Review of Charm City by Monica McCallan

Charm City .jpg

 

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching I thought I would get myself in the spirit by reading a Valentine’s Day novel. The book I chose was Charm City by Monica McCallan. It was so much more than the traditional cutesy romance novel and I couldn’t put it down.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Taylor Tate has one last chance to turn things around. As the owner of Charm City Events, she needs her upcoming week of Valentine’s Day events to go off without a hitch. She’s painstakingly planned every detail down to the last red heart decoration, but what Taylor doesn’t plan on is the less than enthusiastic bar manager she’s paired with stumbling into her life at the worst possible time, making things more difficult every step of the way.

 

Carson Smith is getting by fine. She loves her job as the bar manager at Second Chances, a dive bar staple of the Baltimore landscape, and she doesn’t need anything or anyone disrupting the delicate balance she’s finally created. Especially for a stupid Valentine’s gimmick to take advantage of desperate singles. When the owner of the bar forces her to work with an event planning company to drum up business, she has no choice but to begrudgingly agree. It’s either play along or see the bar close, and she can’t let that happen.

 

It’s only a week, but time passes differently when there’s love in the air and too much on the line, and both women soon find their lives, and hearts, intertwined as they work together to make the week a success.

 

Can opposites attract? Find out in this HEA Valentine’s Day novella.

 

I wouldn’t really call this book a novella. I defiantly saw it as a full-length novel. No matter what you want to call it Charm City sucked me in from the very beginning. The book had more layers than I was expecting. I really enjoyed Carson’s character. She is the type of person who seems tough on the outside but once you get to know them, they turn into a huge softy. Carson’s past has left her broken she finds it hard to trust anyone because in the past she didn’t know what would happen in her life from day to day. Carson is the exact opposite of Taylor who seems to have her life so put together. While Taylor appears to have her life together that is not truly the case. Behind the scenes she is struggling, she is working her butt off in order to save her business and rebuild her brand.

 

I really liked the opposites attract aspect of Charm City. It made me want to keep reading to see how they would push each other buttons. I also liked how Taylor and Carson’s backstories played into their behavior. I could really see why Carson would shy away from relationships and why Taylor had trouble trusting. It really added to the angst keeping me hooked into the story.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good Valentine’s Day read or to anyone who likes opposites attract romances.

 

Charm City is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Starbound by Magnolia Robbins

Startbound

As most of my readers know I am a huge nerd. I love everything from board game to video games even D&D. When I saw Starbound by Magnolia Robbins on Kindle Unlimited I had to pick it. Lucy sounded like my nerdy dream woman and I was not disappointed.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

World renowned sci-fi television star Reese Simmons looks like she has it all – fame, wealth, a slew of beautiful women who follow her every move. Except Reese’s life is crumbling around her. She hates her job and is constantly accused of being a “reckless party animal.” Reese’s agent decides the one surefire way to get her image back on track. She has to date the worst person in the entire universe, her co-star Justine Turner.

 

Her solution: she needs a fake girlfriend. And fast.

 

Enter Lucy, the BFF. Game store manager, board game geek, the world’s most AMAZING cosplayer, and Reese’s best friend practically since birth. When Lucy finds out Reese’s predicament, there seems like only one solution: pose as fake girlfriends. And Lucy is more than willing to play the part. She’d do anything for Reese – even if it means entirely too romantic tales about their relationship, hearing she’s “incredibly beautiful”, and expert kisses in public.

 

The problem: Reese and Lucy have been in love with each other all their lives—and they’re both completely clueless.

 

This book features two best friends, roleplaying games, and countless ‘fake’ kisses and begs the question:

 

Who wants a real girlfriend when faking is so much fun?

 

Starbound hooked me from the very beginning.  I loved how Reese and Lucy worked together to protect Reese from being forced to date her evil co-worker, Justine, for publicity. I have never really read a fake romance book before, but I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Seeing how their relationship developed before they even really knew what was happening.

 

Lucy is my favorite character. She is so kind hearted and true to herself. She was even kind enough to try to comfort Justine before she snapped at her. The D&D games with Lucy’s friends is one of my favorite parts of the book. She paired perfectly with Reese whose character is a bit of a lovable mess. Reese can’t seem to get out of her own way. She constantly needs Lucy to help her fix what she has messed up.

 

As always Magnolia Robbins writes amazingly steamy sex scenes that will leave you squirming in your seat.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes friends to lover’s romances, fake romances, and nerdy romances. Hell, I would recommend this book to everyone.

 

Starbound is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson

the hidden one

I was really excited to start The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson. It is the second book in The Chosen One series, and I would recommend reading the first book to fully understand what is happening. The book follows the life of Ainsley during her senior year of college as her class does a mock election.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Mock election. Real world danger. Ainsley’s relationship and reputation may not survive the campaign trail.

 

Still reeling from the targeted attack on her family, Ainsley is determined to keep a low profile during senior year. But a mandatory class project pulls her back into the political fray as the mock Democratic presidential candidate. With the entire campus watching, Ainsley knows it’s only a matter of time before her rival turns the spotlight on her and her secretive girlfriend.

 

Groomed from birth by her politically connected family, Ainsley knows she can handle the abuse. But shielding her girlfriend’s secrets is a matter of life or death. To protect the ones she loves, Ainsley will need to use every shrewd political move in the book.

 

The Hidden One is the captivating second book in a series of lesbian romantic suspense novels that shed light on modern American politics. If you like romance that defies the odds, a satirical take on current events, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love T.B. Markinson’s compelling tale.

 

I really enjoyed the second installment to The Chosen One series. The first book left off at the end of Ainsley’s Freshman year of college and The Hidden One picks up at the beginning of Ainsley’s Senior year and her final project the mock election. I really enjoy the political aspect of this book. I feel like it plays a much bigger role than the first. Suzy is back to her evil ways trying to ruin Ainsley’s live any way she can, and the mock election opens up the ways that Suzy tries to sabotage Ainsley political ambitions.

 

Maya and Ainsley have been dating for three years. Their relationship is much steamier than the first book. You’re going to need a fan to cool down from their sex scenes.

 

All of my favorite characters from the first book have come back including Grover who makes a special appearance in Ainsley’s Presidential campaign. Maya’s backstory is even further explained, and it is mind-blowing.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves political romances and new adult romances.

 

The Hidden One  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Review of Holme for the Holidays by Miranda MacLeod

Holme for the Holidays

I recently read Holme for the Holidays by Miranda Macleod for the monthly book club on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. I really like the thought of reading a Christmas themed book to get in the mood for the holidays. This book was just the thing to kickstart my holiday spirit.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

An American musician with a broken heart meets a local farmer with a hidden past on a holiday house swap in Yorkshire. A charming romantic comedy that will fill your heart with holiday cheer

A country cottage is the last place Paige expected to spend the holidays, but a year after her girlfriend dumped her, her life is in shambles. A last minute house swap sends her from California to Yorkshire to put her life back on track. She doesn’t believe in forever anymore, but when she meets a raven haired beauty in the local pub, she seizes the chance for a night of fun.

On the brink of fame and fortune, Fiona suffered an unthinkable loss, and a year later she’s given up on singing, and just about everything else. When the brother she relies on too much skips town “for her own good” and loans his cottage to a stranger for the holidays, her life is turned upside down. She knows she can’t make a new relationship work, but when she meets a purple haired American at the local pub, she figures it wouldn’t hurt to blow off some steam.

They never meant to see each other again, yet from the very first morning when the vicar comes to call and Paige gets mowed down by a runaway llama, they just can’t seem to escape their lives becoming increasingly, and hilariously, entwined. And when a series of calamities threatens Christmas in Holme village, the two must work together to save the day, and maybe find true love along the way.

A year ago, their lives fell apart. Can a bit of Christmas magic help them build a new life together?

Holme for the Holidays is the second book in the American’s Abroad series and functions as a standalone. I really enjoyed this book. Paige and Fiona make a really cute couple. While the book happens in a short span of time it doesn’t feel insta lovey. They really get to know each other over the short amount of time that they are together. Fiona’s backstory is really heartbreaking. I don’t know how if I would be able to handle losing someone I loved in the way that Fiona had.

The setting is one of the best parts of this book. There is something magical about Holme. The way the people in the town jumped in to help out when needed. Also, the thought of a white Yorkshire Christmas was so sweet.

The humor really makes this book stand out. The scene with the Vicar was one of the funniest things I have ever read. I also liked the addition of Dolly, the llama, and Maxine, the dog. The animals really brought life to this story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic comedies.

Holme for the Holidays  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of Dal Segno by Jax Meyer

Dal Segno

I was intrigued when I heard about Dal Segno by Jax Meyer. There are not many lesfic novels that focus on overcoming a lost loved one. This book was heartfelt and moving. I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into the process with Cam as she explored her past making room for new love in her heart.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

On the verge of turning 40, former Marine Cameron ‘Cam’ Warren didn’t expect to be walking onto a community college campus to spend a year playing music. Instead of enjoying her career, Cam is still mourning the tragic death of her partner and fellow Marine Sharon. Five years have now passed but she is no further forward in dealing with her grief. Cam knows she needs to change so she can heal. Will taking a sabbatical to play the drums allow her to live fully again, connecting her to emotions in ways her autism has always prevented?

 

Jazz pianist and teacher Laura Clark has had enough of city life on the east coast and yearns for the quiet beauty of Colorado. When a faculty position opens at a small community college in Ft. Collins, she jumps at the chance to start a new life. However, what she couldn’t predict was that one of her star students was about to walk back into her life, 20 years later.

 

When Cam is introduced to the new jazz ensemble director she is shocked to see her high school music teacher, a thousand miles away from the small town where Ms. Clark first introduced her to jazz. But Cam is no longer a kid and, as their chemistry grows stronger, Cam has to choose which path her life will take – will she choose love or will she choose fear?

 

Dal Segno is a lesbian romance that shows the power of revisiting the past to create a completely different result. Everything changes the second time around.

 

Dal Segno is not your traditional romance novel. It is about overcoming the loss of a spouse. Cam Warren lost her partner in a freak accident and this book is her finding a way to overcome that loss and find love with someone else. Cam and Laura have a bit of a different history. Laura was Cam’s high school teacher. Normally I’m not all about student teacher relationships because I find the power dynamic a little creepy. That is not the case at all with this book. Cam is an adult college student who has gone back to college to enhance her musical abilities and the power dynamic never comes into play.

 

Cam is a great character. I liked how multifaceted she is. Cam is butch which is something I don’t tend to see in a lot of lesbian fiction. Also, there is something incredibly sexy about a butch marine. One of the most interesting aspects for me was how Cam’s autism affected her social interactions with Laura and others. It was nice to see her reasoning for her actions and what made her uncomfortable in certain situations.

 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in love after loss type of romance novel.

 

Dal Segno is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with author Jea Hawkins

Jea Hawkins-Lucy True headshot

Who or what inspired your latest novel As Long As Love Lasts?

My own home renovations! We were ripping out walls and I started muttering, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if something fell out of the walls, like old letters?” And it snowballed from there.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Definitely my love of Nancy Drew. I wanted to make people feel the same excitement I felt reading her adventures.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Vera Morton from As Long As Love Lasts. She knows who she is and what she wants, and even though she presents a tough exterior, is vulnerable underneath it all.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

With excitement, and I’m all about getting everything I can written down before the plot bunny hops away on me. That’s why my stories tend to be big on dialogue and action – that’s what I envision most clearly as it plays like a movie in my head.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

A variety of things. I’m an avid genealogist in my Very Responsible Non-Writing Life, so I find quite a bit of inspiration from ancestors! But friends and acquaintances, or characters on TV shows also give me plenty of ideas.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

The small diner downtown. They have delicious food, a great atmosphere, and the waitress knows me well enough to always ask, “Is it a coffee or cappuccino day?” I just feel very welcomed and relaxed there. The library is my other favorite place.

 

What is your writing process?

I like to write down everything that comes to mind, first, even if it’s the end of the story. After that, I ask myself how I’ll get from point A to Z. For my romances, I create a linear outline of beats and chapters. For my urban fantasies, I plot backwards from the final scene until I get to a reasonable starting point that puts the reader in media res.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I used to discover write (aka pantsing) and maybe have a loose outline. The first several books I published under another name were okay, but over the years, I learned what I needed to make them better. When I decided to write romance about women who love women, I took everything I’d learned and found a way to blend my excitement about a story idea with plotting it out. Plotting wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d spent 20 years thinking it would be and, as a result, I think what I write now is stronger than my previous attempts when I was younger.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Editing from Em Stevens Edits at https://howtonovel.wordpress.comfor As Long As Love Lasts.The story wouldn’t be half as good without her expertise!

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

One of my wonderful fans (I’d like to think of her as much more than a fan, though!) told me her wife is dyslexic. Her wife likes to read books while listening to the audiobook version. It helps her enjoy the story. I’ll never forget that and ever since then, I’ve always made sure they get a free audiobook from me whenever I have a new one.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Dragonsongby Anne McCaffrey. It’s the story of a girl, Menolly, who lives in a fishing community, but doesn’t fit in there. She dreams of being a Harper, something her parents discourage. They have very strict ideas about a woman’s “place.” Menolly is frustrated and finally runs away from home, which is when she accidentally impresses a clutch of fire lizards, tries to outrun Thread (never a good idea on the planet of Pern), is rescued, and then revealed to be an incredibly talented musician and composer. I love absolutely everything about this story and have since I was a teenager, also keenly aware that I didn’t fit in with my peers at the time.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

At this time, I am working on the final book in my Burgundy Hart series. Burgundy is a small-town librarian and witch… until she discovers she’s actually a warlock. This isn’t considered a good thing in the supernatural community, thanks to all the fear-mongering from the Witches Council. In book 3, Burgundy stands up to the Council once and for all.

 

How do you take your coffee?

I use Dunkies lingo, since I’m from Massachusetts (but I live in the Midwest, so this confuses people!) – extra sweet, extra light aka two creams, two sugars. But watch out – coffee turns me into a motor-mouth all day long!

Zip Line Jea

Review of As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins

As Long As Love Lasts

As most of you know I love historical fiction novels. When I saw that As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins was a mixture of a contemporary and a historical romance I was intrigued and this book did not disappoint.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

2018 – She doesn’t know if a marriage is worth fighting for.

 

Peyton Kennedy quantifies everything in terms of numbers and risk. She looks at a problem and solves it, leaving no piece of the puzzle out. When her young, too-whimsical wife inherits a derelict farmhouse from a distant aunt, Peyton can only see the bottom line. Too much work. Too much money. Time. Energy. Definitely not worth saving.

 

But her wife knows how to get her way and Peyton finds herself roped into renovations. This… this may be the straw that breaks her marriage’s back, and Peyton’s worried about how not worried that makes her.

 

That is, until a seventy-year-old bundle of letters and a time-worn diary fall on her head.

 

Before she knows it, Peyton is drawn into the story of her wife’s great aunt, Marty, a woman who dared defy social conventions for the love of another woman.

 

1939 – She doesn’t know what love is.

 

Marty Bell thinks life will fall neatly into place. Her mother has expectations: A husband, wealthy enough to give Marty security for the rest of her days. When she meets a beautiful circus worker who shovels dung and pounds stakes for a living, it’s the first time Marty sees that she can stray from the path.

 

Soon, her life is dictated by not just her mother, but the upheaval of war and the one thing she never expected to find: love.

 

And Marty will risk anything and everything to hold onto it.

 

This is the bittersweet tale of a diary, an elephant, and four women who know that few things matter more than finding someone who loves them just the way they are.

 

I really enjoyed the concept of the contemporary characters, Payton and Brooke, learning about their Aunt Marty’s life through the diary and letters they found. It really helped to develop their relationship to something that was falling apart, just like Marty’s old house, to something with a solid foundation. While their relationship was sweet, Marty and Vera’s relationship sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.

 

The sections of the book focusing on Marty and Vera’s relationship were my favorite parts. There was something about their chemistry that was deeply intoxicating, and I wanted to know more. In a time where their love wasn’t accepted, they found a way to be together until war pulled them apart. Vera was my favorite character even though you never hear things through her point of view. She was just so interesting. You could tell there was so much more to her story than was told in the book. Her secrets kept me wanting more. Also, who wouldn’t love a woman who comes with her own elephant.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

 

As Long As Love Lasts is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.