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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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

Lighthouses: A Cover List

The unifying element between these ten books is the fact that they have a lighthouse on the cover. This in itself makes these books awesome and irresistible to me. Last Christmas, happenstance tossed Lighthouse Christmasa delightful historical fiction picture book about the Flying Santa program, across my path. And I still need to watch The Light Between Oceans. It’s waiting for me at home. Life on a coast also means that I have lived a good portion of my life less than an hour from a lighthouse. Pretty dang sweet, I agree. May these beacons guide you to romance, excitement, thrills, and mystery. If you have other books that you want to share, please write them in the comments below. Cheers!

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Almost-Married Moni

Almost-Married Moni (Girl Meets Girl, #3.5)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! This morning started off on the right foot when I found a bowl full of York peppermint patties in the break room at work 😀 Since many of us are clocking in at our jobs, there probably isn’t much time leftover for romance when you get home. Between making dinner, running errands, and everything else in between, the 14th seems a bit much. A nice glass of wine, some chocolates, comfy pajamas, and a stash of romance novels is my recipe for a great night. 

Almost-Married Moniheartwarming celebration-slice-of-life, features Moni and Sue from “Not-So-Straight Sue“. Three years after their engagement, marriage equality becomes an Australian reality. We reunite in the Outback with couples from all three of Cheyenne Blue’s “Girl Meets Girl” series, as well as their friends, family, and a surprise guest. Treat yourself to this short and sweet Valentine.

Almost-Married Moni by Cheyenne Blue
Ylva Publishing, December 2017
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Categories: Holiday, lgbt, novella, romance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Winter Olympics: A booklist

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Public Domain. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, EI-13 (67)

The drama for Winter Olympics bronze-silver-and-gold glory will unfold in PyeongChang, South Korea. Every four years ice skating, skiing, curling, and snowboarding, and other ice and snow-based sports receive maximum exposure via television, radio, and internet platforms. Audiences around the world can thrill to speed skating and women’s hockey, and kids can imitate the intricate, powerful moves of ice skaters (like I did in my socks around the kitchen). Growing up, the Winter Olympics were my primary exposure to sports that I could never hope to play. For many of the countries competing, it is reflective of who can afford to train with equipment and facilities that far exceed a pair of sneakers and an open road.

I’ve gathered up a handful of books that center on the high stakes Olympic drama, as well as stories that feature winter sports, but don’t take place during the Olympics. I’ll continue to add books through the 25th. Please share any related books in the comments below! Let the games begin!

Olympics

Edge of Glory (2017) by Rachel Spangler
Delay of Game (2017) by Tracey Richardson
Fire on Ice (2018) by Jea Hawkins

Winter Sports (non-Olympics)

Rebirth (2017) by CS Patra
Castles in Flames and Ice, Book 1

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Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson – review

BEL-DelayGame

 

Thanks to the TV monitors affixed to cardio machines at my gym, I can watch all kinds of sports that I’m not able to at any other time (being one of the cable-free, I’m bound to the internet). On one particular night in late December, I watched men’s college football and basketball, and the final minutes of a pro Hockey game. There was a period in high school when I was pretty into watching hockey on ESPN, though I had no other connection to it. The speed and dexterity on ice, the full body contact drew me in like a moth to a flame. I participated in something called “broom hockey” on ice years later and ice skate occasionally, but that’s it.

As the on and off ice drama in Delay of Game sucked me in, I felt a new appreciation for the hard work involved in setting up and executing plays, not to mention extensive traveling and low pay for women. While I watch men’s games, I can’t but think about Eva Caruso and Niki Hartling, passionate players representing the United States and Canada, respectively, on the grand stage that is the Winter Olympics.

The two women have a deep history, one severed by youthful passions and manipulation. Niki has moved on from professional hockey, teaching at a university and raising a precocious daughter. Recently widowed, she isn’t looking for anything that will upend the delicate balance she’s achieved. However, a scandal rocks Team Canada months before the 2010 opening ceremonies in Vancouver, BC, and Niki is pulled in as a reluctant head coach. Eva, meanwhile, hasn’t hung up her skates just yet. Hungry for another chance at an Olympic medal, she relies on her competitive nature and Hall of Fame level skills carry her through injuries and the pains of life on the road. As the oldest on Team USA, Eva also shoulders some of the leadership responsibilities, helping focus her younger teammates’ drive.

Hockey and romance given equal time on the ice, making for a satisfying sports romance. As a reader, you get a good feel for the investment players make in ascending to the championship level, as well as the personal costs it exacts. Meanwhile, the complicated history between Niki and Eva, escalating stakes for Olympic glory, and the struggle Niki feels about romance after the death of her wife, adds drama on the personal and broader levels. In the midst of all this, there is added mystery of a fox in the hen houses of Team Canada and Team USA.  Delay of Game sat on my TBR shelf for several months, but once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. And once you read it, you’ll be itching for some hockey action. Below you’ll find a link for the 2018 Olympic women’s hockey schedules. Opening ceremonies in PyeongChang are on February 9th. Cheers!

Women’s Hockey, Olympic schedule here.

Delay of Game by Tracey Richardson
Bella Books, 2017
Available from Bella Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. You can ask your local indie booksellers to buy a specific lesfic title and they just might! Also, check with your public library (request purchase if they don’t carry it).

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

Tax Season Romance: Close to Home by Rachel Spangler

Image result for close to home rachel spangler

Close to Home: a Darlington romance (2017) by Rachel Spangler
Available from Bywater Books, AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local public library for availability.

It’s tax time! I bet you never thought you’d get excited to hear those words, did ya? Close to Home by Rachel Spangler takes on Kelly Rolen, a minor character from The Long Way Home, a Darlington romance. She isn’t the most likable character, but that is just how Kelly wants it. The thicker the barrier, the less likely you are to stick around and try to get to know who she is beneath the armor, especially her attraction to women. Beth, her ex-girlfriend, knows the claustrophobic veil of the closet all too well. Events conspire to make it impossible for Kelly to operate her family’s small tax firm alone. When Elliot Garza, an accounting student at the local college and irresistibly dapper, needs intern credit in order to graduate, Beth intervenes and pairs the two together. Heads butt, sparks fly, and every step forward earns two steps back. Friends and family help this pair slog through doubt, fear, passion, and career challenges. While Kelly (especially) may tax your patience and empathy, you won’t want to give up. Even the most cantankerous, prickly pear has a shot at HEA. Also, Elliot is a sexy package of smarts, confidence, and swagger. Gimme that 1040 form, already! 

Craving more f/f romance starring accountants? Try these:

 

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The Girls from Alcyone – audiobook review

Image result for the girls of alcyone audiobook

The Girls from Alcyone, book one in Cary Caffrey’s trilogy of the same name and performed by Kristin James, is a science fiction thriller set in a 24th century universe. The divide between the haves and have-nots has turned into a gaping chasm. Young girls are purchased by the large Kimura Corporation from cash strapped families at a young age and shipped off to an experimental training facility. They undergo years of extensive physical and mental training, as well as surgical & biochemical enhancements, to become lethal assassins for hire. Before the first class can graduate, however, an outside group attacks. 

Sigrid, small and oft picked on by the other girls, develops a tough skin and undaunted determination to complete her training. Suko, respected and liked by her classmates, stands up for the diminutive girl. The two girls grow close and eventually fall in love. When their training at the Kimura operated academy is completed, they are employed by different clients. The mysterious enemy from their academy days isn’t far behind, however, and even the most badass assassin cannot handle it all alone… James delivers a great overall performance. conveying the high stakes and complex emotional territory. I have one minor quibble. Even though her New Zealand accent leaves something to be desired, she performs Suko with the same energy and passion as she does the rest of the narrative and characters. It’s an exciting, well-performed tale of intrigue set in outer space. If you enjoy mystery, Sci-Fi, tough heroines, and a dash of romance, this story is for you!

The Girls from Alcyone (2016) by Cary Caffrey
Series: The Girls from Alcyone, Book 1
Narrated by Kristin James
Length: 10 hours, 36 minutes
ASIN: B01DFAGTRY

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

Categories: audiobooks, fantasy, fiction, friendship, lgbt, romance, science fiction, series | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Reading in Review

Most days you can find me divided between multiple books, in both print and audio editions. As I look back on the stories that kept me company during the winter, spring, summer, and fall, it’s interesting to spot trends. For example, I’m scanning the covers on my Goodreads’ Read shelf and found that most of the nonfiction I consumed this year were memoirs (Daring to Drive, Surpassing Certainty, etc.) and science-based (Hidden Figures, Cosmos, etc.), with a few queer histories (Undercover Girl & Marie Equi) added to the mix. Some of my goals for 2017 included taking time to enjoy poetry; I’m happy that I did! Sideshow Concessions and Inside Out & Back Again inspired me to include poetry collections and poetry-stories as part of the holiday book bundles I give to family. 

 

more 2017 reading stats

Delectable data! via Goodreads

 

If you’re all about that data, like me, and have a Goodreads account, prepare to salivate over charts (pie and graph!) and page count (I read/listened to more books this year, but fewer pages than 2016). I had to hunt for it again just now because it wasn’t located in an in my face spot on the site. Head to your “My Books” and you’ll find it hanging out with the other “Your Reading Activity” links on the bottom left side of the webpage. For every time that your stories share more than one of the top categories listed in your pie chart, have a goody! Maybe next year I’ll land on that sweet spot: contemporary zombie queer romance series audiobooks…

 

top shelves

via Goodreads


Next year my commute shortens by about 90 percent, so I’ll have to reevaluate when and where I’ll get in quality story time, especially for audiobooks. And to that I say, challenge accepted! I’ve had a wonderful year of reading. I’m thankful for my eyesight, for my level of access to books, and for my ability to read. Thank you all for sharing 2017 with me! I wish you all a fantastic year to come. I hope your books are fun, empowering, challenge you and affirm you.

 

Smorgasbord!

Reading Challenge 2017Reading Challenge 2017b

Reading Challenge 2017cReading Challenge 2017dReading Challenge 2017e

Reading stats

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Baby it’s cold outside! Audiobooks for Winter

As the days get darker and colder (and up here in the Pacific Northwest, those dark days are long), you may feel an urge to hibernate. To keep your spirits up, your blood pumping, and your heart warm, you’ll want hearty stew, cocoa, hot buttered rum, and a pile of audiobooks. Here is a short list of chilly audiobooks that feature adventure, thrills, and romance to keep you warm and sated in your cave!

If you have any cold weather listens, in which wintry holidays don’t play a key role in the plot, please share them in the comments below. I would love to get snowed in with more good stories!

 

Snowbound by Cari Hunter

Snowbound by Cari Hunter
Narrated by Lesley Parkin 
Bold Strokes Books, 2016 (audio release date)
Intrigue & Thriller, Romance

The policewoman got shot and she’s bleeding everywhere. Get someone here in one hour or I’m going to put her out of her misery. An ultimatum that forever changes the lives of police officer Sam Lucas and Dr. Kate Myles. When heavy snowfall isolates the small English village of Birchenlow, a violent robbery shatters the community. Taken as a hostage and stranded with the increasingly desperate criminals, Sam is seriously injured during an ill-fated escape attempt. Already struggling to save the lives of the villagers caught up in the raid, Kate volunteers to walk straight into the lion’s den. Cut off from help, with only each other to rely on, Sam and Kate must find a way to fight the odds and stay alive if the growing attraction between them is to survive. — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Just Enough Light by AJ Quinn
Just Enough Light by AJ Quinn
Narrated by Ruby Rivers 
Bold Strokes Books, 2016 (audio release date)
Action & Adventure, Intrigue & Thriller, Romance

Kellen Ryan has taken the survival skills she learned on the streets and used them to create an elite search-and-rescue operation, as well as the first home she’s known in forever—a sanctuary in Haven, Colorado, high in the Rockies. 

A small mountain town was the last place Harvard-educated Dr. Dana Kingston expected to find herself. Still, when she’s offered an opportunity to partner with Kellen’s operation and develop a medical triage center, Dana follows her heart.

Dana falls hard and fast for the enigmatic Kellen. But she quickly realizes Kellen’s heart is as carefully guarded as her past, and breaking through will take time. Except time is the one thing they may not have, because a deadly threat has returned, and this time he plans to finish what he started. — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Hunter's Pursuit by Kim Baldwin
Hunter’s Pursuit by Kim Baldwin
Bold Strokes Books, 2017 (audio release date)
Narrated by Lori Prince
Action & Adventure, Intrigue & Thriller, Romance

When the hunter becomes the hunted…do you trust your instincts or your heart?

A killer for hire, Katarzyna Demetrious has grown weary of her violent and solitary life. Contemplating retirement, she has gone into hiding in her remote bunker home as a blizzard rages outside. But her seclusion is shattered by the appearance of a mysterious stranger, and, with a price tag on her head, Kat is thrust into the most perilous situation she has ever faced. Can she outwit the assassins on her trail? And could the woman she rescues…and is unexpectedly attracted to…be the deadliest of them all? — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Cold to the Touch by Cari Hunter
Cold to the Touch (The Dark Peak series, book 2) by Cari Hunter
Narrated by Nicola Victoria Vincent 
Bold Strokes Books, 2017 (audio release date)
Crime & Mystery

Winter in the Derbyshire Peaks: months of knee-deep snow, short days, and rocketing crime rates. Detective Sanne Jensen is living in self-imposed isolation and quietly falling apart, while Dr. Meg Fielding Sanne’s best friend and occasional lover is struggling to cope with her violent brother, who is back in town and demanding money that she doesn’t have. When the murder of a drug addict is dumped onto Sanne’s already unmanageable caseload, she suspects the death may be the start of something more sinister. But how can she investigate a crime when no one cares about the victim? And how can she stop a killer who has no identity, no motive, and no conscience? — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Zero Visibility by Georgia Beers
Zero Visibility by Georgia Beers
Narrated by Brittany Pressley 
Bold Strokes Books, 2015 (audio release date)
Contemporary Romance

At eighteen, Emerson Rosberg was poised to become an Olympic skiing sensation. Growing up in the Adirondack ski town of Lake Henry with a world-renowned ski champion for a father gave her an edge over the competition…until the day she let her ego get the better of her and made a devastating mistake that would cost her any future in the sport. Deciding the only way to heal her shattered dreams was to run as far away from Lake Henry as possible, she settled in Los Angeles, leaving all memories of her previous life far behind. 

When her mother dies suddenly, Emerson is forced back to Lake Henry to take care of things, including the sale of The Lakeshore Inn. Her plan to get in and get out of that miserable town as quickly as possible is brought to a screeching halt when Cassie Prescott, the bubbly, friendly owner of a local sporting goods store, gets in the way. Cassie’s still cleaning up the debris from her last relationship, but she’s instantly drawn to Emerson, despite warnings from friends and family alike. 

As the cold weather closes in and Emerson and Cassie’s relationship heats up, one question keeps popping up for Emerson: can you really go home again?

— via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Winter's Harbor by Aurora Rey
Winter’s Harbor (A Cape End Romance, Book 1) by Aurora Rey
Narrated by Hollis Elizabeth
Bold Strokes Books, 2017 (audio release date)
Contemporary Romance

Lia Brooks has a broken heart and a burning desire to escape New York City. She decides Provincetown is the perfect winter escape to find some peace and regroup. Alex McKinnon is the pastry chef and proprietor of The Flour Pot Café in the heart of Provincetown. She loves owning her own business and the easy, no-strings-attached relationships that come with living in a gay tourist mecca. When Lia appears in the café, the attraction is immediate. The passion between them promises more than a casual affair, but it’s never that simple. Women from Alex’s past pop up at the most inopportune times. Then there’s Lia’s ex, who brokers deals for a living and is unaccustomed to losing. Will Alex and Lia be able to overcome the roadblocks and find a happily ever after? — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Taken by Storm by Kim Baldwin
Taken by Storm by Kim Baldwin
Narrated by Coleen Marlo
Bold Strokes Books, 2015 (audio release date)
Action & Adventure, Romance

Lives depend on two women when a train derails high in the remote Alps, but an unforgiving mountain, avalanches, crevasses, and other perils stand between them and safety.  Associated Press reporter Hudson Mead is an extreme skiing enthusiast who has covered war zones and natural disasters during her long and distinguished career, but nothing could have prepared her for the challenges she’ll face when the snow train she’s riding is decimated by a massive avalanche.  Librarian Steffi Graham, on her first trip abroad, is anxious to hone her rock-climbing skills in a new and unfamiliar terrain of ice and snow. She gets much more than she bargained for when her talents put her on the team that goes for help.  As the two strangers struggle to reach civilization, they must compromise and learn to trust each other, a task that may be nearly as difficult as the journey itself. — via Bold Strokes Books

 

 

Snow Falls Gerri Hill

Snow Falls by Gerri Hill
Narrated by Sara Hawthorne
Bella Books, 2013 (audio release date)
Contemporary Romance

Jennifer Kincaid, on her way to a writer’s workshop in the Colorado mountain town of Lake City, gets lost and is stranded by an avalanche. Catherine Ryan-Barrett, running from the fame and fortune of her family name, wants nothing more to spend the winter alone and sequestered in her high mountain cabin. She is not prepared for a party crasher. After spending two months together, they form an unlikely friendship that deepens even further. But after the spring thaw, Jen leaves and returns to her life in Santa Fe and to the man who wants to marry her. All she knows of the woman who rescued her is her name… Ryan. — via Bella Books

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

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