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.

And Then They Were Four – Elna Holst

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This is both a sweet and steamy coming together of all of the characters we have met so far in this series. You could read this independently from the rest of the other novellas, but you’d miss a lot so I recommend reading the other three first.

Set in Malmo, Sweden, the novella takes place over four days of advent, with each day focussing on a different person or couple. I really liked all of the stories that appear, but obviously with it being a novella we don’t spend much time with the characters and there were some I really wanted to know more about.

There are some open ends left for characters that weren’t main characters in the previous novellas and I’m glad Holst didn’t feel the need to close these.

I’d recommend reading this series, I read them all in an evening and it made for a nice story when read like this.

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

Glove Save and A Beauty – K.R. Collins

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I caught up with the previous books in this series recently in anticipation of this one’s release day and I have to say I thought this was a worthy addition to the series, despite it being about Gabrielle instead of Sophie. In fact, I think adding this shorter book before we read the next chapter in Sophie’s journey will keep the series fresher.

When I was little I was a huge hockey fan. Despite growing up in the UK I was lucky enough to grow up in a town with a team in the top league in the country and I could be found at the rink for every home game. However I wasn’t allowed to play. I desperately wanted to be a goaltender. Reading this is a small glimpse into all the things I enjoy about keeping goal in any sport. The writing on the psyche of those of that choose to stand in front of a puck for a living is great. It’s detailed enough to allow understanding but not so detailed that non-fans will be put off.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the decision to present the narrative in a non-chronological order, but actually that works too. For me it increased the understanding as to why Gabrielle is the way she is. The pressure on her is different than that on Sophie – which is hinted at in Sophie’s books, but it’s nice to have that explored further. There isn’t as much hockey action in this book – which is probably why it’s shorter, so non sports fans may prefer this instalment.

My only real gripe is with the front cover – this is a book about a goaltender – put a goaltenders mask on the front cover. They’re unique and interesting – Gabrielle’s is even described in the book.

Fans of the series should enjoy this, as should any hockey fans, sports fans and people that enjoy queer fiction. I think you could read this as a standalone – whilst it’s definitely strengthened by having read the other books, they aren’t necessary to enjoy this one.

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

Love in the Shadows – Maggie Doolin

Rating: 3 out of 5.
3.5 stars

A solid novella set in Ireland following Meg from her final year of high school through to the vote on the marriage equality act in 2015. I often find that when I’m reading a novella I wish it was longer – but this one is done well in that it covers the subject manner in just the right amount of detail, but provides a clear narrative so there’s nothing else to wish for.

We open with Meg at high school, where she’s undertaking her Leaving year. She realises that she has a crush on her high school English teacher – leading her to explore how she feels about girls in general. Whilst enjoy isn’t the right word because there’s a lot of introspection on the topic of boys and feelings, I thought this section was done really well.

As the book centres on Meg we follow her through leaving school, to her first job as an English teacher herself. She’s had the opportunity to explore her sexuality at college, but running into someone from her past causes her to look at the realities of being a lesbian in Ireland, working at a Catholic school. Again the feelings side of this is explored really well.

The parts of the book I liked the most were the interactions. I felt they gave a realistic depiction of how it must have felt living in Ireland during this time period (I hope anyway).

It does have a happy ending and I’d recommend to anyone looking for an interesting narrative spanning a large number of years and how a couple grows, whether together or not.

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

Canopy – Liz Faraim

Rating: 4 out of 5.
This one is a hard one to review – I couldn’t put it down, I read it one setting. It’s very well written, especially for a debut author. The subject matter is dealt with sensitively. It’s just over a four star book for me. Yet it’s hard for me to say I enjoyed it. It’s a tough read and perhaps that’s it for me, I appreciated rather than enjoyed, but it didn’t take anything away from the book – I’m fact I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

Viv is ex-army, studying at College and making a living bar tendering. Whilst she’s not completely estranged from her family she is very much a loner – her friendship with another vet Jared being her anchor in a storm. She struggles with PTSD.

She meets Angela, a cop, a vet from the Navy and they begin a complicated relationship, with elements of polyamory.

Viv stumbles on something criminal that brings a lot of issues into her life and shakes things up in ways she’d never have expected.

The topics of abuse from the past, relationship ethics, PTSD, intermittent violence, sex trafficking and some homophobia all mean this isn’t a light read, yet there is something about the way Viv is written that just keeps you reading, wanting to know where this is going to go.

The romance between Viv and Ang isn’t the headline for this book. Viv’s life in general, her friendships and her making her way through life are very much front and centre.

Despite the somewhat darker tone of the book and therefore my review, I’d encourage you to give this a go – just don’t expect an easy light hearted read, or a neatly tied up ending.

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