#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

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!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

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…

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

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!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Rome

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Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown, is set in Rome, Georgia, a small conservative town, and follows Joanna Gordon.

Jo’s been out and proud for years, but when her radio evangelist father remarries and they move from Atlanta to Rome, he asks her to do one thing:  to lie low for the rest of her senior year.  Hiding who she really is, is the last thing that Jo wants to do, but she agrees.

The rest of the novel follows her as she starts a new school and continues with life…only a complication arises when she meets Mary Carlson.  Mary’s stunning and tempting and seems to be interested in Jo too…

What I really loved about this book, is the way in which it approaches the difficulties of navigating your sexuality, when your own faith can be used against you.  It’s not preachy at all – which is important for me – but instead posits Jo as a modern, rebellious and gay woman, who just happens to be religious.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Rock Hollow

Laurent Linn‘s Draw the Line is set in a small town in Texas, where being a nerd, an artist, and gay just brings you far more trouble than it’s worth.

And so Adrian has perfected the art of blending into the background – but when a hate crime rocks his world, suddenly he’s no longer satisfied to hide.  Soon he’s using his artwork to try and make a real difference.

It’s beautifully illustrated, but also heartbreakingly written, and highlights the fact that not all small towns are warm, fuzzy, accepting places!

#StrongRomanceHeroines, #WeNeedDiverseBooks, Less Than Three Press, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Romance

Responding to Reading: She’s with Me

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I’m a big fan of indie publishing company Less Than Three Press, who specialise in LGBTQIA romance.  I’ve been following the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag for some time, and realised that I hadn’t actually reviewed any LGBTQ romances.  That ends now.

She’s with Me is a kinky, BDSM-lite erotic lesbian novella by Vanessa Cardui, which is more than a little of a mouthful, but is actually a skillfully crafted narrative.

The protagonists are Meeka and Izzy, her seemingly-straight best friend who’s just been stood up by her boyfriend.  What I really liked about the story is the fact that it’s all about exploration.  Cardui manages to capture the tentative way that Meeka feels, whilst appreciating that a girls’ night out can result in all sorts of situations, especially when alcohol’s involved.

There’s also order-giving, with Izzy discovering that she likes taking orders almost as much as Meeka likes giving them.  The balance between Izzy experiencing non-hetero  sexuality for the first time – particularly whilst she considers herself straight – with Meeka’s obvious feelings for her friend is just right.  The tone isn’t flippant, and nor is it painted as a crazy thing done whilst drunk.  I particularly liked the way that their emotions were interwoven with the sex, giving the erotica depth.