All About Pride: Lake Lovelace

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Vanessa North‘s Lake Lovelace series is a small town series that has its own wakeboarding competition and its fair share of local athletes.

Ben Warren used to be a wakeboarding champion, but it’s not until he meets Davis Fox in  Double Upthat he starts to embrace life again. Davis is trying to build bridges with his estranged brother by entering the competition, but he can’t wakeboard and soon Ben finds himself coaching the newcomer!

In Rough Roadwealthy flirt Eddie Russell finds himself rescued by a man half his age when he runs his Mercedes off the road! Wish Carver is fascinated by the duality of Eddie’s personality – even if the two of them seem to be on opposite sides of a local issue…

Tina Durham’s adjusting to life after her divorce in Roller Girlbut everything seems to be going wrong – from her career to the washing machine that’s flooded her kitchen! Thank goodness for Joanne “Joe Mama” Demario. Not only does she fix the offending washing machine in question, but she also invites Tina to join her roller derby team and really doesn’t care that she’s transgender. But soon sparks between them begin to fly; will coach and player be able to keep things strictly professional?

It’s a wonderfully intersectional romance series, and North’s ability to create charming and amusing characters works wonders!

All About Pride: Unspeakable

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Abbie Rushton‘s Unspeakable  follows Megan, who hasn’t spoken in months. She even communicates with her mother through writing little notes, but in some ways it’s for the best. Because if she started speaking, goodness only knows what secrets would come selling out.

The last thing she expected was bubbly new girl Jasmine to pay any attention to her; certainly know one else expected it, but gravitate towards her Jasmine does and this makes for fascinating reading, with us hearing Megan’s internal responses to Jasmine’s chattering dialogue…

The romance itself is heart-warming and brightening, especially when we slowly begin to realise the enormity of the trauma that’s caused Megan to stop talking in the first place…

All About Pride: Not Otherwise Specified

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Hannah Moskowitz‘s Not Otherwise Specified is a coming of age novel that follows Etta as she struggles with the categories that people want to put her in…

She’s not quite tiny enough for ballet, she’s not quite gay enough for her group of friends the Dykes – even though she’s always been open about being bisexual – she’s not quite sick enough for some people to take her anorexia seriously, even if she is in recovery, and she’s a black girl in a whiter than white Nebraska…

And it isn’t until she’s drawn to straight, white, Christian Bianca in her therapy group that she starts questioning her role within the labels that people have assigned her.

I think what’s truly remarkable about this book, is the strength of Etta’s voice. She’s funny and witty and goes off on tangents in a way that is really very endearing. Moskowitz approaches the darker issues with levity and practicality, and shows light onto the shadow. Utterly charmed by this book!

All About Pride: An Introduction

February is designated as “LGBT History month” in the UK , and with 2016 seeing an LGBTQIA romance win a RITA for the first time, it seems appropriate to dedicate my February posts to LGBTQIA romances!

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There’s a mixture of romances here, from historical to contemporary to fantasy, and looking at heroes and heroines who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and asexual or aromantic.

It’s been so exciting to read more of these passionate and beautiful romances, and I can’t wait to share them with you, as well as receive recommendations for more!

Small Town Perfection: Fortuity

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Cara McKenna‘s Desert Dogs series marries motorcycles with murder as a suspicious death jumpstarts a narrative that revs into life!

In Lay It Down, we’re introduced to Fortuity, Texas, and Vince Grossier.  When the town’s new mayor invites a casino development to town, and then Vince’s good friend turns up mysteriously dead, he decides to look into it himself.  Kim Paget, the photographer hired by the developers might hold a clue, but soon Vince finds himself becoming more and more drawn to her…

Raina Harper owns the only bar in town, and she’s not prepared to give it up in Give It All.  But when the casino developers’ fixer, Duncan Welch, needs someone to help clear his professional name, Raina can’t seem to turn him away – especially when he’s so damn sexy!

The prequel novella, Drive It Deep, looks at the romance and entanglement that Raina and Miah had before the series began…

When Vince’s brother, Casey, comes home settle down in Fortuity in Burn It Up, he cleans up his act and becomes co-owner of Benji’s Saloon.  But his new bartender, sweet single mum Abilene, needs help when the violent figure who haunts her past returns to Fortuity…

The series is gripping, with the murder mystery plot line running across all of the books, and I simply can’t wait to read the final book in the series!

Small Town Perfection: Jumbuck Springs

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Amy Andrews‘ Outback Heat series follows four siblings as they grow up and start developing more relationships; as well as running sidelong with a narrative about forest fires and the impact that it can have on small rural communities.

In Some Girls Do, Lacey is fed up of being stuck out in the city.  Her mother has recently died and she wants to go home – even if her brothers are insistent that she finish design school!  So when she gets Cooper to bring her home, she finds herself pretending that she’s pregnant, in order to stay.  The only thing she didn’t expect, was for Cooper to stand up as her fake baby daddy!

Jarrod hasn’t really had a proper relationship since Selena left, all fifteen years ago.  In fact, when she comes home in Some Girls Don’t, he doesn’t want anything to do with her; so when they finally meet, that spark of chemistry is a shock to both of them.

Some Guys Need A Lot of Lovin’ sees Marcus batting PTSD after one of the young boys he coached dies in the forest fire that decimates their local community.  The last thing he wants, is to have to see a psychologist – even one as sexy as Juanita…

JJ grew up with Ethan, and she’s been in love with him for just as long!  But when they end up sleeping together in Some Girls Lie, after his ex-wife gets remarried, she’s terrified that they’ll have ruined their friendship.  But with her abusive ex back in town, and his ex wanting custody of his daughter, a fake engagement may be the best way to resolve all of their issues!

I think one of the real strengths of this series – aside from the writing and its deliciously sexy scenes – is its ability to engage with risks that real Australian rural communities face.  Outstanding.

Small Town Perfection: Larkville

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The Larkville Legacy follows the aftershocks of a letter that affects the ranching Calhoun family in Larkville, and New York high society family, the Pattersons…

In The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer, Jess Calhoun’s been avoiding men in Stetson’s since her young son’s father left them, but when Johnny Jameson swaggers into town, she can’t help but notice him!  Their attraction is fiery and soon Johnny starts wondering whether he could put down roots in the quiet town of Larkville, of all places…

When ex-ballerina Eleanor Patterson discovers that her family history is a lie, she heads to Larkville for answers in Nikki Logan‘s Slow Dance with the Sheriff.  But she’s not exactly country material and ends up getting rescued from a herd of cattle by handsome Sheriff Jed Jackson…

In Marion Lennox‘s Taming the Brooding Cattleman, Alexandra Patterson heads to the Australian outback to work with stallions on a ranch.  Only rancher Jack Connor’s in for the shock of his life when the man he thought he hired, Alexander, turns out to be Alexanda!

Holt Calhoun hasn’t said anything other than “no” since his marriage ended.  But in The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie, that’s put to the test when he’s faced with pregnant Kathryn Ellis, who’s determined to get him to save the local clinic…

After years of hiding in the shadows, Megan Calhoun finally reaches Hollywood in His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone.  Her role as costume designer brings her together with A-list actor Adam Noble, and soon their chemistry threatens to deconstruct the facade he shows to the world…

In Lucy Gordon‘s The Secret That Changed Everything, a devastating family secret sends Charlotte Paterson to Italy, fed up of being in the shadow of her prettier, more popular sisters!  But when she seeks solace in the arms of widower Lucio Constello, their one night of passion has more consequences than they could possibly have imagined.

Soraya Lane‘s The Soldier’s Sweetheart sees Special Forces soldier Nate Calhoun return to Larkville, accompanied by traumatic memories and bourbon.  It’s only his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Anderson, who can see the pain beyond his gruff exterior…  Will racing horses and relaxing together on the ranch bring old emotions back to life?

When Matt Patterson, businessman extraordinaire, finds himself guardian to baby Bella in The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier, he needs help – and fast!  Social worker Claire Kincaid agrees to help out, but soon Matt finds himself drawn towards their fake little family…

Even though not all of the books in the series are set in Larkville, the impact of the letter and secret on the two families resonates through every book.  Utterly charming.

Small Town Perfection: Mercy

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Joss Wood‘s Men of Mercy series centres around Caswallawn Security, a business set up by best friends Kai, Sawyer and Axl, named for their fallen friend Max.

When Kai discovers that partners want to make Mercy, Virginia their business headquarters in Inescapable, he doesn’t understand why.  It’s a crazy, quaint, meddling town and its the antithesis of everything he knows and understands.

Still, all work and no play isn’t good for anyone, and when he sets eyes on feisty local baker Flick, the two of them are instantly drawn together.  It’s just fun, as he’s not going to be around long, and the two of them are fine with that.  Only, when an emergency means that Kai’s going to be in town for longer than he thought, they just can’t keep their hands off each other!

In Undaunted, Axl is faced with a conundrum.  Regan, the little sister of his fallen SEAL teammate and best friend Max, is working for Caswallawn Security, and he can’t cope with it.  He’s constantly torn between his promise to Max to look after her, and the desire that spikes every time he’s near her.

When a dangerous stalker threatens the client that she’s working with, Regan knows that she can deal with it – even if Axl keeps on hovering around, implying that she can’t.  But when she eventually gives in to the passion between them, she struggles to keep the control that she’s held onto all her life…

It’s a delightful series, and I simply can’t wait to read the next book, and follow Sawyer’s romance!

Small Town Perfection: Redemption

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Nicola Marsh‘s Redemption series follows characters who need just that:  redemption.  There’s something about small towns that allow us to fully believe in the possibility of a fresh start, and Marsh’s series captures this perfectly.

In Saving Sara, Sara Hardy needs to start again, completely on her own.  After the death of her daughter, her marriage fell apart, and when she inherits a cottage in Redemption, it seems the perfect way to get away.  But when her neighbour’s nephew, Jake, arrives with a nephew of his own in tow after his sister ends up in rehab, Sara withdraws even more.  It’s far too painful to spend time with children.  It’s a story of healing, of heartbreak, and of hope.

Jake’s sister, Rose, is starting over again in Rescuing Rose.  She’s back in Redemption after time in rehab, reunited with her son.  But not everyone’s pleased to see her return, and her reputation has most definitely preceded her.  So it’s all the more surprising when she finds herself drawn to Caden, the preacher’s son from her childhood.  Rose is the last person his friends and family want him to spend time with, but yet there’s something about her that he’s drawn to…

These books are beautiful.  Sometimes you need to read something that’s uplifting and hopeful, and if so?  These are the books you should be reading.

Small Town Perfection: Cape Cod

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Lisa Marie Perry’s Meant to Be Mine is a story of returning home, and facing the preconceptions people have of you.

When Sofia Mercer’s aunt dies, she has no choice but to return to Cape Cod – the town that turned against her when she was a teenager.  She may have been ill then, but she’s more than strong enough to face them now.  Only the old memories she’d pushed aside, and the gossip that she faces on her return, impress upon her how quickly she needs to just pay her respects and then leave once more.

But her aunt has left her a quirky little boutique, and she bumps into Burke Wolf, an old friend, and sparks fly!  The two of them were best friends and a shoulder to cry on for each other back then, and all of a sudden she’s strangely drawn towards staying…

I think what really resonated with me, was the fact that Sofia’s heart condition has really impacted on the way she lives her life now – and the way in which it colours her memories of the past.  It can’t possibly be easy to have issues like this when growing up, but