Golden Hour by Kat Jackson

Golden Hour
Category:
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 7/19/22

Lina isn’t sure what she expects to happen when she leaves New Jersey for Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for eleven months. She just knows she needs a change. If only she could run away from herself and the nightmares that plague her existence. She can’t call it what it is because that would make it too real. She never plans on someone like Regan coming into her life. Regan, who is unlike anyone Lina has ever known and may be exactly the person she’s always needed.

This is my first Kat Jackson book and it will certainly not be my last. PTSD is not an easy subject to tackle, but Jackson handles the subject with sensitivity and while doing so brings to life a heartbreaking character who I am certain not to forget. Using flashbacks to Lina’s time in the military complete the picture of how Lina has got to this point. And her sessions with her therapist shows how far she has to go to pull herself out of the darkness.

Fortunately for Lina, she has a wonderfully supportive group of friends, her best friend Caitlin and her gf Mallory, from Jackson’s earlier book, Across the Hall and her military pal, Keeley. But it’s the ray of sunshine that is Regan, who comes along at exactly the right moment, and shows Lina that her failed relationships may be a thing of the past, if she can accept that she deserves to be treated well.

I became invested in this story and in Lina immediately. I wanted to reach in and just give her a hug. There are so many veterans who suffer from PTSD and only a few brave authors have dared to write about it. I applaud Kat Jackson for writing this book. This is a subject that isn’t easy but in ignoring its existence, we do a disservice to all those who risked their lives for our freedom, who suffer from PTSD.  Golden Hour is more than a story of a character trying to cope with her past, it is a book that is laced with laugh out loud moments, beautiful coastal views and characters who will stay with you long after you have read the last page.

An ARC was received from Bella Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Last Lavender Sister by Melissa Brayden

The Last Lavender Sister
Category:
Published: 7/12/22

Aster Lavender is looking for excitement. She is tired of her small town, Homer’s Bluff and she is tired of being the forgettable member of her family, always outshined by her more charismatic siblings. She thinks she will have to leave town for something extraordinary to happen to her. Until the temporary vet, Brynn Garrett shows up and brings light into Aster’s overwise gray existence.

Brynn has had her heart broken and Chicago now feels too busy and way too lonely, even though she is surrounded by people. When her vet school friend calls and asks her to take over her practice for six months, Brynn thinks this may be the change she needs. The moment Aster sees Brynn she is struck by her beauty and Brynn finds Aster’s awkwardness endearing. The two strike up a friendship that has the potential to be so much more.

I have loved many of Melissa Brayden’s characters over the years, but I think Aster Lavender, may be my favorite of all of them. She has so many facets to her personality. She is socially awkward and nerdy yet isn’t afraid to make her feelings know and stand up for those she cares about. One of the many things I love about this book is that it spans several years so we get to see how Aster changes and grows as a person. Her character arc is wonderfully written.

Both Brynn and Aster are such memorable characters who have such big hearts you can’t help but root for them to make it work. I wanted to shake Brynn a few times, but it was all part of the journey.  A journey I won’t soon forget and one I know I will revisit many times.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Stepmother by Melissa Tereze

The Stepmother
Published: 6/21/22

Hannah has no plans to stay in London. She arrives in town weeks after her father’s death expecting his wife to be an old, miserable sack of crap like her father.  Only Diane Astell is nothing like what Hannah imagined. She’s gorgeous, kind and her gaze lingers on Hannah longer than is considered polite. Is there a world in which her father’s wife is attracted to her as well or is it just wishful thinking?

Melissa Tereze pushes the envelope, or at least it should feel like that but one of the many things I love about her writing is she gives me a reason to overlook what should be taboo. Hannah and Diane have never met. Hannah didn’t grow up with Diane as her stepmother. Her father has only been married to her for three years. Those detail make me more than willing to embrace this storyline. Not to mention the fact that the person these two have in common was pretty awful to both of them.

I can’t blame Hannah for being attracted to Diane, I’m a bit in love with her myself. She has this playful nature that has been suppressed for so long and Hannah helps bring that out in her. In turn, Diane gives Hannah a sense of home, which she hasn’t had for years since her mother left and her father stopped taking an interest in her. They are both lost souls who exist but aren’t especially happy in their lives. It’s easy to walk through life thinking it’s good enough until you meet someone who makes you realize how much better it could be if you just take a chance.

Like my favorite of Melissa’s couples, Vanessa and Emma, their connection is physical but the emotional connection is just as strong.  That being said, this is a smokin’ hot book. Seriously, Melissa ups her sexy game with each book and if she keeps this up, and I have no doubt she will, I may have to invest in an industrial size fan.

An ARC was provided by the author for an honest review.

 

 

It Started With A Kiss by Clare Lydon

It Started With A Kiss
Category:
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 6/10/22
Can one kiss change your life forever?

Skye has never told a stranger at a bar she was beautiful and kissed her. But it’s not every day you find out your cheating ex-wife is getting married, and your boss expects you to plan her wedding. Skye finds herself drowning her sorrows and chatting up a beautiful woman, so why not just plant one on those luscious lips.

Gemma doesn’t go around kissing strangers. She doesn’t act without thinking. But she’s away from home, Skye is gorgeous and for once, Gemma wants to do something unexpected. And why shouldn’t she step out of her comfort zone just this once.  They will never see each other again.

Both women return to their lives but that kiss lingers is the back of their minds. Fate brings them back into each others orbit and soon Skye finds herself taking a job at the winery Gemma owns with her sister. They agree nothing will happen. It was a one off and they are keeping it professional.

This book is now my favorite from Clare Lydon. I was immediately drawn into the story and knew I needed to experience these two women finding their happily ever after.  Gemma and Skye have instant physical chemistry but their emotional connection is just as strong once they start getting to know each other. Both women have a lot of scars and the journey to allowing someone to help heal their dented hearts is well worth it.

Clare Lydon is an exceptional author. She writes such witty dialogue and really connects beautifully with her characters. She made it very easy for me to fall for Gemma and Skye.  They are flawed and both imperfect but are perfect for each other.  Sit back, grab a glass and marvel at the talent that is Clare Lydon. This book is like a fine wine that I know I will be appreciating years from now.

An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

 

Embracing The Moon by Jeannie Levig

Embracing The Dawn
An Embracing The Dawn Romance

This is my first Jeannie Levig book, but it won’t be my last. I will be going back and reading Embracing the Dawn so I can get EJ and Jinx’s story. While this book brings EJ’s two best friends, Taylor and Gwen to the forefront, it can be read as a standalone.

Taylor has resigned herself to living the life of a single woman and it has been just fine. Even at 55, she can have any woman she wants.  So what if she is insanely attracted to her best friend. Gwen has been best friends with Taylor for ten years. She has always been attracted to the older woman but would never jeopardize losing her friendship. And she’s never told Taylor she isn’t as straight as everyone thinks she is.

The two women finally confess their attraction for each other and start exploring that attraction. And they really do some exploring! These two have some insane chemistry. After a few weeks of their new dynamic, things are going better than either ever could have imagined and then tragedy strikes. What follows is a long and difficult road for both to navigate,

I was completely surprised by the twist in the story. It made me love Taylor even more. I am always drawn to the player who has so many deeper layers to her and Taylor is so much more than even she recognizes.  She is a special character. I really appreciated how much she grew as the story progressed. And Gwen is the perfect complement to Taylor.

This was an enjoyable read and the supporting characters were an interesting group. Jinx fascinates me and I am looking forward to reading Embracing the Dawn to get her story.  I think we could have done without the person from one of the characters past and still had a fulfilling experience. That character was really my only issue with the book. I just couldn’t feel anything for her. Aside from her, this book is well worth the read.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

Howl by Lucy Bexley

Howl
Category:
Author:
Published: 6/1/22
Home of the Wayward Lovers. I Heart SapphFic Pride Collection Book 7

Clem has finally made it out of Maine and is ready to start a new life in Boston. The world is her oyster, the sky in the limit, or maybe life is still a shitshow. On day one her old Toyota gets stolen. Even car thieves are accepting mediocrity. Her new sweatin to the oldies roommate, Alyssa, invites Clementine to Howl, Boston’s only remaining queer bar. Clementine takes one look at Lou, the bars gorgeous owner and is smitten like a kitten. Maybe this place isn’t so bad after all.

Between trying to save her failing bar and checking in on her grandmother, Lou, doesn’t have the time or energy for anything other than a hookup now and then. Clementine is the perfect candidate for a little extracurricular in  the storeroom, since she is crazy hot and only in town for the weekend and thus they will never again cross paths. Lou may have gotten a wee bit confused as to how long Clem will be around but it doesn’t matter because she has no interest in anything that will detract her from saving the bar that is the only place she has ever felt she belonged.

Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love Lucy Bexley’s writing more, she brings Clem and Lou into my life. This book has everything I have come to expect from her books, moments of laugh out loud laughter, main characters who are relatable and deserving of love. And supporting characters who are so perfect I wish they were real so I could make them friends, like Alyssa and Sam.  I think the character who captured my heart the most Lou’s Gram, Eleanor, who reminded me so much of my late Gram it made me smile and tear up at the same time.

I love this book. I love Lou and how much she wants to preserve the bar for all those who never felt like they had a place where they could truly be themselves. I love Clementine, who has finally decided to live for herself and even if everything she owns has been stolen, she is determined to live her best life. I love how this book made me feel, how it made me smile and how it reinforced that Lucy Bexley is one of the most gifted authors in our community. This is a must read and the perfect book to celebrate Pride month.

An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

 

In The Mirror by Lise Gold and Madeleine Taylor

In The Mirror
Category:
Author:
Published: 5/26/2022

Faith appears to have it all. She is a fashion photographer, society It girl, daughter to a successful artist and sister to a supermodel. But appearances can be deceiving. Faith’s career is on the decline, she’s drinking far more than she should and she hasn’t felt good about her appearance in longer than she can remember. Her mother is a successful artist and her sister, a supermodel. It is easy to feel less than when these are the women you are most often mentioned alongside.

Silva has overcome a lot to become a personal trainer.   She wants to help her new client, Faith, make the changes to improve her outlook and her self worth. When Silva is hit by a car, Faith offers her guest room.  Their attraction grows the more time they spend together and they also realize that they have more in common than they could have ever imagined.

Lise Gold is incredibly versatile. She can write a book that transports me to Norway or whisks me off to Rome just as beautifully as she writes books that show characters navigating depression and in this one, eating disorders. It isn’t an easy topic to tackle. But with every topic Lise takes on, she handles it with care and sensitivity.

I really like Faith and Silva and enjoyed the progression of their relationship from combative, at least on Faith’s part, to friends and ultimately to lovers. These two “see” each other and provide each other with much needed support.  Sometimes it takes someone just being there and seeing how they view us, to change the way we see ourselves. This is another wonderful book from Lise Gold/Madeleine Taylor.

The book begins with the epigraph “Seek to be whole, not perfect”, a quote from Oprah. A beautiful sentiment that we should all strive for.

An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above All Things by Roslyn Sinclair

Above All Things
Publisher:
Published: 5/11/22

Jules Moretti is embarking on a new career, no longer the assistant to fashion editor, Vivian Carlisle. She still sees her former boss but now in a far more intimate role, as Vivian’s girlfriend. Jules is hopelessly in love with the emotionally walled up editor. Vivian has walls at high as the one in China but Jules and the love she shows breaks them down gradually. As Vivian’s pregnancy progresses, the two women have to deal with the many obstacles threatening to tear them apart.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, Truth and Measure but I absolutely loved this one. Roslyn Sinclair has given us another unforgettable ice queen in Vivian. Most live in fear of her and don’t bother trying to see the woman behind the frostiness. Jules has been there for her like no one in her life before and she allows Jules to see the real Vivian. She knows Jules is worthy of that trust and I love the way their relationship progressed. What began as a crush for Jules was for Vivian a dependence brought about by her shock and fear at discovering she was pregnant. The two women’s feelings evolved into an undeniable attraction and ultimately love.

This book is crazy hot. I am at an age where hot flashes occur occasionally but during the reading of this book, I had a perpetual flush that kept me reading this away from the eyes of my partner and kids. The emotional connection between these two characters heightens the physical and that makes for a great love story. I haven’t read Roslyn Sinclair’s fanfic but I now clearly understand the anticipation that accompanied the arrival of these two books.

An ARC was received from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.

Forever by Kris Bryant

Forever
Category:
Author:
Published: 5/10/22

Ten years after being dumped on a reality dating show, Savannah Edwards is back on When Sparks Fly looking for love. Savannah has baby sparks with a few of the contestants but the one who really lights her fire is the show’s host, Lauren Lucas.

I don’t watch reality dating shows but if they were like this, I may tune in.  This was a lighthearted, entertaining read from Kris Bryant. Savannah is a charming character, and I enjoyed her interaction with several of the contestants on the show, in particular Alix, a nonbinary, tattooed charmer, who I think would be a great lead character in her own book.

Since the story was told from Savannah’s point of view, we really get to know her well and what attracts her to Lauren. I wish I could have gotten into Lauren’s head. She’s a bit of a mystery to me but I can see why she would be drawn to Savannah. She is such a good-hearted woman who really just wants to find her happiness. Kris Bryant clearly had a lot of fun writing this and it shows. This is a book you will enjoy, it’s not too heavy, the writing is solid, and it kept me interested the entire time.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

 

 

Who I Believe by Jamey Moody

Who I Believe
Author:
Published: 5/18/22

Rebekah Mathews has returned home to try to get her and her daughter’s life back on track after the death of her husband. Her daughter, Anna, is struggling to cope after losing her dad. Rebekah signs her up for art therapy completely unaware that it will bring her face to face with a woman from her past, who still has ownership of her heart.

Megan Neal was 31 when she met and fell for 19-year-old Rebekah.  They only had one summer together but Megan always wondered what happened to the preacher’s daughter she loved more anyone before or after. When the two women see each other again, those old feelings come back to the surface. Rebekah must decide if she is going to take a second chance on love or live in fear of her family’s reaction.

I’m not a religious person. It’s just not my jam. I can, however, appreciate those who have faith and the fear that goes along with wanting to live your truth but also wanting to maintain one’s relationship with God and family who may take issue. So, it was easy to see how Rebekah’s youthful fears brought about an end to her summer relationship with Megan. What I appreciated is that both women realized how special their connection, even after twelve years apart and how rare it is to get a second chance at love. And that a love like that is worth it because it only comes along once.

Jamey Moody always writes relatable characters that you want the best for. I’m a sucker for a second chance love story and throw in an age gap and I’m all in. Rebekah’s daughter Anna is adorable and her bond with Megan and her adorable dog was lovely to see and helped her so much in being able to smile again after losing her father.

My only issue was that I wished that the two women would have courted each other a little more but that’s just me nitpicking because I know Jamey well and I know that she felt the two wasted enough time. And when you know who you are meant to be with, you don’t need fancy dinners out to confirm what you already know. This is a feel good second chance story about love, the love between two women, between a mother and daughter, and the love that comes from believing in a higher power. I think it’s Jamey’s finest work to date and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.