Something’s Different by Quinn Ivins

Something's Different
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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
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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
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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
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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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Author:
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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.