‘My Lady Lipstick’ by Karin Kallmaker is a glossy & smooth read.

I had not read a Kallmaker book since 2016, so I was excited to get my hands on this one. While I have not read a ton of Kallmaker’s works, every book I have read I have enjoyed. She has been around the lesfic world for a long time and it shows in how well she writes. I’m happy to say this was another enjoyable romance.

Paris is an author who writes bodes rippers under the penname Anita Topaz. Paris suffers from really bad anxiety so she has never made any public appearances. In fact, she is so off the grid that only a few trusted people know her secret. When her publishing house is bought by a new company, Paris is facing pressure to become the face behind her books. Diana is in Massachusetts, undercover, at an acting company. She travels the world looking for items she believes should be returned to their rightful owners or museums. When she finds out Paris’ publishing house is now owned by a man that has such an artifact, she hatches a scheme to recover it. Will Diana go through with her plans even if her feelings for Paris evolve?

This book had a really nice feel to it. A little bit of light humor, warmth, but also tackled the subject of anxiety quite well. I think whenever authors can accurately portray something that is real to us as readers, it always impresses me. I’ve dealt with panic attacks when I was younger and still have to fight anxiety on occasion. I’m content with how she approached this topic. It was realistic, but not heavy; this is a lighthearted romance after all.
I was also really happy with the pace of the book. I would say the book is slightly longer than average, but it never really lagged for me. I never felt bored, and really enjoyed the actual concept of the book. While we may have read similar parts before in other books, the story, on the whole, was different enough that it felt new to me.

When it came to the romance, at first I thought maybe the characters had jumped into bed a little fast. But with how the rest of the story unfolded, I was okay with it. There was no rushing to say “I love you”. I actually really appreciate that as it seems to happen too often lately in lesfic romances. The romance instead felt like it progressed really organically. Not including the one angsty part, I actually felt the romance was one of the more realistic romances I have read in a while. My only one complaint, I just wish there was a tad more chemistry between the main characters. I absolutely believed the attraction; it just needs a tad more spark.

This was absolutely the right romance at the right time for me. I enjoyed this read and I hope others do as much as I did. If you are a Kallmaker fan, I believe you will be happy with this read. Also, I want to mention, Lisa from ‘Warming Trend’ was a secondary character in this book. If you enjoyed that book, it might be another reason to pick this one up.

An ARC was given to me by Bella, for an honest review.

    

Review of ‘In the Company of Crocodiles’ by Maggie Brown.

Ex-Australian Secret Service Agent Vivian Andrews retired to a quiet Aussie town when in need of emotional and physical healing. All is well until she finds a corpse in a nearby swamp. She meets behavioral scientist Claire Walker, a government agent looking for a missing young man, when she returns to town to report the dead body. Claire was tasked with recruiting Vivian for the assignment as a guide to the wilderness. Together they must uncover the true reason for the missing young man while escaping the brutal environment surrounding them.

This book pulls you into the Australian outdoors right off the bat with a first chapter croc encounter that was fantastic and left you shaken but hooked. I actually took a minute to settle after reading that! I loved reading about the flora and fauna. The descriptions were well done and the information was functional to the story and did not feel cumbersome or like an information dump.

The romance was in the middle of all the action. I would have liked to see more from Claire as she came out looking like an inadequate government agent. I’m sure some of it was because Vivian was such a strong, capable character. Claire simply seemed to be relegated to the background too many times. I feel this detracted from the pairing to a certain degree. The attraction was there though and all in all, there was no instantaneous love which will please many readers. There were a couple of sex scenes that were okay until one remembered they were in the jungle with limited opportunities for proper hygiene… Exactly.

I would like to take a moment to praise Linda Callaghan for the phenomenal cover design. Lex recommended this book and I knew exactly which one she meant, even remembered it was on sale (thank you Bella Books!) because of this great cover. Stunning, eye-catching, with a font that blends beautifully with the background. Mission accomplished Ms. Callaghan!

Overall, a solid action romance. 4 stars.

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Review of ‘Deception’ by VK Powell.

I’ve read a couple of books by this author which in my opinion were an average read so I didn’t have big expectations about this one. The main subject of this book, an undercover DEA agent who infiltrates a group of homeless in order to investigate a drug dealing ring, did not have much appeal to me. But after the first chapter I was completely hooked with the story. The author gives us an deep insight into the lives of homeless people, their struggles and their invisibility to the rest of the people. Ms. Powell takes us into this world as seen through the main characters, their own struggles, needs and miseries. I was moved by the suffering of the homeless people described in this book and made me reflect on my own prejudices against them.

In her description of the main protagonists’ contradictions and struggles with the investigation and their personal lives, Ms Powell creates multilayered and credible characters. The secondary characters are also very realistic and support the main story, some of them very lovable and others despicable.

The main plot gripped me with its twists and turns and I just couldn’t stop reading. Even though there are some hints on where the investigation is going, there are a few surprises at the end.

Overall a very good read in this genre. If you like a lesbian mystery with romance, action and some substance, I highly recommend this book. 4 stars.

I’ve received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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