Julie Cannon has given her fans another romantic read set in a sports context. Colby Taylor is a surfing instructor on the beautiful island of Maui. Colby, known as "Breaker" by her surfing buddies because of her ability with breaking waves, and in breaking the hearts of her female admirers, is tall, dark, and handsome.
Elizabeth Collins is the president of Embers College, a small college in New England. With a PhD in history, and a background in academia, Elizabeth has had her emotional stability tagged at a flatline. Elizabeth has taken a much needed ten week vacation with nothing in mind other than relaxing and writing. When these two women meet, each of them is shaken to the core.
What follows is an exceptionally hot romance in an exceptionally romantic setting. Both Elizabeth and Colby are intelligent, witty women who, with the help of Colby's instruction, surf, sail, hike, and use zip-lines. In fact, it is a zip-line that brings to the front some of the deeply buried truths about these two women.
Cannon has become known for her well-drawn characters and well-written love scenes. Breaker's Passion will not disappoint her fans. Elizabeth and Colby are successful women with enough vulnerability to make them very real and very likeable. This is a matinee romance, which makes for a fun afternoon escape. Don't be surprised if you find yourself booking a vacation at a Hawaiian lesbian resort.
Reviewed by RLynne
Courtney Wilhelm is a high powered acquisitions lawyer on the fast track to partner in her firm. She has her life completely planned and there's no room in her schedule for a permanent relationship. Everything spins out of control when she learns that the deceased sister she was estranged from left behind a small daughter named Jade and Courtney is to be her guardian. In just a day she goes from being someone who knows nothing about children to being the sole provider for a six year old she's never met and it turns her carefully ordered world upside down. When she enrolls Jade in her old school, Courtney finds support in Jade's teacher Lauren McCallum. Not only does Lauren understand children, but she triggers emotions in Courtney that she thought were long dead. Courtney will have to decide which is more important, her career or the fullness that has been brought to her life by a child and a woman she loves.
This was an interesting story to read because the topic was different, but plausible. Watching Courtney try to cope with a child entering her life gave the book a different perspective. So often in books the children are already in place and a given entity. Courtney's struggle to decide whether or not she is the best person to raise Jade is something to which the reader can relate. Things go perhaps a little too easily for someone who is portrayed as so inexperienced and the relationship develops between the women very quickly. Also, despite what Lauren says in the book, most schools would have a problem with a teacher being involved in a personal relationship with one of her student's guardians. Lengthening the book a little would have allowed more time to deal with these issues in a more realistic manner. Those are minor drawbacks to the story however.
Overall Jaded is a good story and is well told. It's well worth spending a few hours with.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce
Some love affairs start early. So it was with Grace Dunlop and Harper Alessi, who met as pre-teens. Although the two girls came from wealthy families, the similarities in their lifestyles only touched every now and then. Harper was the daughter of artists with a Bohemian lifestyle. Grace’s family was very traditional. Yet the two young women gave one another the gift of limitless freedom and boundless love as they grew to adulthood.
The problem is, all that freedom and innocent love eventually evolved into passionate feelings that neither could name and both refused to acknowledge. “Just special friends, that’s all.” That’s what they knew they were. As they mature, a local hangout with a jukebox and its expressive music, becomes the pivot point in the manifestation of their lives together.
By high school and college, Grace and Harper are wrestling with feelings for one another, feelings of jealousy for the boyfriends in each other’s lives, and a longing that neither can express for fear of breaking the spell that holds them together. A trip to Europe solidifies their feelings, but when they return home, it all starts to fall apart. And that’s only the beginning of the story.
Dagget gives us a poignant tale. As it unfolds we wonder if these two young women will ever be able to be who they are to one another and to the world. It’s a gripping tale, filled with alluring sadness, and the musical background emphasizes the crescendo of the characters’ emotions. Jukebox is a bitter-sweet tale that will engage the reader throughout, and offers up some surprises at the end. Every Harper is meant for a Grace—and the reader may find herself and her own longings reflected in this story.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado
D. Jackson Leigh introduces her readers to Tory Greyson, an equine veterinarian. Tory has always been the "good child" in her family, making wise choices, working hard, and building a good career. Unfortunately for Tory, she's also always been unlucky in love. Growing up, she lost her girl friends to wilder, more dangerous women. Now, as an adult, she's built a solid reputation, developed good friends, and lives alone in Cherokee Falls, Virginia.
Tory's life changes when two women move into the area. Bridgette LeRoy is an artist who's taken a teaching position at the nearby college. Leah Montgomery is a journalist who is helping her grandmother while she looks for a new job in the rocky world of journalism. What follows is a wonderful story that connects the past with the present.
While the main characters do some intense soul searching, readers are able to explore the rural life of a small Virginia community. Jackson Leigh has created very likeable characters in the throes of making very realistic life decisions. She's also written an enjoyable novel full of humor and great love scenes.
Reviewed by RLynne
As a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, Texas, Carson Taite knows her way around the court house. This ability shows in her writing, as her legal dramas take the reader into backroom negotiations between the opposing lawyers, as well as into meetings with judges. In Nothing But The Truth, rising star prosecutor Ryan Foster has a case which looks like a "slam dunk." Ryan is being groomed to replace her boss as the district attorney for Dallas County. A headline winning case is just what she needs to help sell herself to the voters.
Defense attorney Brett Logan presents a bump in the road when she brings in information that could potentially make her a witness in Ryan's case. Ryan and Brett are both single, successful, and attractive women. When they meet, the legal case is not the only thing on their minds.
What follows is a fun mix of crime solving and hot, sexual sparks. Added to that is Brett's constant battle with her family over why she chooses to represent the downtrodden, as they all have much more lucrative law practices. Meanwhile, Ryan has a few secrets in her closet, which have to stay hidden if she is going to become the future D.A.
Watching how Carson Taite brings together all of the loose ends is enjoyable, as is her skillful building of the characters of Ryan and Brett. Nothing But the Truth is an enjoyable mystery with some hot romance thrown in.
Reviewed by RLynne
Transplanted Bostonian Madison McPeake’s acerbic personality has got her living in a good-news-bad-news world. The good news: she hasn’t been fired for her outbursts—yet. The bad news: she’s been told to take some time off to “cool off.” More good news: now she’s free to travel. However, there’s more bad news: her estranged brother has just died in a rather freakish accident in California, leaving a five-year-old niece she’s never met and no other immediate family. So it goes for Madison as she tells her story in the first person.
Madison treks to Shadow Point to recover her brother’s belongings and her niece and finds an isolated Navy base on an almost-deserted peninsula, where she begins to encounter one strange and unnerving incident after another. Soon after she arrives, she meets Dr. Alice Piper, a scientist who has been living on The Point for almost a year. “Pipe” is better acquainted with Madison’s niece, Katie, than she had been with Madison’s brother James, and she proves to be a big help to Madison as she stumbles along on her maiden voyage to parenthood with her newly acquainted niece.
The attraction between the two women is instant and intense, and they are only deterred by the presence of a five-year-old and the terrifying episodes that seem to intensify as this story progresses. Romance runs through this tale like a subtle golden thread. However, as sweet as that thread seems, the reader may find she’s always waiting for it to snap. Is “Pipe” for real? Or is she part of the problem? And why can’t the trio prevail over the terrible fog and find their way off The Point?
The intensity of Shadow Point is offset by the humor Briant uses to break moments of tension. Madison’s wise-cracking personality belies her insecurities. She longs to return to her carefree days, indulging in habits of drinking and smoking (and sometimes carousing), but it seems she’s destined to change—if only she can survive her present difficulties.
Shadow Point is a masterfully written, scary debut novel, and McPeake will charm you in spite of herself and her troubles. Piper will have you hoping against hope that she’s one of the good guys. Prepare to be scared—and to laugh—and to sigh. This is an excellent offering from a first-time author.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado
Madison McPeake is told to take a three week vacation from her job before she gets fired, then she receives a phone call saying that her brother has died and she needs to come take custody of the five year old niece she's never met. Things are strange from the moment she arrives in Shadow Point. Her brother lived on a naval base that buttons up tight from dusk to dawn and his cabin has no television, phone or computer service. The isolation is complete and accentuated by the bleakness of the area and the cabins provided for the scientists to live in. The two good points are Katie, who Madison falls in love with immediately even though she's not sure what to do with her, and the only other inhabitant of the cabins, Dr. Alice Piper, known as Pipe. Madison is intent on wrapping up affairs and getting Katie and herself out of Shadow Point as quickly as possible, but Pipe provides a real attraction to hang around. Madison is scared though. Some sort of presence is hanging around the cabins and she has little doubt that it means harm to all of them. A legend says that those who die there never leave Shadow Point. Madison is determined that she, Katie and Pipe will not discover the truth of that story.
Briant has crafted a very successful suspense story. The tension builds gradually during the story and quickly creates the impression that something very dark is lurking just off the page and the reader can definitely feel it. When Madison says the hairs on her neck are standing up, so will the reader's. Her rising fear will infect the reader as the story progresses. Briant also captures Madison's confusion very well as she tries to deal with a child, whatever is going on at Shadow Point and her increasing feelings for Pipe. Her conflict between wanting to run for her life and being strong for Katie gives the character depth.
Something worth mentioning is the cover for this book. Often the art work on a book seems to have little if anything to do with a story. The brooding nature of this cover is perfect however and starts setting the mood before the book is even opened.
The weaknesses in the book are probably due to a new writer who is still developing her skill. The relationship between Madison and Pipe develops just too quickly, especially as distracted as Madison is with everything. The only thing missing from their encounter is the U-Haul. The book also doesn't sustain the suspense very well at the end. After building the story so masterfully, the end is actually anticlimactic. The fear factor through the book should have made for a much more daring ending.
Shadow Point is a very good debut novel for Amy Briant. It's a good example of how to build a story without rushing to the major points. For those who love a spooky story, this one is worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce
Harper Sheridan is a librarian by profession, a musician by inclination and a film maker by accident. She spends her school years working at a university and performing in the local symphony. Her summers are used for travel, making a series of films about female artists and love. The major events of her life seem to occur during the summer, including a brief, but passionate affair with Chelsea Nichols. They meet when Harper makes a movie about Chelsea's lover Mary, a talented, but arrogant, artist who sheds young lovers like skin cells, but Chelsea is different for both women.
When Chelsea leaves Harper to return to Mary, Harper is devastated, but years have passed when the book opens and Harper is determined to get on with her life. This summer is for falling in love. Unfortunately, her plans are disrupted when her niece runs away from her parents and shows up at Harper's house and then Chelsea reappears. None of this is what Harper planned for her summer, but she must follow the notes of the song of her life that is being played with all of the skill she has ever used on her cello.
McCoy uses a technique in this book that can be difficult. She jumps back and forth in time, showing an interaction and then the events that led up to it in previous summers. Once the reader gets a handle on that, the book flows smoothly. McCoy gives her story depth by developing interesting supporting characters. One of the most intriguing is also the one easiest to dislike, the artist Mary. She's brilliant, talented and cruel, but she's also the first one to truly understand Harper's niece and what she needs. If Mary wasn't determined to keep Harper and Chelsea apart, she could be a terrific friend, of a type.
Each summer shows how different people shaped who Harper became. Another artist, Wilona, leads Harper on a trip of self discovery where she has to redefine her concept of art, creativity and herself. Her brother Danny, an ex-priest, draws on her spirituality; Roxie, a fellow orchestra member and friend provides a strong dose of reality and stability; and Peggy is the childhood friend whose heart Harper broke, but who revealed an integral part of Harper's being. As each character interacts with Harper, she becomes the song that is being written. Each incident is a twisting of notes and tempo until a finished product emerges.
Robbi McCoy is proving her ability to write a complex story while keeping it interesting and easy to understand. With books like Songs Without Words, her fan base can only continue to grow.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce
Parole Officer Alana Blue is tired. At the end of her career, she’s assigned to supervise a wayward Parole Officer as a result of the young woman’s poor decisions about getting involved with another Parole Officer in her office. When they are exposed and the other woman’s husband makes a scene, Rafaela Ortiz ends up assigned to Alana for her sins. Unfortunately, Rafe slips in and out of relationships like other people slip into and out of outfits, and Alana’s on her list of possible conquests.
Alana has other problems, too. Her daughter Nikki doesn’t want much to do with her lesbian mother, and Nikki and her husband, a college professor, seem to be having difficulties of their own. Nikki’s husband, Owen, doesn’t seem to agree with his wife’s attitude toward her mother—or about the need to “work on their marriage.”
When a young university student is murdered, Detective Johnetta Jones comes on the scene to investigate and encounters Alana because one of her parolees becomes a suspect in the murder. A web of character interrelationships is revealed, while Alana struggles through her pre-retirement days, resisting a potential relationship with one woman and hoping for a deepening relationship with another.
Things come to a head when Alana finds out that everything is not as it seems in her life. A murderer is found, and lives are exposed for what they really are, but can Alana find the person she is hoping for to fill a long-existing void in her life? That’s what the reader will find out when reading The Butterfly Moments.
Although the story slows down a little in the middle, I’d encourage the reader to push on. It’s an interesting tale with fast pacing at both ends of the story that will keep the reader engaged. There are some masterful twists to surprise at the end. The Butterfly Moments is a fine offering by Renee Bess, which includes a hefty helping of mystery sprinkled with romance. Bess’s promise to keep African-American characters before us is fulfilled in this interesting story.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado
Tools of Ignorance: Lisa’s Story is a continuation of the story of the Clarksonville Cougars High School softball team begun with Out in Left Field: Marlee’s Story. Lisa is the team catcher to Marlee’s pitcher. This tale revolves around the star catcher. Some of this installment overlaps Marlee’s story, but it is told from Lisa’s perspective, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition.
As the story opens, Lisa is just coming to terms with her attraction to her pitcher. However, events move along rapidly and Lisa ends up falling for a player named Sam on a rival team, East Valley Panthers. As it turns out, this is just as well, because Marlee, recently separated from her boyfriend, appears to have begun a relationship with Panther, Susie. In the midst of blossoming relationships, there’s rivalry on the softball field as the Cougars move up in the standings and actually have a chance to win the quarterfinals and maybe even more.
A previous summer camp relationship with another team’s player threatens to ruin both the chance for the championship and for Lisa’s relationship with Sam. But that’s not the only thing that threatens the relationship, not when Lisa discovers that Sam hasn’t been completely honest with her.
The unfolding of this tale will give lesbian teens a story to which they can relate. Tentativeness, uncertainty, teetering toward honesty within themselves and with their friends, are all a part of life and romance for young gay women. The story gives teens a positive focus on their lives. Parents, friends, even church pastors are positive and supportive. This may seem a little unrealistic.
However, since the nature of the romance novel is to move toward a “perfect” relationship, this positive portrayal may serve to let struggling teens know that there is support and encouragement for them, even in the midst of the opposite personal experiences.
Tools of Ignorance: Lisa’s Story is another novel that deserves to be included in public and high school libraries alike. As with previous Clanton novels, this one deserves a read by adults and merits recommendation to teens much in need of stories to which they can relate.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado
Ali Torveau focuses all of her energy on her work as a doctor in a hospital trauma unit. By keeping busy she doesn't have to remember a tragedy that has haunted her for years. It also distracts her from the fact that she doesn't have much social life to speak of. That's why she's not happy when firefighter Beau Cross shows up in a class Ali is teaching EMT certification. Beau is brash, arrogant and reckless, or so Ali believes. She's everything Ali tries to avoid, but Ali can't stop thinking about her. Beau is smitten with Ali the first time she sees her, but has her own demons to deal with. She appears cool on the outside, but Beau is running from her own painful past. She needs to save lives and she needs to love Ali. Ali can't love Beau. She can't take the chance of suffering another loss in her life.
Trauma Alert is the first in a new series from Radclyffe that will feature First Responders, professionals who react to a crisis on the ground level. These books are meant to be romances. Anyone who expects to learn much about how these people are trained or carry out their jobs will need to look somewhere else.
With a clearly stated purpose, the characters become the focus of the book. Secondary characters are used to provide background material or to illustrate personality traits of Ali and Beau, but there is no mistaking that this book is mainly about the interactions between them. Radclyffe knows what to write into her characters so that the story moves along. Though they may appear complicated to other people, the reader will quickly figure out that they aren't really. They are simply two women who have been hurt and haven't figured a way to get over that yet.
Radclyffe has a winning formula. She basically writes the same two characters, giving them different names and putting them in different situations in each book, but following the same progression to the same result. It's difficult to argue with success and her many fans prove that they like what she writes. The plot isn't complicated, but the story is well told and there are a number of sex scenes thrown in to spice up the activity. Trauma Alert is a good one for an afternoon or evening of escapism.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce