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
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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
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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.