Tag Archives: Clare Ashton

All’s Well That Ends Well…

27 May

For the past four years, Tig and I have had a blast creating this blog and this community of readers and UK authors. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege, and we owe a lot to the authors who’ve contributed, offered freebies, written blogs, and kept us up to date with their news and releases. To finish things off with a bang rather than a whimper, we corralled a few folks to answer one simple question:

What are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

This is what they had to say…

Manda Scott

My hope for the future of lesbian fiction is that it remains vibrant, inspiring and above all, literate – that we continue to write stories that are not confined to the ghetto, but that spread to the wider world. At this time of global chaos, with the collapse of eco-systems and the 6th extinction happening all around us, and yet, with LGBTQ rights under threat in ways we thought were long gone, we need a resilient, informed, emotionally intelligent response that helps people to understand at a core level that we have more in common than that which divides us. The best of lesbian fiction has always offered that. My hope is that it will continue to do so.

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Manda Scott’s novels have been short listed for an Orange Prize, nominated for an Edgar Award and translated into over twenty languages. She was a long term columnist for the Glasgow Herald, is a reviewer for the Independent and has contributed to the Telegraph, Times, Daily Express and BBC History Magazine. She has appeared on Time Team as an expert on the Boudican era and contributed to Radios 4 & 5. Her most recent release is Into The Fire, a dual timeline mystery set in 2014 and 1429.

VG Lee

VGLeeOutside of the lesbian book-reading community, I feel that lesbian fiction – with a few notable exceptions – isn’t highly regarded.  For a change to take place, our authors may need to widen the scope of their work. I’ve said this before, but the number of respected mainstream lesbian authors can be counted on the fingers of our hands and this list hasn’t altered very much in years! I’m glad that there are many younger authors coming up, some I very much admire, so I do believe that the situation is going to get better.

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VG Lee is the critically acclaimed author of five novels: The Comedienne, The Woman in Beige, Diary of a Provincial Lesbian, Always you, Edina, and her latest release Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire. In 2012 VG Lee was nominated for a Stonewall Award for writing and in 2014 she won The Ultimate Planet award for Best Established Author. In her sixtieth year she decided to become a stand-up comedian and is now a regular performer at Laughing Cows comedy nights in London and the Midlands.

Jody Klaire

I’m really blessed that UK Lesfic was around when I started publishing books. Being an author is a wonderful career but it’s a really tough to establish yourself in a busy marketplace and having you guys supporting and cheering made a real difference. It’s been fantastic from my point of view to watch your own efforts, hard work and talent get more and more recognition. I’ve been cheering you guys too.

I think it’s important that, like a wonderful friend wanted, the bar is raised and continues to be raised. If we are respected for the polished prose, story-telling ability and high-quality of our work then our authors will be in a better position to reach, entertain and promote understanding in readers. I’d like to see more family friendly fiction with an emphasis on showing a positive, uplifting message that you can be sassy and classy. It’s important that message is clear. Self-respect is something I feel passionate about. I’d like any reader to be able to pick up my work and feel that they are unique and deserve respect whoever they are. The community is blessed with a perspective of what intolerance feels like and why it’s all that more important that to understand the right to be happy and loved should be universal.

Men’s strengths are often displayed in fiction but everyone seems to miss that women are incredible. We step up when needed; we run homes, work long hours, raise children (or furries,) seek to help others, feel compassion for others, take on so many different roles at once yet, usually, without complaint or hesitation. No, we roll up our sleeves and get on with making a difference every day. I try very hard to show that strength in my characters. I try to show just how beautiful we are as human beings inside and out. I hope it shows: Sassy but classy, intelligent and kind, compassionate yet strong and we should demand high-quality fiction that gives us the respect we deserve.

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Jody has been everything from a serving police officer, to recording artist/composer and musician until finding her home in writing. She lives in sunny South Wales in the UK with a ‘lively’ golden retriever called Fergus and other furry friends. She has four books released in the Above and Beyond series, and two in the Renovating Hearts series. You can find out more about her and her novels here at her blog.

Jen Silver

I had a dream…and awoke to find I was as famous as Sarah Waters…

A few months before my first novel was published, I attended a residential writing course and on the first evening all the participants were asked to give a brief description of what they were working on. I suspected I was the only ‘gay in the room’. So, when it came to my turn, I told them that I’d had a novel accepted for publication and it was a lesbian romance. Someone piped up, “Oh, like Sarah Waters.”

This was obviously the only lesbian author they’d ever heard of and I could only nod and say, “yes, like Sarah Waters”. Well, unless any of my books get made into TV series or films, I’m not likely to become that well known. But this is what came to mind when I thought about answering this question – what are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

I hope that it will continue to flourish and grow. We need a strong presence—visibility—in the world, now as much as in earlier times. As both a writer and a reader, I want to create and read stories about lesbians who come across as real people leading normal lives, free to love who they want…not portrayed as monsters to either be hidden away or destroyed.

Later on, at the course I mentioned above, one young woman asked why I referred to my books as ‘lesbian romance’. Why didn’t I just describe them as ‘romance’? I don’t know what answer I gave her, but thinking about it now, my answer would be that a separate genre is necessary so that we can find books about ourselves.

Maybe, in time, that will change too.  A time when Sarah Waters won’t be the only name that defines lesbian fiction. A time when we no longer need a neatly labelled niche to share our stories with the world.

That is my hope.

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Jen lives near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire with her long-term partner whom she married in December 2014. She has always enjoyed reading an eclectic range of genres including sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction and lesbian fiction. As well as reading and writing, other activities include golf, archery, and taking part in archaeological digs. Jen’s latest novel, Christmas at Winterbourne, was published by Affinity in October 2016.

Anna Larner

As I wrote this blog I began to think about what it means to have hope, after all hope is one of the most important strengths an individual can possess. It takes tremendous tenacity, resolve, vision, belief, and courage to hope for something. It is at the heart of the human spirit. Without hope very little can be achieved.

Have you noticed that hopeful people are rarely naive fools, but individuals who have spotted the possibility of something – they have seen what others blinded by scepticism may have missed. The hopeful see the potential in things.

Hope, like optimism, is infectious. A hope which is shared by others has energy to it and gathers a momentum which builds and grows to the point where it is unstoppable.

So with this in mind here are my hopes – I hope that we will continue to promote and carve out the physical and emotional space we deserve for the literature we cherish. I hope that we will remember the writers who went before us, who bravely put into words what many could not speak. And I hope that we will have the same self-belief and courage as them as we continue to imagine characters and narratives that console, captivate and inspire.

The only limit for the future of lesbian fiction is our ability to have hope for it.

I know that what we hope for together, as writers and readers, we can and will achieve.

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Anna has a degree in English Literature and Master’s degrees in The Word and Visual Imagination, and Museum Studies. She has written and curated a permanent exhibition of LGBT voices and memorabilia, based at Leicester’s LGBT Centre, one of the first permanent exhibitions in the UK. As a former member of the Steering Committee for the Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland LGBT History Project, Anna is passionate about preserving LGBT history and ensuring that LGBT voices are heard. Anna’s debut novel, Highland Fling, was published by Bold Strokes Books in April, 2017.

Clare Lydon

What are your hopes for the future of lesbian fiction?

Crikey, no biggie then.  I’d say the future for lesbian fiction looks bright – there’s never been a better time for lesbian fiction than now. More choice, more authors, more books, more sub-genres – you name it, it’s here.

But what I’d like to see is more crossover into the mainstream and more coverage in mainstream media. I already know it’s not just lesbians who read my books – they’re enjoyed by a cross-section of people representing all flavours of the sexuality and gender spectrums, which is great.

But I’m greedy – I want lesbian fiction to have a positive impact on more lives around the globe, to see our lives reflected back not just to us, but to millions more. And as the world gets more connected every day, the growth potential is there.Lesbian fiction to the masses! Hurrah!

Finally, in the romance and crimes genres especially, we have some cracking stories just begging to be made into films or TV. So my ultimate hope would be to see these stories hit some kind of screen, large or small, and watch their reach widen even further. Why not Cari’s Dark Peak series or my London Romance series on Netflix? Why not Tig’s Poppy Jenkins as a movie? I’d be watching, and I wouldn’t be the only one.

Thanks to you two for shining a light on UK lesfic over the past few years and for taking part in the rise of lesfic. When I first started writing, your site was invaluable, and you’ve been a constant support to countless writers over the past three years. We all owe you both a debt of gratitude.

I’m going now before I start sobbing ;0)

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Clare is a London-based writer of contemporary lesbian romance. She’s a No.1 best-seller on lesbian fiction charts around the globe with five full-length novels to her name, as well as writing the All I Want series, which concluded with its sixth instalment, All I Want Forever in January, 2017. Clare is a lively and enthusiastic member of the UK Lesfic community and regularly hosts the Lesbian Book Club podcast over on the Lesbian Lounge.

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And the final words go to…

Cari Hunter

I still remember how exciting it was to go into Gay’s The Word as a fledgling, still in the closet, wet-behind-the-ears lesbian, and discover shelf upon shelf of lesbian fiction. My girlfriend (now wife!) and I bought a copy of Sarah Dreher’s Stoner McTavish and dashed back a few days later to buy every other book in the series.

Almost twenty years later, fledgling lesbians are spoiled for choice in terms of lesbian fiction. As mainstream authors still have a tendency to sideline or closet their LGBTQ characters, the small presses and the indie authors have stepped in to fill the void, and they’re doing it in a considerable amount of style, climbing the bestseller charts, and proving that UK lesbian and bisexual authors are writing and that, more to the point, they’re being read.

My hopes for the future of lesbian fiction, then? That our community continues to thrive and to grow, and that the mainstream publishers and the mainstream media eventually sit up and recognise that we’re here and that we’re worth supporting. That UK authors continue to set their books within their own regions, and write in their own dialect, chucking in slang and foodstuffs that make people scratch their heads and hop over to Google. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, I hope authors continue to write and readers continue to read, because that will ensure that lesbian fiction continues to exist.

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Cari Hunter lives in the northwest of England with her wife, their cat, and a pond full of frogs. She works full-time as a paramedic and dreams up stories in her spare time. Although she doesn’t like to boast, she will admit that she makes a very fine Bakewell Tart.

Cari has just finished a new crime series based in the Peak District. The first book – No Good Reason – won the 2015 Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery Rainbow Award, and its sequel Cold to the Touch won a Goldie and a Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Thriller/Mystery. The third book in the series – A Quiet Death – was published in January 2017.

Clare Ashton

Most of all I hope people keep writing, whether it be that detective of iron integrity or the hapless heroine of the romcom who wakes up in the armpit of the wrong woman. Comfort reads that delight even after the tenth reading are magic and a nugget of happiness for many.

A broad range of literature is essential for expanding your horizons and developing empathy towards others but finding yourself represented, validated and worthy of a happy ending is precious. So please, keep writing!

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Clare Ashton lives in the Midlands with her partner and two lovely distracting kids. She loves a moody atmospheric novel but she’s a big softie inside and can’t resist writing romcoms. Her latest award-winning romance is Poppy Jenkins.

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So for one last time: that’s all folks, from Cari and Tig.

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News Roundup: New Books from HP Munro & AL Brooks, Kiki Archer & Clare Lydon Share Their Coming Out Stories, Reviews, Blogs & More!

21 Oct

As the nights draw in and you can barely get into a supermarket without falling over bloody massive tins of Roses and Quality Street, what better way to stave off the inevitable slalom towards the festive season than curling up with a good book? So find a rug to tuck yourself under, and away we go…

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saving graceWe’ve not heard a peep from HP Munro for a goodly while now, but this week saw the release of Saving Grace, her follow-up to 2014’s Grace Falls. HP says the book is a “companion piece” rather than a true sequel but that it features many of the same characters:

When Charlotte Grace left Grace Falls at the age of seventeen, she swore she’d never return. More than twenty years on she still regrets breaking the heart of her first love. Reaching a crossroads in her life, Charlotte has started to merely drift along.

Erin Hunter has spent a lifetime recovering from having her heart shattered by the person she trusted most. Taking shelter in her home town and her career, she’s avoided relationships.

Neither woman ever thought they’d see each other again. They didn’t count on Grace Falls. The quirky town’s charm pulls people in, and if the town isn’t enough, its residents are more than willing to lend a hand.

Celebrate a return to Grace Falls.

The book is available to buy from all the usual online spots.

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AL Brooks’ second novel Dark Horse has been scheduled for publication in February, 2017. More on this when we have it – for now, here’s the cover and the blurb.

darkhorseSometimes, going back is the only way forward.

Punished for a crime she did not commit, Sadie is sent away to live with Elsie, her grandmother and rebuild her life estranged from the rest of her family.

Now, several years later she returns home to visit her terminally ill mother and face up to the past. In the midst of family turmoil Sadie meets Holly and falls in love for the first time.

Can Sadie overcome the lies of the past to build a brighter future?

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coming-out-dayAs anyone who’s been through it probably knows, coming out to family, friends, and even yourself is an experience that you’ll never forget. October 11th was National Coming Out Day, and two of our most popular UK authors shared their coming out stories to mark the occasion. You can watch Kiki Archer‘s video (specially filmed in her closet!) here, while Clare Lydon chose to write a blog on the theme:

clare lydonI was still at university when I told my parents I was a lesbian. I was 21 and unbeknown to them, I had a girlfriend. But I knew it would be a shock for them. After all, when I had left home to start my degree two years earlier, I’d had a boyfriend. Not anymore.

But going home to tell my parents was beyond nerve-wracking. For a start, they’re old-school catholic, and from a very different generation. Did they even know anybody else who was gay? I didn’t think so…

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courting the countessJenny Frame has picked up a smashing review of her latest novel, Courting the Countess, from Les Reveur:

The sexual tension in this book was off the charts. You could have sliced it with a butter knife. I loved that element and it left me understanding the want these women had for one another. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I will say this… The love these women find in each other is not only about them (don’t get me wrong their love is very present and emotional) but it’s about family and doing anything you can for the people you love. It’s very sweet actually.

Jenny is also hoping to update her blog on a monthly basis to keep readers apprised of her latest book news and to share some insights into her writing process. Her first piece (read it in full here) focuses on hopeless romantics…

I think it’s time to stop making excuses and reclaim the title of hopeless romantic as a badge of honour. If you are a hopeless romantic, you are in touch with your feelings, you wear your heart on your sleeve, and have faith and hope that no matter how bad things can seem, there’s always a fairytale around the corner.

So wearing my badge proudly, how does this hopeless romanticism present itself? Well, if you were to ask my family or my partner Lou, they would tell you I’m extremely over emotional and cry at the drop of a hat…

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The Rainbow Awards are still collating their Honourable Mentions, with Clare Ashton being one of the latest recipients. Her bubbly romance Poppy Jenkins scooped two HMs (awarded 36/40 or more by a judge) in the latest round of announcements:

poppy jenkins1) I was absolutely charmed by the characters, and the story drew me in immediately and held me until the end.

2) A really amazing read. There was nothing here that made me think it was too much or too little or too anything else. All was perfect and I don’t use this word easily. The characters are all very well developed, so much so that at the end of the book they feel real; the story is interesting with the right amount of plot twists that keep the reader engaged but that don’t devolve in the realm of absurd even when unexpected things happens; the writing style is really really good; and the setting is one of the most interesting of all that I have read till now. What make this book even better is the way the author was able to navigate two different times of narration: it never feels like Poppy’s walks down memory lane are a rude interruption of the story, and the contemporary storyline is strong enough to become better thanks to them. Wonderful read!

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pennancegermanSticking with Clare for the moment, as her debut novel Pennance has recently been translated into German by Verlag Krug & Schadenberg. Released as Return to Life with shiny new cover art, the novel is available here at Amazon.

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AL Brooks’ erotic, Manchester-set debut, The Club, has been reviewed on The Lesbian Review:

The writing is clean and engaging, but the real strength is in how it’s structured. It almost straddles the line between full-length novel and short story collection, with each woman or couple’s story followed individually, threaded together through their interactions at the club. Mandy is the only character we see followed from the beginning to the end, and even that is through a series of flashbacks that tracks her journey to opening the club.

As ever you can read the full write up by hitting the link.

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christmasatwinterbourneWith her new novel – Christmas at Winterbourne – scheduled for release in November, Jen Silver is introducing its characters on her blog. This week Kim Russell gets her moment in the spotlight…

Time to introduce a character who has been mentioned in the previous three introductory blogs…Kim Russell… the character who isn’t there but who is central to the story. She died in a horse riding accident fifteen years before the start of the novel.

Kim was the author of a successful series of novels featuring an Australian sleuth, Amy Ransom. The novels were also made into films. The reason most of the guests book into Winterbourne House is because of the author’s fame. Fans come from all over the world to stay.

Christmas at Winterbourne will be published on November 1st, and you can read its first chapter here on the Affinity website.

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And that’s yer lot for this roundup. Toodle pip till next time!

News roundup: new books, free books, blogging, reviews and the C word!

8 Oct

Dig out your woollies and grab a mug of hot chocolate – it’s time to snuggle up with some books.

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And there’s lots of new lesfic for you to get your mitts on this week.

flirting-with-dangerFirst up is Jade Winters with Flirting with Danger.

When the stepdaughter of a celebrated tennis player goes missing, ambitious journalist Astrid is determined to find answers.  This is the high profile story she’s been waiting for; the case that could bring her the recognition she so craves.

In her hunt for clues, Astrid’s attention is piqued by an intriguing tweet from Callie—a family friend of the missing girl.  

Convinced Callie might be a strong lead, Astrid follows her instincts and tracks Callie down. The encounter is one which will throw her whole being off balance.  

As the pressure to find the missing girl intensifies, so does the attraction between the two women.  With so much at stake, can Astrid hold her nerve and heart enough to deal with the shocking conclusion?

aquestionoftrustJane Retzig has a sequel out to The Wrong Woman. A Question of Trust is a lesbian mystery romance and is FREE on Amazon this weekend! Grab a copy here.

Three months have passed since the events of ‘The Wrong Woman’. Saskia is now working part-time with Jaiden, who is struggling to hide her feelings for her new friend and co-worker. Saskia thought Jaiden was flirting with her when she invited her to work ‘undercover’ and she’s frustrated that their private investigations have never wandered even remotely close to the erotic.

Neither Jaiden nor Saskia have had much luck with love. But when they finally kiss, it feels different… passionate… and unconditional. Then a major problem comes crashing into Jaiden’s life and her first instinct is to hide it.

And as secrets and lies start to spiral out of control, Saskia questions whether she should ever have trusted Jaiden with her already wounded heart.

mroliverVG Lee’s new book, Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire, has a male protagonist but I believe it also contains lesbians. In any case, who wouldn’t want to hear about a new VG Lee book.

Mr Oliver was a man of the moment in the 1960s, but as he reaches his fiftieth birthday he’s a decade out of date. From his bachelor flat to his relationships with women, he orders everything around him with the same rigour and precision that he uses to manage The Store in London’s Oxford Street.

Yes, he knows his Aquascutum from his Berkertex, can spot a linen mix fabric from twenty yards, but he doesn’t recognise his nemesis, Claire Daker, when she walks into his life.

Hired as ‘the face of youth’ by the impeccably trouser-suited Head Buyer Miss Frances, Claire, with her pleated mini-skirts and citrus lemon knee socks, proves to be the agent of change for both of them.

Enter Doreen Mildmay, a passionate woman who always gets her man, and the man in her sights is Sydney Oliver. She knows a broken man when she sees one and she’d like to fix him. But does he want to be fixed or would Mr Oliver rather pursue his object of desire?

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Cold to the TouchJudging is underway at the Rainbow Awards and Elisa is rolling out honorable mentions throughout October. Those books that scored at least 36 out of 40 get a mention, and Cari Hunter ran off with three for Cold to the Touch:

Talk about cold! Cari Hunter writes winter so that you feel the snow creep down your collar or the wind whistle through the rip in your pants. She makes you feel the ache of fatigue from three nights in a row of too little sleep, and the terror of thinking you’re losing your job, your career, your best friend, and your chance at love.

The-Club-by-A.L.-BrooksYou can read the other judges’ comments here.

AL Brooks has also garnered praise for her erotic debut The Club which seems to be hitting the spot:

This was an interesting first time offering. Definitely loaded with juicy erotic scenes and well-developed characters.

More here.

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Jen Silver has been blogging in the run up to the publication of Christmas at Winterborne and introducing readers to her characters:

christmasatwinterbourneWinterbourne is the name of the lesbian guesthouse – almost a character in its own right. And the story takes place over Christmas when guests arrive for a seasonal holiday programme starting on the 23rd through to the 27th of December.

With five weeks leading up to the release of this, my fifth novel, I thought I would drip-feed some information about the house and the characters involved. I hope I’m not going to put off some potential readers by revealing that there are fifteen characters with an active role in the story. And that’s just the human ones.

There are also horses and dogs because this is, after all, a country estate. So I’ll start by introducing the two oldest characters, both in their late 70s.

Catch up with the cast list revealed so far, including the young Londoners on Jen’s blog.

TheLongWeekend-640x1024Clare Lydon’s been a busy gal this year with her All I Want Series, but don’t forget her other novels including The Long Weekend. Clare has been reading an excerpt from her second novel for the Lesbian Talk Show. You can have a listen here.

kikiarcherprofileKiki Archer has been answering The Lesbian Review’s author profile questions. Have a look here to find out what inspired Kiki to start writing and how she describes her style. She also delves into what inspired each novel and of her latest, Lost in the Starlight, she says:

I just wanted to create a story where a hidden secret keeps you from being your true self. I love the world of celebrity and shows like The X factor. I’m also led to believe there are stars who choose to hide their sexuality for fear they’ll no longer be popular. I wanted to write about someone who was brave enough to be honest and how this could actually enhance their popularity and success. Thus Honey Diamond was born.

annelisterNot fiction but very lesbian and fascinating: Sarah Waters visits Anne Lister’s home of Shibden Hall and talks about her life and loves and reads from her diaries. Tootle over here to listen to Sarah and to have a nose around Shibden Hall.

hindsightMeanwhile Jodi Klaire has revealed a sneak peek of her forthcoming book, Hindsight (book 4 of the Above and Beyond series).

Have a shufti over here for a taster.

Also on Jodi’s blog is her free downloadable series, The Whistleblower, which features Susan from The Empath and also other characters familiar to readers of the Above and Beyond series. The series is downloadable as a PDF and is up to episode 3. Here’s the link to the beginning.

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The Lesbian Review has been busy with the Brits this week and had great things to say about them all.

no good reasonCari Hunter’s No Good Reason:

“This novel is dark and brooding and brilliantly written. Sanne is one of those women with zero self confidence but so much heart that you cannot help fall in love with her. She takes everything very seriously and acts tough but is really quite unsure of her own value.

Meg is a quirky character who is known for swearing at irritating patients. She and Sanne have a deep bond and she is protective over her friend, always knowing when she needs something more than she is saying.

It is beautifully written. Hunter transports you right into the world she creates and keeps you firmly in the grip of the icy weather, craggy rocks and oppressive atmosphere.”

lostinthestarlightKiki Archer’s Lost in the Starlight:

“Lost In The Starlight is an absolutely charming, hilarious and gorgeous story or two women from different backgrounds learning that life is a little more complicated than they thought when it comes to love and secrets…

I was not sure that Archer’s book could live up to such a good title but it did. And the title was explained in the book in a well thought out moment. (I was a little worried it would be cheesy but it wasn’t.) Apparently I worry about things that I have no need to be concerned about. I was in safe hands with Kiki Archer.

poppy jenkinsClare Ashton’s Poppy Jenkins:

Ashton did an amazing job with the characters. Every one was beautifully explored. The quaint town of Wells was as much a character in the novel as the human cast and I could not help but fall in love with it.

This book is beautifully written, yet easy to read. It is filled with conflict but you like all the characters. It is set in a small town that is dying and you hope for its resurrection. It really is a special novel.

AllIWantForChristmas-Clare-LydonThe last two are also included on The Lesbian Review’s list of Light Romances That Delight together with Clare Lydon’s All I Want for Christmas of which the article says:

As Christmas comes hurtling towards us, I start to feel all warm and mushy. I love Christmas, but after reading this novel I am pretty sure that Lydon has me beat in that department.

This is the novel that made me crown Lydon as the queen of lesbian rom/com. It is utterly charming and has some of the funniest lesbian moments that I have ever read.

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Ooooo, makes you want to start Christmas already. (Apologies to non-Christmas fans who are struck down in paroxysms of outrage at the mere mention of the C word before December. Actually I don’t mean that. CHRISTMAS!!!)

News Roundup: New Author CK Martin, Reviews, Threesomes, Bargain Books, Giveaways, and More!

24 Sep

With the debacle of the Great British Bake Off’s C4 sell-off travesty hanging heavy over us all here at UK LesFic, it’s a good thing we have so many new books to cheer us. So, Ready, Steady…BAKE READ!

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dirty-little-warFirst up, we’ve recently added a new author to the UK LesFic listings. C.K. Martin loves writing character-driven stories, so you’ll find her books in the romance, crime and fantasy genres. She believes that realistic, diverse and engaging characters shouldn’t come at the expense of great plots – readers deserve to have both – and is a big fan of the slow burn when it comes to relationships, so be warned!

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book (or pressed against the Kindle screen). Her third biggest passion in life is travel, so although she says she’s based in England, for much of the year you won’t find her there. Instead she’ll be hanging out with her wife in some amazing city or, more likely, at the beach. Read more about CK and her novels here at her blog.

CK’s current release is Dirty Little War, the blurb for which reads like this:

Evie Baedeker knows her place in the world. Born into a life of organised crime in the gritty East End of London, she has endured nothing but hardship and disappointment. Then one night, in a sleazy bar, fate sends a dangerous opportunity her way.

Carmen Trogan, daughter and heir apparent to a rival business, has no idea who Evie is when their eyes meet across the dance floor. But Evie knows all about her. The chance to bring the rich and beautiful woman to her knees – both figuratively and literally – is too good to pass up. Sparks fly from their first kiss, but Evie is playing a dangerous game. There are consequences that come with spending the night with a woman like Carmen.

Will she be able to walk away from the best night of her life, or will she risk it all to see Carmen one more time?

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lostinthestarlightIf you’re fond of relaxing and letting someone else do the work for you, then take a peek at Kiki Archer reading the first chapter of her new super smash hit Lost in the Starlight. Kiki will also be appearing alongside VG Lee and Scott Campbell at the Polari Shout Festival on Saturday 19th November at the Birmingham Mac. The event sold out last year, so get your skates on and head here for more details and tickets.

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Never one to shy away from a contentious subject, AL Brooks has been discussing threesomes in her There Were Three in the Bed post over on the Ylva blog:

The-Club-by-A.L.-BrooksThe other main issue women have with it is that, somehow, saying you’d want to experience a third woman in the bed equates to you saying that there’s a problem with your sex life as it is. That there’s something ‘missing’. That may be true in some instances, but I think if both women in the couple are open to discussing sex freely and without judgment, they could find that it’s something that appeals to them both, and add a whole new dimension to the way they enjoy each other. There could also be a specific reason why a third woman could compliment their existing relationship – for example, if the couple has a very established top/bottom dynamic and one (or both) wants to occasionally play with the other role.

If that snippet has tempted you into reading the full piece, hit the above link.

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Some reviews now to tempt you in the direction of recent releases…

Les Reveur (ooh la la!) has thoroughly enjoyed Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon:

I found the novel light, sexy and easy to read. It was exactly what I was in the mood for. The characters had genuine life and love obstacles and I found myself cheering them on throughout…This was the first novel by Clare Lydon I’ve read and I’ll definitely be watching out for her next. 

AllIWantForSummerMeanwhile the lasses at The Lesbian Review have been casting their critical eye over All I Want For Summer:

This book reminded me why I hate camping, but it also reminded me why I enjoy this series. It’s charming, light and fun and keeps you reading until you realise you’re at the end. I am super surprised at how this one ended though, much darker than usual. I can’t wait for the next book to see what happened.

And Gill McKnight‘s Welcome to the Wallops:

I love when an author gives me a great storyline, wonderful rich setting, believable characters, and new information that enhances the story, but never interrupts  or takes away from it. Ms McKnight ticked all those boxes for me.

Read the full text of those reviews here and here.

Clare Ashton‘s Poppy Jenkins continues to garner strong write ups. This first from Jess van Netten at the Lesbrary:

poppy jenkinsThere is underlying current of chemistry between Poppy, the out lesbian, and Roslyn, the seemingly straight friend, that moves the story along at varying speeds. At times, it reaches fever pitch, with sexual innuendoes providing very funny conversations between the leads. I laughed out loud many a time, explaining little plot points to my wife as though talking about my friends.

And this in-depth review from Shira Glassman on her blog Welcome to the Mangoverse:

Poppy may as well be a 21st century Anne of Green Gables or other costume drama small-town girl, full of buoyancy and enthusiasm, as well as love for her village and its people. But by making her this, the author doesn’t rob her of her sexuality, and that’s what makes this so wonderful. A woman’s sexual–not just romantic but sexual–attraction to another woman is depicted as innocent and wholesome. Do you have any idea how fucking healing that is?

Click both links to read the full text.

Just-My-Luck-by-Andrea-BramhallAnd finally, The Romantic Reader has had fun with Andrea Bramhall‘s new comedy release Just My Luck

While Bramhall’s other novels have serious plots, murder, kidnapping … this book is just more fun. These characters talk to you, the reader, and it took me a few chapters to get into it, once I did I was hooked on them. I loved being in their headspace, feeling their struggles right along with them.

If you fancy trying your luck to win a copy of this book, Andrea is running a Goodreads giveaway for five signed copies. The closing date for entries is October 7th.

Wendy Hudson is also running a GR giveaway for three signed copies of her new Scotland-based thriller/romance, Four Steps. Closing date for this one is September 30th.

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Bargain books!

snowbound-for-blogFrom free books to very cheap books now, with Clare Lydon‘s second novel The Long Weekend currently on e-book sale for the whopping bargain price of 99p.

And Cari Hunter‘s debut romantic Peak District-set thriller Snowbound is today’s e-book Daily Bargain over at the Bold Strokes website (Saturday 24th September only.) It’ll be on sale for $2.99 (about £2.30) until 11.59 p.m. (EDT) and will also come hand in hand with Jenny Frame‘s short story Dapper, which is free with all BSB e-book purchases throughout September.

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Hopefully there’s enough in that little lot will tide you over for a while. Meanwhile, let’s just remember the good times before they get taken away from us…

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News roundup: new books, a new author, Polari Tour and Prize, crime blogs and a freebie!

10 Sep

And we’re back! After a lovely summer, where traditionally all goes quiet in lesfic land, there’s a load of news waiting to be unleashed and a fresh pile of books for your autumn reading. Here we go!

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It has been out a matter of hours but Kiki Archer’s new book is at the top of the lesfic charts already. Here’s the blurb and lovely sparkly cover:

lostinthestarlightA-list singing superstar, Honey Diamond, has it all – the albums, the talent shows, the upcoming Hollywood film. But it’s her gentle light, endearingly shining through all the glitz and glam, that warms the hearts of so many. A shy girl, who’s only ever known fame, born into a world that’s not true to life. Will Honey ever experience the love she so knowingly sings about? Will the vindictive online gossip sites ever leave her alone?

For a bit more of tease have a peek at the book trailer on YouTube.

Lost in the Starlight is available on Amazon now!

Also just out is Wendy Hudson’s Four Steps and it’s already been covered at The Lesbian Review:

FourStepsI was swept up into the Scottish Highlands and the lives of Alex and Lori. The author uses alternating chapters to tell the story of the growing romance between Alex and Lori and the secondary story of suspense, which builds step by step until the final chapters where I was flipping (tapping actually, as my copy was an ebook) pages as fast as I could…I loved the arc of the romance between Alex and Lori. And the pacing of this story was perfect.  Alex and Lori’s romance built slowly alongside the trouble creeping toward them. The trouble was indeed creepy.

You can read the rest of the review here and get your copy on Amazon.

alliwantforautumnClare Lydon continues Holly and Tori’s adventures in her next book in the All I Want series. The Autumn installment is out on September the 21st and here’s the blurb:

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…

After a hit & run accident, Holly is determined to recover in record-speed, but she’s frustrated when her mind and body have different agendas. Meanwhile, when Tori’s career takes an unexpected turn, the couple are faced with some life-changing decisions.

When Tori & Holly’s journeys begin to pull in different directions, will the glue that keeps them together be enough to secure their future?  Is true love enough to win the day?

ashakaanNatalie Debrabandere’s new book Ashakaan was published at the beginning of summer to rave reviews in the US:

The year is 2251. Jamie Cartwright is a gifted young army officer, the owner of a sexy smile, handsome looks, and a fiery temper. Stationed on-board the Atlantis, the finest spaceship the Quantum Fleet has ever commissioned, her future as a member of the Alliance military is looking bright. Unbeknownst to her though, and to everyone else except an old shaman in a distant and mysterious universe, Jamie’s destiny is accelerating, headed fast toward an extraordinary conclusion…

needleinahaystackAlso released during the summer was Sally Edwards Needle in a Haystack:

A pivotal point in a young girl’s life, with family tragedy, new friendships and the first glimpse of romance. We are plunged deeply into the mind of Charlie Duke as we read extracts from her personal diary.

Sally is new to the UKLesFic news listings but published her debut a couple of years ago. She hails from Shropshire and specialises in stories that feature disabled characters. How to Love was her debut – the story of a young disabled lesbian woman, coming of age, living a life of independence, and finding love.

You can find both How to Love and Needle in a Haystack  on Amazon and you can find out more about Sally on her website.

underparrLooking further ahead, Andrea Bramhall has announced that her second book in the Norfolk Crime Investigation Stories will be published in May 2017.

December 5th, 2013 left its mark on the North Norfolk Coast in more ways than one. A tidal surge and storm swept millennia-old cliff faces into the sea and flooded homes and businesses up and down the coast. It also buried a secret in the WWII bunker hiding under the golf course at Brancaster. A secret kept for years, until it falls squarely into the lap of Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon and her fellow officers.

A skeleton, deep inside the bunker.

How did it get there? Who was he…or she? How did the stranger die—in a tragic accident or something more sinister? Well, that’s Kate’s job to find out.

christmasatwinterbourneJen Silver’s fifth novel will be out in November, ready for Christmas, and is the first of Jen’s novels to be set in southern England:

The Christmas festivities for the guests booked into Winterbourne House have all the goings-on of a traditional holiday. The only difference is that this guesthouse is run by lesbians, for lesbians. When the guests arrive, tensions are already simmering between the house’s owner Wilma (Wil) and very pregnant partner, Gabriella. Wil has a lot on her plate… ensuring the smooth running of the events, looking after all the guests, including her in-laws and business partners. What she hasn’t planned for is a ghost from Christmas past.

Wil inherited Winterbourne from her adopted mother, Kim Russell, author of a series of successful lesbian novels. Most of the guests who stay, do so because they are fans of the author. One guest, Sally Hunter, is on a mission to write Kim’s official biography. She meets with resistance from the people at the house she tries to interview, stirring up memories from those who knew the reclusive writer well. For a bit of extra spice to the festivities, add in an unexpected snowstorm, a disappearing guest, and an imminent birth. Join the guests and staff at Winterbourne for a Christmas you’ll not soon forget.

If you can’t wait until November to read more you can have a sneak peek at the first chapter on the Affinity website.

ylvaOn to blogs and August has been crime month over at Ylva Publishing. Andrea Bramhall has been pondering why the British are fascinated with murder:

Books, TV shows, documentaries, news broadcasts, popular music…it’s everywhere. Crime drama, mysteries, murders, and detective stories. As a nation we’re hooked on them. Well, I know I am, and looking at the top rated shows on TV, so are you! As a population does that make us a bunch of morbid, blood thirsty savages, living vicariously through fictitious characters who carry out our innermost desires?

collide o scopeIt’s had LT Smith puzzling too:

Personally, I love reading crime and detective novels because when I read I love to think, love to work at the plot like a literary winkle, prising out information, identifying those red herrings that attempt to lead me up the garden path, and, more than anything, I love to figure it all out before everyone else. A definite smug face moment.

Meanwhile Wendy Hudson wondered why Scotland in particular lends itself to murderous goings on:

The dilemmas of the human condition remain the same no matter what period you look at in history. Living in a country soaked in past bloodshed, and steeped in unsolved mysteries, whether reader or writer, Scotland will always intrigue and suck us in. If you combine all of these reasons, the history and landscape, the miserable weather, our sense of justice and cutting humour; maybe we can start to understand why the darker stories continue to live on in Scotland, more so than the good.

And Clare Ashton had to bring sex, well passion at least, into it:

The biggest high, I think, comes from a novel that pulls together passion, suspense and intrigue. With romance, circumstance may pull the heroines apart and break your heart, but with romantic intrigue you can twist the story to stop the reader in their tracks, chill them to the bone, even make them drop their eReader and exclaim “oh shit”. The stakes can be so much higher. It isn’t simply a matter of will the couple get together, more the terror that secrets and even death may pull them apart.

Click here to read all of these blogs in full.

poppy jenkinsClare Ashton has been getting around a bit over the summer and also had a good chin wag with Clare Lydon for her Lesbian Book Club podcast.  During the podcast, Clare Lydon does a run down of the charts and gives an update on her writing, then gets chatting with Clare Ashton about writing process, Wales, Poppy Jenkins and synonyms for breasts.

Have a listen here.

The LGBT Polari First Book Prize short list was announced at the beginning of summer and the Polari website notes that:

Fiction features strongly – from Anne Goodwin’s poignant midlife coming-of-age (Sugar and Snails) and Jacquie Lawrence’s exploration of love through the entangled lives of six women (Different for Girls) to Paul McVeigh’s funny and frightening story of a young boy navigating the troubles of 1980s Northern Ireland (The Good Son) and Stevan Alcock’s unforgettable tale of teenage life set to the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders (Blood Relatives). The shortlist is rounded-off by Juliet Jacques poignant memoir of the transgender experience (Trans) and a raw yet moving collection of poems written in celebration of the masculine form (Physical).”

POLARIpinkLARGEThe winner will be revealed in October.

Polari is also touring the country again this year. Here are the details in brief. For performers and more information see the Polari Salon listings.

  • Sep 22 – Bishops Stortford Library
  • Sep 28 – Printworks, Hastings
  • Oct 14 – Marlborough Theatre, Brighton
  • Oct 21 – Nottingham Writers’ Studio
  • Nov 4 – Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
  • Nov 11 – Ideas Store, Tower Hamlets
  • Nov 15 – Hove Library
  • Nov 18 – Grand Theatre, Blackpool
  • Nov 19 – MAC Birmingham
  • Nov 21 – Fruit Space, Hull
  • Nov 23 – Newcastle City Library
  • Nov 25 – End of tour at Southbank Centre, London

TheRetreatFinally, it’s always nice to have a freebie. Jane Retzig has released her novel The Retreat in audio which is available from Audible.

To celebrate its launch she has several free copies to give away. Be quick and email her at  janeretzig @ gmail.com if you want to win a copy.

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Phew! That’s all folks!

News roundup

15 Jul

It’s a topsy turvy week when Britain puts forward the Blonde Bombshell Boris Johnson as the face of UK diplomacy, but things have been a little more sane in lesfic land.

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GCLS clean logoCold to the TouchTo start with, that talented writer Cari Hunter got what her books deserve at the Golden Crown Literary Society Awards this week when she was awarded the best Crime novel. Both books one and two of her Dark Peak Series made the short list but Cold to the Touch came out on top. Congratulations Cari!

No other Brits won awards this time. Maybe Boris can put a good word in for us when he nips over to see Hills.

On to forthcoming books.

BeforeKE Payne is done checking the proofs for her new YA romance Before.

The novel will be out in September and here’s the blurb:

When the confident, determined Alex Brody joins the successful band Be4, sparks fly between her and her bandmates, none more so than with Tally Mullins. But as their success continues and Tally learns more about Alex, her dislike turns to admiration. Soon Tally finds out that there’s far more to Alex than she first thought.

AllIWantForSummerClare Lydon continues the adventures of Toni and Holly in the next of the All I Want series.

The next installment, All I Want for Summer, is out in two weeks. No blurb yet, but watch this space. Not this space literally. But that kind of space, or thereabouts in the next news. I digress….

Meanwhile, we do have a blurb for Jody Klaire’s Hindsight. This is part of the Above and Beyond series, and here’s that blurb in this space:

hindsightEscaping your past isn’t always easy. Aeron Lorelei gets a vision that her general and close friend, Ursula Frei, has been captured and seriously hurt but Aeron doesn’t know by who, where and why. All she knows is that Frei is getting weaker and they have to find her… fast. So Aeron and her commander, Renee Black, set out on the trail using the only information they have to go on: the memories of Frei’s past which are triggered when Aeron touches a padlock, a padlock that shows the depth of the scars Frei holds inside. As the memories get more vivid and Aeron’s still dimmed burdens begin to drain her, Renee is faced with losing both the women she adores. But, the memories begin to point to just why Frei is missing and Renee faces the decision to keep faith in Aeron’s “burdens,” and what her own heart is telling her, or pull Aeron out and lose Frei, her best friend and the woman who once saved her life.

Hindsight will be out in August and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

poppy jenkinsOn to reviews and the Romantic Reader enjoyed Clare Ashton’s sunny tale of romance in mid-Wales.

“This book is a true gem. For the very first pages you are taken by the beauty of the Welsh village as much as the main character Poppy. You become invested in the characters, rooting for their triumphs, and sharing their sadness. Poppy Jenkins is not the book to pass on. This one will steal your heart. Good luck on getting that back!”

You can read the rest of the review here.

heart of the packAnd Jenny Frame’s hairy tale of love, Heart of the Pack, was reviewed on Inked Rainbow Reads:

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the first page! I was pulled into the story and couldn’t put it down. The romance between the two women was beautifully written. I loved finding out about the pack and meeting many of them. The pack dynamic they have is so interesting. I wouldn’t mind moving there!”

Read the full review here and also catch Jenny reading from the Heart of the Pack on the Lesbian Talk Show podcast.

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PolariOnSeaLastA couple of reminders before I go and check the news and inadvertently extend the kids’ vocabulary in an unfortunate way.

It’s the last Polari on Sea event on Wednesday the 27th July with an impressive lineup including Maureen Duffy and VG Lee.

It will be held in the evening at the Printworks in Hastings and you can get more information and tickets here.

The-Club-by-A.L.-BrooksAnd a quick reminder about new books.

The Club by AL Brooks is available now from the Ylva site and from Amazon on the 20th (pre-order is available).

What kind of club do you think those two gals have joined…?

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Toodle-pip!

 

News Roundup: New Novels from Clare Ashton & Gill McKnight, New Author Neve Fontaine, Events, Reviews & More!

2 Jul

It’s no understatement to say that a hell of a lot can happen in a couple of weeks. If – like us – you’re feeling the urge to batten down the hatches, duck beneath a duvet, and shut out the rest of the world, then perhaps we can brighten your outlook somewhat with this fortnight’s news (which, I can assure you, will contain no mention of beleaguered politicians, referendum reruns, financial meltdown, or Boris bloody Johnson.)

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poppy jenkinsIf you want a cheerful summery read to take under those covers with you, then look no further than Clare Ashton‘s latest release Poppy Jenkins which is currently flying high at the top of the UK LesFic charts:

Two old friends, one hot summer, a whole load of confusion.

Poppy Jenkins makes everyone smile. She’s the heart of Wells, a beautiful village in mid-Wales, leaving light and laughter in her wake. She has a doting family, an errant dog and a little sister with a nose for mischief. But she’s the only gay in the village and it’s a long time since she kissed a girl: the chance of romance in sleepy Wells is rarer than a barking sheep.

If she doesn’t think too hard, life is cosy, until a smart sports car barrels into town with the last woman Poppy wants to see behind the wheel. Beautiful Rosalyn Thorn was once Poppy’s high school BFF even though she was trouble. Then one day she abandoned Wells and Poppy without explanation. Now the highflier is back and bound to cause fresh havoc in the village and with Poppy’s heart; folk are not happy.

Wells needs to wake up to the 21st century and Rosalyn can help, but old prejudices die hard. If they can be friends it could be the chance to make everyone’s happy ever after. Couldn’t it?

Clare has been chatting about the inspiration behind Poppy Jenkins and its setting over at the Women & Words blog:

I grew up in Mid-Wales, a beautiful green country of rolling hills and picturesque castles with fresh air a plenty. It drove me bonkers. As a teenager I thought it the most frustrating place on the planet. So did all my friends and we sat on the common room sofa at school dreaming of places we’d rather be…

Read the full piece by clicking on the link, and the book has also been reviewed over at the Lesbian Reading Room:

But beyond all of that this is a most exquisite piece of writing. The language is fulsome, rounded and glorious. The sentences flow across the page and into your heart and mind with genuine elegance… It is, genuinely, a modest and tender romance, but suffused with a tone of voice and love of language which makes it feel like so much more.

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dangling fishNext up is a new author, Neve Fontaine, who was born and bred in South Yorkshire. Neve released her debut novel A Dangling Fish last December. I’ve added Neve’s bio to our Author page, and you can find out more about her over at her blog.

The blurb for A Dangling Fish goes like this:

Gabbi Sinclair is trying to pick up the pieces after a failed relationship and, though she doesn’t realise it at first, the hang-ups it’s left her with about women. She decides the best thing to do is pick up that life, and attempt to claw back the lost years of her youth, where it was a decade ago. Where better to do it than a Greek island full of women. Easy enough, right?

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There seems to be a growing trend for multi-author series at the moment, and August 10th will see the publication of Gill McKnight‘s novella Daughter of Baal which is book three in the five book Law Game series (the other four books are all scheduled to be released on the same date.)

daughter of baalA 1920’s society wedding attended by the richest and most fashionable people possible ends in murder. Lady Margo, top sleuth and Maid of Honour suspects there is more to it than the ‘curse’ of the stolen idol in the garden grotto. The Clamp family have been looting the Middle East of archaeological finds for decades, could the culprit be a rival for this lucrative and illegal trade, or more likely has a love triangle gone horribly wrong.

As the weekend unfolds Lady Margo, and her trusted servant and chauffer, Jones, find a house full of secrets and lies. From the elite guests upstairs to the lowest estate worker, no-one is as they seem and none can be trusted.
And through it all, the Daughter of Baal watches with a knowing grin.

Gill has also been blogging about her current release Welcome to the Wallops with her Five Things You Should Know About Welcome to the Wallops feature:

1- It’s a contemporary romance. I haven’t written one of those since forever, they tend to bore me as there’s no werewolves, ghosts, or villainy. In fact, the only other contemp rom I’ve written was my debut novel Falling Star, everything else has been tampered with werewolves, ghosts, and villainy.

Catch up with the remaining four facts at the link.

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dapperWe shared the cover for Jenny Frame’s new erotic short story Dapper a few weeks ago, and its blurb is now up on the Bold Strokes website. The story is due for release in September and, according to Jenny, it is “burning hot!”

Amelia Honey, cutter and suit designer at an exclusive London Savile Row tailor, is happy with her professional life, but her love life is barren and cold. When she is asked to stand in for her boss’s private appointment with the mysterious Byron De Brek, she couldn’t be more excited—or nervous. Byron is the perfect example of a dapper butch, and someone who fuels Amelia’s darkest fantasies.

Will she follow Byron’s lead and explore those darker needs, or will she run away from what her heart and her body truly hunger for?

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The-Club-by-A.L.-BrooksFirst time author A.L. Brooks has launched a new website and will be appearing at this year’s LFest (to be held July 17th-20th). As if that’s not keeping her busy enough, she will also be hosting a launch party for her debut novel, The Club. The event will be held at The Loft, Players Bar, Charing Cross Theatre, on July 22nd (19.00-22.00):

To celebrate the publication of my debut novel, The Club, I’m hosting a little soiree. Glass of Prosecco as you arrive, nibbly buffet food to munch on, and general all-round happiness throughout the evening. All welcome!

See this Facebook events page for more info.

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bsb_the_temple_at_landfall__81031Finally this week, the first in Jane Fletcher’s Celaeno series, The Temple at Landfall, is now available as an audio book. Originally published in 1999 by Dimsdale Press (as The World Celaeno Chose), the book was republished by Bold Strokes in 2005, and was followed by four sequels. Its short and sweet blurb reads like this:

Lynn feels more like a prisoner than the chosen of the Goddess. Transfer to another temple is her chance to taste a little freedom on the journey, but all does not go to plan and her dull life is shattered by the dangers and choices that await her.

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And that’s about yer lot. Hopefully it’ll tide you over for the next couple of weeks assuming, of course, that the sky doesn’t fall in the meantime…