June 2008
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Title: Aspen’s Embers
Author: Diana Tremain Braund
ISBN-10: 159493102X - ISBN-13: 978-1594931024
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $14.95 - Pages: 320
Genre: Romance/Lesbian

Aspen’s Embers is the story of two women who, at first appearances, have very different goals and values. Aspen Brown has spent her life working to save the environment in Codyville Plantation, the tiny Maine town where she has lived all her life. Leigh Wright is a newcomer and works for a logging company. When the two meet, it looks as if they will never be able to agree on anything.

However, Leigh sees something in Amber that sparks her curiosity and more. As each woman battles her own demons from the past, they search for what is most important in each of their lives, and together they begin to realize that they are not so different after all. But we wonder if they will ever be able to accept who they are, both separately and together to be able to find both happiness and a solution to the terrible dilemma brought on by the company that has big plans for Leigh. If Amber can find it in her heart to compromise, then perhaps Leigh can find a resolution to the town’s problems.

To add to the problems, there’s a new activist in town. A woman who makes Leigh jealous of a relationship she doesn’t even have—and is not sure she even wants. Is this newcomer going to be a help to Aspen in her quest to save Codyville Plantation's old growth trees or is she going to prove to be a hindrance to the cause? And who, exactly, is the real villain in Codyville?

These are the questions answered in Aspen’s Embers in very realistic terms. Braund gives us a story filled with, not blacks and whites, but shades of gray. One filled with realistic people struggling to overcome economic burdens as well as heartache and loneliness. Although the topics are weighty, the writing style is easy to read—a truly enjoyable way to pass the hours with well-drawn characters and one interesting scene after another.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Deal With the Devil
Author: Ali Vali
ISBN-10: 1-60282-012-0
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available from: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,; Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 355
Genre: Romantic Thriller





Ali Vali has given her fans another thick, rich thriller staring Cain Casey, her family and her friends. She also introduces a new set of characters with the Jatibon family. While Cain's family traces their history back to Ireland, the Jatibon's homeland was in Cuba until Castro took over. Ramon Jatibon came to the U.S. with his wife, Marianna and twins, Remi and Mano. Remi followed in her father's footsteps, knowing the business and working to expand it. Mano preferred to work behind the scenes. In Deal With the Devil, Cain is working to form an alliance with the Jatibon family and to bring peace among the ruling families of New Orleans.

As usual, there are nefarious villains who will do anything to stop Cain Casey. Excitement abounds with attempted murder, kidnapping and an FBI agent who loses his way. As always, Vali's writing is wonderfully descriptive: "the pain of losing him was etched into her soul as it was in the stone". And Cain learns that "to deal with the devil is easy, but the debt you incur weighs heavily on your soul." Cain's first concern is always to protect her family. As the Jatibons learn, her friends also come under that protection.

Vali always shows the juxtaposition of the FBI and the families who work on both sides of the law. She clearly points out the virtues and vices of each, along with the strength of the individuals. Deal With the Devil has wonderful love stories, great sex, and an ample supply of humor. It is an exciting page turning read, that leaves her readers eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: Deal With the Devil
Author: Ali Vali
ISBN-10: 1-60282-012-0
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available from: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,; Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 355
Genre: Romantic Thriller





Cain and Emma Casey are back in volume three of their story of life on the illegal side of New Orleans. Cain has formed an alliance with the Jatibon family, especially Remi, a woman who sees many things the same way Cain does. They understand that the futures of both families will be secured by moving into more legitimate businesses, including a gambling casino and a movie company. Ironically, the biggest opposition to their plans comes not from the ever-present FBI agents, but from other crime families who are fighting against the power being amassed by the Casey and Jatibon organizations. In the midst of this, Cain and Emma decide to have a third child and Remi Jatibon falls under the spell of the movie star Dallas Montgomery.

With constant government surveillance, dealing with the ruthlessness of their opponents and the threat of an assassin hanging over their heads, Cain, Emma and Remi attempt to create a life where they won't have to constantly be looking over their shoulders. Their enemies are determined though and don't hesitate to strike at their weaknesses, especially Cain's, which is Emma.

This book may be the best in the series. The action was good and well paced. There was certainly plenty of it. What is particularly intriguing is the way Vali builds the characters. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that these are actually supposed to be "bad" people. Cain Casey and Remi Jatibon are criminals, but they have a code of honor that's stronger than most of the law enforcement officials in the book. Of course, this is a book about New Orleans where the police have a reputation. Cain and Remi almost come off like Robin Hood or Zorro characters. You know they're breaking the law and their tactics, although needed, might make the reader wince, but it seems OK. They are certainly more likeable than most of the people on the "right side" of the law. There is a strong supporting cast of characters, from Cain's lawyer cousin Muriel to Remi's father and brother and the interesting Dallas Montgomery. Even the villains are intriguing, though you end up wondering just how stupid they really are.

One detail of the book that sticks out is that the professionals are particularly heavy with lesbians – government agents, lawyers, doctors; and every crime lord has a female head of the body guards. It almost feels like lesbian overkill, but this is fiction and lesbian fiction at that. Besides, it's a minor point. The ending was a bit rushed for all of the build up it was given in the book, but overall this one is worth reading.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: House Of Clouds
Author: KI Thompson
ISBN: 9781933110943
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 – Pages: 377
Genre: Historical fiction

North and South; the American Civil War. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends—and more—and all around the characters in this book, everything is not always as it seems. Independent, Jordan Colfax, a Northerner and Unionist, is an actress at Ford’s Theater. When Kate Warne shows up in her dressing room to ask her to become a spy, Jordan is torn between helping the Union in whatever way she can and wondering if she has what it takes to take on the role. Once she accepts the duty, however, she embraces it with strength and courage, putting her life in danger for the good of the country.

Jordan journeys to Richmond with an acting troupe and has the good fortune to meet influential people with ties to Jefferson Davis and the upper echelon of the Confederacy. Her ticket into this elite group is the friendship she has formed with Laura St. Clair, a young Southern Confederate sympathizer, the daughter of a slave and plantation owner. Their friendship gets off to a rocky start as their differences of opinion surface, but the friendship grows in spite of the fact that the two women do not see eye to eye when it comes to slave ownership, the Union, or the Confederacy. In the midst of her growing feelings for Laura, Jordan must keep on task to gain as much information as she can to help the Union. When events conspire against her, the friendship she has with Laura is tested in ways they never would have thought possible.

The historical facts of this epic time are skillfully interwoven with the fictional tale. That Thompson loves this era is obvious. That she can write complex characters into a compelling story is even more apparent. If you love historical fiction, don’t miss House of Clouds. If you are new to it, try this one. It doesn’t disappoint.
Reviewed by Anna Furtado

Title: Murder in Triplicate:
The Aliki Pateas Mystery Series, Book 1
Author: Anne Azel
ISBN: 1933720379
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $17.99 – Pages: 200
Genre: Mystery

Aliki Pateas has a successful career as a forensic scientist, but something is missing from her life, so she decides to go home to the family she hasn't seen in fourteen years. There are surprises waiting for her there. The family business has grown due to her brothers' hard work and her father has taken in a young woman and her daughter who needed help to live with him. They're the relatives of an old friend, but Aliki will also discover they have a connection to the Pateas family. She can't help but feel herself drawn to Dawn Freeman, and young Mackenzie has a severe case of hero worship for the famous woman.

Aliki hopes to spend time becoming reacquainted with her family and developing a relationship with Dawn, but she draws mystery to her like a magnet. She finds herself dealing with three cases in a row.

In the first, she has to investigate a plane crash and murder that has significant consequences for Dawn. She also discovers that the famous actress Robbie Williams, someone Aliki has clashed with in the past and who is married to Janet, the woman Aliki thinks she loves, is really her half sister.

In the second, she goes after a serial killer called the Fire Clown only to have him come after her family. She unites with Robbie to catch the killer, who almost succeeds in killing them.

The third story has Aliki and Robbie working together to solve a murder which they're trying to hide from their wives and daughters. The problem is that all of the women in the Pateas/Williams family have an itch to be involved in solving mysteries and they end up in a comedy of errors that almost has tragic consequences. Through all of this, Aliki slowly comes to realize that Janet is not the woman of her dreams, but Dawn is.

Anne Azel is a well-known retired forensic scientist and popular with people who like to read her online stories. The Aliki Pateas stories first appeared on the Internet and are well developed. There isn't particularly a great deal of suspense to the mysteries, but they are interesting stories and provide some pleasant light reading. The characters are what make the stories worthwhile however. Aliki and Robbie can't stay out of trouble and provide some comic relief, while their partners try to keep them on an even keel, which proves to be almost an impossible job. Murder in Triplicate is the type of light reading that would be good on vacation or when you want to pass a few hours.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Naked Heart
Author: Jennifer Fulton
ISBN-10: 1-60282-011-2
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,;; Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 226
Genre: Erotic Romance

Jennifer Fulton is known for her wit, her luscious romances, and her superior writing. Naked Heart adds another talent; writing extremely hot, fanning your face (and other places), sex scenes! Her protagonists are polar opposites: Penn Harte, a former CIA agent, is an independent contractor who sells her unique skills to the highest bidder. Unity Vaughan owns her own biotech company, and is a superb scientist involved in a breakthrough discovery.

Penn is a love-them-and-leave-them gal who helps out at her best friend's upscale fetish club. Unity has been burned and humiliated by her last lover and is content to be a workaholic. When she discovers that her company is a target for industrial espionage and a hostile takeover, she seeks out the best in the field for protection: Penn. The conundrum is that Penn has already been hired to seduce Unity and make a blackmail tape.

Fulton has filled her book with wonderful characters, including an enigmatic Asian, two very blond, very hot twins, cancer-riddled Lila, and enough sex to boggle the imagination. She has even included a wonderful scene with a famed skater, the very desirable Katarina Witt. Through all of this, she has a well-developed plot which almost changes the genre of this book to a mystery.

Naked Heart takes the reader for a walk on the wild side with Jennifer Fulton as an excellent guide to the best sights and scenes. This book will have her fans clamoring, (or panting) for more.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: Rebeccah and the Highwayman
Author: Barbara Davies
ISBN: 9781934452011
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Barnes & Noble,;
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 260
Genre: Historical Adventure/Romance

In 1706, traveling on an English highway at night was a blatant invitation to be robbed. Mistress Rebeccah Dutton, her sister Anne and their mother have that lesson reinforced for them when their carriage is stopped by the famous highwayman Blue-eyed Nick. Though they should have been terrified, Rebeccah finds herself more intrigued by the thief who goes out of his way not to hurt anyone and even shows her some chivalrous behavior. This evening spawns several sightings between the two where their mutual attraction grows, culminating with a night when Rebeccah's life and virtue are saved by Nick killing three ruffians who intend worse than robbery. Nick is seriously wounded in the fight and Rebeccah and her servant Mary think nothing of taking him back to their house to treat him, which is when they make the startling revelation that "he" is a "she."

Kate Milledge knows what most ordinary people in Queen Anne's England have accepted. Survival is more often a factor of being clever, and hard work often leaves a person with nothing but a miserable existence. She has family to provide for, and robbing rich people of their valuables makes that possible. When she makes a particularly good haul she tries to share what she has with people who are less fortunate, but Blue-eyed Nick has no doubt that her life will one day lead her to the end of a rope at a Tyburn hanging.

Kate knows that a relationship with Rebeccah threatens her safety, but, when Rebeccah asks for help to save her sister Anne from a kidnapper, there is no hesitation on Kate's part. That it leads to her being captured and sentenced to death is no surprise. That Rebeccah and her mother set out to save her life, including going directly to Queen Anne, is stunning.

As time gets short and the appointment with the noose gets closer, Kate can only wonder if this is truly how it will all end and, if not, what will she then do with her life and the fact that she's pretty sure Rebeccah doesn't return her affections? Rebeccah is clever herself however and has more than one surprise waiting for Blue-eyed Nick.

Rebeccah and the Highwayman is a good, old-fashioned romp. Those who like period pieces will find the setting of early 18th century England perfect with its laces, manners and sword fighting. Readers who like a story with a historic background will appreciate the little details sprinkled through this book that give it authenticity.

A number of times in this book the reader will find herself saying, "So that's what they did about that." The scenes describing life in the streets, conditions in the prisons and the carnival atmosphere of hangings are particularly rich. The result of this is a feeling for the reader of being in the time of the book. It also makes what could have been a routine romance a little more exotic. How often does a heroine rush into a scene on horseback firing flintlock pistols and brandishing a rapier? This is a well-crafted book with adventure, suspense, tension and a little romance thrown in. Those looking for torrid sex scenes won't find them, but that only goes to prove that a story can be entertaining and fun to read without them. If tales set in history are not what a reader normally looks for, this one still has enough selling points to make it worth trying.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Candidate
Author: Tracey Richardson
ISBN: 978-1-59493-133-8
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 256
Genre: Romance

In The Candidate, Richardson has given readers a highly relevant story. Jane Kincaid, gorgeous, dynamic and driven, is running to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Jane has hammered out a "blueprint for America" and is fighting hard against her opponent, a man who has made his career by playing it safe. Jane, a dynamic speaker, has challenged her audiences to make changes in the status quo. Dennis Collins, her opponent, is good looking, squeaky clean, and likes things the way they are. Their Republican opponent, the incumbent president, is extremely unpopular and doesn't have a chance of winning.

Into the maelstrom of the election comes Secret Service Agent Alexandria Warner. A tall, good-looking butch, Alex is quickly drawn to Jane's passion, directness, and her good looks. As Jane and Alex's friendship grows, so do the sparks between them. Both Jane and Alex are forced to make tough choices between their personal lives and their careers.

Richardson has created two witty women who have a great deal of depth. She has explored their motivations and helped her readers to understand what drives them. The Candidate is a great read that runs quite close to our current headlines.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club
Author: Radclyffe
ISBN: 9781602820050
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; Bold Strokes Books,; and Bella Books,
Price: $15.95 - Pages: 259
Genre: Romance

If you're looking for a romance that's a little different, Radclyffe is providing what you need in The Lonely Hearts Club.

Liz Ramsey gets the best news she could possibly hear, but it couldn't come at a worse time. Liz is finally pregnant and she has just discovered that, not only has her partner been cheating on her, but she doesn't want children. She has friends she can depend on however. Candace Lory, an old girlfriend, likes to play the field, but she'll stand by Liz no matter what. Brenda Beal is the steady one who holds the trio together, but she's hiding secrets that will shock her friends if they're revealed. There is a wild side to Brenda that no one suspects.

The women soon find themselves being distracted from each other by their other relationships. Liz becomes involved with Dr. Reilly Danvers, who could be the loving partner she had hoped to share her child with. Candace finds herself drawn to a lawyer in Liz's firm who may give her a reason to finally settle down, and Brenda has an amazing mystery woman who is more than willing to be the submissive to Brenda's dominance. Could the three friends who want the best for each other be about to achieve exactly that?

Radclyffe does her best work when she writes her stand-alone novels. This book has a fresh concept. It's not often that a lesbian novel features a central figure who is pregnant and alone. It presents a view of lesbian life that isn't common yet, but is growing.

The characters are especially well drawn, each with its individual personality. While Liz and Reilly are the major focus of the book, the most interesting character might be Bren, who represents practically reverse personalities. Any of these people could have carried the book and that makes them stronger than is usually seen in this genre. This is the type of writing that Radclyffe excels at when she writes to her strengths. Even though the book sticks to the usual "formula," it has some interesting twists and the characters keep drawing you through the story. It also speaks clearly to the value of friendship. The Lonely Hearts Club is a good read.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: The Mortal Groove (Hardcover)
Author: Ellen Hart
ISBN: 9780312349455
Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $25.95
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Lesbian

The Mortal Groove, Ellen Hart's fifteenth installment in her Jane Lawless mystery series, is a complex and compelling story of political machinations, family dynamics, and the insidious effects of violence and collusion. During Jane's New Year's gathering, the festivities are interrupted by a few Minneapolis political movers and shakers. They have come to ask Jane's father, Raymond Lawless, to run for governor. With less than a year to conduct a campaign, Lawless is eventually persuaded to come to the aid of the party. Joining him in this venture is Randy Turk, a longtime associate, who will serve as the campaign legal advisor.

Turk recommends his friend from his Viet Nam War days, Del Green, to be the campaign manager. As the race gets underway, circumstances begin to present a myriad of difficulties ranging from the campaign staff's thirty-five year-old secrets threatening to resurface to the sexuality of the candidate's daughter. Further complicating matters are Jane's brother Peter who has secrets of his own and her best friend Cordelia who is dealing with a personal loss which has all but devastated her. Add to this combustible mix the strain of Jane's trying to sustain her long-distance relationship with Kenzie, and you have a very entertaining reading experience.

The Mortal Groove is Hart's most structurally intricate novel to date. The plotting is both complex and multi-layered. A hallmark of a truly masterful writer is the ability to juggle many subplots while not diminishing the main plot or creating unrealistic elements which detract from the true mystery genre.

Hart deftly interweaves these seemingly disparate threads into a well-paced, cohesive, and focused storyline. She skillfully engages the reader as the various characters pursue their assigned paths toward the resolution of the varied conflicts. Too often authors get bogged down by the intricacy they believe they have created; they become so overwhelmed by the demands and requirements of genuine focused storytelling that by the conclusion of the story, the reader can only feel cheated by an inept and unsatisfying attempt. They would do well to read The Mortal Groove for it is a primer for constructing and achieving the successful multi-plot mystery.
The Mortal Groove thoroughly demonstrates Hart's ability to create and sustain believable characters. Eschewing the stereotypical and flat characterization often seen in contemporary mysteries, Hart populates her novel with characters that are imbued with such a degree of verisimilitude that the reader cannot help but empathize with those who are enduring and hoping to overcome the unpredictable events that life thrusts upon them.

Through it all, Jane evinces her keen sense of logic, wit, and her unwavering loyalty to family and friends. This novel delves more deeply into Jane's relationship with her brother Peter. He too has a secret that will compel him to behave in ways he never could have imagined.

The introduction of Larry Wilton, the questionable Vietnam buddy of Randy and Del, serves as the viable catalyst that propels the gubernatorial race toward inevitable scandal and mobilizes Jane and Cordelia in a search for the truth.

Incisive and consummately delineated characterization is a staple of a Hart novel. However, The Mortal Groove achieves a new level of excellence for the author. It is her finest exposition of character to date.

The Mortal Groove is an exceedingly satisfying reading experience. The story, characters, plot twists and turns, and tone of the novel totally involve the reader. Hart is one of the best contemporary mystery authors today, and this latest work continues to add to her stature in the genre. To create substantially significant characters that deeply affect the reader, to invent plots that stimulate the thought processes, and to continue to elevate the standard of quality literary writing are achievements few can claim. The Mortal Groove by Ellen Hart is a testament to her having accomplished all three.
Reviewed by Arlene Germain

Title: The Trouble With Murder
Author: Kate Sweeney
ISBN: 9781933113852
Publisher: Intaglio Publications,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $16.95
Pages: 229
Genre: Mystery

In The Trouble with Murder, Sweeney has brought back Kate Ryan, her lovable ex P. I. Kate stammers when she tries to express herself, frequently says the wrong thing, and hides her feelings from the world. After an assignment photographing wild mustangs in South Dakota, Kate is looking forward to the solitude of her cabin. Instead of solitude, Kate ends up inviting her sister Teri, Aunt Hannah, and Maggie.

From the beginning, Kate's bliss is disturbed. It's clear that someone has been in her cabin. As the week evolves, so does her feeling of being watched. When a huge thunderstorm strands Kate, Teri, and Maggie at the cabin, the feeling of menace builds to a dramatic conclusion.

Sweeney has done an excellent job of juxtaposing the serenity and beauty of the cabin, the lake, and the small town with an uneasiness that something is lurking just below the surface. Writing in Kate's voice, she keeps the reader aware of what Kate sees, feels, hears, etc. Sweeney also does a good job of contrasting the gentleness of the growing romance between Kate and Maggie, with the growing sense of dread.

Although part of a series, The Trouble with Murder stands alone and is a good read, with lots of humor included among the dread.
Reviewed by RLynne

Title: Three Doses of Murder:
The Aliki Pateas Mystery Series Book 2
Author: Anne Azel
ISBN: 1933720387
Publisher: P.D. Publishing, Inc.,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,
Price: $17.99 – Pages: 219
Genre: Mystery

A sequel to Murder in Triplicate, Three Doses of Murder serves up forensic scientist Aliki Pateas and her extended family again as they tackle three more murders. As she moves from story to story, Aliki is trying to find a way to finally propose to her lover Dawn, but bodies keep getting in the way.

In "Dead Duck," Aliki and her half-sister, Robbie Williams, are flying home for their brother's wedding and so that Robbie can meet her real father for the first time. As if that weren't trying enough, ritual sacrifices that are occurring draw them into a complex murder investigation.

"Dead Right" has Aliki reeling when a serial killer convinces her that she was responsible for an airplane full of people crashing. She feels she has to go undercover to catch whoever did this, but it could cost her the relationship with Dawn and even her life.

The final story, "Dead Ringer," has Aliki, Robbie and their families in South America to attend a conference. A scientist disappears, mummified bodies are involved and they end up in a desert in northern Chile trying to survive. Aliki's dreams of being able to propose to Dawn and have a nice quiet family wedding don't seem to have much chance of happening; but Robbie, her wife, Janet, and all of the children will do all they can to help the process.

It's obvious that this book was originally part of one book combined with the previous volume of stories, Murder in Triplicate. The opening line is, "A few months later, the Pateas and Williams families found themselves together again." This makes no sense unless the stories were together in one volume. It also shows that the editor should have paid more attention to the second volume. If a reader does not know there is another book, that sentence is going to have her totally confused.

Once again Azel delivers some fun stories with interesting characters. The mysteries won't tax your brain much, but Three Doses of Murder is fun to read and a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: To Protect and Serve
Author: VK Powell
ISBN-10: 1-60282-007-4 - ISBN-13: 978-1-60282-007-4
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bold Strokes Books,
Price: $15.95 – Pages: 240
Genre: Romance/Police Procedural

Alex Troy's personal life is sad. She is still mourning the loss of her parents in a plane crash and trying to recover from an abusive relationship. No wonder then that her job as a successful police detective with the Vice/Narcotics Division is the focus of her life. She's known for being totally professional, tough and a stickler for following the rules, but she's also a closer who can bring in the criminals for prosecution.

When she is asked to head a task force to take down a drug dealer named Sonny Davis, Alex knows that this could be the opportunity she's been waiting for to move up higher in the department. Matters become complicated when she is instructed to include Officer Keri Morgan in her group. Alex was involved in an earlier investigation of a situation including Keri and there is no doubt that the younger officer doesn't trust Alex. Keri brings a life force to her work though that Alex has been missing for years, and she quickly proves that Alex's original impression of her was incorrect. The two find themselves working closely together and an attraction grows, which endangers their careers and possibly their lives. Both hope they won't have to make a choice about what is more important, their relationship or ending the career of a drug lord.

To Protect and Serve is an interesting story. The play between the characters is more involved than most romances, so it holds the reader's attention. Some of the characters are stereotypical, but that's a minor circumstance. Sonny Davis, the drug kingpin, is unusually stupid, especially about women, but the story would have needed to be a lot longer if he weren't. Some authors have a tendency to carry characters from one book to another, so it won't be surprising to see Alex and Keri turn up again. To Protect and Serve is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Training Days
Author: Jane Frances
ISBN: 978-1-59493-122-2
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 272
Genre: Romance

Morgan Silverstone is the star of an extremely popular travel show on Australian television and understands the rule she has to live by. When she is in the country, she is totally closeted, but when she is overseas, she can play with anyone she wants to. Morgan has never challenged that situation before, but the train trip she's making across Australia with her crew is boring, so, when she meets Marie, a student from France who is backpacking across the country and has no idea who Morgan is, there doesn't seem to be any reason not to have a brief fling in her cabin.

Alison Brown (Ally) is a young architect who is becoming extremely well known in Australia, but all she cares about at the moment is getting into her cabin and relaxing. She's not very happy when she finds that she's not only locked out, but the sounds coming from inside indicate exactly what is going on. What happens next is a series of misunderstandings that cause Ally to believe that Morgan is straight, then gay, then that she wouldn't know how to tell the truth if her life depended on it.

For reasons Morgan doesn't understand, it becomes important to her to convince Ally of the truth and then to include her in her life. Just as the women are developing a relationship, Marie resurfaces to blackmail Morgan, and then incriminating pictures of Morgan with Ally are released to the press. The network demands that, to save her career, Morgan must deny the truth and give up all contact with Ally. Morgan faces the hardest decision of her life. Which is more important, the career she's spent a lifetime building or the happiness she might find with Ally? Can she ask Ally to live a lie for what they might share?

Training Days is a standard romance, but it has quirky little twists in it. At one point, when Morgan admits to Ally that she is gay, Ally thinks she's lying to cover up an affair with one of the crew. Morgan confesses to her deepest secret and she's not believed. It's fun to watch the two try to work out the situation and experience Morgan's frustration over knowing what exactly to tell Ally.

That Marie, who appears to be so innocent, turns out to be a threat isn't surprising, but the situation is aggravating. It's the one totally predictable situation in the book. The resolution of the conflict might be questionable in the US, but may be perfectly plausible in Australia. The book may be routine fare, but it's a good enough story to hold the reader's attention for a few hours. If you're looking for entertainment, this will suit the bill.
Reviewed by Lynne Pierce

Title: Without Warning
Author: KG MacGregor
ISBN 978-1-59493-120-8
Publisher: Bella Books,
Available From: StarCrossed Productions,; and Bella Books,
Price: $13.95 - Pages: 230
Genre: Romance

Formerly published as Shaken

MacGregor has given her fans an exciting story which literally opens with a bang. Her protagonists are in a mall which caves in during a Los Angeles earthquake. Caught in the rubble are Lily Stewart, a legal aide attorney and Anna Kaklis, vice president of Premier Motors of Beverly Hills, southern California's top BMW dealer.

Lily comes to with a throbbing headache and a gash over one eye. A woman with a long history of surviving, she starts wiggling through the dark, trying to find a way out. Crawling through the bookstore she discovers Anna, trapped under a bookcase. Together, the two women deal with total blackness, claustrophobic conditions, hunger, and thirst as they fight their way out. They also tell each other their personal histories and agree that, when they are rescued, they will be great friends.

MacGregor has created three dimensional characters in Lily and Anna, and surrounded them with very believable family members and friends. As Lily and Anna grow closer together, Lily's friends warn her about "falling for a straight woman", and Anna's father pushes her toward "suitable" men. Lily's dilemma of whether or not to show her feelings is particularly well drawn and will likely resonate with her readers.

Without Warning draws comparisons between straight and lesbian, and between rich and poor. Anna's and Lily's backgrounds could not be more different, and still, they share courage, humor and brains. MacGregor has given her readers a wonderful story. Since it is the first in a series, her fans have hopes of more to come.
Reviewed by RLynne

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Our Reviewers

Sandra Barret
Sandra Barret grew up in New England, where she spent more years than she cares to mention as a software programmer. She lives with her partner, two children, and a menagerie of pets. Sandra has been an avid reader of fantasy, horror, and lesbian romance. This interest has led her to pen her own creations in novel and short story format.

Contact her at

Anna Furtado
Anna is a Book Reviewer for Just About Write, The East Bay Voice, and The L-Word Literature section; and Author of The Heart's Desire Book One of The Briarcrest Chronicles, a 2005 GCLS Goldie Award Finalist, and The Heart's Strength, Book Two of The Briarcrest Chronicles,

Anna's Web site:
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Arlene Germain
For many years a teacher of English and Creative Writing, Arlene Germain lives with her partner in Massachusetts. She is a book reviewer for The Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, the Just About Write Newsletter/E-zine, The Crown—the Golden Crown Literary Society newsletter and The

Kathi Isserman
Kathi lives with her partner and two very spoiled cats outside Washington, D.C. When not reading all kinds of books, she can be found on the golf course attempting to hit that little white ball. Her reviews can also be read at,, and The Independent Gay Writer.

Write to her at

Lori L. Lake
Minnesotan Lori L. Lake is the author of the Gun series, Different Dress, Ricochet in Time, and a book of short stories called Stepping Out. She also edited the 2005 Lammy finalist The Milk of Human Kindness: Lesbian Authors Write About Mothers and Daughters. Lori is currently at work on her sixth novel, Snow Moon Rising, which comes out in February. She teaches fiction writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and often reviews books for various print and online journals.

Contact Lori at

Lynne Pierce
Lynne Pierce is a life-long resident of Virginia who has spent the last thirty-two years trying to convince high school students that history is relevant to their lives and leading them through the process of learning to think for themselves about issues. Her main hobby since the age of five has been reading and she has spent the last ten years consuming every work of lesbian fiction that she can get her hands on. Lynne's reviews also can be read at
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You can reach Lynne at

RLynne lives in the high desert of California, next to Joshua Tree National Park, with her partner of 24 years, and various four-footed friends. A semi-retired educator, she’s been reviewing books since 1992. Her reviews have appeared in various gay rags, including Mega-Scene, The Lesbian Teachers Network, Lesbian Connection, and others.

Contact her at

Cheri Rosenberg
Cheri Rosenberg is a reviewer for Just About Write, Queer Girl Talk, Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, The L Life, Lambda Book Report, and other venues posting book reviews for the lesbian community. Check out Cheri’s Corner at

Published under the pen name Cheri Crystal, her short stories can be found in Lessons in Love: Erotic Interludes 3, After Midnight: True Lesbian Erotic Confession and many other anthologies of short fiction. She is currently writing her second novel while adding the finishing touches to her first.

When she is not working as a Consultant Dietitian, she is reading, reviewing, and writing lesbian fiction. Cheri is an "activist reader," a wife and mother to a wonderful husband and three terrific children, and she maintains that if more heterosexuals would read the works of lesbian authors they would realize they are talented, intelligent, articulate, admirable, and their books are equally as praiseworthy as anything published for the mainstream market in the literary world. Cheri hopes to enlighten the world and make it a more tolerant place where lesbian fiction is every bit as respected as straight fiction.

Contact her at

Author Bios

Anne Azel
Anne Azel is a retired forensic pathologist and lives in northern Ontario. She likes traveling, canoeing, kayaking and walking with her dog. She can be contacted at

Diana Tremain Braund
Diana Tremain Braund continues to live on the coast of Maine in a house that overlooks the water. She and her dog, Bob, who is now six years old, take long walks on the beach. This is where she comes up with ideas for her stories.

Barbara Davies
Barbara Davies was born in Birmingham, England, and graduated from York University. She published her first short story in1994 and her work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Her previous novel was Christie and the Hellcat. She now lives in Gloucestershire where she reviews fantasy fiction for Starburst. She can be reached at

Jane Frances
Jane Frances works in the marketing department of a city-based educational institution in Australia. She wrote Training Days while on a two-year sabbatical which took her across Europe, into China, and on a brief visit to the United States.

Jennifer Fulton
New Zealand born Jennifer Fulton lives in the West. A prolific author, she writes under the pen names of Jennifer Fulton, Rose Beecham, and Grace Lennox. She received a 2006 Alice B. Award for her body of work, and has been a Lambda Literary Award finalist in both romance and mystery.

Ellen Hart
Ellen is a five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, as well as a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction. Entertainment Weekly recently named her one of the "101 movers and shakers in the gay entertainment industry."

For the last eleven years, Ellen has taught "An Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery" through the The Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation.

Her newest novels are No Reservations Required, a Sophie Greenway Mystery and The Mortal Groove, a Jane Lawless Mystery.  Sweet Poison, the next Jane Lawless mystery, will be released in November of 2008. 

The Mortal Groove has been nominated for this year's Lambda Literary Award.  Ellen lives in Minneapolis with her partner of 30 years.

KG MacGregor
KG MacGregor is a retired teacher who divides her time between Miami and Blowing Rock, N. C. She has a PhD in journalism and mass Communication. She has prepared research reports for commercial clients in publishing, television and travel industries.

She enjoys golf and hiking. Her previous books are: The House on Sandstone, Mulligan, and Malicious Pursuit.

VK Powell
A thirty-year veteran of a midsized police department, VK was a police officer by necessity (it paid the bills) and a writer by desire (it didn’t). Her career spanned numerous positions including beat officer, homicide detective, vice/narcotics lieutenant and assistant chief of police.

Now retired, she devotes her time to writing, rewriting, traveling, volunteer work, and attracting a half-life partner (the first half was spent chronically single).

VK is a member of the Golden Crown Literary Society and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of three erotic short stories published by Bold Strokes Books: Toy with Me which appears in Erotic Interludes 3: Lessons in Love; Dessert, Anyone? included in Erotic Interludes 4: Extreme Passions; and One for the Road in Erotic Interludes 5: Road Games.

Her first novel To Protect and Serve was released in March 2008. Her second, Suspect Passions, is scheduled for release in 2009.

Radclyffe is a retired surgeon and the president of Bold Strokes Books. She has written more than twenty-five novels and contributed to many anthologies, which has led to her winning numerous awards from the Lambda Literary Society and the Golden Crown Literary Society. She has twice been the recipient of the Alice B. Readers' award.

Despite her activities running one of the largest LGBT publishing companies, she turns out a prodigious amount of books, with three more planned in 2008.

Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson lives a stone's throw from Ontario's Georgian Bay, where she is an editor at a daily newspaper. She and her longtime partner were legally married in Toronto, Ontario. She enjoys hockey, skiing, golfing, tennis, and playing with their two dogs.

Kate Sweeney
Kate Sweeney is a native of Chicago, where she's lived most of her life. She is an office manager for a local company and has her nights free for writing.

Fascinated by the power of the written word, M. K. Sweeney has finally put her imagination on paper. Owing her love of reading to her mother, the author admits, "She was constantly reading to us, whether it was a short story by O. Henry or the gossip column from the Chicago Tribune. It mattered little, she had a way of making a grocery list seem full of adventure!"


Email MK Sweeney:

KI Thompson
KI Thompson had a short story, "The Blue Line" in the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, Erotic Interludes 2.

She has had numerous other short stories published, as well as House of Clouds, a historical novel. In September of 2008, her third book, Cooper's Deale will be released.

KI lives in the Washington D.C. area with her long-time partner and their two cats.

Ali Vali
Ali Vali lives with her long-time partner right outside New Orleans. She enjoys working in her yard, cheering for the LSU Tigers, and bike riding. She works in the nonprofit sector.

Her previous books are: The Devil Inside, Carly's Sound, The Devil Unleashed, Second Season, and coming soon, Calling the Dead.