These Thin Lines by Milena McKay

These Thin Lines
Author:
Published: 1/31/23

Vi Courtenay’s life changes irrevocably the moment she steps through the door at the Lilien Haus of Fashion or more aptly, falls on her face and loses her shoe, which is such a very Vi thing to do.  In that moment, she finds the eyes of Chiara Conti staring back at her.  Chiara, who still is as beautiful as she was in her days as a supermodel, only now with a sadness lurking behind those gorgeous eyes, that Vi feels an inexplicable need to erase.

Milena McKay has so quickly become a writer whose books are more than a must read. A McKay release is an event and for very good reason. With each book, I think she has hit her peak, yet she continues to outdo herself. These Thin Lines is a revelation.  It’s a love story but it’s so much more.  I think most of us have felt less than, either because of our own insecurities or because we have been made to feel that way by someone who preys on those insecurities.  When we meet someone who treats us with understanding and recognizes the pain that lies within, it’s like finding water in a desert and it’s impossible not to be drawn to that person.  These Thin Lines is also a story about forgiveness and how in doing so, we open ourselves up to happiness that seemed unattainable.

I went to Germany with my mom in my 20’s. We took a day trip to Paris. I had jetlag and had been awake for 48 hours. When I went to step off of the bus, I looked out, said, “Paris, I’m here” and then stepped down, missed the last step and landed in a heap with Parisians walking by laughing at me.  I flashed back to that as Vi fell on her face in front of Chiara.  I hope someday to return to Paris in a more graceful fashion but until that time, I will read books that showcase the beauty and romance of the city. Paris and New York are more than settings for the story, they are supporting characters and McKay’s love for both is evident.

It’s nearly a guarantee with a McKay book to see some familiar faces.  There are some stellar new supporting characters as well, notably, Aoife and Renate, and others I would very much like to give a stern talking to. They are all brilliantly woven into a story that will leave you breathless. If only this sapphic Cinderella story would have existed when I was a kid, I’m sure I would have found my Princess charming a lot sooner.

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

 

The Fixer by Lee Winter

no title has been provided for this book

It may only be January, but I can say with certainty that The Fixer and book two in The Villian Series, The Chaos Agent, will both be in my list of favorite books of 2023. Lee Winter shows yet again why she is one of our best writers. I went into this book with a lot of bad feelings toward Michelle Hastings yet knowing that I would be Team Michelle by the end of the book.

Social justice warrior Eden Lawless gets an offer from a mysterious company that will require her to return to her hometown to bring down the mayor, her archnemesis.  Michelle Hastings is the CEO of the organization, who aren’t exactly spreading goodness throughout the land.

If you have read The Red Files and Under Your Skin, you know and loathe Michelle Hastings. I was perfectly content to live in a world where I cursed her very literary existence. That is, until I was only a few chapters in and realized that Lee Winter was writing her in a way that I would not only forgive her wrongdoings, but also want her to have everything she never thought herself worthy of having.

Eden Lawless is goodness personified and like many of Lee’s books, that goodness thaws the iciest of queens. While she radiates warmth, she isn’t a pushover and is true to herself and her beliefs. And unlike most people, she sees more than Michelle wants her to see. She sees the crack in the mask Michelle has worn for years.

If you took all of my sapphic books and told me I could only keep the books of one author, it would easily be Lee Winter. I love how her books are filled with humor, intelligence and characters that evoke so many different emotions.  I knew this would be an outstanding read, but it far exceeded even my high expectations. I want to take a road trip with Eden in her rainbow van, hang out at the B&B with Melba and gossip with Hannah. And I can’t believe this, but I really want to give Michelle Hastings a hug.

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

 

 

Camp Lost and Found by Georgia Beers

Camp Lost and Found

Category:
Published: 12/13/22

Two women who have been through a trauma find themselves sharing a house. Cassidy wants to find herself and returns to the only place she has ever felt like she belonged, while Frankie wants to lose herself and the guilt that plagues her, whether she’s awake or asleep. The more the women open up to each other, the more they start to feel like the darkness is fading.

Georgia Beers books will always have a special place in my heart since she was one of the first authors I started reading when I discovered sapphic romance. I have several of her books that I revisit when I need a comfort read. This one will join that short list. This is easily one of Beers most emotional books and she portrays Cassidy and Frankie’s pain in a way that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

This one hit close to home and I found myself in tears several times. I wanted to give both of the characters a big hug and hang out with the good hearted supporting characters.  Camp Lost and Found will stay with me for a long time as will Beers dedication at the beginning of the book, “To all of us who have struggled to find ourselves. Don’t stop looking.”

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

 

 

The Ultimate Boss Set by Lee Winter

The Ultimate Boss Set
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 11/2022

In the Ultimate Boss Set, Lee Winter gives us The Brutal Truth, The Awkward Truth and three related short stories.  This is the ultimate set, with some of the most memorable characters in sapphic romance. I have read them all individually several times and know I will read them many times again in this collection.

Elena Bartell is one of my favorite characters ever. She is the ultimate, hot boss lady ice queen and the evolution of her relationship with Maddie Grey is absolute perfection. Maddie has the biggest heart and somehow manages to see the woman Elena hides behind that ice queen exterior.

Felicity Simmons idolizes her boss, Elena Bartell. After nearly stealing the show in The Brutal Truth, The Awkward Truth, gives us Felicity’s story. We find out where all that snark comes from, and it brings a level of understanding that makes me love Felicity even more.

This is a must for fans of Elena, Maddie and Felicity. And if you haven’t read these, there is no better time to discover the brilliance of Lee Winter. She writes ice queens like she was born to do it and her hilarious banter is unmatched.

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

 

 

Presidential by Lola Keeley

Presidential
Category:
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 12/7/22

Presidential was originally released in 2020 but has been rewritten and re-released. The story was inspired by Lola Keeley’s love for the film, The American President, which is also one of my favorite movies. This book is a wonderful homage to the film, and I will be reading it many times, just as I have watched the movie countless times.

Dr. Emily Lawrence is one of the top pediatric surgeons in the country. Connie Calvin is the nation’s first female President and a widow, having lost her husband before she was elected. A friendship forms between the two women but the more time they spend texting and opening themselves up, friendship becomes the last thing on either woman’s mind.

I finished this book in one day. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the women and how much respect they had for each other.   Even though Connie was the most powerful woman in the world, Emily is just as powerful in her profession, and I appreciate how both women worked to make it an equal partnership. The supporting characters were well developed, and I loved the relationships formed with the main characters. Connie’s son, Zach, her best friend and chief of staff, Ramira and Emily’s sister, Sutton, were all fabulous. And I would love to see Jill, the secret service agent, get her own book in the future.

Presidential gave me that same warm and fuzzy feeling I got from The American President.  I noticed a few lines that were reminiscent of the film, but this book has it’s own identity and I adored it. It’s easy to see why Connie and Emily fell for each other because I fell a little in love with them myself.

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

Better Than Expected by Haley Cass

Better Than Expected
Category:
Author:
Published: 11/18/22
A When You Least Expect It Story

From the moment I started Those Who Wait, I knew I was reading the words of a special author. With each book since, my appreciation for Haley Cass’s skills have only grown. She creates characters that are so well developed, it’s impossible not to become completed invested in their lives.When You Least Expect It touched me deeply, Caroline trying to be a friend to Hannah, while trying to deny the feelings she felt growing with each passing day. And Hannah trying to come out the other side after a bad relationship, concerned with being the best mother she could be, while navigating her confusion over her feelings for Caroline. It always hard to let characters like these go and I was thrilled when Cass announced we would get more of them.

In Better Than Expected we get Hannah’s perspective and it’s perfect. The story begins on the day of Michael’s Christmas party, the first time Hannah meets Caroline, goes through the events of WYLEI, and beyond. While I knew and appreciated Hannah’s strength in all she had to deal with in WYLEI, this really delved into what she went through with Michael, and I found myself in awe of her resilience. As Hannah finds herself spending more time with Caroline, Cass writes beautifully her trepidation and how her feelings evolve.

While I love Hannah and Caroline, Abbie steals the show. That little girl could someday rule the world. She is wise beyond her years and so integral to her mother finding happiness. I love everything about that kid and Caroline’s family making a place for Hannah and Abbie warmed my heart. The only drawback from this book were the murderous feelings that Michael inspired. If you didn’t want to throat punch him after reading When You Least Expect It, you will absolutely want to do that and more after reading Better Than Expected. I am so happy that Hannah found someone like Caroline, who loves and appreciates the incredible woman she is and is the second parent that Abbie deserves but most of all, I’m happy we were given the gift of more time with these characters.

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

The Forever Factor by Melissa Brayden

The Forever Factor
Published: 11/15/22

Melissa Brayden’s books will always be an automatic read for me, not only because they are some of my favorites but because she writes banter better than anyone in sapphic romance. Second chance romances are one of the genres I gravitate towards the most and this one was a really enjoyable read. Bethany and Reid fell in love their senior year of high school and thought they would always be together but it wasn’t meant to be. Fast forward eleven years and the two find themselves running into each other, literally, at the grocery store. Forgiveness isn’t easy but what choice do you have when your forever keeps showing up.

I really liked how Melissa wrote this alternating between then and now. Flashbacks don’t always work for me but I can’t imagine this one being written any other way. The then was a very good YA story of first love and the mistakes that are made when fears get in the way. And the now is an adult romance between two women who had lived their lives always looking back to that first love that they have never been able to duplicate.

Melissa Brayden never fails to impress. I read this one in a day and had a smile on my face throughout. Bethany and Reid were always meant for each other, even if the forever took a little longer than they expected. An easy read filled with the snappy banter and heartfelt longing that Melissa writes so effortlessly.

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

Schuss by E.J. Noyes

Schuss
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 11/22/22

Stacy Evans is determined to be the best alpine skier in the world. Her life revolves around training with her coach, Aspen Archer and spending time with her best friend, Gemma Archer.  Oh, and hanging out with her girlfriend, Bree. Although, if she’s honest with herself, Bree is not the first person she thinks of as she begins her day and she is absolutely not the person she closes her eyes and dreams about. Keeping her feelings under control is what’s best to not risk losing the best friend she’s ever had.

Gemma Archer is a senior in high school. She’s preparing for graduation and then looking forward to film school. She lives with her mom, Cate and stepmother, Aspen. The two have the kind of relationship she wants for herself. If only she could find the courage to tell Stacy she wanted to be more than her best friend.

E.J. Noyes is one of my favorite authors. One of the many things I love about her writing is how effortlessly she moves between genres so I shouldn’t have been surprised that she gave us a YA/NA novel that I became totally invested in.  Gold is one of my favorite books and I loved getting to see Cate and Aspen again and seeing how happy they still are. It’s clear to both of them how deep Gemma and Stacy’s feelings go and they are there for the girls as they try to navigate all of the feelings they have swirling around.

E.J’s books are usually incredibly hot but I enjoyed this book that was much more about the emotions that two young women feel and the fear that comes from those feelings. Schuss is sweet and filled with so much heart and I absolutely adored it.

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

 

For the Long Run by Cheyenne Blue

For the Long Run
Category:
Publisher:
Published: 10/26/22

Shan Metz is focused on making it to the Olympics but first she needs to make the Australian Commonwealth Games team. Running is all that matters to her and nothing will derail her plans. Nothing, except a woman in a koala costume she trips over causing her to blow out her knee.

Lizzie Carras feels awful to have caused Shan’s injury and offers her spare room for Shan while she recovers from knee surgery. It’s not like Shan can navigate four flights of stairs to get to her own apartment. Shan doesn’t exactly endear herself to Lizzie, she’s snarky and rude, but when the snark fades all that’s left is a mutual attraction neither can ignore.

This is my first Cheyenne Blue book and it won’t be my last. The chemistry and banter between these two characters was highly entertaining. The writing was sharp and flowed beautifully.  I am also a bit in love with both Lizzie and Shan. Lizzie is absolutely one of the sweetest characters ever. She radiates warmth and kindness and there was no way Shan could deny how attractive those qualities are. And Shan’s single-minded determination to succeed at all costs, while a bit counterproductive to all around happiness, is still pretty hot.

I love an opposites attract, enemies to lovers story and this one held my attention, made me laugh and most importantly, made me feel. For the Long Run is a great read while lounging on the couch with a blanket or if you feel inspired, while running on the treadmill.

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