Posts Tagged With: Ylva Publishing

Holiday Romance

“Baby, it’s cold outside”, so let’s curl up in front the fire with a glass of holiday cheer and a pile of romances! I had a good time marathoning holiday romance movies with my mom the other week, but it would be nice if there was a LGBT version of the Hallmark Movie Channel. Or maybe there is and you would be a wonderful dear if you shared it in the comments below. In the meantime, here is a list of novels, novellas, and short stories that I hope will warm up your December with love, cheer, and hope. I haven’t read all of them yet and this list is by no means comprehensive, but I wanted to share the list I’ve compiled before the season is over. Please help make this list bigger and better by sharing titles (featuring queer women-identified protagonists falling in love with other queer women) I’ve left off, in the comment section below.

the-miracle-of-the-lights

The Miracle of the Lights
Cindy Rizzo
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-352-2 (mobi), 978-3-95533-353-9 (epub), 978-3-95533-354-6 (pdf)
Publication date: January 2015

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When her girlfriend, Tova, leaves their upstate New York Hasidic community to avoid an arranged marriage, eighteen-year-old Chava goes in search of her among the hundreds of homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City.  Once there, she faces the challenges of life on the street and must reconcile the insulated world she has known with the new and unfamiliar choices she confronts.  But nothing else matters—not the cold, the onset of an illness, or her brush with danger—nothing, except finding Tova. (Ylva Publishing)

 

unwrap-these-presents

One of the great things about this anthology is that 100% of the profits benefit organizations that help homeless LGBT youth in the UK and New York City.

Unwrap These Presents
Various Authors; Edited by Astrid Ohletz and R.G. Emanuelle
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-278-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-279-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-280-8 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2014

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Twenty-three authors of lesbian fiction contributed holiday stories that give you snow, presents, plenty of food, Holiday cheer and nicely wrapped curvy women under the tree. (Ylva Publishing)

 

mama-knows

Mama Knows
Cheri Crystal
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-334-8 (mobi), 978-3-95533-335-5 (epub), 978-3-95533-336-2 (pdf)
Publication date: December 2014

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At thirty-five, Rue is settled in her life. She lives at home so she can look after her aging mother, works as a farmhand, and scores with more ladies than the cowboys she hangs with. Why would she search for a place of her own, a permanent job, or a long-term relationship when she already has everything she needs?

But then her mother buys her a trip on a chartered singles’ tour in Europe for Christmas to broaden her horizons. On a bus with a bunch of chatty breeders, Rue is prepared for boredom.

To her surprise, the local culture and history—and a feisty gal named Billie—capture her interest. As she and Billy share a heated encounter on the ferry to France, Rue begins to think that maybe, just maybe, Mama really knows best.

(Previously published in the anthology Unwrap these presents.) (Ylva Publishing)

the-gift

The Gift
Catherine Lane
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-306-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-307-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-308-9 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2014

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On Christmas morning, Paige finds a mysterious gift for her wife under the tree. The card says it’s from Paige, but she has no recollection of buying it. Even more curious—strange noises are coming from other rooms in the house. Opening this gift changes everything in this lesbian romance. (Ylva Publishing)

 

chasing-a-brighter-blue

Chasing a Brighter Blue
Gerri Hill
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBNs: 9781594934698
Publication date: December 2015

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A Christmas wedding in Colorado? A two-week celebration with family and friends? Who does that?

Photojournalist Reagan Bryant has just returned from six month stint in Afghanistan. Haunted by the tragedy that ended her last assignment, she’s searching for some peace—something to end the guilt and chase the trauma away. Two weeks at the resort hotel owned by her future sister-in-law’s father seems like the perfect escape.

Shelby Sutton doesn’t trust women. They always seem more interested in her father’s money than in her. But at her sister’s request, she vows to make friends with Reagan, a woman whose sad and haunted eyes are nearly impossible to ignore.(Bella Books)

 

love-beneath-the-christmas-tree

Love Beneath the Christmas Tree
Jae
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs:978-3-95533-135-1 (mobi), 978-3-95533-136-8 (epub), 978-3-95533-137-5 (pdf)
Publication date: December 2013

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Three short stories that follow the lives of Rachel Lewis, self-confessed Christmas Grump,  and Lillian Coleman, the woman who makes her believe in the magic of Christmas again. (Ylva Publishing)

 

twist-of-the-magi

Twist of the Magi
Caren J. Werlinger
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9960368-2-5
Publication date: November 2014

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Christmas is not looking very merry for Penny Havers – she won’t be seeing her family for the holidays; she hasn’t had a girlfriend in forever; she can’t get her stories published. When two young women are hired at the shop where she works, Penny begins to think her luck may have changed. Penny is about to learn that, when Christmas works its magic, what you hope for isn’t always what you get. (Ylva Publishing)

 

fresh-tracks-georgia-beers

Fresh Tracks
Georgia Beers
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

ISBN: 9781933110639e
Publication date: November 2006

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Seven women, seven days. A lot can happen. Childhood friends, new lovers, and old rivals share beginnings, endings, and the uncommon bonds of friendship in a story filled with romance and possibility. (Ylva Publishing)

 

houses

Gingerbread Hearts: Six Lesbian Christmas Stories
Various Authors
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-023-1 (mobi), 978-3-95533-022-4 (epub), 978-3-95533-024-8 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2012

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The anthology consists of four new and two republished, re-edited short stories. (Ylva Publishing)

 

all-i-want

All I want for Christmas
Clare Lydon
ISBN: 9781310614231
ASIN: B0178TUVEU
BN ID: 2940153512099

Publication date: October 2015

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Her ideal present under the tree would be a shiny new girlfriend, so Tori gives herself one month to find that special lady by December 25th. Christmas spells romance and she’s going to grab some. (Clare Lydon)

 

puprle-owl

Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café
Cora Buhlert
Publisher: Pegasus Pulp Publishing

ISBN
Publication date: December 2014

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After a massive row with her parents over intolerable relatives, Katie finds herself all alone for the holidays. So she heads for the one place in town where everyone is welcome on Christmas Eve, the legendary Purple Owl Café.

The Purple Owl Café has a chequered sixty-year history. These days it’s not just a place for good music and conversation, it also happens to be a lesbian bar.

Katie doesn’t mind, though so far her life was too busy for romance of any kind. But that’s about to change when Katie meets Jess at the Christmas Eve party at the Purple Owl Café… (PPP)

 

all in the seasoning

All in the Seasoning
Various Authors; Edited by Katherine V. Forrest
Publisher: Bywater Books

ISBN: 1932859330
Publication date: 2006

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Celebrate the holidays . . . lesbian style! Celebrate solstice with women journeying along California’s rugged north coast. With a firefighter on the job in New York City. Overlooking a plain, filled with waiting children, north of Los Angeles. Experience Thanksgiving with a lesbian border patrol agent along the Arizona-Mexico border. (Bywater Books)

 

the-bureau-of-holiday-affairs

The Bureau of Holiday Affairs
Andi Marquette
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-550-2 (mobi), 978-3-95533-551-9 (epub), 978-3-95533-552-6 (pdf)
Publication date: November 2015

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Executive Robin Preston has dedicated her life to climbing the corporate ladder, using whatever means necessary. In the shark-infested culture at Frost Enterprises, anything goes, and Robin is a master at the game.

On the verge of a major promotion, Robin receives a strange visit from Agent Elizabeth Tolson of the Bureau of Holiday Affairs, who informs Robin that, though Robin may be a lost cause, the Bureau has scheduled her for intervention. Robin will receive three visitors in the two weeks before Christmas, who will escort her on visits to her past, present, and future. (Ylva Publishing)

 

comfort-joy

Comfort and Joy
Karin Kallmaker
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBN: ss032e
Release date: December 2015

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Home from Afghanistan to surprise her mother, Milla doesn’t expect more than the best apple pie in the world and the bliss of unrationed hot showers. She’s not counting on futures—or meeting a woman like Tyna. Novella length romantic holiday story. (Bella Books)

 

christmas-kisses

Christmas Kisses: Five Merry Tales of Lesbian Lust
Various Authors
Publisher: Ladylit Publishing

ISBN: 978-988-14205-3-4
Publication date: December 2015

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’Tis the season to be… frisky. The Ladylit Fab Five have come together once more for a sizzling seasonal mini-anthology. Decorating the tree or working the holiday shift, at a family party or avoiding the shopping crowds, the ladies in these stories find reason to get merry in any circumstance.

Caution: This title contains graphic language and christmassy lesbian sex and is suitable for adults only. (Ladylit Publishing)

yours-for-the-asking

Yours for the Asking
Kenna White
Publisher: Bella Books

ISBN:1594931631
Publication date: 2009

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The responsible one. The steady, reliable one. Lauren Roberts has had her fill of it.

Running her bed-and-breakfast like clockwork and hosting her younger, glamorous, songbird sister for the holidays only underscores Lauren’s choice of order over risk. Kelly’s vibrant and impetuous nature doesn’t stick to anything—or any one woman—for long. That includes an old girlfriend of Lauren’s who was dazzled by Kelly, then dumped, shortly after Lauren stepped aside.

Old memories are sharply painful with Kelly under her roof. With the inn full, Lauren’s patience and control is stretched to the limit. When Kelly brings home Lauren’s friend Gaylin Hart, Lauren realizes Kelly has again laid claim to something she might well have wanted for herself. It looks like history might repeat itself—if Lauren lets it.(Bella Books)

 

do-you-feel-what-i-feel-a-holiday-anthology

Do You Feel What I Feel? A Holiday Anthology
Various Authors
Publisher: Ylva Publishing

ISBNs: 978-3-95533-546-5 (mobi), 978-3-95533-547-2 (epub), 978-3-95533-548-9 (pdf)
Publication date: October 2015

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Twelve lesbian fiction authors bring you a heartwarming collection of holiday-themed short stories.

From a tattoo artist hiding an origami angel in her lover’s desk to a seventy-year-old woman hesitating to accompany her partner to a family celebration on the first night of Hanukkah, this anthology will delight you with romantic holiday moments. (Ylva Publishing)

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Categories: anthology, Holiday, romance, short stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not-So-Straight Sue

not-so-straight-sue

Not-So-Straight Sue, the second installment in Cheyenne Blue’s “Girl Meets Girl” series, goes fossicking about the Australian Outback with Sue Brent, a lawyer determined to keep her sexuality under wraps. Despite creating a life in London as a successful lawyer with great friends (Ger and Nora from Never-Tied Nora) – leagues removed from Yeringup, the small town that sent her deep into the closet as a teenager – she still can’t fully live her life. 

The story kicks off when Sue decides that she’s had enough of running from herself. Life in the big city teems with exciting entertainment, career opportunities, and kindred spirits. However, she steps away from a promotion to Senior Associate at the prestigious law firm where she works. Instead, she heads off to substitute at a small, one person practice in Mungabilly Creek, a small town a day’s drive from her hometown. The terrain is full of interesting characters, including the landscape. Felix, a woman living out between towns with her horses, provides potential for rich friendship when Sue first arrives. Mrs. T, housekeeper extraordinaire and all-around amazing woman, anchors the home front. And Moni, an American doctor serving rural areas of Queensland, reconnects with Sue, a handful of years after their first meeting in London. The romance of place and people is blended wonderfully. It’s also a fun distraction.

NSSS is an engrossing, entertaining story about a whole myriad of things, including coming out, rebuilding family relationships, and discovering that what and who you think you know can surprise you…in a good way. 

Recommended reading companions for this volume: a good red wine and a loyal pup.

Not-So-Straight Sue
Author: Cheyenne Blue
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication date: October 2016

Available from Ylva Publishing, AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability), as well as many other retailers.

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Categories: family relationships, friendship, lgbt, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stowe Away

Stowe Away by Blythe Rippon
Ylva Publishing
January 2016
Available from Ylva, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and your local library via Overdrive.
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Love isn’t always where you expect to find it or with whom you think it should happen.  Stowe Away grapples with expectations versus reality and attempts to figure out a way to reconcile the two.  Samantha “Sam” Latham, a young woman bound for prestige as a medical researcher attempts to stow away her feelings and ambitions when life doesn’t fit into her plans.  She eventually discovers through hard won lessons that she can Stowe Away along a more fortuitous path.   

Stowe, Vermont, for Sam Latham, is a dead-end, and high school graduation can’t come soon enough.  It’s easy when you’re a kid to view life in a small town as suffocating and dull and family drama as the sum total of the world.   Sam views College as the Promised Land, where smart, worldly people gather and life begins.  She declares herself as the town’s “only lesbian”, another reason she longed for a realm where her people (brainy, gay, driven, etc.) congregated and thrived.  Her propensity to focus intensely on a course of action allows her to achieve great success, but also limits her ability to pick up on the signals and sensibilities of the people around her. 

Seeing herself as a party of one sets her up for a hard fall when she meets Natalie at a dormitory meeting their Freshman year at Yale.  They begin a close and complicated relationship over their four years of undergraduate study.  Their friendship is at times nurturing and toxic.

Sam is intensely focused on her studies and has a route mapped out for her career trajectory.  Natalie is almost an exact opposite of Sam, both in temperament (very sociable) and focus (vacillates between majors).  The two women muddy the emotional waters to the breaking point at the end of their senior year at Yale.  For many relationships, that could very well spell the end of things.  Sam immerses herself in her PhD medical studies at Stanford University.  Natalie moves in with her new girlfriend in San Francisco while pursuing a masters degree in Public Policy.   

After life away in New Haven, Connecticut, and San Francisco, California, pursuing her studies and the romantic affections of her unavailable best friend, Natalie, she returns to Stowe.  Sam learns that there was more than met the eye when it comes to the people and general way of life in Stowe. As she assists with her mother’s rehabilitation from a brain aneurysm, she struggles through a long, dark night, and ends up learning that her hometown is full of surprises.

Maria Sanchez, proprietress of the cafe “Stowe Away”, is one such surprise.  Though the two women attended Stowe High School together, Sam doesn’t know much about Maria or the fact that her mother Eva and Maria have become close friends in Sam’s absence.  After a tragic loss in high school, Maria rebuilt her life.  Without Maria’s presence in the story, Sam would have struggled to recover her way and found healing for her relationships.  She is a strong, resourceful, and intelligent woman who gives no footing to Sam’s self-pity or other destructive behaviors.  Maria, her brother Pauly, and the surrounding community, make Sam’s transformation possible.

When I first read Stowe Away, I thought Natalie was taking advantage of Sam’s obvious crush (touching, gifts, asking her to comment on outfits she tries on at the store).  It seemed cruel to string Sam along.  Natalie doesn’t rebuff Sam directly, even when it’s painfully obvious to everyone that Sam carrives a torch for her.  It takes a strong bond to save a friendship from sinking under the weight of a one-sided obsession.  When the two women cross a huge line late in their time at Yale, it’s hard to imagine that there is a way back from that.  There is enough doubt woven into the story (whether on purpose or inadvertently) to cast a shadow over Natalie’s intentions.  A lot of what goes on between Sam and Natalie can be chalked up to hormones, college, and the general shenanigans of your early twenties.

It’s easy to empathize with Sam.  She loves her mother, but it’s an emotionally  draining relationship.  It’s an uncomfortable position to be in and the answer is not always straightforward or easy.  However, at the same time, she doesn’t give the people in her life enough credit for leading rich lives.  Her metric for interesting and fulfilling creates a distance between her and people in her life.  She also puts strain on her friendship with Natalie by ignoring all of the signs that “she’s just not that into you”.  If this novel had taken place in 2016, Sam would have used her smart phone to stalk Natalie online, dogging her every virtual step, agonizing over every Instagram post and Facebook relationship status.  How Sam and Natalie ever managed to salvage their friendship and establish it on honest footing is one of the marvels of the story.  It was a stretch for me, but that doesn’t mean that the continuation of their friendship couldn’t happen in real life.

Stowe Away romances the reader with the possibilities of Love with a capital L and love.  I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading about small town life, collegiate settings, and empathizes with losing sleep over unrequited love (and the messiness that ensues).  

Thank you, Ylva Publishing, for the opportunity to review this title.

Categories: fiction, lgbt, netgalley, romance | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Times of Our Lives

 

Times of Our Lives

Julie Thompson reviews Times of Our Lives by Jane Waterton

Welcome to OWLs, a veritable paradise in Australia. OWLs has its genesis in the facility’s owner and manger Louise’s determination to create a safe haven for mature lesbians. Louise worked in a nursing home in the late 1980s. During her tenure, she worked with elderly lesbians who had been separated from their partners by their families. Together, with the assistance of her partner, Caro, her vision for OWLs became a thriving reality. The retirement complex welcomes its 10th anniversary and it is at this time that the reader observes the singular, yet deeply connected lives of the women who call OWLs home.

Within this microcosm, the reader becomes privy to the stories of eight women. Retirement for many of these women doesn’t mean checking out of life. They find community, friendship, and love as the new chapter of their lives unfolds. The main underlying theme is that it is never too late to live your life. Waterton uses the seasons to frame the changes that develop in the lives of her protagonists over the course of a year. Their fears and desires seem to both hinder and help them, resulting in humorous situations and heart wrenching consequences.

A couple points drew me to this story. For starters, the women are all over the age of 60, with the exception of the OWL’s owners and a couple other minor characters. Waterton illuminates the third age in the lives of these women as a time to fully engage in and explore themselves and the world around them. Gone are the senior citizens who are shunted off to “old folks’ homes”, where the men and women await death and sit forgotten by society. As Sparrow, one of OWL’s residents, remarks,

“When my grandmother was my age, although she kept fairly active, it was if she had lived her life and was just waiting to die.” (ebook p. 75)

Secondly, the setting: Australia! Ever since childhood, I’ve been enamoured by the “Land Down Under”. I couldn’t resist trying to read all of the dialogue with an Australian accent (not aloud, though!).

Waterton weaves individual, couples, and group story lines together. Each pair of women reflects relationships at different stages. There are a pair of women partnered for nearly fifty years; best friends who would rather stay friends than risk losing that bond by professing their love; a new couple excited, yet wary; and two women partnered in love and business.

Pat and Bella, partners for over 45 years, have made their home at OWLs for the past several years. Although they have strong bonds, Bella’s fight with cancer has both women struggling to define their personal boundaries. It’s in the moments when they turn to their friends for comfort and advice that we witness the depths of their guilt, discomfort, and love. Their storyline culminates (or rather, begins anew) with a celebration of their love and a renewal of their commitment to each other through better or worse. Waterton presents Pat’s and Bella’s (and Pat and Bella’s) emotional journey through illness and aging with sensitivity and humor.

Meg Sullivan and Allie Richards have been best friends for over 40 years. They may not always agree – Meg is impulsive and sporty, while Allie errs on the side of caution and loves to cook, but it’s those differences that enrich and balance their friendship. From close friends to casual acquaintances, everyone picks up on the unspoken love between the two women. Their fear over losing the person they care about most by saying “I love you” is a feeling to which many people can relate. Even when after a health crisis, the two women still cannot own or put a name to their feelings. However, their friends rally around them. This support network is one of the most important elements in this book and really shines in the scenes in which the women struggle.

Daphne Williams and Sparrow Hopkins are the community’s new couple. They start off slowly, going on a few dates, before they fall headlong into a passionate romance. And then just like that, Daphne withdraws from the relationship. Sparrow, however, is not as delicate as her name may suggest; she instead shows a kind of tough love as she waits for Daphne’s head to catch up with her heart. Just as the novel shows how one can make new choices and alter their routines, it also shows through Daphne and Sparrow’s relationship that there are certain things that may not be worth compromising on.

Caro and Louise provide the indefatigable, unwavering foundation of OWLs. While Times of Our Lives directs most of its attention to the dramas surrounding the residents, it does give insights into the women who make this retirement community possible. The inter-generational chemistry between the middle-aged owners and the Older (sometimes) Wiser tenants is wonderful to read.

Some of the stand-out group scenes include a Tupperware presentation that turns the representative into an unwitting accomplice in the re-purposing of kitchen tools and an after-hours pool party where the women throw more than just caution to the wind. These events add levity and allow new friends, like Sparrow, with opportunities to integrate into the group dynamic.

Waterton has delivered a wonderful debut novel. Times of Our Lives is a jubilant celebration of life that leaves you reconsidering what it means to grow older.

Jane Waterton – http://www.janewaterton.com.au/
Ylva Publishing – http://ylva-publishing.co.uk/
Publication date: November 1, 2015

 

Thank you, Ylva Publishing, for the opportunity to review this title.

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

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