The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter

What is it about an ice queen that makes a story so delectable? I mean truly, I have a thing for this character trope. Judge away, I do not care! I am always intrigued by that main character with that frosty alpha bitch exterior. When you think about it, or at least when I do, some of my most beloved characters and books in the lesbian romance genre have that ice queen that will thaw only for her one true love theme. Why am I rambling on, because Lee Winter writes ice queens like nobody else.

Elena Bartell is a downright shark, this media mogul has a reputation taking no prisoners. You are either excellent or you are gone. She owns newspapers all over the world, waiting for them to go almost belly-up then she swoops in and either turns them around or liquidates everything. She does this all the while running a renowned fashion magazine. Elena comes off as she has tolerance for no one, even her husband she keeps at arm’s length. Everything is business and she keeps her mask firmly in place. This woman will absolutely eviscerate anyone who gets in her way. That is until she is “pestered” by her newly acquired night beat reporter.

Maddie Grey hates New York City. She begrudgingly admits it to everyone except for her Aussie friends and family back home in Sydney. Maddie won the green card lottery and had her dream opportunity to move to NYC and try her hand at becoming a crime reporter. Now, living the “dream” she hates, her only opportunity to be a journalist is working the night beat writing obits and rifling around for stories that someone on the day shift will get to flesh out. Then Elena Bartell shows up and Maddie is almost certain she’s getting a pink slip, especially when they get off on the wrong foot almost immediately.

From the get-go, these two characters challenge each other. Maddie fires back at Elena like no one else would dare and it almost endears the woman to her. No one ever dares talks back to her, I mean this woman is dismissive and vicious almost all the time. The two protagonists clash in so many ways but also have so much in common. In a way, they see the loneliness in the other. Elena is struck by Maddie wanting nothing from her but a friendship of sorts, while Maddie the ever curious journalist finds Elena downright fascinating. She wants to scrape the boss’s exterior mask to find out the heart of the cold and ruthless businesswoman.

Winter keeps the tension taunt for the majority of the book. A long, long slow captivating burn. The tension in this one is like pulling a rubber band till it will stretch no more. Angst galore and it to me it absolutely works. If you loved the Red Files, I promise you this is right up your alley. (If you haven’t read that one, pick it and this one up. You will not regret it!) Everything about this book is done right. The writing is crisp, the characters, well they were amazing and the dialogue could go from biting to amusing at the flip of a page. A damn fine read.

Who’s your favorite ice queen?

5 out of 5 stars

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Love After Hours (A Rivers Community Romance, #4)

This book is good! Damn good, to be quite honest. This book is Radclyffe at her very best. She weaves a story with strong characters that have heart and soul and just enough angst and tension to keep you captivated. This is hands down the best of the Rivers Community Romance Series.

Carrie Longmire is back and in the forefront of this one. Carrie is super-efficient at her job and basically everything she does. Not wanting to settle for anything than true love, Carrie patiently awaits for the one to show up. She fine to flirt and casually date, but anything more is out of the question unless love is in the air.

Gina Antonelli had one tragedy turn her life upside down. An accident, when she was a teen, took the life of her childhood friend and first love. Gina bears the weight of that moment every day and has basically shut down. She exists to work for her father’s construction company, and the job is all there is for her.

Carrie and Gina totally get off on the wrong foot and that makes for a tumultuous start. No this isn’t a love to hate romance, but they do spend some time trying to get their footing around each other. Add into the fact that they are both ridiculously attracted to each other, and you have for a fabulous beginning. There is heat, there is tension and its drawn out perfectly.

Add in the other fun and fascinating characters of Rivers and you have an amazing story. I am partial to Blake and Margie myself and I delighted that story weaves a bit of them into it as well. If you loved the Rivers series so far, this one is for you. This book has it all! If you haven’t read this series yet, well, I am a bit jealous of you because get ready for a great set of books.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Price of Cash by Ashley Bartlett

Last year when I read Cash Braddock I was floored by the story’s paradox. Cash is a drug dealer with a heart of gold. You cannot help but love her soft heart, funny quips and bucket loads of sarcasm. Her career of choice is reprehensible, absolutely. The thing about this character is she makes you care deeply for her and the predicament that she finds herself in knowing that it is wrong but finding ways to justify her actions. This year, Cash Braddock is back in the Price of Cash. Life has changed immensely for the character and her growth is palatable.

Warning: If you haven’t read the first book and you are thinking that you might. Stop reading this review!!! I’m about to spoil a big reveal in Cash Braddock. Go read it. It’s amazing, I totally promise!

Cash comes back in the Price of Cash heartbroken, pissed and despondent at the curveball life has thrown at her. 100% in love with Laurel all those feelings have to be pushed aside because her dream girl is actually an undercover police officer and now her handler. Cash must also take a good hard look at where her life is going. Is selling soft drugs any better for society as opposed to heroin or cocaine? A moral dilemma of epic proportions and one she will wrestle with throughout the story. Add to it that college students and former customers of Cash’s are now dead thanks to a new drug on the street.

While the book is written through Cash’s POV Laurel remains our other main character. As much as I love Cash, Laurel is the one I am most drawn to her. A stoic, tough law enforcement officer, Laurel struggles with her feelings for Cash. She absolutely wasn’t faking her feelings for her mark, more than anything she struggles with what to do with her attraction and love for Cash. She absolutely should not have these feelings but she cannot stop herself.

The chemistry between Cash and Laurel is fantastic. This match has tension, heartache that pulls you deep into their dilemma. You want them to go for it and damn the consequences. It is so good! The whole book is fantastic, the love story, the crime, supporting cast, really top notch. Ashley Bartlett has written a fabulous follow-up. I cannot say enough good things about this one. I am absolutely hooked on this series!

5 out of 5 stars

All the Ways to Here by Emily O’Beirne

Every time I pick up an Emily O’Beirne book I am spellbound on how she delivers amazing storylines, dazzling dialogue, and characters that you treasure long after the last page is turned.

Emily O’Beirne is the very best at what she does for a variety of reasons. Each book captivates me. Her characters are so developed you feel as if you personally know them. Their dialogue sounds and feels real. To me, dialogue is the make it or break it for a book. You can either write it or you can’t. To make it flow and feel real the whole way through, that takes a mega amount of skill, and this is a skill O’Beirne has in spades.

There are two authors that stand at the very top of this genre. Every single one of their books is fabulous. O’Beirne is one of the two. Am I biased? Yeah, I guess I am for the fact that I know when I open one of her books that I am going to be blown away by its awesomeness. I could read one of her books every single month and it still wouldn’t be enough. She writes the kind of books that you want to finish just so you can re-read it. Finish that baby and start right back at it again.

If you read Future Leaders of Nowhere and adored it as much as I did, this one is for you. Willa and Finn are back navigating the waters of demanding school work, home life, and their new relationship. What a great read, but even more so what amazing characters. Once again Emily O’Beirne steals your heart with another beautiful read.

5 out of 5 stars

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Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler

Well, Rachel Spangler did it. What you ask, what did she do? Wrote the best damn book ever, that’s what she did. In the past few weeks, I have read some of the best books all year. A year, quite frankly wasn’t that impressive in the lesbian romance genre. Somehow fall became explosive with amazing tales with fabulous characters in dazzling plots. It seems like every book I have read since September has just been so fantastic they make you literally stop and swoon. Greatness, followed by greatness. This book is different though, it is absolutely is one of the best books of the year but more than that, it is easily one of the best romance books I have EVER read.

First off I love the Olympics and pretty much all sports in general. With that being said, what I don’t want is ever read a how-to on playing said sport. Don’t worry, Rachel Spangler isn’t going to give you the ins and outs of downhill skiing or a dissertation on how to ride a snowboard. No way, she took me down the side of the mountain let me feel and see what the character does. You read this book you literally feel like your racing down the side of a mountain being pulled by G-forces as your stapped to two polycarbonate sticks. I was wrapped in those moments, spellbound. She doesn’t just write the sports aspect amazing well, no that’s not why we are here. The romance is the main attraction, and well, it’s just magical.

Elise Brandeis is an ice queen and then some. She is all business and her business is being the best alpine ski racer that the US and the world have ever seen. She has missed the Olympic podium twice by two-tenths of a second. Talk about painful. Now she has new obstacle to overcome, her body. After blowing out her knee, and multiple surgeries later, Elise is finally cleared to make the comeback of all comebacks. Never one for niceties, no one is going to stand in her way, even if they are trying to help.

Elise is a high-strung prima donna whose unwilling to compromise ever. She wants complete and total control of both her own body and her environment. She never wants to compromise or seem weak and it’s all to mask her vulnerability. She’s a unique character, and one I really enjoyed.

Corey LaCroix at the age of 30 is at the end of her career. She has been the best at Boardercross since the sport got onto the main stage. Corey is hardworking, loyal and lives her life 100% in the moment. Happy go lucky to a tee. This year is an Olympic year and Corey is feeling like her legs don’t have enough to fight off the competition. As hard as she works it may not be enough, but what she wants more than anything is another medal and a shot with the pricky Elise Brandis.

Time and time again Corey comes off as the loveable jock who takes all of the competitive pressure and Elise’s venom in stride. She is also a world-class motivator when she can get her skiing counterpart to listen. Corey has her weakness too, her rise to fame got her plenty of attention from women and tabloids and that past is not something she wants to be repeated.

So what you have is an epic story of conquering all odds combined with an epic love story. These two magnetic forces push each other away until the magnet is finally flipped over and they see each other’s true character. What Spangler does better than most is she creates these multi-faceted characters that jump off the page. Their individual back-stories are dynamic, their chemistry is palatable and you just can’t help but root for them and their success. This book is everything you could ever want. I truly loved this one. This will easily stand at the top of my all-time favorites.

5 stars, hell all the stars. I love this book!

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Strike a Match by Fiona Riley

Fiona Riley always gives us a good story. I can absolutely, unequivocally say I am a huge fan of her Match series. The first one was super romantic, the second adorably cute, the third well, awe holy hell it was HOT. Smoking hot!

Sasha McCray is a firefighter and sometimes bartender/waitress for a high-end catering company. She works her tail off to give her parents every penny she can. An accident involving a house fire decades ago left her father with a significant health issue that has compounded medical bill after medical bill. She is doing everything she can to keep her parents in their home and their worries at bay.

Abby Rossmore wouldn’t have to work a day in her life. This woman was born into one of the richest families in America. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t work though, quite the contrary. Abby has taken to running her family’s charitable foundation as the non-profit’s chief accountant. Abby doesn’t like the attention being a Davenport brings her. She never knows when she meets someone if they are interested in her, her money or her family’s connections.

Sasha and Abby end up meeting meet at a Lucinda and Samantha’s wedding. These two had met previously through book number two’s character Shelly’s date mixer. When they meet this time sparks fly with sexual tension. Abby is convinced Sasha is a womanizer and Sasha think Abby is just an accountant. With a whole lot of heat and a little bit of deceit, this book will make you fly through the pages. It’s sexy, it’s cute and it will hold your attention to the very last sentence. This is a fantastic book, with delightful characters, and chemistry for days. Like I said this book is smoking hot! 5 stars

5 out of 5 stars

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Making a Tinderbox (The Tinderbox Tales #1) by Emma Sterner-Radley

I don’t even know how to start with this one, but I am going to give it my best shot at articulating just how good this book was. One word summary, Wow. I was wowed, amazed, and totally spellbound by Making a Tinderbox. If I could read books like this one everyday life would be truly grand. This is one of those books you find and just turn to mush because it did everything right. It took hold of my heart and a sad as I was that the story was over, I was dazzled by its brilliance as well.

Lady Elisandrine ‘Elise’ Falk has been told by the queen that she is to marry the queen’s brother, Prince Macray in three months time. Elise, not being one to ever want to marry, especially to someone of the male persuasion is undeniably angry at the situation she has been put in. She is literally being locked in a castle until her wedding day. Elise is a character with smart, witty and a ton of spirit. She is never one to hold her tongue and it tends to land her in a heap of trouble.

Nessa Clay is the direct opposite of Elise. A commoner who has worked beside her parents in a small town, taking care of the crops to make ends meet. She is quiet, self-conscious with a bit of a stutter. What draws you to Nessa is that she is both selfless and gracious. A strong, stoic woman that when needed arrises to the occasion. When Neesa meets Elise, and Elise requests her help Nessa goes above and beyond to help the lady.

I think what really sets this book apart from so many others is how multi-layered it is. Sterner-Radley has given you a long detailed story. There are no cutting corners to save space, no rushed ending to warp it. The author takes her time and draws the characters out. Backstories are cleverly crafted, the scenes are set, and you feel the story and see it play out as you read along. What I loved most of all, and I am talking really, really fell in love with, is how the character’s chemistry between each other is just dynamite. It just jumps right off the page! You have sexiness, cuteness, agonizing angst and self-sacrifice all rolled into one epic adventure.

This is a book that has everything I look for and it does it to perfection. Fantastic characters, dazzling dialogue, a delicious plot full of adventure, angst, and romance. You cannot ask for more. Making a Tinderbox stole my heart from the very beginning and by the end I wanted to read it again.

***If I could give this six stars I would. How in the world have I read two books within a ten-day time span that have been this amazing? I have just been giving out 5 stars like nobody’s business.

5 out of 5 stars, but really a six!

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