The Last Lavender Sister by Melissa Brayden

The Last Lavender Sister
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Published: 7/12/22

Aster Lavender is looking for excitement. She is tired of her small town, Homer’s Bluff and she is tired of being the forgettable member of her family, always outshined by her more charismatic siblings. She thinks she will have to leave town for something extraordinary to happen to her. Until the temporary vet, Brynn Garrett shows up and brings light into Aster’s overwise gray existence.

Brynn has had her heart broken and Chicago now feels too busy and way too lonely, even though she is surrounded by people. When her vet school friend calls and asks her to take over her practice for six months, Brynn thinks this may be the change she needs. The moment Aster sees Brynn she is struck by her beauty and Brynn finds Aster’s awkwardness endearing. The two strike up a friendship that has the potential to be so much more.

I have loved many of Melissa Brayden’s characters over the years, but I think Aster Lavender, may be my favorite of all of them. She has so many facets to her personality. She is socially awkward and nerdy yet isn’t afraid to make her feelings know and stand up for those she cares about. One of the many things I love about this book is that it spans several years so we get to see how Aster changes and grows as a person. Her character arc is wonderfully written.

Both Brynn and Aster are such memorable characters who have such big hearts you can’t help but root for them to make it work. I wanted to shake Brynn a few times, but it was all part of the journey.  A journey I won’t soon forget and one I know I will revisit many times.

An ARC was received from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley 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.

Forever by Kris Bryant

Forever
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Author:
Published: 5/10/22

Ten years after being dumped on a reality dating show, Savannah Edwards is back on When Sparks Fly looking for love. Savannah has baby sparks with a few of the contestants but the one who really lights her fire is the show’s host, Lauren Lucas.

I don’t watch reality dating shows but if they were like this, I may tune in.  This was a lighthearted, entertaining read from Kris Bryant. Savannah is a charming character, and I enjoyed her interaction with several of the contestants on the show, in particular Alix, a nonbinary, tattooed charmer, who I think would be a great lead character in her own book.

Since the story was told from Savannah’s point of view, we really get to know her well and what attracts her to Lauren. I wish I could have gotten into Lauren’s head. She’s a bit of a mystery to me but I can see why she would be drawn to Savannah. She is such a good-hearted woman who really just wants to find her happiness. Kris Bryant clearly had a lot of fun writing this and it shows. This is a book you will enjoy, it’s not too heavy, the writing is solid, and it kept me interested the entire time.

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

 

 

A Long Way To Fall by Elle Spencer

no title has been provided for this book
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Author:
Published: 5/10/22

Bridget Berg loves her family’s ski lodge in Utah. Her father was a decorated skier and his death devastated Bridget but she’s determined to keep his beloved ski lodge open even if she has to work nonstop. Her father was her best friend and she can’t imagine letting him down.

Kennedy Fleming hasn’t been to her father’s vacation home in years but goes as a favor to her brother to put it on the market. The moment she sees Bridget she’s attracted to the beautiful redhead. Little does she know that anyone with the Fleming last name is not looked upon kindly thanks to Kennedy’s father’s long-standing dispute with Bridget’s father. Bridget isn’t interested in getting to know anything about Kennedy, even if she is annoyingly attractive.

Elle Spencer has such a gift for writing comedy. This book was really charming. I loved the witty banter between Bridget and Kennedy. At first Bridget’s cruelty turned me off but it didn’t take long for her to be won over by Kennedy’s charm. These women have such good hearts and are so deserving of happiness. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, entertaining read, this is the book for you.

An ARC was received from NetGalley for an honest review.

 

With A Trist by Georgia Beers

With A Twist
Published: 4/12/22
A Swizzle Stick Romance Book 3

Amelia Martini is a mess. At 49, she’s divorced and being hit hard by menopause. She’s retired from her government job and has started a dog walking/sitting company. When she takes a job house sitting for one of her father’s friends, she never expects Kirby Dupree to turn her life upside down. Kirby’s a housepainter and starts a job at the house Amelia is housesitting. Kirby is drawn to Amelia despite her less than pleasant disposition.

This is the third book in Georgia Beers Swizzle Stick series. The first two featured Amelia’s cousins, Julia and Vanessa, who also play a part in this book, along with their respective loves. The three cousins are more like sisters and are always there for each other, but Julia and Vanessa can’t really understand what Amelia’s going through. Kirby, on the other hand, even though she’s 14 years younger than Amelia, she shows such understanding and compassion to Amelia, which is exactly what she needs. Maybe because I’m the same age as Amelia and have started perimenopause, I felt a lot of empathy for her. There is nothing worse than feeling like a stranger in your own body and it takes someone with the compassion and patience of Kirby to help Amelia realize that the way she sees herself isn’t at all how everyone else sees her. I really like Kirby and Amelia together. They complement each other beautifully.

I have enjoyed most of the Georgia Beers books I have read. She always creates entertaining characters, and this is no exception. Kirby and Amelia are both extremely likable. This story has lot of humor but also deals with a subject that doesn’t get enough attention in lesfic, a woman dealing with menopause. Amelia’s plight is one we will all have to deal with, maybe not to the severity she does but I can only hope we all have someone like Kirby to help us get through it.

An ARC was provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Hummingbird Sanctuary by Erin Zak

The Hummingbird Sanctuary
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Author:
Published: 4/12/22

Olive, Harriet and Eleanor are best friends. They are also the owners of The Hummingbird Sanctuary, an idyllic resort in Colorado for women. The women love each other but Olive’s control freak tendencies and overspending are causing issues. The arrival of a reporter who is doing a story on the sanctuary and her two friends turns the women’s lives even more upside down.

I love every last thing about this book. The story is told from three points of view, which I really enjoyed. I love to get into the mind of the characters I’m reading about. Harriet or Hattie, as she prefers to be called, is a force of nature and my favorite character in the book. She has been a player for a long time, but things have begun to shift, and Judy arrives at the perfect time. After Olive’s husband’s death, opening the Hummingbird Sanctuary becomes her primary focus. She is a self-described pain in the ass and a complete control freak. She has a secret that’s tearing her apart. And then there’s Eleanor. She’s the resorts marketing director, she’s classically beautiful. After having her heart broken years ago, she wants nothing more than to find happiness.

These three women are more than best friends, They’re family. It doesn’t matter how much they argue or how much they may disagree, the love they feel for each other is a constant. The arrival of the reporter and her friends threatens to tear them apart. Olive, Eleanor and Hattie are all well- crafted characters. Erin Zak does a wonderful job of developing these characters and they all evolve so beautifully throughout the story. The secondary characters of Mabel, Judy and Sunny are fabulous.  I would happily read a story featuring any of these as a main character.

This is my favorite Erin Zak book. I love how she featured lesbian, bisexual and ace characters. It’s so refreshing to see a book with so much representation. I really want to be friends with these women. I want Hattie to cook for me, I want to do some meditating with Olive to calm her down and, frankly, I just want to swoon over Eleanor. I recommend you book a stay at The Hummingbird Sanctuary as soon as possible.

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

Something Between Us by Krystina Rivers

Something Between Us
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Published: 4/12/22

Kirby never expects or wants to see Quinn again. So, when they run into each other at Pride, nine years after Quinn stomped on her heart, Kirby is less than thrilled. In a city as big as Chicago, they start running into each other a lot. Fate seems to be trying to give them another chance if Kirby can open her heart again to Quinn.

This is a very good debut novel. Krystina Rivers uses her personal experience of being in the military during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to bring us a captivating, second chance romance. I was invested almost immediately. I felt for Quinn, who wanted nothing more than to make amends for the decision she made to break up with Kirby to protect her career. And I felt for Kirby, who wanted to protect her heart from Quinn, the only woman who she ever allowed herself to love.

The two meet in 2008 and that time frame is told in flashbacks. Their relationship is idyllic and the two are truly soulmates. Flashbacks are hit or miss for me but they were really well done in this story. Without them, I wouldn’t have had such a sense of how much love the two shared and how truly devastated Kirby was by Quinn’s decision. Second chance romances are one of my favorite tropes when done well. And Something Between Us was done very well. I look forward to reading more from Krystina Rivers. She is a new author with a bright future.

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

 

Exclusive by Melissa Brayden

Exclusive
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Published: 3/15/22
A big break leads to an unexpected connection.

Skyler Ruiz has had enough of covering small town news After years of flailing, her big break finally comes in the form of a reporter position in San Diego. She gets to be close to family and friends and she will be working with her idol and crush, Caroline McNamara. Carrie isn’t exactly welcoming to the new reporter but when she realizes that Sky is more than just a pretty face, their relationship takes an unexpected turn.

My love affair with lesbian fiction started with Melissa Brayden. I devoured all of her books and haven’t looked back. Whether it’s the love I felt for Brooklyn and Jessica in Kiss the Girls or the empathy I felt for Isabelle Chase in Eyes Like Those, her characters always find a way into my heart. And I can now add Skyler and Carrie that list. I adore Skyler. She has such an intense drive to succeed but isn’t willing to compromise her ideals to make that happen. She is goodness personified and can’t understand Carrie’s aloofness when she first arrives at the station, considering how kind Carrie is to everyone else.

When Carrie starts opening up, Sky, couldn’t stop herself from falling if she tried. Carrie isn’t just her crush, she’s someone Sky admires professionally. This story is told from Skyler’s point of view, so we know a lot more of what she is feeling as the story progresses. I would have liked to have gotten more about Carrie’s backstory but through her interactions with Skyler, we are witness to her insecurities and vulnerability but also to how kind and compassionate she is. Carrie and Skyler are wonderful for each other and I really enjoyed their story.

I enjoyed Ty and Grace and Skyler’s aunt, who provides her the love her mother has always been too busy to give her. And what a treat it was to Emory and Sarah from Melissa’s book, Heart Block. Melissa Brayden’s books have always been a source of comfort, like seeing a friend you’ve lost touch with but can pick right up where you left off. They have always made my heart happy and this one does the same.

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