Short Term Relationships – A.K. Rose

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This is a great book about the relationships between a group of queer friends and acquaintances in Seattle. Taking place over a number of months, the pace of the book is different to the books I’ve been reading recently, but I really enjoyed having the time to spend with the characters in their day to day lives.

As the title indicates, all the characters in the book have become used to short term relationships for one reason or another. We spend time with four main characters, Kate, Liza, Nathan and Emily.

Kate is perhaps the most used to short term romantic relationships. After the breakdown of her marriage she’s never quite met the right one and has developed a reputation for her short term outlook. Kate is the character that ties everyone in the book together and I really liked her narrative and journey.

Liza is a triathlete and wedding photographer. She’s Kate’s roommate and tends to find herself in shorter term relationships due to her driven attitude to succeed with her triathlons. She’s fallen for someone but isn’t sure to how to broach it with them.

Emily broke up with her husband five years ago, but hasn’t had any success finding a new long-term partner. She’s suffering from a case of unrequited love, watching her son grow older and trying to navigate the Seattle scene, looking for her own long-term partner.

Nathan transitioned three years ago. He fronts a successful local band looking to make it bigger but is lost in his personal life. He’s still very much involved in the lesbian community and isn’t sure how to take the plunge with the person he wants.

For me the cast of characters allows for a very grown up view of why people find each other. Rose explores romance, sex, family, friendships, guilt and grief in an in-depth manner whilst succeeding in not languishing unnecessarily in emotions. This keeps the book moving. The changing viewpoints throughout the narrative helps with this and keeps the book fresh.

It’s definitely more on the literary side and isn’t a quick read, but I would recommend to any queer fiction fans.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

The Stars at Night – Gerri Hill

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This one is a bit of an odd one to review for me. It’s a nice read, it’s a pleasant book, tranquil in tone and setting, I really enjoyed reading it – but it didn’t excite me. It’s my first read of a Hill book (I know – another author I need to find time for) so I was really surprised to find that it didn’t make me want to grab all of her back catalogue. To be fair – I suspect the lack of excitement for me is probably due to the very laid back nature of the book, which is in this case is appropriate and works perfectly.

Kyler is a park ranger – transferred out to her remote state park after getting caught hooking up with her boss’s wife. I love how the book explores her having fallen in love with her new surroundings, her new hobbies and her sweet embarrassment about them.

Lexie’s parents run the lodge at the state park. She’s been made redundant from her job and is feeling lost so takes takes up the offer to try running the lodge for them. She’s more a city girl and the park is a bit of a culture shock for her. Much like with Kyler the narrative around her realising what the environment, a quieter life and family mean to her make the book.

The secondary characters are great. Lexie’s brother and parents closeness to both Kyler and Lexie allow us to see different sides of both MCs. I loved the communication between all of the characters in this story. The book just feels so open, peaceful and grown-up in character outlook – it’s very refreshing.

Whilst I can’t instantly think of any comparators to this book, I will definitely be checking out more Hill in the future and would recommend this to any fans of wlw romance.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre – Robin Talley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This is very different in terms of style than the books I’m usually reading, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I found the writing to be refreshing and perhaps that’s due to it being YA, but it’s definitely also down to the writer.

Melody is the stage manager for the performing arts productions at her high school. She’s known as a serial monogamist, even as a junior. Like most people involved in theatre she follows a number of superstitions and her crew manages to convince her that for the sake of their productions she needs to be single or the curse will strike again.

Odile is the school success story. She’s already been to Broadway, featured on some TV shows and is up for a movie. She returns to school for her senior year, adding a certain star quality to the school musical.

The majority of the book explores the things that take place in order to put on a musical – in this case Les Miserables. I love musicals, did perform in them at school, but have managed to not somehow not see Les Mis, so some of the references went over my head a little bit – but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the narrative.

Both the narrative surrounding Mel and Odile falling for each other, and the storyline of the curse and the production itself work really well, especially when they intertwine. Naturally as the book centres on a group of teenagers there are some moments of drama but none of it feels out of place or overblown.

All of the characters, even the bit part ones, fit in the narrative and despite the large ensemble I was able to keep track of who was who – which is an achievement on Talley’s part as far as I’m concerned. I also really enjoyed the diversity throughout the book.

It’s a longer book than I was expecting, but I still read it one sitting as it became quite the page turner and was very disappointed when it finished.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#CassiNova – Lori G. Matthews

Rating: 4 out of 5.
3.75 stars. I haven’t laughed reading a book as much as I did this one in a long time. Personally, sarcasm is my only form of humour – so the sarcasm from most of the characters in this was right in my wheelhouse.

Reading the notes from the author at the beginning of the book I was aware that this started as a work of fan fiction – however I’m clearly behind in my popular culture as I couldn’t work out what this aligned with. Either it’s moved on so much the original inspiration really didn’t matter – or someone else will spot something that has completely passed me by.

Sam is an actress in a popular sci-fi TV show (I think I get the inspiration here) that inspires much fan fiction, but she’s in the closet – it’s been a long time since she dated anyone except the guy she uses to hide her orientation and really wants a girlfriend. Her manager Jade advises her against it due to the usual you won’t be successful in your career if you’re out thoughts.

Alex is a landscaper by day but an inspiring writer. Her sister encourages her to write fan fiction about Sam’s show. Sam and Jade spot her work and decide to hunt Alex down leading to Sam hiring Alex as a contractor.

It’s clear Alex and Sam have feelings for each other, but they decide to take it slow and tease and flirt with each other constantly. The humour in Alex and Sam falling for each other and their conversations with their friends is the thing that made this book really good in my opinion. Clearly some of the friends exist in the narrative purely for humour opportunities but nonetheless it works. Despite it being the expected I still really enjoyed the ending and I love these two main characters together. I’d also really like to see a prequel book relating to Alex’s sister and her wife.

Whilst it’s not the most original storyline I’d happily recommend this to anyone who loves wlw fiction – and hopefully people will enjoy the humour too.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Too Good to be True – Leigh Hays

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’ll be honest, after reading the first book in this series – this wasn’t what I was expecting from the second book – but nonetheless I really enjoyed it.

Jen is a fundraiser for Brown, still married to her ex and sharing both a house and custody of her son. At the wedding of her niece she meets Madison and they take the opportunity to share a night together.

Madison is a social worker, recovering from a bad relationship she returns to Providence and finds herself working at the school Jen is on the board of.

Whilst it’s the second in the series, the characters are tied together by the town they live in, rather than a friendship group. You don’t need to have read the first book – Providence – to read this one. Lindsey is friends with Jen and appears briefly, whilst Rebekiah is only mentioned – so you won’t miss anything in this storyline.

Their friends and families integrate well into the storyline. I found the relationship Jen had with her friends to be effective as part of the narrative in understanding who Jen is and how she fits with Madison. Madison’s family are included just enough for background infill and some familial grilling of Jen.

I loved Madison’s relationship with Carter, Jen’s son. The natural bond they have over geeky things is written really well and it helped to build a picture of any long term future Jen and Madison might have together.

The inevitable angst happens with enough time for things to be resolved with a satisfying end, and I felt the ending was appropriate for the pair. I’m hoping that they’ll be another in the series and we’ll get to see some brief glimpses of them again.

I can’t say this is the worlds most exciting book – but it is a good portrayal of how life looks when it’s complicated and you’re trying to do your best as a couple in building and maintaining a respectful relationship. I was surprised that the sex scenes weren’t steamier after reading Providence – but they do seem fitting for this pairing.

Any wlw age gap romance fans should find something to enjoy in this one, as will most other romance fans.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.