romance

Read with Pride Northwest 2017

The Read with Pride Northwest conference, formerly known as Gay Romance Northwest (GRNW), is only 3 weeks away! It will be held at the Seattle Public Library on Saturday, November 4th from 12 pm to 6 pm. Afterwards, hop uphill to enjoy a multi-author reading event at Gay City, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Registration is required to attend panel sessions, but all are welcome to peruse the books for sale and chat up authors. If you want to pre-funk for the conference, I’ve included a list of the attending authors, as well as a link to their websites and books.

Last year, I attended for the first time, along with a co-worker buddy. And it was amazing! I love romance, and queer romance especially; so having this kind of convergence of kindred spirits and authors so close to home makes me feel super lucky. For the remainder of the month, I’m trying really hard not to buy anymore books, because I know I’m gonna splurge on books and bookish stuff at the SPL’s Friends of the Library store (and there is a coffee shop inside, whuuuuut). This year I’m arriving earlier because that table of freebie books empties out quick! Also, bring any LGBTQIA+ titles that you would like to donate to the library at Gay City. Last year they had a table accepting donations, so I’m pretty sure they will this year, too.

 

Attending Authors

For more information on the attending authors, click HERE.

RWP 2017 authors

Gimme all your lovin’! 

Need even more love in your life? Yeah, I know, me too! Here’s a sample platter to satiate those romance hunger pains until November 4th. Stay tuned for that special moment when the panel sessions are revealed on Read with Pride Northwest‘s website! Cheers 🙂

Love-Between-the-Covers

I know I shared this last year, but it’s still a great romance documentary. Love Between the Covers features numerous writers, including Radclyffe. You can watch it via Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, and Google Play. You can also watch it for free if your library subscribes to Hoopla or has DVD copies available.

 

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Austin Chant and Amanda Jean host a fantastic queer romance podcast, The Hopeless Romantic. Check it out!

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Categories: events, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Case of the Not-so-Nice Nurse – audiobook review

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Cherry Aimless and I have at least one thing in common: our admiration of teen super sleuth, Nancy Dre…er, Nancy Clue. Narrator Emily Beresford captures the playful spirit of Mabel Maney’s The Case of the Not-so-Nice Nurse. Originally published in 1991, this tongue-in-cheek combo parody (with a queer twist) of the Nancy Drew mystery series and the nurse-cum amateur-investigator series, Cherry Ames, is even more fun in audio form.

Cherry, a clueless nurse with a heart of gold, is about to take a well-deserved vacation from her job at a busy hospital in Seattle, when chaos erupts. Beresford deftly channels the young woman’s perky helpfulness and oblivious nature, treading a fine line between endearing and annoying. Along the way to California, Cherry picks up a few friends and meets her idol, Nancy Clue. All characters are given distinct vocal profiles. This enhances the humor and increases listener immersion. Together, the women pool their talents and resources to solve the mystery.  

***Book two in the series, The Case of the Good-for-Nothing Girlfriend, follows up on the traumatic backstory of Nancy Clue, her father, and much-beloved housekeeper.***

A Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless mystery, Book 1
Cleis Press
Length: 7 hours, 2 minutes
Audiobook production: 2012

Available from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, humorous, mystery, romance, series | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passing Strange – Bi the way

Books with bisexual main characters are underrepresented in my reading life. It’s one of my goals this year to remedy that, but when I look through the dozens of novels I’ve enjoyed so far this year, a negligible percent are by and/or about bi folks. Last month, though, I stumbled upon a review in Bookmarks magazine…

Image result for passing strange book

Passing Strange is an engrossing story about a circle of queer women in San Francisco, 1940.  The novel opens on an elderly Helen Young, the last surviving member of her group of friends. She leads us through the alleys of Chinatown, on a mission to retrieve an invaluable object. 

The novel then shifts back to 1940, where we meet Emily, (a college drop-out with all the right night moves), Helen (a Japanese-American lawyer who moonlights as a dancer in Chinatown), Haskel (a painter whose chalk strokes bring lurid magazine covers to life), and others. 

Events quickly unfold, flowing organically from one section of the story to the next. Though the novel centers on Haskel and Emily, San Francisco is reflected through the other women’s lives. When shit hits the fan, each woman must draw on their talents and make difficult decisions. 

It’s wonderful tale of friendship, love, place, seasoned with subtle infusions of magic. I couldn’t put it down. Ellen Klages’ vivid depictions of the City by the Bay and the high stakes involved with living queer lives in the 1930s and 1940s, enthralled me from cover to cover.

Categories: fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Perfect Pairing review

Perfect Pairing is a book you should read with plenty of great food at hand. No matter what time of day I return to this story or even if I just ate, I always find myself super hungry (even if the sandwich being made is not my jam). At least it’s delicious torture. Can I avoid the temptation of employing a good many food puns in this review? Probably not and I probably won’t try to hard to avoid serving them up, either. There is plenty of head butting, humor, and romance as Quinn Banning, an investment banker with strong local ties and an even stronger drive, tries to get successful food truck chef Hal Orion on board with starting a restaurant (complete with all expenses paid and creative control). Neither woman wants to give up what matters most to them. They both love their hometown of Buffalo, New York, and want to keep its special flavors intact, but come at it from seemingly different angles. Quinn’s college-age brother, Ian and his adorkably endearing qualities help humanize her “Never gets no for an answer” business persona, but that only goes so far. Sully, Hal’s friend-food truck partner-roommate, adds playful winks and nods and say no mores to post-Quinn encounters and exploring the reasons for Hal’s refusal to accept the banker’s proposition. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is…right?

What I love and what is immediately apparent from the first page is the genuine dialogue, character chemistry, and strong (though wordless presence) of the story’s other main character, Food. One of my favorite quandaries is having a pocketful of cash and tons of food options pumping their amazing aromas in my face. I’m also the kind of person who would starve to death because making a choice on what I’ll eat is really hard when I’m torn in a million different directions. Yet, Hal makes a food lover’s choice easy. At her food truck, Cheesy Does It, you can stuff your face with any number of savory sandwiches. From “Heard of Buffalo!” to “Sloppy Firsts” to “Hippy Dippy” and more, everyone from investment bankers to Instagrammers to blue collar workers can find something to enjoy. Hal is more concerned with making sure no one leaves her truck hungry than with her bottom line.

As Hal and Quinn spend more time together (for better or worse), boundaries between business and personal blur. Can they create a recipe for success or will it all fall apart? 

***Awesome bonus: If you want to learn how to make some of the sandwiches in Perfect Pairing, author Rachel Spangler shows you how in a series of videos on her website.***

Perfect Pairing by Rachel Spangler
Published by Bywater Books
Available from Bywater Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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

Coffee Connections: A booklist

Most mornings before I head out to work, I brew up a pot of Yuban and pour it into my trusty Stanley thermos. It’s as much a part of my day as getting dressed. This beloved and essential morning ritual goes well with both solitude and company. 

For example, my idea of a perfect first date or family gathering starts with a cup of coffee. If nothing else goes right, at least there’s a steaming (or chilled or frozen) coffee concoction to enjoy. Throw in a good book and its game over perfection! The characters in the stories below geek out on B-grade sci-fi flicks, grapple with long-distance, attempt to run a cafe while still attending high school, and much more. Just add coffee. 

long macchiatos and monsters

Long Macchiatos and Monsters (Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance) by Alison Evans
Published by Less Than Three Press
Available from Less Than Three Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Jalen, lover of B-grade sci-fi movies, meets the far-too-handsome P in a cafe while deciding whether or not to skip uni again. When P invites them along to a double feature of Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon, Jalen can hardly believe that hot boys like bad sci-fi, too. But as their relationship progresses, Jalen realizes P leaves them wondering if they’re on the same page about what dating means, and if that’s what they’re doing.” – from Less Than Three Press

coffee date

Coffee Date by K. Lynn
Published by Less Than Three Press
Available from Less Than Three PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Smash Words.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she’s trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She’s decided she’s done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He’s sweet, friendly, charming… and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets. 

But if the truth doesn’t ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.” – from Less Than Three Press

Get it together delilah

Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough
Published by Chronicle Books
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Originally published as The Flywheel in Australia, 2015.

“Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?” – from Chronicle Books

something-true

Something True (Out in Portland, #1) by Karelia Stetz-Waters
Published by Forever Yours, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, Kobo, and other retailers. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Tate Grafton has a tough exterior, but underneath she’s kind, caring, and fiercely loyal. That’s why she first started working at Out in Portland Coffee-it was her way of repaying the shop’s owner for taking her in as a homeless teenager. Nine years later, the coffee shop is floundering and Tate feels like she’s letting life pass her by . . . until she shares an unforgettable night with a beautiful stranger. When the mysterious woman disappears the next morning, Tate doesn’t even know her name.

Laura Enfield was supposed to be in Portland for only a few days-just long enough to oversee a simple business deal before joining her conservative father on his political campaign. But when the closeted Laura romances an employee of the coffee shop her company is shutting down, things get suddenly complicated. Now, the lies she’s told for years are beginning to unravel, and her biggest secret is about to be exposed. Laura can’t stop thinking about the barista with the soulful eyes, but after a lifetime of deception, can she finally embrace something true?” – from Karelia Stetz-Waters

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Don’t Bang the Barista! by Leigh Matthews
Published by Leigh Matthews
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Drawing on the classics of lesbian pulp fiction, Don’t Bang the Barista! is set in the hipster-dyke triangle of East Vancouver, where friends Kate and Cass discuss the politics of hooking up with a hot barista crush. Is Cass warning Kate off over concern for her favourite coffee shop hangout, or does she have ulterior motives for keeping Hanna and Kate apart? What if Hanna actually has her sights set on someone else… someone already in a seemingly monogamous and hetero relationship? Navigating life in the queer East Van community certainly isn’t simple for Kate and her trusty canine, Jupiter, especially when Kate’s ex gets back into town looking more fabulous than ever. Can Kate finally figure out who she wants to be with before it’s too late?” – via Amazon.com

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Confessions from a Coffee Shop by T.B. Markinson
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Available from Amazon.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

“Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?” from T.B. Markinson

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A Caramel Macchiato with a Friend by Lila Bruce
Published by Sapphire Books|
Available from Sapphire Books, Amazon, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

(A short story from the A Heart Well Traveled: Tales of Long Distance Romance and Unlikely Outcomes)

“Discover the many facets of romantic relationships as authors in volume one of, A Heart Well Traveled, unravel the trials and tribulations of long distance love affairs.

Each author, with their own unique style of storytelling, will leave the reader begging for more. Go from wild rides to gentle love stories, exploring the twists and turns lovers go through as they work to be together despite the distance between them.

Explore bonds beyond friendship, chance meetings, family drama, gender complexity, longstanding love and unexpected passion as lovers seek their happily ever after.

A Heart Well Traveled is a collection of short stories where women who love woman share the joys and challenges of long distance relationships.

Can love really conquer all?” – from Sapphire Books

Categories: booklist, erotica, fiction, lgbt, romance, science fiction, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shorties: 3 Audiobooks, 3.5 hours

I dunno about any of you, but right now I’m buried under a pile of incredible books and a million other things (WNBA All-Star weekend, here I come!). My attention-span is also scattered to the four winds, so what I really need are bite-sized (audio) story morsels. One of my favorite things is being read to. The Seattle Public Library hosts a bag lunch story time for adults (I’ve always wanted to go!). Audiobooks are, for the most part, the closest I get to replicating that wonderful feeling of being told a tale. In honor of the busy and multi-tasking folks out there, I scrounged up a few stories that you can listen to in a half hour, an hour, and two hours. They’re great for one sitting; while finishing up odious household chores; noshing on munchies and crunchies; or running around doing errands!

Use the advanced search on Audible to sort by length. If you do a search for “lesbian” in the less than one hour search, you’ll come up with a list that includes M/M romance, sensationalist erotica, and titillating titles. I had to dig around before I found anything that I wanted to listen to, though. Searches for “bisexual” short titles proved even less inspiring. But. You may find more in these results that are to your liking. I’d love to hear from folks who have listened to these stories or have audiobooks under three hour recommendations to share!

*Denotes To Be Listened (TBL) audiobooks.

I’ve listened to Rift Jumpers twice. Once on a lunch break and the second time this morning on my commute. It’s a short story prequel, to what, I can only assume is going to be a fantastic cosmic adventure series. Jane Henningsly, Commander of the research ship, Dauntless, and her crew, embark on a voyage of discovery across the cosmos. Long divided by distance and unattainable “faster than light” space travel, they seek out “rifts”… 

Narrator Kristin James delivers another immersive performance as a crew on the cusp of exciting scientific discovery (though her Aussie and Scottish accents are slightly off the mark, I’ll chalk those characterizations up to the dilutions of years spent in outer space amongst folks from all over). She enhances humorous and tender moments between crew members as they cycle through routine, yet crucial, maneuvers, as well as creating emotional depth through her nuanced narration.

Appeals: hardish sci-fi, a touch of F/F romance, great cast chemistry (blending professionalism & personal connections), humor, kick ass female protagonists

Rift Jumpers: Faster Than Light (A Short Story Prequel) by Erik Schubach
Narrated by Kristin James
Length: 29 minutes
ASIN: B01IFGCWVU
Released: July 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance Audiobook

L.A.-based journalist Megan Hill is a true town mouse. She loves her permanent cell signal, her shitty public transport, and her Starbucks on every corner – and all of that is about to disappear for an entire summer. Soon, she’s going to regret suggesting a “town vs. city” article for the next magazine issue, as it’s her the magazine is sending to Iron Road, Utah to make the report.

Out there, she’ll find Jessie North, the confident and cantankerous owner of North Star Books in the small western town – and apparently the only out and proud lesbian for miles around. Jessie has no fear and no filter, and it’s gotten her into quite a few confrontations over the years. Maybe it’ll get her into a confrontation with this Barbie doll of a city girl who’s just turned up.

Only…Megan and Jessie don’t hate each other like it seems they should. There’s something pushing them together – and it’s not just Jessie’s mother. Whatever fairytale or chemistry is drawing these two women to each other, it’s drawing them pretty strong. Whether it’s strong enough to resist the hate of homophobic Iron Road residents and a cruel, cruel request from Megan’s editor, however, has yet to be seen. ©2016 Bridgette Jensen (P)2016 Bridgette Jensen

Wow, just from the publisher’s description alone, I’m ready to saddle up and head out into the country for adventure! You get well-trod match-ups: city vs. country and fast-paced career vs small town business owner. The sample of narrator Sara Lorn’s performance sounds very promising, too! 

Also, have you watched “Cowgirl Up” from Tello? It’s two seasons of city girl shenanigans on a ranch. If you grew up on Nickelodeon’s “Hey Dude” (1989-1991), City Slickers (1991), and other humorous Westerns pitting unlikely cowgirls and cowboys against the elements, then definitely check out this series! 

Appeals: city mouse vs country mouse, Western setting, F/F romance

*North Star: A Western Lesbian Romance by Bridgette Jensen
Narrated by Sara Lorn
Produced by
Length: 56 minutes
Released: August 2016

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible and iTunes.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

Pomegranate Audiobook

What if everything you thought you knew was a lie?

Crafting spells, running her shop, and hanging with her lover, Hayden, was all Persephone Carraway wanted out of life. The future was filled with endless possibilities as long as it was with the girl of her dreams. But Hayden has a secret and, it turns out, so does Persephone.

One night in the Underworld will change things forever….

Demi, Persephone’s mother, has developed a designer pomegranate, infusing it with her daughter’s blood. A single act of betrayal will craft war with the old gods and the fae, leaving destruction in its wake. Persephone is drawn into a web of myth and magic where nothing is at it seems, even herself.

Myth. Magic. Pomegranates….

©2015 Erzabet Bishop (P)2015 Erzabet Bishop

Oh my dear, Persephone, what have you gotten yourself into? This will be the second audiobook featuring a retelling of Persephone and Hades (aka Hayden), that I’ve listened to this year. My finger is poised above the play button and I look forward to another version of Greek god and goddess drama! Hollie Jackson’s narration sounds like her standard style, but is still very enjoyable so far.

Appeals: Fantasy, erotica, F/F romance, mythology, retellings

*Pomegranate: Myth & Magic, Book 1 by Erzabet Bishop
Narrator: Hollie Jackson
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Length: 2 hours
ASIN: B015S1FVUE
Audiobook production date: December 2015

Available as an audiobook from Audible. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: adventure, audiobooks, fiction, lgbt, romance, science fiction, westerns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love on the Vine: Romance Booklist

Spritzer

Summer spritzer

Would you like some wine with your summer romance? (I’m going to straight up admit that I am super tempted to use a bunch *cough* of grape puns. I do not resist temptation very well…). In college, I had a couple of professors who enjoyed taking our French-in-France cohort to many a vineyard. As a result, I gained a deeper appreciation of wine grape cultivation, its history and social context, and, of course, a better informed palate.

I’ve also enjoyed many films set in vineyards  or had something to do with wine (A Walk to Remember (1995); Terroir (Korean drama series, 2008/2009); French Kiss (1995); and Bottle Shock (2008)), but I don’t think I’ve ever read one. Below you’ll find a handful of romantic encounters, from Karin Kallmaker’s retelling of Pride & Prejudice (Just Like That) to a midlife change at the Wild Love Winery in Michigan (Nicolette Dane’s Full Bodied in the Vineyard), and more. The romance that finds these women arises from unexpected corners and circumstances. 

Full Bodied Nicolette Dane

“After yet another breakup and on the cusp of her 40th birthday, Shannon Laughlin is feeling lost. Life hasn’t gone quite how she expected and she’s ready for something new, a new outlook, a new adventure. A new love. One night, as she tries to figure out what’s next, a chance post on social media by an old friend offers to give her that change she’s been seeking.

That old friend is Alina. Alina is a seasonal worker at Wild Love Winery up on Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan’s wine appellation. A free-spirited woman, Alina has orchestrated a life for herself that revolves around following her bliss. It’s something Shan has always admired in her friend. That, and Alina’s undeniable sensuality. Shan can’t help but remember the one night in college that the two women shared a bed. And the possibility Alina is offering is just too good to pass up.

Will Shan figure out how to get both her work life and her love life back on track as she stumbles into her 40s? Can the magic of Michigan’s wine country and the surrounding beauty convince Shan that there’s more to this world than she’s been able to see? Or will this second chance at making it work with Alina prove to be out of her reach? Sometimes life is only just beginning at 40, as Shan is about to find out. And there’s so much more of it to live.” via nicolettedane.com

Just Like That Karin Kallmaker

“Syrah Ardani tried independence—but the call of the Napa Valley hills and rolling vineyards of her family’s winery have brought her home again. She is content with her ordered world until she learns that her father’s feckless management has put Ardani Vineyards into receivership. 

Corporate turnaround specialist Toni Blanchard’s arrival is preceded by tales of her slash-and-burn techniques. Determined to meet this soulless corporate raider head on, Syrah proudly prepares to do battle for her home and family business. 

Toni has reason to retreat from a high-pressure Manhattan lifestyle, not the least of which is a bitter break up. She’s been told that Syrah Ardani is attractive and single, but Toni never mixes business and pleasure.

Creditors clamor for a quick sale and payment. The beautiful—and hostile—Syrah wants Toni off her land and out of her life. 

Their clashes smolder with distrust and resentment, but also threaten to light a completely different kind of fire. Most dangerous of all is the one thing Toni can’t control—the way her heart reacts when Syrah looks at her…just like that.

Karin Kallmaker’s lesbian retelling of Pride and Prejudice pits first impressions against last chances in this lush wine country story.” via Bella Books

crush

“Piper Campbell has spent the last fifteen years of her life raising her younger sister. Charlie is now an adult—and on the brink of stardom. Piper swears she can keep her head even as she’s recruited into Charlie’s retinue, but then along comes Haley–someone who has been burned too many times to believe the vow of a woman who hasn’t yet experienced the seductive, entrancing power of Fame.” via susanxmeagher.com

wine

“This is a second, revised edition of Jae’s award-winning lesbian romance Something in the Wine. It includes the sexy follow-up short story “Seduction for Beginners” as a bonus.

All her life, Annie Prideaux has suffered through her brother’s constant practical jokes. But Jake’s last joke is one too many, she decides when he sets her up on a blind date with his friend Drew—neglecting to tell his straight sister one tiny detail: her date is not a man, but a lesbian.

Annie and Drew decide it’s time to turn the tables on Jake by pretending to fall in love with each other.

At first glance, they have nothing in common. Disillusioned with love, Annie focuses on books, her cat, and her work as an accountant while Drew, more confident and outgoing, owns a dog and spends most of her time working in her beloved vineyard.

Only their common goal to take revenge on Jake unites them. But what starts as a table-turning game soon turns Annie’s and Drew’s lives upside down as the lines between pretending and reality begin to blur.

Something in the Wine is a story about love, friendship, and coming to terms with what it means to be yourself.” via Ylva Publishing

Categories: fiction, lgbt, lists, retellings, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shadows of the Heart – audiobook review

Shadows of the Heart

While it has been a while since I’ve read a Gothic romance, pressing play on the audiobook for Patty G. Henderson’s Shadows of the Heart made me feel like I never left that world. It’s full of my favorite elements: secret passages; an isolated, ailing, and neglected young wife; stolen kisses and forbidden romance; dark visages hiding darker deeds; a strong and strapping woman astride a steed, hair and mane flying in the face of convention; stodgy dowagers; a duplicitous lady’s maid; dinner parties and masquerade balls; poisonous plants; a cavernous, dank and oppressive castle; and, of course, a heroine of former social standing who must couple her wits with opportunity, while also standing up for those in need and staying true to herself! *Phew! Take a breath.*

The novel unfolds through the eyes of Annalee Stewart, amidst early 1820’s England social conventions and the atmospheric grounds of Blackstone Castle. Our heroine must accept a position as a companion to Lady Lenore Blackstone, the Earl’s wife. At once, Annalee finds the situation strange and disconcerting. If there is a Gothic term for “Spidey sense”, it would aptly describe her feeling of unease as soon as she sets foot on the premises. Lady Lenore does not benefit from medical care and is confined to her quarters by her lady’s maid. Lord Blackstone, for his part, keeps a fair distance between himself and his estate, leaving his wife to the attentions of his mother and sister, Victoria, who becomes a trusted confidante and ally. When he does return, events spiral quickly out of control. 

Henderson is a masterful storyteller. She paints a vivid world, full of intrigue and dark corners; brooding servants and duplicitous spouses; and of course, inquisitive heroines and vulnerable dames. I also love Annalee’s romantic pragmatism. Her uncertain financial situation balanced with her love for Lenore feels appropriate to her personality and the time period. The story is also wonderfully paced, essential to maintaining a moody, romantic atmosphere.

Narration

Cathy Conneff delivers terrific characterization of the leads and secondary cast members. Her vocal range and pacing plunges listeners into the rolling emotional terrain. Aside from her strong performance as Annalee, there are several strong characterizations that stand-out. As the dour dowager of Blackstone and as Annalee’s godmother (referred to in flashbacks), Conneff’s voice uses a crotchety register and entitled intonations. The ailing Lenore is a blend of delicate eagerness and vivacious affections. And Veronica is pure velvet seduction.

I recommend pairing it with a foggy morning and a strong cup of tea! I think I’ll revisit the story in October so that I can perch atop the bluff and gaze out upon the gray horizon and white-capped waves.

Bluff Julie

Shadows of the Heart (Gothical Historical Romances #4) by Patty G. Henderson
Narrated by Cathy Conneff
Produced by Audible Studios
Length: 6 hours, 29 minutes
ASIN: B06XNJ94TK
Audiobook version released: March 16, 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, historical fiction, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basketball Dreams: A booklist for sports fiction fiends

It’s that time of year when all I can think about is basketball. The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) is now just over a week into its 21st season. It spans May through September, and, if you’re like me, you follow your favorite players as they shoot hoops for their various overseas teams in Europe, Asia, and beyond, too. I squeeze in games before work, at lunch, on breaks, and at home. Did you know that a fifteen minute break equals about half a quarter of game time, if you fast-forward through commercials?

This isn’t the first year I’ve wondered this, but: What do you get the woman who has season tickets, streaming video, and all the Twitter-Tumblr-Official Team Sites-Sports Analysis she can handle? Why, a bag full of fiction, of course! The basketball books that I have crossed paths with during my time in the WNBA-Tumblrverse and elsewhere, are either memoirs by players (too few) or are super outdated nonfiction at the library (to be fair, there really aren’t any new books arriving to take their place on the shelves). Not to mention the deluge of stories by and about their male counterparts in the NBA.

Sue Bird circa 2004! Image via Amazon.com

 

Sixth Woman” shout out to The Lesbian Review Book Club Facebook group for helping me find these novels! I searched high and low, but every query came up short. Many thanks and may all of your three point shots hit nothin’ but net!

And now, our starting lineup! Please share your recommendations in the comments below 😀

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Romancing the Zone by Kenna White

A successful business woman and single mother, Liz Elliott is fast approaching the age of forty. Her nineteen-year-old daughter Becca is a freshman at Chilton College in Ashton, Vermont. Becca also happens to be a rising star for the Lady Stingers basketball team – just as her mother had been twenty years ago. But back in those early days a dirty little secret had collapsed Liz’s world – a secret she has kept hidden from everyone – especially her daughter. Now Liz finds herself accepting her daughter’s challenge to return to college and finally earn the degree that has so long eluded her. As if that isn’t enough, Liz has also somehow found herself back in the gym – and playing out her final year of basketball eligibility. Soon sparks fly when Liz encounters resistance from the new head coach, Sheridan Ross.

Coach Ross has no patience for babysitting an over-the-hill athlete – not while she’s worried about her own plans to move up the career coaching ladder as quickly as possible. Now in addition to battling the coach, Liz’s world begins to crumble when the secret from her past returns to Ashton… (Goodreads)

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Full Court Pressure by Lynn Galli

When Graysen Viola moves across the country to coach a college basketball team, she thought the hardest part of her job would be establishing a winning record. Being wrong has never been so challenging. A misunderstanding puts her in the unique position of coaching the men’s team, which is struggling just to be competitive. The last thing this team wants or thinks it needs is a female coach. Together they must find a way to understand and trust each other in order to succeed. Complicating matters is the lovely and persistent volleyball coach, Darby Evan, a former crush from their college days. Graysen isn’t sure starting a relationship with a colleague amidst her job turmoil is the wisest idea, but feelings rarely follow practicality. If she can figure out how to handle a team that disapproves of her, then dealing with an unexpected love life should be a breeze by comparison. Or so she hopes. (via Goodreads)

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At Last by Lynn Galli

Willa Lacey is confident, smart, and ambitious. A few months away from being granted venture capital to start her software company, she’s barely able to maintain her day job, attend to her family, and keep up with friends. It’s been a long process, but her hard work is about to pay off. So, why is it that all she can think about is the friendship she’s just made with a professional basketball player? She’s never been distracted before, yet something about Quinn Lysander is making her rethink her priorities in life. Can the potential for a relationship outweigh the importance of her life’s ambition?

Note: The first seven chapters of At Last were previously published in the anthology, Finally. At Last is an expanded novella and includes nine all new chapters. Learn how the Virginia Clan came to be and watch as Willa and Quinn settle into their new life together. (via Goodreads)

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Rebound by Lynette Mae

Women’s basketball star Conner Maguire has the world by the tail. She’s at the top of her game, in demand, and life is good.

One day the unthinkable happens and her world is ripped apart. That split second event forces Conner to re-evaluate her entire existence.

Shawn Tyler, a beautiful warrior with a shattered heart and incomparable spirit may be the key to conquering her fears, if Conner can open her heart enough to see the world from a new perspective. (via Goodreads)

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To Have Loved & Lost by Eliza Andrews

Alexis Woods knows who she is — or at least, she thought she did. She’s number 17, point guard, MVP, all-star, co-captain of the Lady Raiders NCAA Division I women’s basketball team. But there’s a darkness growing inside of her, a darkness that started the night her beloved died in her arms, and if she doesn’t turn things around soon, the darkness just might swallow her whole.

Graham Griffin knows a thing or two about darkness. That’s been her zip code ever since the car accident that took her boyfriend’s life — the car accident she caused. When she meets Alex, she sees a reflection of her own sorrow. And she can’t help but want to fix it. (via Goodreads)

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Bouncing by Jaime Maddox

Bouncing has always been a way of life for Alex Dalton. The former basketball star and new coach likes to keep life simple, bouncing from woman to woman, with no responsibilities and no complications. Then a summer fling opens her eyes to other possibilities, and now Alex wonders if a relationship might be what she really needs. There is an instant attraction to her new assistant coach, Britain Dodge, but for some reason, Brit wants nothing to do with Alex. Then a spontaneous kiss under the stars forces them to admit their feelings and work on their issues. Their love grows, but so do the outside pressures that influence them, and they have to decide if they should forfeit their love or play until the final buzzer. (via Goodreads)

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Personal Foul by Lucy Madison

Kat Schaefer’s career is on autopilot. She’s an elite basketball official in the WNBA after surviving an extremely rocky childhood but still finds herself adrift in her personal life almost two years after her longtime girlfriend dumped her. Kat’s well-ordered world turns upside down again when she meets a hotshot rookie named Julie Stevens who knocks her world off balance with her stellar play and captivating eyes.

Despite Kat’s best defense, she falls hard for the young player but she’s unable to open herself up to love again. Her solution is to retreat alone to the magnificent beaches of Provincetown, Massachusetts to heal old wounds and to figure out what the future holds. (via Goodreads)

Categories: lgbt, romance, sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

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Something witchy this way comes! This Saturday, April 29, Western Washington University will host its first Queer Con in Bellingham, Washington. My time-off has already been spoken for, so I won’t be able to attend. In lieu of gorging myself on panels and queer comics, I curled up with Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. Collection editor Joamette Gil will be one of the event guests.

This collection is another powerful testament to community funded campaigns. Last year, the folks behind Power & Magic Press set about making this book a reality. Thanks to its success, you can now buy a print or digital copy. Fifteen black & white short stories reflect the creative contributions of seventeen women, demigirls, and bigender people of color. A handful of stories also have content warnings in the table of contents (ToC). It’s impossible for me to claim favorites; this magical gathering is all-around amazing.

“Her Gift” by Coco Candelario, reminds me of Kiki’s Delivery Service in both spirit and style. April, spunky delivery witch, is in love with her best friend, Pam, a baker with no magical powers (not in the traditional sense, anyways; her family confections are scrumdiddlyumptious!). They live in a world of “Gifted” = witches and “Ungifted” = non-magical folks. It’s an adorable, endearing story about love and friendship.

Veronica Agarwal’s “Fluid” follows Ramona/Ramon as they navigate a world in which limitations and expectations are assigned based on gender, much like our own (“Boys can’t be witches!”). The story shows affirmation and support coming when you least expect it (and need it most). “Fluid” is accompanied by a content warning in the ToC: Gender questioning, misgendering.

Imagine, if you will, a life in which you wake up every morning in a different place and time. Welcome to “The Shop that Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lazarte. After stumbling upon a magic shop with just the ingredients needed, our witch is tethered to it. Who know how many days, months, or even years, have passed. Until…one day… I’m one of many who get caught up in the rote of life, sometimes feeling like it won’t be any other way, until an experience or a person steps through the door and rocks life off it’s hinges.

 There are so many stories that I have not highlighted here, but only because I want you to experience it for yourself! If you happen to attend Queer Con at WWU, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology edited by Joamette Gil
Published by Power & Magic Press
Publication date: January 2017

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

Categories: anthology, comics, fantasy, friendship, lgbt, romance | 1 Comment

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