contemporary

Charming the Vicar – audiobook review

Charming the Vicar cover art

 

“Axdale had a gay, female vicar in heels and a biker jacket. Had she walked into the Twilight Zone?”

This audio edition of Jenny Frame’s Charming the Vicar pulls you into a journey of heartache and loss on the way to love and healing. Famed mentalist and avowed atheist Finnian Kane has no idea what she’s in for when she selects the small English village of Axedale as her retreat from the world and her sorrows. Not thwarted by a chilly reception to her doorstep one-woman welcome committee, Reverend Bridget Claremont engages Finn in discussions and activities. I’ve listened to and read few queer romances  in which faith plays an important role in the characters’ lives. The ways in which Bridget’s Christian faith and Finnian’s deep disdain for religion play out separately and together is thoughtfully done. As you listen, you won’t find that one way is the only way. Faith and sexuality are partners in the journey of this story.

Attraction between the women build, smoldering and sparking, though the Church prevents Bridget from having relationships with women. Nicola Victoria Vincent delivers wonderful characterization of leads and supporting cast, though her delivery sounds hurried at times. She heats up sex scenes, stepping into Mistress Black (Bridget’s buried persona) in much the same way that Bridget dons her persona and attire, with firm and sensual tones. Finn’s need also amplifies these scenes as she pleads and takes. Take some time for yourself and enjoy this delectable blend of sweet and spicy! 

See Courting the Countess for more Axedale romance!

Charming the Vicar by Jenny Frame
Narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent
Produced by Bold Strokes Books
Length: 7 hours, 49 minutes
Release date: January 2018

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Categories: audiobooks, contemporary, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cracking Love by Emily King: a review

Cracking Love by Emily King

 

Cracking Love by Emily King
Release date: February 15, 2018
Publisher: Bella Books
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Is love all that it’s cracked up to be? Does it make you go a bit nutty? Have sour experiences made your heart a tough nut to crack? Okay, okay…okay, I’ll stop with the delightful nut puns (for now) and talk about Cracking Love, Emily King’s debut romance. Janet Webber feels burned out by constant travel and low satisfaction she gets from her new job as a regional pharmacy manager. Newly relocated to a small California town, she chats up an airport shuttle driver and ends up invited to a house party. Mingling and noshing on BBQ, Janet meets other local lesbians and L.A.-based friends of the host couple. However, she only has eyes for walnut & veggie farmer, Gail Lawrence. The two hit it off, but personal baggage gets in the way.

Along the way to love, Gail grapples with deeply rooted issues of mistrust and the prospect of losing clients for her produce. Trust issues arising from past partner infidelity and gold digging college girlfriends creates much of the drama separating Janet and Gail from HEA with each other. Line dancing connects the women to their community, to each other, and to themselves. This is especially true for Janet. It mirrors the steps they learn as they negotiate relationships and careers. Once you figure out the basic step combinations, you can move on to more complex patterns with confidence.

Quick pacing makes this story easy to devour in a sitting or two.  I chalked up their expedited pairing to deep thirst for emotional and romantic validation. The intensity of their feelings clashes often with what they want and with their insecurities. Ultimately, Janet and Gail seem to balance each other out. In-between flights for work, tending to crops, and line dancing lessons, there is a lot of steamy bedroom scenes. It’s an enjoyable debut romance, overall. If you’re looking for romance set in small towns, women that work with their hands, midlife career changing magic, and some boot scootin’ boogie, then this just might be up your alley.

Hungry Reads

Eat with snacks nearby! All the talk of walnut bars and candies had me craving the praline treats I ate in New Orleans last year. I can’t vouch for any of these recipes (yet), but here are a handful of walnut bar and candied walnut recipes I found via Allrecipes.com and Martha Stewart. I wonder if author Emily King has a stash of go-to baking recipes…

 

 

Categories: contemporary, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holiday Romance 2017

 

Happy holidays everyone! I’m in the midst of creating stocking stuffers full of winter seasonal cheer. Today I’m sharing holiday romances that will keep you warm as we stroll towards the Winter Solstice and indulge in festivities with loved ones, colleagues, and ourselves. Although I’m posting this now, it is by no means finished. I’ll try to add more books (published within the last five years) to future lists as I discover them. Until then, happy listening!

As always, I would love to hear about holiday romances that you’ve enjoyed! Please share them in the comment section below!

 

That Old Emerald Mountain Magic: A Christmas/Holiday (2017) by Cara Malone
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“Carmen hasn’t had snow on Christmas in ten years. Her family has grown accustomed to beaches and extravagant tropical vacations, but she still remembers the snow in Massachusetts when she was a kid. When her dad decides to book a cabin in the idyllic, snow-capped mountains of Colorado for Christmas, the rest of the family is skeptical – why trade palm trees and warm weather for a snowbound ski resort? Carmen’s in the same ‘bah humbug’ mood until she meets the impossibly optimistic, endlessly intriguing Joy and their worlds collide – quite literally – on the slopes. Joy has lived her whole life on Emerald Mountain and watched a lot of people come and go through the resort town. She has learned to expect a certain amount of impermanence here, but Carmen makes her hope for more than just a vacation romance. Can Joy help Carmen and her family rediscover the true spirit of Christmas?”  via Amazon


Eitan’s Chord: A Lesbian Fairy Trio for Chanukah
by Shira Glassman
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“Fairy magic requires fairy intimacy, so when the three Chanukah fairies—cute butch Latke, enthusiastic party girl Dreidl, and their elegant leader Menorah—decide to help an impoverished young couple, a fairy romp is in order! Eitan, a trans man, and his cis wife Abigail work retail and live on love in a studio apartment with broken blinds. If only Abigail’s beaded jewelry would sell online, they’d have a little more cash, but nobody’s biting. While they sleep, the fairies bring the miracle they’re looking for. This story features spicy behavior and is not for children.” via Amazon

 

A Christmas for Carol (2017) by Emily Sharp
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“A modern spin on a beloved Christmas classic. After the passing of her best friend, Jacqueline Marley, Elizabeth Scrooge heads up the powerhouse financial firm of Marley and Scrooge. Bitter and angry, love is the furthest thing from her mind. But then she hires a new employee. Carol Cratchit is looking forward to her new job as the personal secretary to Ms. Scrooge. Despite the simmering sexual tension which heats up between them both, Carol couldn’t ever imagine being with someone so cold and heartless. When Scrooge hires Carol to help her with a personal issue outside of work, Carol reluctantly agrees. But with each meeting, Carol begins to see past the hard exterior and sees something inside of Elizabeth that she has been longing for. For a miracle to happen this Christmas, and give the Happily Ever After both need, Elizabeth and Carol have to look into the past, focus on the present, and find the magic they both need for the future.” via Amazon

 

Winter’s Solace (2017) by Magnolia Robbins
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Katlynn Walker thought she had it all: a dream job in Silicon Valley. A beautiful California beach house. The love of her life. But her world crumbled beneath her feet the moment she found her best friend in bed with her fiancé. Desperate to escape her harsh new realities, Katlynn flees to her Massachusetts hometown of Wellesley, to spend Christmas at her sister’s cottage. Finding a new love was the last thing on her agenda, but when Katlynn reconnects with an old friend, everything she thought she knew about herself and her future is called into question. Iris’ life changed the minute her mother got sick. With her quiet, cozy world in Wellesley suddenly turned upside-down, there’s no room for more complications — especially not the resurgence of a college crush she thought she’d put out of her mind long ago. But when she finds herself spending the holidays next door to her old classmate Katlynn, Iris can’t ignore the chemistry between them. As the two women navigate their separate heartaches, will they crack under the pressures of life around them? Or can their new bond save them both? via Amazon

 

Snow Globe (2013) by Georgia Beers
Brisk Press
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“Mackenzie Campbell has no idea her life is about to fall apart. She’s bright and attractive with a good job, a comfortable home and an impending Christmas wedding she’s been planning for months. So when her girlfriend bails less than two weeks before the nuptials, Kenzie’s picture perfect Christmas world is turned upside down. Determined to hold on to at least some shred of her dignity, Kenzie snags her best friend, Allison, and flees the cold of the Northeast to take the honeymoon anyway. The Rainbow’s Edge is an enormous LGBT resort in Southern Florida, and its atmosphere of sun and fun seems to be just what Kenzie needs to help take her mind off of her lost relationship. But can a few hot dances, a mysterious suitor, and a handful of rum runners help her figure out what it is she really wants?” via georgiabeers.com

 

A Holloway Holiday (2016) by Voss Porter
Dark Hollows Press
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“Under the stress of the holidays, can Cara Spencer and Dre hold it together? Or do they need a little Holloway Holiday magic? At the behest of her brothers, Cara Spencer Holloway picks up the mantle of holiday entertaining, left behind in the wake of her parents’ untimely death, but now she’s beginning to second-guess her every decision. What if she can’t measure up to the memories? What if her brothers don’t think she’s good enough? And why in the world has her partner, Dre Martin, been acting so strangely? Join the Holloway clan as they realize all they truly need is a little holiday magic!” via Amazon

 

Mistletoe Mishap (2017) by Siri Caldwell
Brussels Sprout Press
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“Ready…set…yes! It seems like a simple challenge: who can make the other person take the Lord’s name in vain the loudest and the most often with the least clothes on before Christmas. With only twelve days to prove that all those years together do not mean she’s forgotten how to goad the love of her life into unbuttoning her own blouse, Kendra has no time to waste. If only Viv played fair… Will mental arithmetic, a little too much coffee, and mistletoe threaded through belt loops help two science professors laugh and love their way through the holidays?” via Amazon

Christmas Cakes (2017) by Anne Hagan
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When Hannah Yoder left the Amish order at 17, she didn’t know what life had in store for her. She just knew she wanted to be free to be herself. Four years later, with the support of a loving family of choice, an adopted son entering full-on toddlerhood and a new bakery starting to do well, she felt like she had almost everything. Almost. After a previous relationship fizzled out over different life goals, she decided to focus on her son, her business and completing culinary school before she gave any more thought to finding someone new to share her life with. Morgan Barber has secrets. She hopes culinary school will be her ticket out of the life she hides from the world; a life she wants so desperately to leave behind. With her home life a constant nightmare, a career in chef’s whites seems like a beautiful dream. She doesn’t dare dream of anything beyond that for herself. Assigned to work on a Christmas cake baking project together, the two young women are reluctant at first but then they begin to form a bond. Just when Hannah thinks she may have found a spark of the one thing missing in her life; that maybe she can have a relationship with Morgan, the other woman draws away and contemplates changing course entirely.

Categories: booklist, contemporary, fantasy, fiction, Holiday, novella, romance, seasonal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Right Kind of Wrong – audiobook review

right kind of wrong

 

Narrator Paige McKinney infuses BFFs Quinn Burke and Grace Everett’s friends to lovers dilemma with all of the baggage of their twenty years together. Her warm performance reflects the mostly sure and satisfied women’s personalities, a blend of confusion and determination mixed in. When the two women first met, co-working at a grocery store, Grace was more interested in having at least one close friend than in having yet another girlfriend. Life has reached a phase, however, in which Grace is looking to settle down with a woman who meets at least some of her standards, someone in the ballpark of “good enough”. Besides a satisfying job owning and operating a bookstore, great friends, and loving grandparents, she doesn’t want for much. Quinn, for her part, enjoys tending bar, Sunday brunch with her mother and Grace, and, for the time being, avoiding potential heartbreak. The women’s relationship is a slow burn romance that neither wants to acknowledge. After all, doesn’t every pair of bosom buddies complete each other’s sentences? When Quinn’s mother suffers a major heart attack, it acts as the catalyst for resolving bad blood and buried desire.

The cast of family, friends, and lovers, is wonderfully portrayed. Beth, Quinn’s homophobic older sister comes across as extreme and ridiculous in her prejudices through McKinney’s narration. Through raised pitch and clipped haughtiness, McKinney leaves listeners with no doubts as to who Beth thinks has the moral high ground in the family. Meg, the other estranged sister, is voiced in softer tones as her relationship with her younger sisters, Quinn and Callie, evolves. And Callie, the baby of the family, says what she means and means what she says, the lack of hesitation and fierceness of her love reflected in her the narrator’s tone and pacing. Family, whether it is the one that the characters are born into or the ones they make over a lifetime, is everywhere and everything in this story. 

The Right Kind of Wrong is a pleasurably frustrating, comfy, and relatable romantic journey between two longtime friends. It’s a great production, one which I hope you’ll enjoy, too.

The Right Kind of Wrong (2017) by PJ Trebelhorn
Bold Strokes Books
Length: 6 hours, 49 minutes
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Categories: audiobooks, contemporary, fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fiction for Foodies

I’m thankful for a million people, places, and things, but when it comes to the holidays food is always my main squeeze. Feel awkward? Family overload? No football game? There’s always a comforting smorgasbord of delicious savory and sweet baked goods waiting on stand-by (I love you olives, rolls, and pumpkin pie!).

What butter….er…better booklist could I share than one in which food plays an integral role in the story? If you have some tasty reading recommendations, please share them in the comment section below 🙂

 

Perfect Pairing

Perfect Pairing (Bywater Books, 2016) by Rachel Spangler
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Big business & food truck dynamo clash over delivery, but find themselves sandwiched together.

 

a little bit of spice starting from scratch

Starting from Scratch (Brisk Press, 2010) by Georgia Beers
An oven full of cookies leads a graphic designer where she least expects.

A Little Bit of Spice (Brisk Press, 2015) by Georgia Beers
Sales manager for a family brewery tries for a supermarket sweep of a regional chain.
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Chef Cute Girl give me some sugar

Chef Cutegirl (2016) by Nicolette Dane
The competition heats up between two reality cooking show contestants in “Chef Cutegirl”

Give Me Some Sugar (2017) by Nicolette Dane
Struggling bakery owner & business consultant try to salvage the crumbs in “Give Me Some Sugar”.
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(1) (2)

 

confucius jane katie lynch cover

Confucius Jane (Forge Books, 2016) by Katie Lynch
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Romance blooms over noodles and fortune cookies in New York City’s Chinatown.

 

the roundabout gerri hill

The Roundabout (Bella Books, 2016) by Gerri Hill
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Parking spaces and lovelorn denizens of a queer community conspire for some faux-mance between a new business owner and popular restaurateur.

 

all you can eat order up

All You Can Eat (2014) & Order Up (2016) from Ylva Publishing
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Collections of salty, sweet stories for insatiable readers.

 

side order of love

Side Order of Love (Bella Books, 2009) by Tracey Richardson
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Cooking superstar caters a golf tournament. Can love compete with a missed vacation?

 

Half Baked by Edie Bryant

Half Baked (2017) by Edie Bryant
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Could this be an Imagine Me & You situation, but with cake? 

 

chef special

Chef’s Special (Brisk Press, 2016) by Susan X. Meagher
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Can dreams withstand the heat of a professional grade kitchen?

 

Taste

Taste (Bold Strokes Books, 2016) by Kris Bryant
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Can a romance between a culinary instructor and student last longer than forty-five minutes, 375 degrees? Will their shared ingredients bind them or separate as the course cooks?

 

sugar

Sugar (Bella Books, 2004) by Karin Kallmaker
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Will the bake-off pay off, for both heart and wallet?

 

first course ja armstrong

First Course (2017) by J.A. Armstrong
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Business and pleasure go on a date at this fledgling restaurant.

Categories: contemporary, fiction, lgbt | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Halloween: The Secret of Sleepy Hollow

The Secret of Sleepy Hollow

 

The other week at a local CVS, I noticed racks of Christmas romance paperbacks. I’m not quite ready to turn over all my leaves to winter holiday tales, though. Where oh where can I trick or treat for romances between queer women on All Hallows Eve? When I’m stumped for stories or want recommendations I can count on, I ask the readers at The Lesbian Book Review Book Club, a Facebook group associated with The Lesbian Review review site. I received several great titles for my treat bag, but I knew right away which one I would start with…

The Secret of Sleepy Hollow is a perfect seasonal tale to cozy up with as the days grow shorter, wetter, and colder. You know the feeling that time stops, characters frozen in place until you re-open a book? How easy it feels to to pick up where you left off as though no time has passed at all? This is one of those worlds. Andi Marquette takes the well-known and oft repeated tale of Ichabod Crane and his ill-fate time in Sleepy Hollow, and gives it a modern, lesbian spin. Abby Crane spends Halloween weekend deep in the archives of the local history museum in Sleepy Hollow, investigating her famous ancestor. As she works on her doctoral thesis, she meets Katie, a descendant of Katrina van Tassel, home on holiday from her own studies. Sparks fly immediately as the pair set out to learn what really happened to Ichabod on that fateful night 1799… I had fun reading it, enjoying the chemistry between the two women, the mysterious interplay of waking life and dreams, as well as the search itself 🙂 Maybe someday they’ll make a movie based on this version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!

The Secret of Sleepy Hollow by Andi Marquette
Book Two in Twice Told Tales – Lesbian Retellings
Ylva Publishing, October 2015

You can purchase a copy through Ylva Publishing, Bella Books, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Join the conversation on Goodreads, too!

Categories: contemporary, Holiday, lgbt, novella, paranormal, retellings, romance, seasonal, series | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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