You, Me, and the Sunken Treasure – Georgette Kaplan

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Whilst I’m glad this series exists and I’m glad I stuck with it to the end, I didn’t enjoy this one anywhere near as much as I enjoyed the first one.

If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the series, there are things here you’ll enjoy too. The action continues at pace, there’s some interesting progression with the skulls and we finally meet a character that’s only been mentioned for the rest of the series.

However, for me, Nevada and Candice spend too much time apart in this book, leaving other characters to be introduced as foils for Nevada so we can continue to experience her form of humour. I liked her ways when she was battling with Candice, but the more people she interacts with in this way, the less impact it has for me personally.

This feels like a natural ending to the series, and in many ways I think it would be best for it to be that way, but in others – I have questions, things that have been left unanswered. I don’t know if they are significant enough to make a good fourth book, but I would be no doubt read it nonetheless.

If you enjoy sapphic fiction, and you enjoy action, you’ll enjoy this series – but you definitely need to start at the beginning of the series!

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

Sing for My Baby – Jenn Matthews

Rating: 3 out of 5.
This is my first Matthews book and after reading other people’s reviews for Hooked on You I had high expectations for Sing for My Baby. Unfortunately, I can’t say it met them, though it is a perfectly enjoyable book and I nice way to pass the time, it just didn’t grab me as much as I was expecting.

I liked the premise of the book – deciding to get pregnant and then meeting the person you’re supposed to be with and I even enjoyed the slow burn nature of the book, but something just didn’t click with me.

Matthews is clearly a good writer, I found her phrasing interesting and the writing of the myriad of characters between Amber’s friends and Rosie’s family to be done really well.

Unfortunately, considering the pace of the book and the way it is written, I couldn’t find the depth or connection to the characters I was looking for. Some things are pointed out about the characters and lined up as important, but I never fully understood why they were. I found both of them frustrating at times and the communication always seemed to break down whenever they were trying to be more than friends.

I also needed more of them actually together. The slow burn takes up a big chunk of the narrative and once they are together they spend less time together, with less on-page interactions than we had with them as friends.

I liked the ending and enjoyed that Matthews didn’t try to force an ending that would have been out of place with the rest of the plot.

I’ll definitely be wanting to read more Matthews, I just don’t think I’d return to this one in the future.

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

Who’d Have Thought – G Benson

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Benson is rapidly becoming my favourite author. I love that when I pick up one of her books I’m going to get an extremely well written book, with a narrative that explores all the different aspects of being queer and falling for someone. This one is my favourite read of Benson’s so far, but I suspect I’ll probably end up saying that about each one I read!

Hayden is an ER nurse. She works long hours but is struggling to make ends meet. Sam is a neurosurgeon at the same hospital. She has a reputation as a typical surgeon with no bedside manner. Hayden spends a lot of her time bemoaning Sam – Dr. Thomson – to her best friend and fellow ER nurse, Luce.

When Hayden discovers she’s yet again broke before the end of the month, she finds her responding to an advert looking for someone to enter into a fake marriage for a year. It amuses her to find that the advert has been placed by none other than Sam. She really needs the money, but can she be with Sam for the required year.

The period where they negotiate the “dating”, telling friends and getting married is amusing, stopping it from becoming perfunctory as they navigate each other whilst trying not to offend or cause one of the other to walk away, each for their own reasons.

I loved getting to experience Hayden and Sam really falling for each other as they got to know each other. I enjoyed how Benson used the new realities of their life together, such as them living together, and Frank the cat loving Sam to show each other their real selves, and therefore see past their arrangement.

For me, underneath all of the romance, was a real exploration of what marriage really is. We all have our different reasons for getting married, or not as the case may be, and I really enjoyed this exploration of the reasons why it was necessary for Hayden and Sam to enter into their fake marriage, what it meant to both of them and how it changed into something else. The external reinforcements, whether positive or negative, from those around them also served to support this.

As always you get the opportunity to spend time with a range of queer characters, and I loved both Jon, Sam’s brother and Luce, Hayden’s best friend. The discussion of Luce being non-binary and how it impacts their decisions to enter into relationships and their acceptance by others was dealt with really well.

I don’t want to give away any spoiler, but I’m always amazed at how much Benson manages to pack into a book, without losing power from any of the stories and the two secondary storylines in this book are heartbreaking. The way Hayden and Sam deal with them together really cements their relationship and gives you as the reader the opportunity to see different aspects of their characters.

I would highly recommend you read this one if you haven’t already. All romance fans will love this one. Word of warning, it’s on the long side, but is very hard to put down – I kept sneaking five minutes here and there when I supposed to be working!

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

Flinging It – G. Benson

Rating: 5 out of 5.
This is a beautifully written book about a divisive topic – infidelity. Benson approaches the topic from a character-driven point of view, giving us the opportunity to get inside the main character’s thoughts and feelings, giving us the ability to understand even if we might not necessarily agree were we to encounter the same situation in real life.

Both Frazer and Cora are heads of department at a hospital in Perth, Australia. Frazer heads up the midwifery department and has been fighting to introduce a new programme for high-risk patients, to improve their lives in the lead up to the birth of their babies and put them in good stead afterwards as people. As you’d expect that comes with budgetary fights and it’s suggested that she gets Cora’s support for the project as she’s head of the social work department.

Frazer buries herself in her work. She’s had a bad break-up and isn’t looking for anything serious despite her friend’s attempts at convincing her otherwise. Cora is married and is in the process of discovering she’s in an emotionally abusive marriage. As they begin to work together they discover they have an attraction to each other that neither was expecting, especially Cora who has never been attracted to a woman before. The affair is complicated by the fact that Cora is married to Frazer’s boss.

Neither are proud of their relationship, but recognise the power it has over them. Whilst I didn’t always agree with how they went about things, I was so absorbed in the writing and pacing of the book I was drawn to keep turning the page to find out what happened next.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I really appreciated how once they are found out their affair changed and forced both of them to look at life differently. I also appreciated that those that found out didn’t only provide judgement, they provided support and friendship too.

I liked the ending for the two of them. It felt authentic and focussed on themselves first, which I think must be harder to express and write successfully.

I love how Benson always includes a veritable array of characters who identify as LGBTQ+ as side characters in the narrative and this book is no different in that regard. Frazer’s friendship group and their insistence on setting her up provided some much-needed light-heartedness at times. I also really enjoyed the scenes with Frazer’s sister, especially when she has her own big reveal.

I felt that Benson’s depiction of one of the high-risk patients, Jack, a pregnant trans man, was done in a sensitive, engaging way that would encourage lots of people to think differently about someone facing this situation (or to think about it for the first time perhaps).

I’d definitely encourage romance fans and fans of character-driven books to give this a try.

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

Hotel Queens – Lee Winter

Rating: 5 out of 5.
This was my first book by Winter and I loved it. I’ve read so many great reviews of this book and it lived up to all of them.

Judging by this, Winter knows how to write amazing characters. I love a good character driven book and this is definitely one of those. Kai and Amelia are most definitely enemies when they meet and as lovers are steamy and great on the page. I enjoyed reading Amelia’s logical nature and how she responds to both her family and Kai. With Kai I really liked her passion for her job and for people to be treated appropriately.

As mentioned they make for a steamy pair, but for me it was the build up, the clashing personalities, the passionate interactions, the misunderstandings and the finally giving into feelings that make the book for me. I love that Winter depicts these two successful women fighting for what they believe is right and getting everything they want in the end.

Most of the book takes place over one week in a Vegas hotel. I really admire how Winter managed to keep the setting interesting, despite the fact they never really leave the hotel. Milly as Kai’s assistant is a great addition, as is Quinn, Amelia’s second in command.

There’s some intrigue and attempts at subversion that help to keep things interesting and at times amusing, but it doesn’t detract from the power of the characters and how they behave in these situations.

I loved this, would recommend to all romance fans and have to say this is right up there in my top 3 books of the year.

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