Review of ‘Not the marrying kind’ by Jae.

Ashley Gaines is a florist adamant to remain in the closet as she lives and works in a conservative small town. Her neighbour and bakery owner Sasha Peterson is a pansexual who likes to stay away from relationships. Living in a small place, they know each other but aren’t friends. When they are asked to help organising Leo and Holly’s wedding, they start sharing more time together and eventually realise that they are attracted to each other. But Ashley is determined to stay in the closet and Sasha isn’t the marrying kind anyway. Will they find their happily ever after?

This is book two of the ‘Fair Oaks’ series which started with ‘Perfect rhythm’. Even though this novel reads as standalone, many events refer to the previous book and it catches up with Leo and Holly’s relationship. Having said that, Ashley is not a likeable character in ‘Perfect rhythm’ so, if you read that first, it might take you long to warm to her in this new book.

To say that this is a slow-burn romance is an understatement as the author takes her time to develop both characters’ personalities and their budding relationship. This makes the story credible in redeeming Ashley’s hurtful actions of the past and in challenging Sasha’s assumptions about commitment. Even though Ashley’s self-inflicted repressed sexuality might feel alien to younger generations or people living in big cities, Jae’s description of the circumstances that force Ashley to remain in the closet will strike a chord with many readers. In this series, the author continues to challenge our views about sexuality by introducing a pansexual character, in addition to the asexual and non-binary characters that were featured in book one.

‘Not the marrying kind’ balances the above-mentioned serious issues of diverse sexual preferences and society’s pressure on LGBTQA+ individuals, with the sensual world of baking and flowers. The use of the hidden meaning of flowers and baking metaphors, in addition to a few playful scenes and wonderful slow-burn chemistry, introduces lightness and beauty to the story. As usual, Jae excels in bringing out the romance and depicting the characters’ intimacy with, for example, an excellent remake of a famous ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ sequence plus a very steamy undressing scene. As a bonus, readers who enjoyed Jae’s ‘Damage control’ will have the chance to catch up with Grace and Lauren’s relationship.

Overall, an entertaining, sensual and fun slow-burn romance which raises deep issues of sexuality and coming out. 4.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Against all odds’ by Kris Bryant, M. Ullrich & Maggie Cummings.

When Police officer Peyton Clarke and real estate agent Tory Stevens meet by chance at a bridal shop trying bridemaids’ dresses, their attraction is instant but it’s interrupted by a mass murderer attacking the shop customers. As the only survivals of the shooting, Tory and Peyton see their initial bond grow stronger. But with the attacker on the loose, taking their relationship for granted could be a fatal mistake.

Lately in lesfic we’ve seen a series of two authors joining forces to pen books together, we’ve even seen three authors writing as many books as part of a series. But, as far as I know, this is the first collaboration of three authors writing a single novel. As I normally read (and love) books by these three authors, for me it was a no-brainer to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

‘Against all odds’ is equal parts thriller and romance, the balance between action and love, fast and slow pace makes this novel a very entertaining read. The authors managed to weave the plot consistently and make it flow without issues. It is written in first person from the point of view of Tory, Peyton and mass shooter Bradley, each one a chapter at a time. However, this doesn’t affect the flow as each scene is told by only one character and the book is always moving forward. My only criticism is that I found Bradley’s voice very distinctive (for obvious reasons, him being the villain and the only man), but, Tory and Peyton’s voices were not that easy to tell apart. They sounded pretty much the same to me and I found myself several times going to the start of the chapter to check the point of view.

Having said that, the romance part is very sweet, Tory and Peyton have great chemistry and the intimate scenes are well written. Bradley is also a very well rounded character and adds a great creepy factor to the thriller part of the story. Once the action scenes are set out, it’s a page turner impossible to put down.

Overall, a very well written book by an unusual collaboration, it’s entertaining, gripping and will appeal both romance and action fans. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Review of ‘Under your skin’ by Lee Winter.

Lee Winter’s ‘On the record’ series consists of ‘The red files’ (book 1), ‘Flashbang’ (a short story, part 1.5) and the sequel ‘Under your skin’. I highly recommend to read them in order. You could do without ‘Flashbang’ as it’s a bonus erotica story based on the series main characters but I still suggest to read it to have a better glimpse of their relationship.

Lauren King and Catherine Ayers are both journalists who met while investigating a news story in ‘The red files’. In this book we get a better view of their relationship and even though there is investigative journalism involved, the plot mainly revolves around their personal relationship and with their respective families.

Lauren and Catherine couldn’t be any different. Lauren is in her thirties, with a middle class upbringing and a loving – though sometimes overzealous – family. Catherine is in her mid forties, with an absent upper class family. Lauren wears her heart on her sleeve and Catherine is well renowned as the Caustic Queen, distant and sarcastic. This might be the most at odds lesfic couple ever but, boy, how opposites attract.

While ‘The red files’ was written in third person from the point of view of Lauren to showcase Catherine’s distant personality, this novel alternates both characters’ perspectives. As we get into Catherine’s headspace we start to tie loose knots from the previous book. Catherine is a complex and multi layered character and the author slowly brings her out in a different light, making her more human and realistic. It’s interesting to see a sweet, vulnerable side of her and funny to realise that she is also sarcastic in her thoughts. Lauren’s extended family is loving, hilarious and each character of the numerous relatives have a distinctive voice. The plot presents them in Lauren’s Iowa homeplace which comes to life through the beautiful descriptions of Ms. Winter. All in all, this is a very well written and entertaining series for both intrigue and romance fans.

Overall, another very good book in this series. Hopefully it won’t be the last one. 5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Planning for love’ by Erin Dutton.

Erin Dutton’s books have been a bit of a hit and miss for me but after reading ‘Capturing forever’ that changed completely as I loved that book. This is not as good as the previous one but it’s entertaining enough.

The main characters meet in uncomfortable circumstances as Rachel walks into her best friend Violet about to have sex with Faith, Violet’s wedding planner. From there onwards, Rachel decides to keep an eye on them to avoid Violet cheating on her future husband. Eventually Rachel and Faith’s own attraction starts to grow. Will they be able to move past their false start and learn to trust in each other? While the start of the book is an odd setting for a romance, the author manages to produce a sweet, slow-burn relationship between them. There is an amount of drama and angst but I think the author balances it well within the plot. As a bonus, the reader can catch up with the lives of Jacqueline and Casey from Dutton’s ‘Capturing forever’.

Overall, an entertaining read with a bit of drama at the side. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Just say yes: the proposal’ by Kris Bryant.

This is the third book by this author and the first on the publisher’s series Wedding novellas. I read her book ‘Jolt’ but didn’t like it much so I didn’t have high expectations on this one. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this novella. Firstly, the originality of the theme within a lesbian romance that normally describe in great extent the falling in love stage but ignore the consolidation of the relationship. Additionally, the story has a fast pace development and a nice twist at the end.

The story is written in first person under the point of view of Finn, the character who wants to propose. Both characters are credible and have great chemistry. The secondary characters support the main story nicely.

All in all, a very good romantic novella. If you are looking for a feel good lesbian romance that reads in an afternoon, I highly recommend it. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Piece of cake: the wedding’ by Gun Brooke.

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. Piece of cake is the third book in the Wedding novellas collection published by Bold Strokes Books. I really liked the first one, ‘Just say yes’ by Kris Bryant, so I decided to have a go at this one. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me, hence, the low rating.

One big issue I had with this book is that I didn’t find chemistry between the main characters. The whole wedding situation was a bit unrealistic for me. Maybe the problem is that this story needed a better background introduction and just wouldn’t fit in the format of a novella. The dialogues seemed a bit unnatural and the characters too stereotyped. I liked the idea of opposites in the couple: different ethnicities, ages and job ranks but I don’t think they were exploited thoroughly in the book, again, maybe because of its extension.

Not the best in the series but if you love weddings, this one might be for you… 2 stars.

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

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