Review: A Heart to Trust

Jenny Quinn, familiar from The Long Shot, keeps working as a TV production assistant until her company is bought out by a bigger one. Now she has to compete for her own job in a team of four, under a new boss. One is her old coworker, one is extremely chipper and outgoing, and one is aloof and cold to the point of being a block of ice.

So we have a workplace, enemies-to-lovers romance, with plenty of office intrigue, gossip at the water cooler as well as hard work, some of which is very relatable.

The characters are yet again brilliant; this is an A.L. Brooks novel so that’s not exactly news. I wanted to yell at Jenny and Chrissy several times, rolled my eyes at Olivia, and near the end punched the air (it’s cool, I wasn’t anywhere public).

There’s a subplot involving Olivia and her family (well, mostly in-laws) situation, and it’s as gripping as it is occasionally frustrating, because you just want her to be all right!

The romance builds slowly from grudging respect to something like friendship to love, and mixed in with the trust issues of both protagonists, the workplace politics and the twists and turns of that plot, it’s a thoroughly gripping journey you won’t want to miss!

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Review: Presidential

cover of Presidential

If you thought dating while famous was hard, try doing it when you’re the president!

Presidential by Lola Keeley is an age-gap workplace romance, which is surprisingly low on angst. Basically, this is a feelgiod utopia; we can only wish it was real some day!

Emily is an environmental lobbyist, intent on saving the world. She doesn’t usually get in the spotlight, but when she does, practically everyone notices. Connie, the president, is a widow and single mother, and a bit of an ice queen. Her known bisexuality hasn’t been much noted before, but enter Emily – and rumours start to fly.

The characters are great, very human and relatable, and the political bits of the story also seem real – so much deals and compromise and chasing poll results.. this was a gripping one I didn’t want to put down, even though a couple of scenes seemed a bit rushed.

I’ve actually read this novel before, way back, when its name was something different and it was still a bit ”raw”. So happy it’s a real novel now; us wlw readers need these stories! 

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Review: Wrong Number, Right Woman

cover for Wrong Number, Right Woman

Jae’s latest is exactly the kind of feelgood romance we need at this time. It’s cute and funny, but also very relatable at times.

Denny is the delightfully realistic butch main character, who works as a cashier and helps her sister take care of her niece. One day, she gets a message on her phone from a strange number… and begins to chat with the sender, Eliza, who turns out to be a fun person to talk to. So they become sort of pen-friends.

Denny is pining after her niece’s school bus driver, Eliza goes on one failed date after another. And they talk, compare experiences — even though Eliza is straight and the complete opposite of Denny — and soon Eliza is more interested in Denny than new dates found online.

The slow-burn romance is written so well you won’t mind the slowness; instead you’ll root for Denny and Eliza, laugh at the mishaps and coincidences, and likely enjoy every page. The side characters, Eliza’s best friend, and Denny’s family, are a hoot. Actually, I wouldn’t mind getting to read Heather’s story one day!

Yes, there are a few more serious topics, but nothing angsty, and the novel is more like a warm hug from a friend, not an agonizingly slow trip to Dramaville.

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Review: Whispering Wildwood

Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley is a gay YA fantasy adventure about a pair of siblings who, with the help of a glamorous rogue of a pirate, have to go into a mystical forest to retrieve something stolen by a folkloric beast. ‬At first glance, this is a very straightforward adventure story: young protagonists go on a quest to a ”forbidden” place, meet odd creatures, make friends along the way and battle the ”big bad”. Simple, right?

The three main characters — Korinne, Matt and Vicktoria — are absolutely fascinating and all reveal more sides of themselves as the story progresses (I would love to learn more about these people).

There’s also an almost philosophical handling of power, friendship, family and one’s purpose in life, mostly from Korinne’s point of view. This makes the story even better; it’s not all action and adventure.

As for the inhabitants of Whispering Wildwood, there’s a whole multitude of animals and sentient creatures. All are described in a way that made my imagination run so wild, I even attempted a few sketches of them!

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Review: Reasons to heal

cover of Reasons to Heal

Here’s a refreshing take on the doc/patient trope. This time, the main characters are a physiotherapist (Kudzi) and a new police (Molly), still in training.

Reasons to heal by Jenn Matthews gets going when Molly is injured during a routine arrest. Getting back in shape takes quite a bit longer than she thought, she lives alone in a small flat, her little sister is rebelling… but hey, at least her physiotherapist is cute!

The medical side of things, such as physical therapy, group sessions, and slow recovery are believable and not too detailed. The romance is slow burn and sweet but not schmaltzy. At times I felt like it would be really easy to fall for Kudzi.. and wanted to shout at Molly.

Themes of culture clash, responsibilities and coming out were handled nicely and all the characters seemed real. Another solid novel from Jenn; four stars!

Helen & Nikki! Lucy! Asking for consent! The ASMR-y hand thing! Waita zvako (the language nerd in me was delighted)!

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Review: The Words Shimmer

Ruby, a university lecturer, is roped into a gardening project with young school kids. She’s the opposite of a green thumb. Mel, a down-to-earth paramedic, would be an ideal partner for the project but Ruby and Mel are complete opposites and don’t like each other.

In the mix: some prejudice, internalised homophobia, dyslexia (what’s that got to do with anything? read and find out), relatable situations with children and older students and – wow.

The Words Shimmer by Jenn Matthews is super entertaining but also a thought-provoking read. It’s a slow-burn romance peppered with interesting facts; I could hardly put it down! I may also have sent the author some distressed messages… oops?

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Review: Living

Ella is a big movie star, Cam a successful yoga instructor. In a romance. Superficial and perfect? Nah, they both are flawed, relatable, completely believable characters. There’s also a great supporting cast; for example, I found myself to be a bit (or a lot!) like Vanya among certain people..

A word of warning, though: Living by Lise Gold starts with a bang, not sparing the reader at all. It’s heavy, OK? Most of the drama afterwards is of an easier kind, though – this is, after all, a romance. Slow burn, but if you’re like me, you’ll probably enjoy every minute and don’t want them to rush.

I really liked how depression, its treatment and the side-effects of stardom were handled. Special kudos for the gorgeous cover!

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Review: Greengage Shelf

It’s a new Greengage book! It’s a cosy mystery! It’s, in a word, delightful!

Laura’s eccentric uncle is visiting (and nursing a broken heart). A seemingly unimportant book has gone missing and Kit has promised to help out. Laura and Kit try to be stealthy in more situations than one. Guess how well that goes…

There’s trivia and extra info in footnotes (which I loved), more quirky islanders than you can shake a cat at, and while Greengage Shelf by Emma Sterner-Radley isn’t laugh-out-loud funny all the time, it will keep a smile on your face for a long time time after you’ve finished the book.

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Review: Greengage Holiday Cheer

Christmas romcom / cosy mystery, a delightful read about the little island of Greengage and its inhabitants.

Kit has promised to find Pinky, while everyone is getting ready for Christmas. Kit, however, isn’t feeling very festive, what with spending it on Greengage for the first time and her girlfriend Laura being tied up with work.

Frustrations (for Kit), amusing situations, quiet humour – that’s what this story is made of. Perfect snack while waiting for the next installment in the Greengage series! 

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Review: Leaving Bree

How much heartache and pining can you pack into 142 pages? LOADS!

If I were to describe Leaving Bree by Claire Highton-Stevenson by tropes, it would be second chance, friends to lovers, slowburn. Simple, yeah?

But nothing is ever simple, not the characters or the story – there are layers and depth to everything, and that’s what made this novella so good.

Morgan and Bree are great, realistic characters, ditto the supporting cast. I found myself rooting for Morgan all the way, occasionally wanting to yell at her to just get on with it and stop being so.. [censored]!

For the squeamish: the stalker bits are mostly just hinted at, as they are not the focus here. Mainly, they are there as another layer to Bree’s backstory.

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