Review of ‘Year of the kiss’ by Giselle Fox.

In New Year’s Eve artist Sasha and PhD student Naomi meet by chance and they briefly enjoy an incredible kiss. But things get complicated fast and they both go separate ways without knowing anything about each other. Will they be able to meet again and find out if that initial chemistry has potential to develop into something more permanent?

‘Year of the kiss’ is a sweet romance novella set out in Boston in New Years’ Eve and the first weeks of 2019. All the characters are well rounded and credible, including the very charming Rob (Sasha’s brother in law) a huge Scottish guy with a tendency to drink buckets of whisky, engage in witchcraft and wear traditional kilts. The dialogues are funny and full of banter which gives this novella the perfect light and festive tone.

Despite that sparks fly the first time Sasha and Naomi meet, the author manages well the period they are apart. Their relationship is built slowly but when it reaches the peak it’s sizzling hot. To illustrate this, there’s a long intimate scene that considering its graphic nature seems more appropriate for an erotica book than a romance. However, it fits in the plot seamlessly and it doesn’t feel overdone.

This novel is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, with each point of view shift marked with the character’s name. I’m not sure if this is necessary as, in my opinion, it interrupts the reading flow, but once the reader gets used to it it’s not too bad.

Overall, an entertaining, sweet and erotic novella with quirky secondary characters and funny banter. It’s my first book by this author but it won’t be my last. 4.5 stars.

With thanks to my Goodreads friend Tere for recommending this book.

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Review of ‘Rising above’ by Genevieve Fortin.

Ana Bloom is an engineering geologist in a sabbatical leave researching the effects of climate change in rising sea levels in the small town of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer. She is convinced that people have to relocate away from the coastline as the consequences of climate change will eventually hit it with destruction and life loss. She settles in the White Sheep Inn and soon she befriends the innkeeper Yvonne and her dog Miller. But Yvonne’s granddaughter, Melodie, isn’t convinced by Ana’s theory and sees her as a threat to her life’s values. Melodie is cold towards Ana and downright rude. But when a storm hits the White Sheep Inn both women will have to learn to join forces to fight it it and in the process discover their own feelings.

This book is plot driven around the conflict between Ana, who is strongly convinced that the only solution to rising sea levels is to relocate away from the coast, and Melodie, whose livelihood means to live by the sea. The author states that despite she was always aware of the consequences of climate change, researching for this novel gave her a new level of consciousness.

As a native of the nearby town of Rimouski (Quebec, Canada), Ms. Fortin describes beautifully the charm of Sainte-Luce-Sur-Mer, along with the very real threat to its coast by human actions. The author makes a fantastic case for climate change awareness and what people can do about it. However, the romantic storyline didn’t work for me as the environmental one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with the characters fully. Melodie is a hard to like character who at the beginning comes across as disrespectful and immature. This first impression is hard to reverse even by understanding her reasons behind her bad attitude, specially in her relationship with her mother. The opposite happens to the other main character. Ana is more likable and well rounded but her out of character reaction in the middle of the book is unappealing and feels more as a plot device rather than her normal actions. As a consequence, the conflict feels a bit forced and contrived.

The novel is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters set in the present with flashbacks from one year earlier. The secondary characters Yvonne and Miller the dog are, in my opinion, the best part of the novel. As in ‘Dingo’s recovery’, the dog acts as a facilitator in a human relationship, in this case, the friendship between Yvonne and Ana which feels warmer than the romance itself. Thomas, Melodie’s little son is well portrayed and he brings to light a much needed caring side of Melodie though, for me, it wasn’t enough to like her.

Overall, a good story to raise climate change awareness that falls a bit short in the romance department. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher 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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Review of ‘The universe between us’ by Jane C. Esther.

This is a romance between biochemist Ana Mitchel, who’s about to leave in a secret mission to colonise Mars, and her housemate, art student Jolie Dann. As time goes by, their feelings for each other grow but also the date for Ana’s departure to Mars gets closer. Will Ana put her commitment to science above all, even if it means losing her chance at love?

Solid debut novel by Jane Esther which is in my recommended lesfic new releases of January 2018 (see https://lezreviewbooks.com/recommended-lesfic-books-by-month/recommended-lesfic-books-for-january-2018/). This is a sci-fi, young adult romantic novel, emphasis on the romance part. If you are a sci-fi fan, there is little to enjoy as the focus is on the romance between the main characters. There’s a bit of insta-love, soul searching and angst but it is believable considering their ages and the particular situation they are in. My main concern is that some parts of the book seem to drag and others are rushed, specially the ending. Having said that, it’s worth a read.

Overall, a good debut novel. Recommended if you enjoy romances with a bit of angst at the side. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Mistletoe mishap’ by Siri Caldwell

This is a very funny and entertaining novella ideal for a Christmas holidays read. It is a refreshing departure from the typical lesfic plot to see that the main characters are middle aged women scientists in a long term relationship. On a whim, they decide to spice up their sex life through a bet that happens around Christmas time. What follows is a series of witty dialogues, funny situations and hot scenes that entertains the reader till the end. Ms. Caldwell excels at creating a believable couple with their set routines, quirky behaviour and obsession to follow the scientific method but, at the same time, surrounded by strong love and beautiful intimacy. Skilfully written, this novella has it all for an entertaining holiday read. ‘Mistletoe Mishap’ goes straight to my recommended Christmas lesfic books list.

Overall, a funny and witty Christmas rom com. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Bait and switch’ by Blythe Warren.

This is an enjoyable lesbian rom-com with emphasis in the comedy part. Written in first person from the point of view of marine biologist Liv Cucinelli, the story starts when she meets her former college nemesis Mira. To say that Liv holds a grudge against Mira for ruining her college career is an understatement, but somehow they manage to go past their previous differences to start an unlikely friendship. Will it develop into something more?

As an English College teacher, Ms. Warren is quite good with words, though she has a flair for using some strange ones like ‘preternatural’ or ‘immiscible’. I haven’t read her previous book so I’m not sure if it’s her usual writing style or this particular character’s voice. Sometimes, her choice of words is distracting but in most cases is hilarious. A good example is all the different ways she calls Mira’s mother: ‘Darth Vader in a pantsuit’, ‘Lady Lucifer’, ‘homophobic terrorist’, ’empress of evil’ and so on. The plot is entertaining, the dialogues are realistic and the secondary characters complement the story nicely, specially Mira’s deaf daughter Cassie.

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining read. 4 stars.

ARC provided by Bella Books in exchange for an honest review.

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