Femme Like Her – Fiona Zedde

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I have to admit this wasn’t what I was expecting from my first opportunity to read a Zedde work. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I was just a little surprised. It was somehow sweeter than I anticipated, despite the obvious steam and some hard topics.

Nailah isn’t in to femmes. She’s been telling herself this for years. Scottie, a femme, spots Nailah in a crowded bar she’s been dragged to and goes after what she wants.

The book starts steamy, then quietens down to the point where I was beginning to wonder where Zedde was taking us in the narrative. Once things heat up again the chemistry between Nailah and Scottie is very apparent. There’s an inevitable conflict that lies in lack of communication and some growing that needs to be done.

I liked all of the characters in this book. Both MCs are well written. Nailah’s best friend Pauline is crazy but good at the same time. The ex’s and the hangers on were at least somewhat interesting and the parents were great. No character in this narrative is perfect, they’re all treated to good and bad moments (mostly) and whilst in many respects I enjoyed that it almost felt a little overplayed – no group of people is so fully individually self aware in that regard – but it’s nice to dream.

Despite my surprise as to the heart of the book, I did enjoy this and would give it a high three stars. The book is written from Nailah’s point of view, which was interesting but I wanted to know more about Scottie’s thoughts and feelings too.

There’s a lot of potential for more stories from Nailah and Scottie and I’d happily read another instalment.

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

Comet’s First Christmas – Delilah Night

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This was a really fun sweet Christmas novella. I enjoyed the both the setting and the storyline and particularly enjoyed the balance between the intrigue, mystery and romance.

Claudia is a reindeer from the Pole, she’s a prospect for the sleigh team. At the last minute she gets called up, to fulfil the role of Comet.

Jillian is an elf, she’s based in New York as a personal assistant, looking after the North East America part of the sleigh route.

When Claudia is drafted into the team she’s assigned to Jillian’s part of the world. A big part of what makes this such a fun sweet read is her exploration of the human things and her experiences with New York at Christmastime. I really liked that Night manages to describe these experiences so you feel like you’ve shared them with Claudia, but doesn’t go overboard on the descriptors.

There’s some mystery and intrigue in the storyline, as someone is trying to ruin Christmas by creating non-believers, leaving the reindeer having to track down the culprits. This works in keeping the storyline interesting, it would have been a very different narrative were it to just discuss the getting reading for delivering presents.

This was an enjoyable read with a refreshing take on a Christmas romance.

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

The Thing About Tilly – G. Benson

Rating: 5 out of 5.
I haven’t had the opportunity to read a Benson full-length until this one, and I’m really really glad I started here. This has firmly planted itself as one of my top three books of the year. It was slower, deeper and far more powerful than I was expecting. I couldn’t put it down because of how I felt about the book.

Tilly, Evie and Sean have been friends since university. They’ve stayed close for over ten years. Tilly’s a runner, not an actual athlete, someone who runs from her emotions. Evie and Tilly both have unrequited feelings for each other, but never talk about it. When Tilly disappears after a fight between the two of them, Evie unexpectedly falls pregnant. The world Tilly returns to will never quite be the same again.

I loved the narrative and the construction of the storyline. I enjoyed how the change in point of view included Sean, and that it wasn’t just about Tilly and Evie. The additional viewpoint Sean provides on how the pair have grown together over the years and the impacts of each episode of Tilly leaving, adds both empathy and understanding for both Tilly and Evie.

I don’t want to reveal the underlying narrative or the issues the characters face, because a big part of the enjoyment for me was the discovery. I spent a lot of time guessing in my head trying to work this out and I couldn’t, adding to my enjoyment levels further. The book is long, but I never felt bored with the story. Every chapter was needed to paint the picture of day to day life and the impact of Evie being pregnant on her friendship with Tilly.

The diversity in this book is fantastic. I felt at home with this small group of queer friends, one bi, one pan, one genderqueer and aromantic. Evie and Sean aren’t white. One of my favourite parts of the diversity is how it’s just normal in their world. They are descriptors of the characters, but not the most important thing about any of them in the narrative. There are small things dotted throughout the book to illustrate heritage, respectfulness and identity.

The secondary characters are great. I loved Evie’s mother. The people that Evie works with all come alive on the page despite their brief interludes. I also loved that this book was set in Australia. It provided a refreshing setting that just felt right.

It’s safe to say I would highly recommend this to all queer romance fans. You’ll need to put some time aside, but it’ll make every minute worth it.

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Make The Yuletide Gay – Ivy L. James

Rating: 3 out of 5.
This was a sweet easy to read novella.

Grace is a book editor acting as Nicola’s temporary assistant at their company. Nicola ends up having to cover a book conference at short notice, when of course there are no other methods of transportation available to them than sharing hours in a car.

The story is somewhat predictable to begin with. They end up in a B&B because the weather gets too bad for them to continue their journey. There’s only one room available.

The things I liked about the story was their connection about their backgrounds. Whilst they had an inevitable split during the narrative due to inability to communicate, it was due to the past and not a hurt one or the other had inflicted and it was resolved relatively quickly.

I found the epilogue to be a nice sweet way to sign the story off and I did find myself wishing this had been a longer story, as I feel it would have been less predictable with more to help with the tropes.

Whilst it contains the usual kinds of things, it was still a sweet, easy page turner that I enjoyed reading. I think Christmas romance fans find this an enjoyable way to pass an hour or so.

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

All I Want for Christmas – Beers, Cummings, Riley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Three high quality Christmas novellas. I enjoyed all of them for different reasons and am actually struggling to decide on an overall rating so I’ve rated them all individually below:

Triple Dog Dare – Georgia Beers

5 stars – I loved this story. Sasha was interesting as Brooke’s boss in 16 Steps to Forever but she’s great in this. I love the premise of needing a fake girlfriend for Christmas in order to try and win a date from your sister. Sasha and Kennedy are great both as a fake couple and a real one. I loved the back any forth between Sasha’s sister and Kennedy as she tried to trip them up and how Beers deals with the grief of lost ones at Christmas, the emotions around really falling for one another and the guilt in lying without making this a heavy story. I’d have loved this if it was a full novel too.

Hustle & Bustle – Maggie Cummings

4 stars – Toby is a cop with a social work background. She’s sweet and romantic at heart. She meets Hannah at Central Park Christmas market where she’s running a stall. I liked the diversity snuck into the story and enjoyed spending time in New York during the Christmas season. I enjoyed this storyline but I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed it as much without the New York setting. The narrative is sweet and sincere, with as much of a slow burn sweetness as is possible to get in a novella. The epilogue left me sated with a nice ending to Toby and

A Christmas Miracle – Fiona Riley

3.5 stars – I haven’t had the opportunity to read Bet on Me yet, so I’m only aware that Mira is a character in the novel and am coming to this not knowing anything else about her. I enjoyed this story but wasn’t able to connect with it as much as the other two works. I liked both Mira and Courtney as characters and they work well together on the page. This had more angst in it than the other stories due to the tensions at work for Courtney and the issues Mira was having her bar due to staffing so I felt pulled out of the Christmas fantasy a little. The humour was enjoyable though and I liked the journey both characters took in the short period of time the story covered.

I’d happily recommend this collection to anyone looking for some fun wlw Christmas reads.

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