Zero Chill – Carolyn Elizabeth

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I read both Dirt Nap and Zero Chill one after the other, and I have to say it was great to immerse myself in the world of Corey and Thayer for a while.

They’re are now living together in Thayer’s lake house, trying to live a more peaceful life than their first six months together has given them so far. I liked that Elizabeth didn’t choose to move the time forward significantly, that we get to experience them healing and moving on from previous events.

As with all Elizabeth books, the characters are really well written, and the plot moves along at a nice pace. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Thayer’s Nana, but this is true for all three books. The new character additions add humour and richness to the storyline, adding a slightly different but nonetheless interesting focus.

Zero Chill comes with lots of intrigue and mystery, but not as much peril as Dirt Nap – something which works really well for this narrative. Elizabeth mentions that this is her pandemic book in the acknowledgements and I felt like this was deliberately less intense than previous instalments.

It gives lots more time to explore the relationship between Corey and Thayer, and for the quiet moments where they get to really explore what it means to them to still be together after the events of Gallows Humor and Dirt Nap. Reading this made me realise why I love it when we’re gifted with a series about a great couple – it isn’t just about the meet cute and the whirlwind romance, it’s about how they stick with it and grow together.

This wasn’t my favourite of the three books, but I’m genuinely hoping this isn’t it for the series. I want more Corey and Thayer, but I also want to see where things go for Rachel and Nora.

I would highly recommend this, but make sure you read the other two books in the series first.

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

Lawless – Jenna Rae

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This was a well written interesting book, full of uncomfortable topics that’s hard to describe as enjoyable because of those topics, but was nonetheless a good read.

I have to admit I think I must have misread the blurb for this – I was convinced a romance was going to be appearing somewhere in the narrative, but it didn’t. I wasn’t actually disappointed in that fact, as it would have been really strange, but this is a straight up mystery.

Kate is undercover in the town of Lawless. She used to be a desk based analyst but she wanted to do something different, get ahead in her career. She thinks she’s trying to infiltrate a drug ring, but her handler hasn’t necessarily been all that clear, she just knows she’s living in a trailer park, pretending to be straight and trying to find a way to become friends with the drug dealers girlfriend.

As Kate finds the “in”, we find out more about her as she interweaves elements of her own life with the back story she’s using as her cover up. It’s a clever way of getting to know both sides of Kate and one that serves itself well as well the paranoia of being undercover creeping in, alongside the self-doubt.

As is the way with these kinds of topics, they become intertwined with lots of others, and there is much discussion of many unsavoury topics. I found myself a little confused at times with the many characters and how they all fit into things, especially towards the end. Whilst this does essentially help in aiding the mystery element I guess, it’s one of the things stopping it from being a five star book for me, as I needed just a little more help in mapping out how they all fit together and how Kate came to her conclusions.

The other main characters in the book are written really well, providing great narrative foils for Kate and showing the realities of drugs etc. on life in small towns. It’s a really relevant book for today’s society, and not one I’ve encountered in this way in sapphic books before, so if you’re into mystery and or crime books, I’d definitely encourage you to give this one a go.

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

Heart of the Storm – Nicole Stiling

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This was another book that surprised me on this months slate of releases. A mystery romance that gets a high three stars from me.

Juliet is a cop who had a son with her best friend. She’s called to a murder in her town. Sienna is a victim’s advocate and the step mother to Juliet’s son. The murder pushes them together. I enjoyed that the main characters had known each other and been in each others lives for quite some time. It was refreshing to have two people notice each other as their true selves, rather than a storyline with two people just meeting.

I liked how Stiling dealt with the breakdown of Sienna’s marriage and the impact it would have on her husband and step son for her to fall for their best friend/mother respectively. I appreciated that Stiling didn’t make either Sienna or Juliet oblivious to the implications of their love on others and that there was no automatic presumption it would all just be ok.

With it being a mystery this book came with a slew of additional characters. I thought this added to the depth of the book, as due to the nature of the MCs knowing each other already, there aren’t a lot of scenes added to allow us to get know the characters as part of the natural process of dating. I liked Juliet’s friends and thought Declan the son/step son was written wonderfully.

The mystery was interesting. I didn’t find it riveting, but it moved along at a pace that kept me somewhat interested in who had committed the crime and why. There were some parts that I felt were missing to explain some of the situation but I think it was mainly because by the time the crime is resolved we’re full into romance mode.

There’s lot about this to enjoy and I think anyone who enjoys wlw romance would enjoy this.

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