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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The Last Seduction

– by Ronica Black

 

It’s been a while since reading Ronica Black’s last novel. So I was looking forward to reading her latest romance, “The Last Seduction.” I was intrigued by the blurb. It had an air of solemn, realistic, personal aura in the plot, the characters and the nature/health of the MCs’ long-term relationship. The prologue was intriguing to me. The implications of what occurred provided a perfect set up to what was to come thereafter, which lurked behind the shadows all throughout the consequential story between Sasha and Hannah.

The Last Seduction” was essentially Sasha and Hannah’s long and winding journey back to each other after a painful break up from their 15-year relationship. It chronicled how they both tried to move on with other people despite still deeply in love with each other. Black’s depiction of Sasha and Hannah’s individual journey was brutally honest, painfully realistic especially in the larger sense of how a long-term relationship disintegrated because of years of bottled-up emotional breakdowns, avoidance and unresolved intimacy issues, lack of open and honest communication, taking either party for granted, particularly, mismatched and unmanaged expectations. All these matters were a prelude to a bad ending, tbh.

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Create A Life To Love

– by Erin Zak

 

Erin Zak‘s latest, “Create A Life to Love,” was a story I was looking forward to exploring ever since finding out what it was about. And then the cover! Who wouldn’t wanna gawk at its splendour of colours and read its contents, eh? Well, worked for me, anyway! Gosh, lately, I’ve been gifted with really intriguing covers that caught my attention, further enhancing my reading pleasure, which doesn’t happen often, I must say. So, lucky me and well done to the authors/cover artists!! Anyway, back to the blurb, I thought it was going to be original with a very creative twist. So I was chuffed that my assumption came to fruition when I read the story! Even the antagonistic situation related to one of the MCs (elaborated more below) was crafted with a twist in the end! Everything about this book could be summarised into one word for starters: Unexpected. A word that Zak used in the story which hit the nail not just for her characters but for me as a reader, too!

In addition to the nature of the story, the big unexpected surprise was Zak’s narrative style this time! I mean, THREE first-person POVs?! As you may already know, I’m partial to POVs from both MCs, be it in first or third-person. And I’d just recently read a brilliantly crafted dual-POVs in first-person format which I utterly enjoyed and appreciated because it’s quite rare. But I never thought I’d be lucky enough to be served not two but three POVs from 3 MCs in ONE story so soon after! In first-person POV style, too, no less! I felt truly spoiled with such a reading delight! Bloody well done, Ms. Zak and bleeding thank YOU! Needless to say, I finished the book in one gulp of air, so to speak! Totally satiated, I might add!

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Falling

– by Kris Bryant

 

First off, I’ll read anything from Kris Bryant, that’s for sure. So when the blurb of her latest novel, “Falling,” came out, I couldn’t wait to read it, obvs, not just because it’s Bryant, but the book’s subject matter! And then that aesthetically photographed cover….Let’s just say that’s prolly the first-ever book cover featuring a photo of a model as its focal point that caught my full attention. There’s just something about it – how the model was posed, the filters used, the lighting and angle of the camera lens, the flow of the hair and the clothing material –  a natural flow of emotions and senses, in perspective. Contrast that with what the title could mean in the context of the story. I was effectively curious. The metaphor of the cover made perfect sense to me after reading the book. Acquiescence. Obviously, this is just my own interpretation. I could be way off from what Bryant intended. Or, the cover could mean nothing except being stunningly aesthetic! But hey, art is subjective and interpretative, innit? Speaking of the title, I like to play on words, see. A plane “falling” out of the sky. A survivor “falling” for the grieving fiancée of one of the crash victims. “Falling” from grace due to a secret. A premise ripe for an inside look into the journey of survival, second chance at life and second chance at love between two people, I’d say. Needless to say, I finished the book in one short sitting.

I must say, there were a couple of mentions in the blurb that I thought would play out like I assumed but didn’t. Interesting, though, how we make assumptions based on how we feel when reading a blurb, innit? Interpretation – it’s a thing. Anyway, I dove into the story assuming something but discovered that I had misinterpreted. My fault! No matter because I soon readjusted my mind’s lens and carried on with renewed interest with what Bryant was churning out in this ride. Needless to say, this story was pure romance deriving from the worst possible scenario between two unexpected women and a predicament that either party couldn’t shed. An intriguing journey to explore, nonetheless albeit in a different context. In other words, a straight-up, unadulterated romance, Bryant-style! Brilliant!

The first chapter literally jolted my senses to a point where I was hanging on to every word Bryant used as her tale-weaving took me to an intense, adrenaline-filled, thrilling ride from the moment Shaylie, the main character, stepped into the plane’s lavatory to the plane falling from the sky and crashed. That was one harrowing sequence that would imprint the fear of flying into anyone’s psyche, that’s for sure! The aftermath of the disaster was brilliantly and affectingly described by Bryant – the smell, the feel, the pain, the screams, the endless sense of confusion and chaos all jumbled together – I could feel the heavy air of doom and gloom and..death. Riveting!

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Forget It

– by Claire Highton-Stevenson

 

I utterly enjoyed Claire Highton-Stevenson‘s latest romance, “Forget It.” To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect as I couldn’t remember what I read in the blurb before. But instead of refreshing my memory, I decided to just dive right in with the story instead. I’m so glad I did that because I soon discovered for myself that there were a few tropes that Highton-Stevenson weaved into her story, which pleased me to no end. Tropes that I’m a fan of – age-gap, ice queen, rich girl/poor girl, second chance in the romance genre! As if those weren’t enough to thrill me, there was that big twist involved (ironic that of all blurbs, this one had to be the one I didn’t remember, innit?) which, surprise sur-bloody-prise, was what triggered the second chance trope, much to my delight! I’ve always loved that kind of twist in the romance. The couple of lesfic romance related to this subject matter that I’d read previously were utterly brilliant. This particular one, though, really tugged at my heartstrings during the time when I needed something warm and cosy to soothe my mind and Highton-Stevenson’s weaving of that “knotted thread” into her romantic tale just hit on everything that I was looking for. In essence, it was perfect timing, really, for me to read this book! This brilliantly depicted insta-love-turned-second chance romance between an ex-Army veteran and an HR manager of a retail store was so heartwarming, adorably sweet with just a hint of tension, fun, compelling and heartfelt. I enjoyed every bit of it until the very end!  And what a delish epilogue to wrap up a thoroughly entertaining, cosy, feel-good romance! Also, it’s a perfect holiday romance too, if you ask me!

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At Seventeen

– by Gerri Hill

 

As with most of Gerri Hill’s romance novels, I found that I absolutely enjoyed reading and exploring the story in “At Seventeen!” Ultimately a MUST-READ, imo. But I must say, though, I had held off from reading this for a long while now because of its subject matter – gay girl getting married even though she didn’t want to because she was in love with her female best mate but denied she was gay and obviously because of that wretched fear she had of her own mum, fear of rejection, then had a kid and all that “hetero” stuff that I didn’t want to read in lesbian fiction. Something which I didn’t have the patience to delve into because I knew I’d be annoyed. So even though Hill’s one of my all-time favourite lesfic authors, I decided not to read this particular book (and the few romance she wrote that had the same “hetero lifestyle including marriage and kids” subject matter) then. I’m glad I didn’t read it at that time because had I done so, I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all as it’d have given me hypertension from having to endure all the unnecessary angst that came with the protagonist living a lie for so bloody long, made worse by having absolutely no resistance against the controlling actions of one parent, resulting in pain, suffering and collateral damage to the truth, not to mention, to the life of the protagonist and her best mate, her true love!

But reading it now, at this point in time, I found my perspective about the whole “doing the hetero thing” shifted and expanded, not quite so rigid any longer. This repressed behaviour, as witnessed and observed amongst so many women (and men, for that matter) especially those who come from wealthy, powerful and/or influential social background (apart from religion), is the result of social conditioning, brainwashing, and the familiar side-effect of chronic emotional abuse from their own families who have a Svengali hold on every facet of their lives so they end up giving in to being controlled instead of fighting or resisting it, out of fear or habitual conditioning. Can’t say I accept or agree with it but I do understand the predicament of these affected individuals (closeted, in denial or simply not knowing) now. Funny how the passage of time changes/shifts our mindset, psyche, POV about certain issues, eh?

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The Plan

– by Kim Pritekel

 

Well! I knew the poetic, lyrical blurb that caught my attention in the first place would give me something really intriguing to read about. But I never thought it would be THIS BLOODY FANTASTIC!! Unforgettable! Kim Pritekel‘s, “The Plan,” was beyond my wildest imagination and expectation about historical fiction considering the story was set in the depressing era of the 30’s and the baby-booming one of the 50’s, both utterly unkind to women, let alone homosexuals!

But this historical fiction about a long-lost but an unbreakable bond wrapped in a love for the ages between two women so powerful that it could survive the most impossible circumstances, the harshest environments and situations, written and weaved in the most intricately intoxicating manner truly transcends every other historical fiction I ever read! It’s Pritekel’s true masterpiece, to date, as far as I’m concerned! The most incredible thing I realised? It’s that I never expected it to turn out to be so much MORE than I could ever wish for in a lesbian romance, historical or otherwise! And that is saying a lot considering historical fiction is a tricky genre in my reading experience. Especially when it comes to this particular timeframe in America. But Pritekel changed all that for me in this brilliant piece of love story she wrote. For me, it was perfection! Simply divine!

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