Category Archives: Rhayne

5 and TWO 4 Stars for Getting Back by Cindy Rizzo #FF #Romance @CindyRizzo

1.5

Title: Getting Back
Author Name & Publisher: Cindy Rizzo (Yiva Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: October 15, 2015 – 299 pgs

Synopsis

Elizabeth Morrison has ascended the ranks of her industry and now runs one of the most successful publishing companies in the US. But even after three decades, she has never been able to get past the devastating end of her relationship with the beautiful and brilliant Ruth Abramson. As Elizabeth approaches her 30th college reunion, she must face the woman who long ago acceded to the demands of her father, a famous Russian dissident, and married the young man who’d been chosen for her. It doesn’t make it any easier that Ruth, now divorced and living openly as a lesbian, is the class luncheon speaker.

As the two women face one another and attempt to reconcile their past, Elizabeth finds she must wrestle with a number of issues she has avoided confronting. And she must carefully decide whether she is more distrustful of Ruth or of herself. Is she headed for another fall with this woman? Or does she want to get close again, so she can be the one to walk away?

When it comes to reuniting with the love of your life, it’s not always easy to know the difference between getting back together and just getting back.

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Review

FiveStars

This was a truly wonderful story of Elizabeth and Ruth and their lives, apart and together, over thirty years.  They are brought back together at a college reunion 30 years after splitting up, very acrimoniously. Much of the story is told in flashback and gives a great understanding of why they are the people they are today.  The reasons why they made certain decisions are well explained and drew me into the story.  I loved both main characters and willed them back together!
The book is great at putting the reader in the 1970s and what that meant for young lesbians and contrasting it with the choices and changed attitudes of today.  It is also interesting in its treatment of a relationship between 50-somethings.   There are plenty of minor characters , whose roles are pivotal to the story.  I especially liked Margaret, who was a hoot!
The development of the story was fantastic and I loved this book more and more as I read on. I did not want it to end.  It was beautifully romantic and inspiring and try best book I’ve read in ages.
A well deserved 5 stars and if I could have given it more I would have!
Kitty Kat
FourStars

I was actually surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I’m not usually one for books that have a lot of flashbacks in them. In this case, it was necessary to understand the history between Elizabeth and Ruth, and to understand the fears and overwhelming emotion Elizabeth has about Ruth. Truthfully though, the story was so engaging that I didn’t mind. I also liked how the flashbacks weren’t solely centered on their relationship in the ’70s. I thought the passages about 9/11 were especially interesting, and they give people who weren’t there just a bit of how it felt to be there and to have loved ones in the area and not know whether or not they survived, and not be able to find out.

The part I had a hard time with, and I know this is my own problem, is that thirty years is a long time to carry a torch for someone who treated you so poorly. Part of me thinks it’s sweet and romantic, but the larger part is just thinking, get over it already. Thirty years that she never contacted you, never apologized, never tried to resolve anything, even after she was divorced and finally out as a lesbian. That being said, I liked how Rizzo handled the reconciliation. She didn’t immediately make everything flowers and love. Both women had things that were unresolved, that they had to get past in order to allow themselves to be open to one another again. I really liked that this part wasn’t rushed or glossed over.

This is a slower paced book, with things taking time to develop fully, and trips into the past to help the reader understand the why of the emotions these women have. Very good and if you’re looking for a well-rounded reading experience with an older couple in it, I would definitely recommend it.

Amy P.

FourStars

This book was a wonderful read that I can’t wait to recommend to my friends. I adored the characters and caught myself holding my breath awaiting resolutions of scenes throughout the book. The back and forth between present time and the main character’s college years was smooth and easy to follow. I couldn’t put it down, I just had to know what was going to happen next! There was plenty of nail biting, sighs of relief, tearing up, chuckling and smiling like a fool to be had.

 

Well written, edited and formatted I found very few errors and those which were present weren’t enough to cause me to stop reading. The plot moved along at a good pace without rushing or stalling out and the ending was perfect. I’ll definitely be passing word about this book along to fellow readers!

~Rhayne

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TWO 3.5 stars for Loving Again by Alicia Joseph #FF #Romance #ComingOut #MayDecember @josephjody76

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Title: Loving Again
Author Name & Publisher: Alicia Joseph (Affinity eBook Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 15, 2015 — 129 pages

Synopsis

Dana Perkins lost her longtime partner in a tragic accident. Although she still struggles with the loss, her profound loneliness is evidence that it is time to move on. She knows her deceased lover, Casey, wouldn’t want her living this way. Dana begins her slow process of letting go, removing reminders of Casey from her house, and dating again.
The women she meets leave Dana uninspired and missing her deceased partner even more. Just as she is about to resign herself to the belief that she will never love again, Dana meets Emily Daniels, a married woman who is deeply conflicted over her attraction to women. Soon, the two women form a friendship that leads to deeper emotions. They discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither woman could have ever imagined. Is that one moment in time enough to let both women follow their hearts, or will they let their past continue to rule their future?

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

I was so excited to get this book, and it certainly started with a bang that showed it would be excellent. Unfortunately, shortly after the pacing slowed to almost a crawl. This story seemed to be two in one and with a lack of focus. There was a coming out story and there was a romance story, and the two did not blend well, sadly.

 

I was also seriously put off by the biphobia going on in this piece. Being a bisexual woman myself, I was utterly annoyed—and frankly, ticked off—that everyone (not just Emily) had to be either “bi-curious” and in it just for a good romp in the sheets or a lesbian. Bi-erasure is real, and sadly, it’s stories like this that continue the erasure of an entire group under the rainbow.

 

In order for this story to work with both plot lines, it needed to be expanded and have more drama, more introspection and less repetition of things that already happened. In a story that’s only 70 pages long there was a lot of repeating of information going on. Secondly, the romance needed to be greater and bigger, needed to have more connection between the two characters to show what they were going through. There was a lot of telling in this story, and after reading Her Name and absolutely loving it to death, I was surprised to find that in this story.

 

I did, however, absolutely love the characters in this story. Dana and Emily were well-developed and I was able to connect with both of them. I love May/December stories, so that had me pulled in from the beginning, and I do love the power-play (teacher/student) so I was glad to see that and slightly disappointed it didn’t continue beyond that, but eh, not every story can be that story. I loved how the story ended, but wished I could have seen a bit more of that drama/internal conflict earlier in the story to make the pacing flow better.

~AJ

ThreeandHalfStars

This book had several things I loved, and a handful I could have lived without. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the dialog and settings. The plot flowed nicely for the most part though there were hiccups here and there when Dana was struggling with herself and her feelings.

 

My major complaints were some formatting issues which made it difficult to read in places (dialog lines not separating – one character speaking running right into the next line written and so forth) and what I felt was a lack of ‘follow through’ for the characters. I almost felt as if I should be expecting a second book at some point in the future. If this is the case, then wonderful! If not, I feel the book ended rather abruptly.

 

Overall it was well written and I would recommend it to friends with a disclaimer about the hanging ending.

~Rhayne

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5 and TWO 4 Stars for The Persephone Star by Jamie Sullivan #FF #Steampunk @poor_medea

1.5

Title: The Persephone Star
Author Name & Publisher: Jamie Sullivan (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date: January 13, 2016

Synopsis

As Post Mistress of Fortuna, Penelope Moser knows just about everything about everyone. It’s a job she takes seriously, no matter who comes to pry for gossip, or how unsettling the messages are—but even she is more than a little frightened by rumors that The Persephone Star has been spotted nearby. That means Mirage Currier is out of prison and coming to settle up with the man who put her in jail: Cullen Wiley, Sheriff of Fortuna and Penelope’s fiancé.

The worst comes to pass when Penelope is kidnapped—or so she thinks. But the simple truth she thought she knew starts to unravel, leaving her to choose between the man she promised to marry or the woman destined for the gallows.

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Review

FiveStars

I wondered if this novel was loosely based on the female mythological female from Greek/Roman myth. Like the myth it is a captivating tale of good, in what ever form that may take, defeating evil.
This is a really indulgent, warm hearted novel, one that keeps you entertained from beginning to end.
The characters are an assortment of strong independent woman who have a great sense of camaraderie and bring humour and a deeper understanding of their quest for justice and what is right to this wonderful novel.
An easy to read book that made me feel good, what more could you ask from any novel?
I look forward to reading more from this absorbing and competent author
Chris
FourStars

This was a bit different than my usual genre, but I found the book interesting and easy to get involved in. I found the dichotomy between Penelope’s “normal” life and life aboard the dirigible interesting. It’s true that men made the rules of polite society then, and didn’t care much that they didn’t follow the rules themselves. The lack of opportunity for women, the strict roles respectable women were forced into, the shaming and use of women who had no other options in life are all examples of things we’ve supposedly moved beyond in our more enlightened times. The author doesn’t overtly state that we haven’t overcome some of these things, but creates a way for us to think about the way things used to be and wonder how much they’ve really changed.

That said, it’s obviously a major part of the story, and for the most part, Sullivan addresses it well, making it integral to the story and something that the main character ponders quite a lot. She does it in a way that makes it something that the characters are struggling with, and not preaching to the reader. But there is a lot of it, and sometimes it does become a bit overwhelming.

The end of the story, however, felt quite rushed. When this happens, I always wonder if the author hit her word count and needed to wrap up the story quickly, or if she just didn’t want to expand on the end. And in this case, I think that’s a bit of a shame. We don’t know how the women of the Persephone Star treated Penelope’s return. And we don’t know if Penelope ever overcame her own inhibitions and allowed herself to explore how kissing Mell made her feel. We don’t even know for sure that Corinna was saved and was able to rejoin the crew, other than what Penelope put in her rather short missive to her father.

All in all, an enjoyable read, but the ending leaves you a little less than satisfied.

Amy P.

FourStarsThis was a quick read which spiked my interest and made me want more. I only hold two complaints about this short. The first would be that there wasn’t much in the way of romance in any form, some type of connection between the characters. While it is labeled as a F/F read I didn’t really see much of a need for it to be (Outside of a drunken kiss I can’t remember a single scene which would make me believe this to be a Lesbian Fiction story.). The second is simply that it is so short! There was a lot of opportunity for some mischief and mayhem I believe were wasted.

Otherwise it was fairly well written and I quite enjoyed the characters. I would love to see this made into a full length book with plenty more action and maybe a bit of romance for the main character!

~Rhayne

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5, 4 and 3 Stars for No Normal For Us by Alessandra Ebulu #FF #Romance @chocowithcurves @LT3Press

1.5

Title: No Normal for Us
Author Name & Publisher: Alessandra Ebulu (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 30, 2015 – 40 pgs

Synopsis

Raquel is the daughter of a popular don, and a member of the Blanchard mob. Secrets, lies, and evasions are a way of life. Ogaga is a killer for hire, beautiful and deadly. Secrets, lies, and murder are a way to stay alive. Neither expects the attraction between them to turn into something they can’t live without—but to do that they each have to tell the truth about who they are, and risk destroying the fragile, normal life they’d been building.

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Review

FiveStars

A really refreshing new and innovative novella.
The author describes her two main characters to perfection, painting a really clear picture of both women. It’s an almost idyllic tale of two women falling in love with the added bonus of intrigue and mystery surrounding them.
I enjoyed this short tale immensely, it was easy to read yet kept you entertained from beginning to end.
A polished writer, I look forward to reading more of her work.
Chris

 ThreeStarThis is an interesting, quick read. I like the concept, and the characters. The story was engaging and easy to read. However, it feels like the author needs a bit more work on her writing skills. The story needs to be a bit more fleshed out, the characters a bit more depth. I don’t remember any mention of where it takes place. I want to say in the States, but the words used reflect more of an English feel, so I’m not sure exactly where it is. Some of the word selections make me feel that the author speaks English as a second language, and that can make it more difficult to pick up on small linguistic tells that typify a specific region.

This story makes me feel that the author may need to work on her craft a bit more. I liked the story for what it was, and will keep my eye on this author in the future.

~AmyP

FourStarsThis short was fun and exciting. I liked the characters and the personality they showed. The plot, while quick paced worked well and kept me reading. I do wish it had been longer since I would love to read more about these two and the strange, twisting world they found themselves in. Decently written it flowed well and had several places where I couldn’t help but laugh. Well done and more of this story please!

~Rhayne

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Pre-Release REVIEW: TWO 4 Stars for Juliana Vol 1 (1941-1944) by Vanda #FF #Historical #Romance

1.5

Title: Juliana
Author Name: Vanda
Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Synopsis

JULIANA, is Tales of the City, set in 1940s Greenwich Village instead of 1970s San Francisco. Gays and Lesbians hide in plain sight among straights who rarely notice them.

It’s 1941 and Alice Huffman, “Al,” comes from the potato fields of Long Island with her childhood friends to make it on the Broadway stage, only to find she has no talent. On the kids’ first day in New York City, they meet Maxwell P. Hartwell III, a failed nightclub owner and Broadway producer, who, according to Al, looks a little like Clark Gable. He invites them to a nightclub where Al hears Juliana, the glamorous, perpetually-on-the-brink-of stardom singer, for the first time. Al is instantly drawn to her and seeks her out. Juliana is a sexual risk-taker who easily reels in the mesmerized Al.

Through Juliana and Max Al is thrust into a world of “deviates” and “perverts” that she never before knew existed. Cameo appearances are made by Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Lauren Bacall, Tallulah Bankhead and Walter Liberace.

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Review

FourStars

Al, Aggie, Danny and Dickie leave their small country town to find adventure in New York city. They’ve been friends forever and plan to eventually have a double wedding and live happily ever after. Life has a way of upsetting the best laid plans though!
They are all theatre types and want to make it on Broadway. This brings them into contact with some showbiz folks and some very different lifestyles. Max has fingers in many pies and introduces Al (Alice) to Juliana, a heavenly creature with an amazing voice. Al is smitten but can’t work out why. Danny becomes involved with Max – but Max is involved with a lot of men. Once Al finds out Danny is gay he flees off to the war in the hope it will make a man of him. Al continues to bump into Juliana and their relationship becomes sexual but Al still won’t admit she is a lesbian. That was not a nice word in the 1940s.
The novel deals with a very difficult time for gay people – a time when they could be arrested, beaten, raped and ostracised by friends and family. I thought the writer dealt well with putting the reader right into that time. I was gripped by the story and found the lives of the characters fascinating and well written. I want to read more about these people; I want to find that they can lead fulfilling lives but I fear they won’t; I want them to be happy being gay. I look forward to the next installment.

Kitty Kat

FourStars

I don’t normally read Historical books, romance or otherwise but decided it was time I branch out. I found the right branch with this book. While there were places it seemed to ramble on a little bit it made it back to the plot before it became too much to handle. The characters were decently developed and worked with and around each other well (even when they weren’t getting along). The conflicts (outward and internal) were believable enough for the era and I managed to follow along without any problems.

 

The author begins with a disclaimer about the language/words/phrases used in the book and readers would do well to remember it since things do get a bit colorful. I didn’t find anything outside what I would expect from something depicting the era however and it wasn’t overused or flaunted, simply placed where it would have been in normal conversation of the time. The reactions of friends to the ‘coming out’ of the main character were well handled and I had no trouble seeing them as acceptable for the time period (though mostly still upsetting no matter what decade they are set in).

 

As I’ve found normal there were a handful of errors which weren’t glaring enough to cause any issues with the readability of the book. The title would lead one to believe there will be a second volume as does the way this book ended. I would be very interested in reading another installment to find out what happens with the characters and their lives. Definitely one I would recommend once the entire story is available and can be followed from beginning to end in a smooth flow!

~Rhayne

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5 and 4.5 Stars for Picture (Im)Perfect by J.S. Frankel #Trans #YA

Cover

Title: Picture (Im)Perfect
Author Name: J.S. Frankel
Publication Date & Length: September 1, 2015 – 220 pgs

Synopsis

Nolan Goodman, star swimmer for Portland High, meets Mia Swarva at a swim meet and thinks he’s found his perfect girlfriend. They start dating, things are going well…and then he finds out that Mia was born Mark, and his concept of what constitutes relationships not to mention sexuality goes out the window. However, Mia has that certain something about her, and Nolan does his best to understand as he genuinely cares for her. Their relationship develops after a series of stops and starts, but when Mia is inadvertently outed on a social website, she and Nolan have to run the gamut of emotions as well as deal with the inevitable reaction to her being transgender. It is only then, that Nolan learns the true meaning of commitment.

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Review

FiveStars

I absolutely adored this story. I have to say that after reading quite a few Trans books, I can’t say that I’ve read one from the partner of the trans individual. It was really great to see for once what it is like to be on the other side and finding out such an unexpected piece of information about someone you care for.
I really enjoyed the way all the struggles of a trans individual were approached. It showed that there is support in the world and love is possible while also that there is still hatred out there.
This was a really sweet story that I would highly recommend.
Renee

FourandHalfStars

This was the first title I had the opportunity to read from this author and I was blown away. First, I believe it takes a special kind of person to tackle something like Transgender issues and not mangle the whole process. Frankel managed it with finesse and understanding while making the characters and their issues relatable.

The connection between Mia and Nolan was evident from the time they met and Mia’s subsequent worry about when and how to tell him seemed very real. His reaction ranked on the positive end of realistic and I had no trouble following it. A great talent for putting a spin on points of view and weaving a plot which kept me interested are things which will keep me reaching for this authors work in the future.

Rhayne

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5, 4.5 and 4 stars for Banshee’s Honor (Tales of Y’Myran #1) by Shaylynn Rose #FF #Fantasy

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Title: Banshee’s Honor (Tales of Y’Myran #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Shaylynn Rose (Ylva)
Publication Date & Length: August 26, 2015 — 379 pages

Synopsis

Warleader. This is what the people of Y’Dan used to call the proud warrior Azhani Rhu’len.
Banshee. Oath breaker. Murderer. These are words that slip off their tongues now.
Azhani Rhu’len, once one of the greatest of Y’Dan’s warriors, is now just a common criminal, escaping the justice of the kingdom she swore to serve.
Kyrian Stardancer. Goddess’ Own. A healer and priestess, she is inviolate until one day, when her world is turned upside down and tossed over the back of a horse—literally.
Torn from all she knows, Kyrian finds her fate now rests squarely on the shoulders of the oath breaker, Azhani Rhu’len.
When signs of ancient evil appear, Azhani and Kyrian must choose whether to ignore the warnings or stand and face the terrifying menace.
(revised edition)

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Review

FourandHalfStars

I started this book a bit on the confused side. The prologue left me a feeling a little like I didn’t know what was going on and had a lot of information to process in a short space of pages. However, I pressed on and into the meat of the book. I have to say, I’m very glad I did. The story I found within was driven, well told and kept me turning pages. The story line does jump from character to character point of view wise every so often but it is done in a way which lets you know which POV you are following.

The characters carry depth and are well thought out, well put together and exhibit growth through the book while staying true to personalities. There is a definite connection between two of the characters while another pair shows the hints of impending romance which I can’t wait to follow in future books in the series. The plot carried well, moving forward without much ‘fluff’ I would think to trim away. The dialog is well written and ranges from serious battle strategy to fun jabs and ribbing at each other.

For characters, I give the following:

Azhani is a wonderfully complex and emotionally ragged character. She is constantly at odds with herself in a very real and touching way. She was easy to love right from the start while still maintaining the desire to slap her upside the head frequently! A strong warrior with a driving need to protect everyone and everything around her she proves again and again that she is a character to be watched closely, and adored. You feel her pain, heartache and rage through every memory, story and detail.

Kyrian comes across as that friend/sibling everyone seems to have: almost annoyingly perfect but so sweet you love her anyway. Her inner battles and demons rear their nasty little heads but she manages to handle them with a silent grace which tells a lot about her. She is more than she appears and the inner struggle, the debate she has with herself throughout the chapters can often lend a little laughter to tense scenarios.

Elisiria and Padreg are supporting characters with their own quirks. They grab the attention of the reader and make you forget the aggravation you’re feeling at the main pair in the story! Their heart-warming romance is a little too perfect but so sweet it leaves you not caring (not to mention it balances out the other not-quite-there romance in the storyline!)

The other characters, from Aden to Devon and even right down to Arun the horse are beautifully written and add a richness to the story that keeps it deep and moving forward. I’m very excited for the next book in this series and will be waiting (impatiently!) for it. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a detailed, in depth fantasy with a rising romantic element. Great read and two thumbs way up.

Rhayne

FourStars

The world this author created in this book was really amazing.
You get Azhani and Kyrian who were so good together.. You get the action, angst and of course the bad guy with this book. This story had everything I love in a fantasy book. Azhani is a warleader who is labeled a oathbreaker and Kyrian is a healer. The first time they meet Azhani saves Kryrian, Kyrian then heals Azhani’s hurt leg. You could feel how deeply these two characters feel for each other from the start. So I do not want to say anymore and give away any spoilers because this book was just so good you really need to read it for yourself.
I really loved the characters this author created with this book also you will meet so many different characters in this book too.
So this is were I say there were some parts of this book did drag for me unfortunately and I did have a hard time getting into this book at first but once I did I really did like this story. All together this author created a really amazing world were you have characters you will like that were good and some bad people too. I really liked this book! I would recommend this book!

~Kara

FiveStars

This book was reminiscent of those epic fantasy adventures from names like Eddings, Weis and Hickman, even Tolkien (whose writing I actually don’t like as much as others). This is only book one, but it gave the readers so much. We met many of the good guys, struggling to escape the reach of those who would do evil, to serve and protect the innocent, and right the wrongs done in their world. And we met many of the agents of evil, who succeeded in making us cringe at the depth of their nefarious plans, and the ways in which their greed and hubris have already damaged the world around them, even as they move toward fulfilling greater plans of destruction and cruelty. Yes, this is a book that is so grand in scope, that it needs hyperbole to describe it. And I mean that in the best way.

The world-building is magnificent, the conflict far-reaching and insidious. And complicated in the way that real life truly is. The heroines are well-crafted, with not only admirable qualities but also those insecurities and characteristics that make them three dimensional. The problems they are struggling with seem overwhelming, yet even in the midst of crushing despair, they find hope. The evil characters are led by their weaknesses, and yet, even in the midst of their most vile actions, the reader can feel sorry for them within their limitations even while hoping they die a hideous death.

This book sets up the players, the conflict, and the obstacles. It ends, not in a cliff-hanger, but right before the characters move to the next stage of their plans. And I want to know how those plans play out. This was an excellent book. I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy. And I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

~AmyP

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