly and each with their own distinct personalities so it’s not a burden on the reader to recognise them. There are different types such as extroverts, introverts, mystic, caring, loyal, and even quirky, like in Robin Alexander’s books. There is also space for a very cute dog.

My only issue with this book is that I couldn’t feel the sexual intimacy between the main characters, they feel more like life companions, lacking passion. It doesn’t help that all sex scenes are fade to black. It’s a minor issue because this story isn’t solely a romance. Additionally, the villain characters, especially Kathleen’s parents, seem a bit stereotyped and the story could have gained from getting to know them better in their suffering. Having said that, this is a very enjoyable book for those who are looking to read a life story rather than a romance.

Overall, a very good book about life in a small and tight community. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Speak its name’ by Kathleen Jowitt.

‘Speak its name’ follow a couple of years in the campus life of Lydia, an English undergraduate student at the fictional University of Stancester in England. Lydia is as an Evangelical Christian struggling with her own sexuality. As a practising Christian, can she still feel welcome in her church if she comes out as a lesbian?

This novel present two main themes. One is the relationship – often more political than religious – between different Christian churches in university life. The other is the personal struggle of Lydia who wants to be accepted as both a Christian and a lesbian by her church and her family and friends. The story gives an interesting insight into the core of beliefs of the different Christian churches such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, among others. It shows what they have in common and mostly what they disagree with and how their own religions’ teaching of loving each other usually develops into bigotry and intolerance. This is not an easy read, sometimes the book takes the shape of a non-fictional essay about church politics in the context of a university campus. At moments for me it felt longer than necessary. However, it’s well written and informative for an outsider. Regarding the main character’s story, Lydia is a believable and lovable young woman struggling with accepting her sexuality first, and then fighting for acceptance in her religious group and family. Any queer reader, religious or not, can relate to her identity struggle. Far from being a romance, her relationship with her girlfriend Colette is one of support and redemption, a companion in the hardships of life. ‘Speak its name’ is a book about love in all its forms and shapes and a call for more tolerance and acceptance of minorities specially in a religious context.

Overall, a well written book recommended if you are interested in religion and sexual identity. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Soul survivor’ by I. Beacham

This is the first book I read by this author. It is the story of a relationship between Josephine “Joey” Barry an American war journalist, who suffers from PTSD, and Samantha Savage, a vicar from the Church of England.
I was intrigued on how the author was going to deal with the issue of religion and homosexuality so I decided to give it a try. The book starts at a fast pace describing Joey’s dreadful experience in Syria which triggers her PTSD. It follows to the depiction of semi rural England, where Sam serves as a vicar. The contrast couldn’t be more profound though the reader soon finds that both women are struggling with their own issues.
I think that this is overall a good read but my issue is that there is a great amount of angst that in my opinion extends too much and weakens the tension of the plot. There is also quite a few parts that describe what’s going on with the characters instead of showing through their experiences. I’m no expert on PTSD issues but I didn’t find it completely believable specially at the end of the book. However, this is a good read, specially if you like a lot of lesbian angst and drama.
Overall 3.5 stars rounded to 4.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Sins of Our Fathers’ by A. Rose Mathieu

This is the debut novel by this author who has delivered a page-turner packed of twists and turns with an unexpected ending. If you are interested in the romance aspect, unfortunately, there isn’t much of it. Moreover, the main characters don’t share much time in the plot together. However, I think the author is going to write a sequel as there is a lot of potential for their relationship and there is also a cliffhanger left at the very end of the book that will leave you wanting to know more.
A great accomplishment of this story is the characters’ development, not only the main but also the secondary ones that are multilayered, have very distinctive personalities and add a realistic feel to the plot.
Warning for susceptible readers: this book contains descriptions of gruesome murders and events, however, I didn’t find them disturbing enough to stop me from reading and I’m normally quite sensitive. Additionally, the author adds a great deal of humour, banter and wry comments that compensate for the gruesome parts.
Overall, very good fast paced thriller. Can’t wait for a sequel. 4 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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