If I Don’t Ask by E.J. Noyes

If I Don't Ask
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Published: 5/17/22
Rebecca Keane has it all figured out. With a successful career as an Army surgeon and a fresh promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, she loves her life leading a surgical team. Even if that life means she’s spent years hiding her sexuality and ignoring her desires under the Army’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Then Captain Sabine Fleischer’s arrival sets off an attraction that cracks Rebecca’s carefully cultivated armor and brings about fresh complications.

If I Don’t Ask gives us the Ask, Tell story from Rebecca’s point of view. Being back with Rebecca and Sabine is like getting together with old friends. You didn’t realize how much you missed them until they are back in your orbit. It’s exactly the book I wanted it to be and I’m so glad E.J. Noyes brought them back into our lives.

Dr. Sabine Fleischer arrives at the Army base in Afghanistan that is under Rebecca’s command. Rebecca is impressed by Sabine’s talent and dedication but is also attracted to her both physically and emotionally. There are many obstacles in the way of a relationship between the two women, from DADT to Sabine being Rebecca’s subordinate. Anyone who has read Ask, Tell knows how things turn out but getting Rebecca’s point of view adds so much to an already brilliant story.

E.J. Noyes writes Rebecca’s love, longing and when tragedy strikes, her pain, so beautifully. Rebecca and Sabine’s story is one of my favorite. Their love is undeniable and all encompassing. It’s one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read and being able to read it from both of their perspectives is a gift. Ask, Tell was E.J. Noyes first book and she has done nothing but continue to impress with each book since.

This is book ten and she has come full circle by returning to these wonderful characters. I couldn’t recommend this book more. Sit back, grab a drink and fall in love all over again with Rebecca and Sabine.

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

 

Beyond the Blue by TJ O’Shea

Beyond the Blue
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Published: 2/17/22
A wonderful debut from TJ O'Shea

Mei Sharpe is a widow after the death of her husband of 30 years. It’s been two years but she is just going through the motions and not really living. When she meets Lt. Morgan Kelly, Mei can’t deny that some outside forces may be at work. Morgan is tasked with heading up a newly formed cold case division, which is housed in the basement where Mei works in the morgue. The two women form a friendship after they begin having lunch together every day and start spending time together outside of work. There is something there that goes beyond friendship, if Mei can only find the listen to her heart.

This is TJ O’Shea’s debut novel, and I am looking forward to seeing more from her. I really enjoyed it and the characters were wonderful. They are both strong women who have suffered so much grief. I always love reading a story where characters overcome pain to find happiness. I appreciated that Mei’s gay panic didn’t last too long. It’s understandable that a woman who had never thought she would be attracted to a woman and who was married to a man for so long, would freak out a bit when she realized she had feelings for a woman. It didn’t take her long to move past it and for that I was happy.

Morgan is really a ray of sunshine who comes into Mei’s life and lights it up. Mei is very proper and serious while Morgan loves to laugh and have fun, which is something Mei didn’t realize was missing in her life. Everyone needs a Morgan, someone who is goodness personified, someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously and someone who shows care and concern to everyone she encounters.

There have been so many wonderful debut novels released lately in the lesfic community. I am going to add TJ O’Shea to the list of impressive debut authors who we can expect great things from in the future. I highly recommend giving this book and this new author a read.

ARC provided by Bella Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Great Charade by Gerri Hill

The Great Charade
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Published: 12/7/21

Two years ago Abby Carpenter took her girlfriend Holly home with her for Christmas. Holly slept with Abby’s brother, Aaron, while they were there. Last year Holly went home by herself and promptly slept with Holly behind her brothers back. Now, she’s going home again for Christmas and Holly and Aaron are engaged. So, of course, she needs a fake girlfriend to take with her so she doesn’t get seduced by Holly again. And that’s where landscape artist, Nic, comes in. Abby asks Nic, a complete stranger, to accompany her for ten days to her family’s home for the holiday. Nic agrees with one stipulation.

Gerri Hill’s books were some of the first I read when I began reading lesfic. She has written some fantastic books. This book has some good moments but getting to those was difficult. The sexual ping pong Holly does between brother and sister is cringeworthy along with Nic agreeing to go along with the charade in exchange for sex. Once Abby and Nic arrive at Red River, the book becomes more enjoyable.

The chemistry between the two characters is convincing and I actually grew to like them a lot. Nic isn’t as callous and arrogant as she seems in the beginning. She has endured a great deal of trauma in her life and has serious walls around her heart to protect herself. The scenes with Nic enjoying snow for the first time were delightful. She displayed such a childlike innocence that Abby couldn’t help but get drawn in. Abby is a good character as well, although her weakness where Holly is concerned bothered me.

Along with the two main characters, Abby’s mom, is my favorite. She is kind and supportive and helps to give Nic the kind of Christmas she never had growing up. The scenes with Abby, her mom and Nic are lovely, as are the ones in Red River with Abby and Nic exploring the idyllic town. It wasn’t enough to help me get over Nic demanding sex in exchange for going with Abby or Holly sleeping with both siblings with no regard to eithers feelings. This wasn’t my ideal Gerri Hill book but it might be the one for you.

ARC provided by Bella Books via NetGalley for an honest review

Go Around by E.J. Noyes

Go Around
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Published: 11/16/21

A new E.J. Noyes book is always a treat. She writes characters I absolutely fall in love with; Rebecca Keane, Morgan Ashworth, Audrey Graham and now Avery Weston. This book is quintessential E.J., utilizing first person storytelling and scorching hot scenes to weave together a beautiful story.

Avery Weston spends her days flying the skies as an Air Marshall and her nights snuggling her dog Bennett, while watching her ex-girlfriend on tv’s hottest show. Fifteen months after having her heart ripped out she still loves her. When she finds herself on a flight with her ex, Emmy winning actress, Elise Hayes, she can’t believe it. Elise wants to talk to her after they land but what is there to say. She left Avery after her manager told her she would never get her big break acting if her sexuality came to light.

Their past takes a backseat when a fan grabs Elise with plans to take her off of the plan with him. Avery will not let the asshat hurt Elise and subdues him. They aren’t able to talk after the plane lands and that leaves Avery feeling unsettled. She wanted to make sure Elise was ok after such a harrowing experience. She is surprised when she arrives at home to find Elise waiting for her. She is too afraid to go home and asks Avery if she can stay with her for a while. Avery can’t very well send her away when they’ve both been through such a traumatic event and  it turns out she’s not the only one with lingering feelings.

A few days turns into a few weeks. Is this the second chance Avery never thought she would have?  Will Elise have the courage to come out or will she choose her career yet again over love? Will Elise’s crazed fan try again to make her his?  Will Bennett the dog ever catch the damn opossum that haunts him?

How awesome is to to legit love every single book an author has written?  There aren’t too many authors I can say that about, however, E.J. is definitely one of them. Avery is an absolute dream and having the story told from her perspective worked perfectly. E.J. beautifully conveyed Avery’s broken state even after having fifteen months to deal with the breakup. I felt her sorrow as she watched the love of her life starring on a hit tv show. Elise appears to have it all while Avery can’t really move on because her heart can’t let go.

Even though the story is told from Avery’s perspective, I still feel like we get to know Elise well and can feel the pain she carries from the decision she made to end the relationship. Her professional dreams may have come true but losing Avery haunts her every day. Even though she realized early one her mistake, fear of rejection kept her from reaching out to Avery. Sometimes the scariest events we experience, lead us to the best possible outcome.

The only one in this story who isn’t in pain is Bennett, the dog, who is just thrilled to have his second mom back home so he can sleep on the couch again. Bennett is the best dog and I want him to get all of the treats and to have his moms reunite so his doggie dreams come true.

Go Around checks a lot of my favorite things off. It has the previously mentioned second chance at love,  a Hollywood actress, a bit of suspense, a lot of sex, cute dog, adorable co-worker (Nicola, who is so cute, all gushing about Elise to Avery, completely clueless)  and most importantly, it’s written by E.J. Noyes. She just keeps solidifying her place as one of the best writers in the genre. She has such a beautiful way with words. I highly recommend you read this book.

ARC received from Bella Books for an honest review.

 

Love, Accidentally by Jamie Clevenger & Aurora Rey

Love, Accidentally is a part of the Mile High City Romance series.  A collaboration between Jamie Clevenger and Aurora Rey. The main characters in this one, Finn and Amelia are featured in a much lesser capacity in A Convenient Arrangement, which is the story of Jess and Cody.

Amelia Stone is moving in with her girlfriend, Veronica, after only six weeks of dating. On move in day Veronica is in New York because it’s more important to network with Amelia’s mother than to help her girlfriend move. While driving the UHaul, Amelia is hit by a dump truck. Paramedic Finn Douglas arrives on the scene and gets Amelia and her cat out safely.

Finn finds Amelia adorable as she’s telling her how cute she is and how if she didn’t have Veronica she would totally date her.  Finn visits her in the hospital where she encounters Amelia’s Nana. Nana promptly invites Finn to dinner as a thank you for caring for her granddaughter and taking the cat to the vet. Nana is not on team Veronica but instantly like Finn and recognizes the mutual attraction between her daughter and the kind paramedic.

Amelia definitely should not be thinking about Finn but after she gives her a ride home from the hospital and shares dinner with her and her Nana, it’s impossible for her not to have thoughts. She begins to see how much different Finn is from Veronica. Where Veronica is pretentious and self absorbed, Finn is thoughtful and generous. She visits hospice patients on her off days and Nana decides she’s going to make pot brownies for the patients that Finn can deliver. It’s not just to be nice, it’s Nana’s way to keep Finn coming back so that Amelia will eventually realize who she should be dating.

I really love these two characters. Finn is pretty much perfect. She’s there for Amelia more than her girlfriend, even when they don’t know each other. She is weary of relationships because she was cheated on by her girlfriend, who she thought she would marry.  She may not be looking for a relationship but she wants Amelia, she just doesn’t want to be her rebound. Finn also adores Edith, Amelia’s Nana, almost as much as she adores Amelia and that alone does it for me. It doesn’t hurt that Finn is also a hot butch with a great bod and an absolute heart of gold. So, yeah, I’m in love with Finn!

When we first meet Amelia she has some issues she needs to address. Like why she’s moving in with a woman she hardly knows who is a lot like her self absorbed mother. Amelia’s mom is a former soap star turned roundtable women’s talk show host. She’s never been there for Amelia. Her Nana has been the constant source of love in her life. Nana is quick to point out that Amelia is rushing into moving in with Veronica but Amelia isn’t having any of it. Luckily, a dump truck, dumps her plans of a future that would have ended in heartbreak and is responsible for delivering a yummy paramedic to her rescue. It takes Amelia a while to get out of her own way but she gets there eventually.

I hope we get more collaborations from Aurora Rey and Jamie Clevenger. The characters were charming, Nana was an absolute rock star and made me think of my own Gram, who always thought I could do no wrong, even when presented with evidence to the contrary. This is a light-hearted read that I highly recommend. It will bring a smile to your face.

ARC received from Bella Books via NetGalley for an honest review