Calling the Shots by Kelly Farmer

Callin the Shots
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Published: 11/15/22
Out on the Ice Book 3

Tierney McGovern is focused. Focused on being a mother to her daughter, Hope, focused on coaching the NY Lady Liberty’s hockey team. She is most definitely not focused on Regan Lane. She has spent years forgetting the memories of their week together. When Regan becomes the head coach of the rival Boston Ice and Tierney finds herself around Regan again, she is absolutely not focusing on the way Regan made her feel.  Instead she will focus on how Regan ghosted her and how she will never let her guard down around that woman again.

Regan Lane is brash and intense. After being an assistant coach in the men’s game where her every action was scrutinized she jumps at the chance to be a head coach for the women’s team in Boston. She loathes the disparity in pay between men and women in sports. She is also not a big fan of commitment but the more time she spends with uptight Tierney McGovern, the more she thinks being tied down to just one woman sounds pretty good.

This is the third book in Kelly Farmer’s Out on the Ice series. I enjoyed the first two books but this may be my favorite. I really enjoy a couple who are opposites. Tierney brings a little Ice Queen to the party as well. Although, once we get to know her she isn’t an ice queen at all. She’s someone who has always felt like she isn’t seen on her own merits. Her father being the hockey legend, she’s always been in his shadow.  The chemistry between Regan and Tierney is sizzling and they just work as a couple. And I really enjoyed the connection Regan forged with Tierney’s daughter, Hope along with appearances from characters from the previous books.  Another enjoyable read from Kelly Farmer.

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

 

Serendipity by Kris Bryant

Serendipity
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Published: 9/13/22

Annie Foster is perfectly content writing jingles and hosting an open mic night at her local coffee shop, but fate has different plans for her and before she knows it she is touring with superstar Bristol Baines. It’s everything Annie always wanted but didn’t dare to dream about. Bristol has been famous for years and she is over it. She wants to be able to go to the grocery store without security, she wants to have a life beyond performing. As the tour carries on, the two women develop a friendship that evolves into deeper feelings.

I love celebrity romances and this one is top notch. Annie and Bristol are wonderful characters, and I was instantly invested in their story. Bristol has been famous for so long and she loves performing but after so many years in the spotlight she is burnt out and ready to start living her life for herself. Annie is ready for her moment in the spotlight. Kris Bryant has weaved a slow burn that really works. She allows the two women to get to know each other and let the feelings develop organically.

Annie and Bristol are so incredibly likeable, I found myself smiling a lot.  It’s a low angst delight and I know I will be unable to resist revisiting these characters again very soon.

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

Purposefully Accidental by G Benson

Purposefully Accidental
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Published: 9/6/2022

Wren Acker is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. When she gets into a car accident, she has no way of knowing that a blast from the past will turn her life upside down. Dr. Madison Taylor is shocked when Wren shows up at her E.R. It’s not like she is a fan, she hasn’t seen any of her movies. No, she wouldn’t dare, not after what happened when they were both nine years old and at camp together. Madison has harbored resentment ever since and only when she starts consulting on Wren’s television show does she start to accept that they both have changed a lot over the years. And neither can ignore the obvious chemistry between them.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Wren and Madison. They are both so likable and both grow so much as the story progresses. I love everything about this book but the moments on set when the two characters get reacquainted with each other and really open up, those are the moments that pulled me in like no other. It’s in those quiet moments where Benson makes her case for being one of the best writers in the genre. The interactions flow so beautifully and allow the characters to show vulnerability. The moments on set also give us Trinity, Wren’s co-star, who is great comic relief and a friend to both Wren and Madison.

G Benson is one of my absolute favorite authors. Her characters always find a way into my heart, snuggle in and make a home there. Wren and Madison have stolen my heart and I am totally ok with that.  This is a slow burn that Benson weaves masterfully. With every book of hers I read, I become more of a fan.   I already miss these characters and I know I will be reading this book again very soon.

An ARC was received for an honest review.

Catching Feelings by Ana Hartnett Reichardt

Catching Feelings
Published: 9/13/2022
The Alder Series, Book 2

Andrea Foster never expected to be named the starting catcher for the Alder women’s softball team and in no universe would she have dreamt she would also be named captain.  Superstar pitcher, Maya Gonzalez should be the captain, Andrea knows it and Maya certainly knows it.  The more time the two spend together, the more Maya’s chilly demeanor starts to fade away and the crush Andrea had worked so hard to control, becomes something she can’t keep a lid on, even if she tried.

I have yet to read Ana Reichardt’s debut, book one in this series, Changing Majors. That is something I will soon rectify after reading Catching Feelings.  There is an ease to her writing, and I was quickly drawn to Andrea, the adorkable lesbian who finds herself having to try to find her voice as the new leader of her team. She isn’t a natural leader; she isn’t charismatic and fiery like Maya is. The two balance each other out. Where Andrea calms Maya, Maya helps Andrea become more comfortable expressing herself. They are opposites in many ways but when they begin to really look at each other, they discover aren’t so different after all.

I don’t read a lot of YA novels, maybe because college was so long ago, I can hardly remember it.  Reading this book made me feel wistful and long for those days of crushes and endless possibilities. Any book that evokes such emotions is one I will return to again and again. Catching Feelings is a wonderful sophomore effort by Ana Hartnett Reichardt. The characters are so relatable and their growth both individually and as a couple, was beautifully written. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this author. Her star has only begun to rise.

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

 

Cherry on Top by Georgia Beers

Cherry on Top
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Published: 8/16/22

With the advent of social media, we can present ourselves in any way we see fit. Sometimes, it’s as our authentic selves’, other times, it’s as the person we wish we were.  Cherry Davis is working hard on her “brand” and it isn’t always who she is. She uses filters and talks about her nonexistent girlfriend, but it’s a means to an end.

Ellis Conrad is the manager at the Sunny Side Up diner and also an aspiring journalist. She loathes social media and has valid reasons for her feelings. As the two women get to know each other better and the feelings deepen, will their blossoming relationship survive when Cherry’s social media status comes to light?

Georgia Beer has been one of my favorite authors since I began reading sapphic romances. Her characters are so engaging and relatable and book after book, I always find myself becoming more of a fan of her writing. This story is another that will go on my list of favorites. Ellis is such a wonderful character. I felt so much empathy for everything she has gone through, and no one could possibly deserve happiness more.

Cherry is a wonderful character as well, even though I wanted to shake her a few times but in the end I loved her just as much as I did Ellis. Cherry is someone who doesn’t see herself as being enough and tries so hard to cultivate an image of what she wants to be rather than being content with the amazing person she is.

Cherry on Top is another wonderful story from one of the greatest writers in sapphic fiction. It made me smile but it also made me think about how we all present ourselves on social media. What makes social media unique, is that we can put the best version of ourselves out there for the world to see. It isn’t always who we authentically are but more the person we aspire to be.

This is more than a romance with two incredibly charming and wonderful characters. It is a reminder that you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are to fit into a box that society wants to put you into. Georgia Beers once again creates a couple with wonderful chemistry who will warm your heart.

An ARC was provided by Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.

 

Chemistry by Rachael Sommers

Lily Cross has returned home to the suburbs on Chicago for her first teaching job. She isn’t overly thrilled to come home but there were reasons she needed to get out of Miami. She is determined to become friends with her new co-workers but she hadn’t planned on Dr. Eva Thomas.

Eva had been a Chemistry professor at Georgetown University, but a family situation brings her home.  Teaching high school had never been something she imagined herself doing and she doesn’t have the time nor the inclination to humor the new, ridiculously peppy Biology teacher. She infuriated Eva or is that feeling something more troublesome?

I gravitate to ice queens. They are so complex and keep so much of themselves hidden away and fear is usually the cause. Eva is no exception.  When Lily gets a glimpse into who Eva is with her students, she begins to see that the icy exterior is just that, a way to keep people at bay and protect herself.

The title of the book is apropos. Eva and Lily have incredible chemistry. They balance each other out as happens in the best ice queen romances. I finished this is an evening because I wanted to witness Lily cracking the ice Eva had around her heart and I was not disappointed. This is a wonderful book to curl up with on the couch with a glass of wine.

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

 

Strange Attractors by Ana K. Wrenn

Strange Attractors
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Published: 8/17/2022

If you think you know what to expect from an ice queen, you haven’t met Sonja Storey. Antarctica is a sauna compared to the North Carolina professor. I spent the majority of the book not liking her but knowing that by the end I would come to understand why she behaves the way she does.

Junior Professor Crystal Byrd is Sonja’s complete opposite. Cystal is warm, kind and for some inexplicable reason, completely drawn to Sonja. She sees something beneath the surface that no one else does mostly because Sonja has a fortress built up to protect herself.

Ana K. Wrenn has burst onto the sapphic fiction scene with an enthralling psychological drama. I don’t want to give too much away but the story centers around threats Sonja begins receiving and how she tries to navigate the situation, while projecting a control she doesn’t feel.

I always love a well written debut and this one qualifies. Wrenn gives us an unforgettable character in Sonja. She is brilliant, cold and complex. Her journey doesn’t end with a thaw, but I still find myself feeling great affection for her. I also find myself waiting none too patiently for the next offering from Ana K. Wrenn.

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

Golden Hour by Kat Jackson

Golden Hour
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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
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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.