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.

 

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
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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.

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.

Something’s Different by Quinn Ivins

Something's Different
Author:
Publisher:
Published: 11/23/2022

Caitlyn Taylor thought the days of switching places with her twin sister, Chloe, were over. They aren’t kids anymore even though Chloe still acts like one. Caitlyn is coerced by Chloe and their mom to fill in for her working as Ruth Holloway’s assistant at the local university. Ruth begins to see “Chloe” in a new light when she starts actually doing her job and Caitlyn can’t deny her “boss” isn’t nearly as evil as Chloe said she was.

I have enjoyed both of Quinn Ivins other books and this one was just as entertaining.  Her sense of humor comes across so well and she always writes characters who are so endearing, I just want to reach into the book and give them a big hug. The chemistry between Ruth and Caitlyn developed gradually and was as much intellectual as it was physical. I was invested from page one and couldn’t wait to see these two find their way to each other. There is nothing sexier than two intelligent women finding someone they can connect with on every level.  This is a book I will be reading again just to spend more time with Ruth and Caitlyn.

An ARC was provided by Ylva Publishing for an honest review.

 

Take Two by Stephanie Shea

Take Two
Category:
Published: 10/28/22

Book three in the Gia San Franciso gives us Whitney Dimaano’s story. If you haven’t read Chef’s Kiss or Missed Connection, the book where we are introduced to Whitney, stop what you’re doing and read them now. Not that you can’t enjoy this one without reading those, but they are simply too good to miss and the insight we gain into Whitney in Missed Connection enriches the experience while reading this book.

Whitney owns her own fitness center, is establishing relationships with her half brother and sister she’s only recently met, but her love life is stagnant. Not that she hasn’t tried, she’s been seeing a doctor for two months but there’s no spark. She’s only felt that with one person, and she left her.  When Andy reappears in her life, she tries to hold onto the anger she’s felt for the last six years. If only her body didn’t still react to Andy’s nearness and her heart didn’t beat a little faster whenever she simply thought about Andy.

Andy Vahn returns to San Francisco to persuade Jenn Coleman to appear in her documentary but she’s also back to make amends. Six years ago, she fled to London and left everyone behind, her best friend, her parents and Whitney, the only woman she has ever loved. She isn’t sure she deserves Whitney’s forgiveness, but it isn’t going to stop her from trying. Despite the success she’s found, there’s been something missing since the moment she left Whitney.

Last year when I first read Chef’s Kiss, I knew I was reading the words of a special author. That feeling has only been strengthened after Whispering Oaks and Missed Connection. With Take Two, Stephanie Shea continues her ascent into the upper echelon of sapphic authors.  This is the kind of book that reminds me why I love reading so much.  It is filled with angst and humor, but more than anything, it makes me believe in soulmates, because in no universe is there anyone for Whitney but Andy. They were always meant to find each other and then find their way back.

I may possibly be in love with Jenn Coleman from Chef’s Kiss. Truth, if I could bring her to life, I would dump my gf right now and make her mine. So, I was very happy to see her, Val, Avery and Kyla make appearances. I love seeing how everyone from previous books are doing, like checking in on old friends.

Out of the 100 plus books I have read this year, this is the most romantic. It is so painfully beautiful, I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.  Stephanie Shea uses flashbacks to show their past relationship which only helped make it more obvious the depth of feelings they shared. I love everything about this book, from the use of imagery that helps me picture so vividly what is happening, to Whitney and Andy’s growth individually and as a couple to the declarations that are so stunningly well written, I have no choice but to continue hyping Stephanie Shea to anyone who will listen. I can’t think of an author who is more deserving.

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

 

 

 

 

She’ll Steal Your Heart by Rachel Lacey

She'll Steal Your Heart
Author:
Published: 10/25/22
Midnight in Manhattan Book 4

Lauren Booker did not endear herself to me with her appearance in book one of this series, Don’t Cry for Me. She upset my girl, Josie, and I don’t forgive anyone who does that. I knew Rachel Lacey would work her magic and I would end up forgiving her, but I didn’t expect that she would touch my heart more than any of Rachel’s other characters. Maybe it’s because we have something very painful in common or it may just be because I love how Lauren is determined to make things right. And given how life has continuously knocked her down, I appreciate how she keeps getting back up and moving forward.

Mia Solano is also at a crossroads. She recently left her successful law career, got divorced and opened a cat cafe. She knows she needs to get back to living and meets up with her online friends to watch the new season of their favorite show. Mia is pretty perfect. I love how she carries herself and the calm she projects, even if internally her mind is racing. What impresses me the most about Mia is how she looks beyond Lauren’s issues and really “sees” her.

With She’ll Steal your Heart, Rachel Lacey continues to show why she is so successful and one of our best writers. In Lauren, she gives us a character I will be thinking about for quite a while. She is flawed but given her history, the fact she is still standing, shows the strength she has inside. Rachel writes her characters with such care, as if they are fragile friends, she just wants to hold close. The romance that develops is years in the making, while the two chat online about their favorite tv show and Mia reads Lauren’s fanfic. They share details about their lives and when they finally meet, the feelings that have been developing over years evolve so naturally.

This is the fourth book in the series and it was lovely to see some familiar faces make appearances. While I have a special place in my heart for Don’t Cry for Me, this is my favorite of the series. It made me tear up several times because things hit a bit close to home but more than anything it made me feel hopeful and it made me smile a lot. I love to see characters overcome adversity to find happiness and experience growth both individually and as a couple. This is a book I will revisit many times.

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

 

Calling the Shots by Kelly Farmer

Callin the Shots
Category:
Author:
Publisher:
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.