All The Reasons I Need (Paradise Series Book 2)

– by Jaime Clevenger

 

I utterly loved Jaime Clevenger‘s “Three Reasons To Say Yes,” Book 1 of the Paradise Romance series (and my first book of hers), which incidentally made my favourite lesfic books of 2018. So when I heard that there was going to be a sequel exploring the romance between Mo and Kate, the secondary characters featured in Book 1, who were Julia’s BFFs, I was thrilled! “All The Reasons I Need,” whilst can be read as a stand-alone, if you ask me, I would highly recommend reading Book 1 first simply because Mo and Kate were heavily featured in it with details about their characters and relationship. That said, Clevenger did give a general recap about what transpired between these two best mates in Book 1 in this installment. But I’d still recommend giving “Three Reasons…” a read, perhaps after reading this sequel if not before.

Mo and Kate. I was intrigued by their characters and their relationship as part of the trio of BFFs since college sixteen years ago – Julia, Mo and Kate – when they were introduced in Book 1. Their relationship got even closer as they ended up spending most of the time with each other when Julia was busy falling in love with Reed whilst they were all on holiday in Hawaii. Things happened which led to the start of this story.

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Arms Wide Open

– by Donna Jay

 

With a track record of creating original, uniquely different (than the usual cookie cutters), and always provocative stories in all her lesfic books, thusfar, including her last one, “Bitter Sweet Revenge,” a brilliantly written story that was starkly personal and emotional, which resonated deeply, I expected nothing less in Donna Jay‘s latest piece, “Arms Wide Open.” Once again, Jay has proven to be a consistent rebel with a cause in the world of lesfic writing, with yet another original and provocative relationship story with a subject matter that’s rarely talked about, let alone featured in lesbian romance.  Not only did she portray the relationship with realism, the subject matter was weaved into the psyches of the two MCs with grounding authenticity. Needless to say, the story left me totally inspired with eyes wide open in awareness, understanding, appreciation, utter satisfaction! A whole new perspective has been achieved. Truth be told, I’ve never come across anything like this extraordinarily told story in lesfic before. Bloody well done, Ms. Jay!

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New Ink On Life (Thorn & Thistle Series Book 1)

– Jennie Davids

 

Lex from GR was dead right when she thought I’d enjoy Jennie Davids‘ debut novel, “New Ink On Life” after I read her review which prompted me to take a closer look at the story’s blurb. (Cheers, Lex!) Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the story from start to finish. An original story with one specific detail that I never came across in my lesfic romance reading (yet). Well, Ronica Black’s “The Last Seduction,” had that subject matter broached but definitely not told from that MC’s POV. But in Davids’ story, I was delighted that it was. Finding romance post-breast cancer, in a 5-year remission. Not an easy setup to create a compelling romance around it especially when there’s always a possibility of a relapse, innit? That was what piqued my interest the most.

I was curious to find out how Davids approached this subject with her story. I had certain expectations because it was about one of the most, if not the most, private, life-altering circumstance a woman could ever possess in her life. Something that effectively alters one’s mental, emotional and psychological mindset about her sexuality, self-worth, body image, and self-confidence, all of which, makes a woman, a woman. And most importantly, that it would yield a positive, hopeful and happy ending simply because the last thing I wanted was to invest in a character’s emotionally taxing journey only to discover that survival and recovery of a life-changing condition was all in vain in the end.

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Playing With Fire

– by Lesley Davis

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Thanks to Jeannie Levig‘s brill BSB interview with author Lesley Davis who gave such informative insights into her latest outing, “Playing With Fire,” including her own POV about certain issues related to this book that moved me to seek it out to have myself a read despite it being the third installment of a series already in situ, something I rarely do as I like to start a series from the first book. Thankfully, this installment could be read as a standalone so I was chuffed about it especially when it was going to be my first-ever Lesley Davis book to explore!

I utterly LOVED “Playing with Fire.” First off, the first chapter alone captivated my full attention. Not only because of the story arc, the portrayal of the main protagonist included in it, but more importantly, Davis’ writing style, the flow of her words and rhythm of the pace. Totes my cuppa tea! Also, as I read on, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a good old-fashioned traditional lesbian romance! I can’t really explain it, just a feeling from the rhythm of Davis’ composition style and the sound of dialogues constructed and the classical use of 3rd-person narrative to present monologues and non-verbals. In any case, there was an air of nostalgia there as I explored Davis’ storytelling, which gave me oodles of warm “comfort food” feels all throughout!

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Burn It Down

– by K. Aten

Well! As if K. Aten hadn’t had enough genres to play with for her infinitely inquisitive mind that houses her incredible writing and storytelling talent, now she’s done it with yet another genre – “Contemporary Fiction!” And, dare I say, she’s hit the nail on this one, too, with her latest deeply emotional, intensely personal endeavour in “Burn It Down.” Well done!

When Aten promised tears to be had when reading this book, I told myself that it ain’t gonna happen with me. No tears! No way! Yeh, my rebellious nature always rears its head, sometimes at my own peril! Nonetheless, I was determined to fight it! Until I was immersed in the depths of the protagonist’s journey of agonising pain, suffering but ultimately healing in this book… Bloody hell! As I found myself unexpectedly choking up, literally fighting back tears (ffs!)  in not one but two gut-punching, heart-wrenching moments, I was literally dumbstruck by the sheer power of Aten’s words and expressive narrative. Awestruck. It was then that I raised my white flag fervently to the creator of these soul-stirring words in welcoming defeat. Ms. Aten, you won. Respect. I devoured the book in no time at all. By the end of the ride, I was emotionally drained, physically knackered, but filled with an encompassing sense of cathartic euphoria, exhilaration, and pure joy….. for Ash, who came to life as well as every other character that Aten vividly described and authentically portrayed. I felt like I knew all of them by the end of the roller-coaster ride, from the depths of darkness to the jubilation of light, literally wishing them well like I would if they were standing in front of me IRL.

I have so much to say. So, so much… My mind is still reeling even as I write this with the steady, hypnotic sound reverberating in my stream of consciousness…

ching-clp ching-clp ching-clp…

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The Secret Chord

– by Virginia Hale

 

I’ve been watching out for Virginia Hale‘s work since her award-winning “Echo Point” which first drew me to her writing style and story narrative. I loved her debut novel. “Where There’s A Will” took up a notch in the storytelling category which impressed me. And now she has elevated the quality of her writing and story construction/creation to yet another level in her latest romance outing, “The Secret Chord,” which is now my favourite book of hers, thusfar! I have so much respect for new authors who consistently hone in and improve their craft, pushing their skills to challenge themselves creatively. I marvel at those who have that mindset. Hale has that quality.

Which brings me back to “The Secret Chord.” First off, it was the subject matter mentioned on the blurb that first piqued my interest. Catholic nuns/sisters and teachers. Convent school. Boarding school. Yup. I’ve always been drawn to and fascinated with stories about nuns and convents! Most prolly because I had such fond memories of the nuns and sisters in my convent school since Nursery. Hence, I always have a soft spot for them whenever I see them strolling on the streets or in public transport. Having said that, unfortunately most (if not all!) of the lesfic romance featuring MCs who’re sisters/nuns, always seem to have sad, tragic endings. At least that’s been my reading experience. But this time, after reading the blurb, I decided to bite the bullet and take the proverbial plunge. Why? Prolly because it’s Hale? And also I just had a strong feeling that, this time around, maybe…just maybe…that there could be an HEA for a couple of Catholic school teachers after all and my heart wouldn’t be ripped out after slogging through the entire book filled with angst, eh? Well…  Needless to say, I found myself heaving a huge sigh of relief and smiling inside-out after reading the last sentence of the final page! Hope. Faith. Love. In the end…?

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Because I Said So

– by Karin Kallmaker

 

The wait is officially OVER! Finally, I have Karin Kallmaker‘s latest novel, “Because I Said So,” in my hands!!! Yup, thanks to Bella/NG‘s swift response, I got my ARC copy and literally dropped everything (yes, I was in the middle of reading a couple of books before I got “distracted” by this! Soz, authors X & Y!) and breezed through this story in no time at all! Yup, quick read it was but it left me….. HUNGRY! *more later* Needless to say, my excitement about delving into this story ever since Kallmaker’s blog post announcing it was definitely warranted. What a refreshing story of romance with layers of unexpected discoveries throughout the book! Not only that, but the characters, including one of the MCs, Kesa, was of mixed race and culture, different socioeconomic background and circumstances, effectively giving the whole romance perspective a fresh new spin, altogether. As if that weren’t refreshing enough, the definition of “family” and “parent” was something quite outside-the-box, tbh. I was not expecting to find out how Shannon, the other MC, and Paz were related. Fascinating! Kallmaker being the brilliant tale-spinner that she is, jumped right into describing, portraying, presenting and contrasting all the nuances of cultural, lingual, socio-economic living that entailed with such fervour that I saw them as another supporting character in this richly portrayed biracial romance. I must say, I’d never read anything depicted quite like how Kallmaker constructed it in lesfic romance!

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