Rachel Spangler – Perfect Pairing

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Hal Orion is an accomplished chef and food truck owner. She loves her life, her longtime sous chef and best friend, and the food she shares with the residents of her beloved city of Buffalo. Her life is exactly how she wants it: no strings, no commitments, no roots- just great grilled cheese and a whole lot of freedom on the side.

Quinn Banning is an investment banker, and the dividend she seeks is a resurgence of the once-great city of Buffalo. Putting together her next business venture, she recognizes Hal’s talent and charm as necessary assets for success- her good looks don’t hurt, either. But Hal’s transient ways are in direct opposition to the stability Quinn craves. Relying on their shared love of Buffalo, Quinn makes Hal an offer she can’t refuse- a restaurant under her own name, complete creative control, and secure financial backing. It’s every chef’s dream. But Hal utters the one word Quinn can’t stand to hear, “No.”

Will their physical attraction grow cold as they argue over their ideals, or will they find that the most distinctive ingredients often make for the perfect pairing?

REVIEW
What’s up with all these lesbian authors and their sinfully delicious food descriptors?! I feel like I need to hit the gym a few extra hours after reading through their novels. Seriously! Packing on the literary pounds here reading about all this food.

In Perfect Pairing, Rachel Spangler brings out her inner-chef to cook a mouthwatering story for her readers. Sausage + Maple Syrup, Chocolate + Bacon, Beef Jerky + Rolo, Mac&Cheese + Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Banana + Peanut Butter, French Fries + Vanilla Ice Cream… Foods that are independently yummy, but explosively tasty when they’re paired together in a way that isn’t easily assumed. This would best describe the two protagonists in Perfect Pairing.. Where opposites attract and together create an exquisite entree of luuurve.

At first glance, Quinn and Hal couldn’t be any more different. Spangler presents an interesting juxtaposition in lifestyle and position for the two main protagonists in the story. Quinn, banker-extraordinaire, dresses like she’s going sailing when she’s in casual-ware. Stability, for her, is everything and she keeps her feet firmly fixed to the ground. Hal, chef-extraordinaire looks more like she just rolled out of bed in the morning and lives a nomadic existence. Quinn presents an offer that she assumes Hal can’t refuse, but when she does, she makes every effort to try and convince Hal to see things her way and stay in one place. Hal would much rather have her four-wheeled freedom and tells Quinn to take a hike. But Hal’s stubbornness has met its match in Quinn’s tenacity. These two have a lot to learn from each other, and initial appearances and impressions can sometimes be deceiving. They eventually find out that they have a lot more in common than they expected and the ways Hal and Quinn discover each other will keep you turning its pages.

This was my first Spangler novel and holy-moley, did it make me hungry for more! The chemistry between the main characters Hal (aka “Fryboi”) and Quinn sizzle like hot bacon in a pan from start to finish. This perfect pairing is definitely one that you won’t want to miss!

Bon Appetite!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back
2. Natalie Merchant – Torn
3. Nsync – Girlfriend
4. Merril Bainbridge – Mouth
5. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
6. Britney Spears – Sometimes
7. Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home
8. Melanie C – Reason
9. JC Chasez – Lose Myself
10. Justin Timberlake – (Another Song) All Over Again
11. Backstreet Boys – Don’t Wanna Lose You Now
12. Sarah McLachlan – Ice Cream
13. Melanie C – Water

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

MICHELADA
-3 oz of tomato juice
-12 oz of Mexican-style beer (I recommend Modelo Especial)
-1 lime
-4 dashes of Tabasco
-2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
-2 dashes of Maggi
-Tajin
-2 cups of ice

Rim the glass with Tajin. Fill the glass with ice, squeeze the lime juice over the ice, tomato juice and beer. Add Worcestershire sauce, Maggi and Tabasco, and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel on top.

Harper Bliss – The Road to You

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Workaholic Katherine and free-spirited singer Ali have disliked each other since college. Fate, however, keeps bringing them together and the paths of their lives keep crossing. Are some differences in personality simply too vast to overcome? Or are some things just meant to be? 

REVIEW
Ever heard of the joke… What does a lesbian bring on the second date?

This may be an over-generalization, but the progression of love and romance between lesbians is Looney Tunes Roadrunner fast. What’s an example of a potentially lesbifastandfurious relationship?

Week 1: Two lesbians bump into each other at the local IKEA. They reach for the same wonderfully Scandinavian-patterned duvet cover, make heavy eye contact, and are instantly smitten with each other. Within a few hours, they’re exclusively dating. They’re Facebook official.
Week 2: Those three little words have been exchanged. All is right in the world. Everything is hearts. Lovely hearts. K + A = 4Ever 143-637 ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Week 3: The wheels on the  UHaul go round and round. They’re now sharing the Scandinavian-patterned duvet cover under the same roof, and they’ve adopted a cute domestic short-hair from the local animal rescue and named him Ingvar.

Thankfully, this love story doesn’t play into that hand. The Road to You is a slow-burn romance that develops, not during the course of days, weeks, months or years… but decades.

The beginning of Katherine and Ali is less than ideal, to say the least. They both find each other in compromising positions (literally), and from the very start, it’s a love-hate sort of thang. But as they say, there’s a very thin line. In every chance encounter over the course of nearly two decades, the air is always thick with tension and red-hot chemistry between Ali and Katherine. There’s a push-pull dynamic between the characters and because of the nature of this interaction, neither end up in the dreaded “friend zone” with the other.

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For the readers, the underlying attraction between the two characters always feels like it’s only one or two stitches away from bursting at the seams. When the stars finally align and every moment that they’ve experienced together and apart map them to the most important moment of their lives, you’ll be jumping out of your skin to see what happens next.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un m’a dit
2. KD Lang – Constant Craving
3. Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine
4. Brandi Carlile – Dreams
5. KT Tunstall – Other Side of the World
6. Meiko – Reasons to Love You
7. India Arie – Ready For Love
8. Ani DiFranco – The Whole Night
9. Tracy Chapman – The Promise
10. Shawn Colvin – When You Know
11. Indigo Girls – Power of Two

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with an….

ANGEL’S ENVY KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY

BL Miller – Accidental Love

AccidentalLove

What happens when love is based on deception? Can it survive discovering the truth? Accidental Love is a captivating story between Rose Grayson, a destitute lonely young woman and Veronica Cartwright, head of a vast family empire and extraordinarily rich. A horrific accident brings them together, but will the truth end up tearing them apart?

REVIEW
BL Miller sure knows how to write a dramatic love story. This book has the characteristics of a traditional romance: heroine grows up under unfortunate circumstances due to status, money, broken family, etc. leaving her vulnerable, and a Knight in Shining Armor rides in to save the day. Except, the “Knight” in Accidental Love has a dark secret. You’ll be at the edge of your seat for this one.

This novel is lengthier than most in the genre, and you’ll experience a lot of highs and lows through the past and present of both characters. Financially, the characters are from opposite ends of the spectrum. Veronica’s got the big bucks and Rose hardly has two dimes to rub together. But both have a common history of having people in their lives take advantage of their generosity. This makes the reciprocation of love and affection between Rose and Veronica that much more tender, sweet, and genuine. Accidental Love is a novel that’s emotionally rich and readers experience the depth of feeling from both character from the trials and tribulations they face.

Oh, and I’d like to mention that there’s a cute cat in the novel. Everyone knows that lesbians luuuuurve cats. I can say that because I fit that stereotype to the tee. And don’t even get my started on (byname for cat) jokes. I could literally go on forever. Meeeeee-yowwwww!

The story’s great, the characters are well developed, the sex scenes will make you blush, and there are enough twists in the plot line that will keep you interested from Chapter 1 to Chapter 27. Just make sure your air-conditioner works before you turn the cover to the first page.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Duran Duran – Come Undone
2. Tears for Fears – Head Over Heels
3. REO Speedwagon – Can’t Fight This Feeling
4. Depeche Mode – Somebody
5. 10,000 Maniacs – Because The Night
6. Aerosmith – Amazing
7. Duran Duran – Ordinary World
8. Cranberries – When You’re Gone
9. Madonna – I’ll Remember
10. Chicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry
11. Journey – Faithfully
12. Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

SHOCK TOP BELGIAN WHITE

KL Hughes – Popcorn Love

Popcorn Love

A prominent figure amongst New York City’s fashion elite, Elena Vega is a successful businesswoman and single mother to an adorable three-year-old son, Lucas.  Her love life, however, is lacking, as those closest to her keep pointing out.  At the persistent urging of her closest friend, Elena reluctantly agrees to a string of blind dates if she can find a suitable babysitter for Lucas.  Enter Allison Sawyer, a free-spirited senior at New York University.  Elena is intrigued by Allison’s ability to push her out of her element, and the young woman’s instant and easy connection with normally shy Lucas quickly earns Allison the job.  After each blind date, Elena returns home to complain to Allison about her lacking suitors.  As they bond, Elena begins to realize that the person possessing all the qualities she most desires might just be the woman who has been in front of her the entire time.  The vast difference between the two women’s social statuses, however, may be an obstacle not easily overcome.  

REVIEW
If I was limited to using only one word to describe this book, it would be CUTE. The story-line is cute, the kid in the book is cute… an overload of cuteness. It’s so cute that the only thing that I hear right now is my biological clock ticking. This book would really make a fantastic movie. I’d imagine it would fit nicely in the same category as About a Boy and Maid in Manhattan. It has all the ingredients of a feel-good romantic comedy, including an amusing little meet cute.

“When I was your age, all we had were depressing lesbian books and movies.. like The Well of LonelinessLost and Delirious and Kissing Jessica Stein.”  Can I say how glad I am that we’ve moved past that era and that our stories are more varied?  The tone of Popcorn Love is very lighthearted.  It’s not heavy on drama and angst, and it has a happy ending.  I’m a sucker for happy endings.

What kinda irked me about this book, was when Elena would refer to Allison as “dear”. “Dear” is only acceptable if there’s an age difference in decades, if it’s coming from a grandmother, and… this is critical… if it’s coming from someone who is NOT, I repeat, NOT your lover! If my future girlfriend calls me “dear”, I will run out of that relationship with my born-again virginity intact. “Sweetie” is cute. “Honey” is borderline. “Dear” is just creepy as hell.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a cozy, quick read, I recommend picking up Popcorn Love.  I’ll definitely be reading Hughes’ other novels.

SOUNDTRACK
1.  Bjork – There’s More to Life Than This
2.  Andy Grammar – Keep Your Head Up
3.  Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel
4.  Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
5.  Carly Rae Jepsen – Gimmie Love
6.  Grimes – Go
7.  Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning
8.  Goldford – Upside Down
9.  Peter Salett – Heart of Mine
10.  John Mayer – Love is a Verb

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

KARL STRAUSS’ PEANUT BUTTER STOUT

Melissa Brayden – Ready or Not

Ready or Not

Sometimes wrong is extra right.

Mallory Spencer is in charge. As the face of Soho Savvy, the advertising firm she owns with her three best friends, it’s important that she’s poised, polished, and put together. However, as she watches her friends couple up and settle down, she wonders about her own happily ever after. One thing’s for sure, it’s not going to happen with that blue-eyed bartender from Showplace. It’s irritatingly clear they couldn’t be more wrong for each other… or have more chemistry.

Hope Sanders wants nothing more than to keep her head down and craft a better life for herself running everyone’s favorite nightspot. That means ignoring the groupies that flock to the bar to stare at her all night. However, an uptight brunette has snagged Hope’s attention and she knows a challenge when she sees it.

REVIEW
Can you imagine how excited I was when I found out this book was being shipped to my house two weeks earlier than originally scheduled? Two words: Christmas Morning… THAT EXCITED! The nearly six months that I waited between Just Three Words and Ready or Not was excruciating. It was almost as painful as waiting for the season 7 premiere of Bones. Emily Deschanel….*Fanning Myself*. God, I love that show.

For some reason, paperback was the only available format on pre-order from Amazon. I usually like to read novels on my Kindle, since reading the analog version (hehe) forces me to switch to a million different positions to stay comfortable. The only drawback on a Kindle is that if you fall asleep while reading, it really hurts when it smacks you in the face. What can I say, I like to live on the edge.

Two hours and five million positions later, I was both very satisfied and immensely sad. I was satisfied because the book met my expectations, BUT I was sad because the series came to an end. Does anyone think that I can convince Melissa Brayden to pull a Star Wars and maybe… just maybe… come out with three more books for the Soho Loft series? A girl can dream.

I have to admit, Mallory was my least favorite Soho Savvy girl. If I had to give an analogy of Mallory, she’s like the voice of reason in my head when I’m thinking about changing my dessert order from brownie to brownie a la mode during the time that I’m on a diet. In other words, I HATED Mallory Spencer. Mallory was too rational, too stuffy, too conservative, and too much of a realist to be likable. One of the main reasons why Ready or Not was so gratifying was because of the progression of Mallory’s character growth. I gradually warmed up to Mallory, and this story was pretty clear on its message that looks can be deceiving. As Mallory started to see Hope in more than one dimension, the readers start to see more than one dimension in Mallory.

I wish that the story was fifty pages longer, which would’ve helped the pace of the novel in the final chapters. Towards the end, it did feel a bit rushed. But overall, I was happy with how the author packaged and delivered the series. The gift of the ending was dressed with a nice little bow. You can read the book by itself, but I would recommend starting at the beginning of the Soho Loft series, Kiss The Girl.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo – Lets Go
2. Passion Pit – Take a Walk
3. Cathedrals – Harlem
4. Miguel – Coffee
5. Sade – Smooth Operator
6. Timeflies – Stuck With Me
7. Death Cab for Cutie – A Lack of Color
8. Goldford – Upside Down
9. Laura Welsh feat. John Legend – Hardest Part
10. Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights
11. Bill Withers – Lean on Me

CHEERS!
This book is best read with a…

MOJITO
-10 fresh mint leaves
-1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
-2 tablespoons of sugar syrup
-1/2 cup of club soda
-1 1/2 fluid oz of white rum (or 3, if you dare)
-1 cup of ice cubes

Place the mint leaves and 1 lime wedge in a glass. Use the muddler to crush the sh*t out of the mint and lime. Add 2 more lime wedges and the simple syrup. Muddle the sh*t out of it again. Add the ice, then the rum, then the carbonated water. You’ll never have to worry about bad breath.

Melissa Brayden – Just Three Words

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Sometimes the one you want is the one you least suspect…

Accountant Samantha Ennis craves order and structure. As the bookkeeper at the boutique advertising agency she owns with her three best friends, it’s her job to apply logic to the chaos. When one of those best friends, laid back Hunter Blair, moves in to share her loft apartment, Sam’s carefully organized world is throw wildly askew.

Hunter Blair’s been the coolest one in the room since elementary school. Until recently, her biggest worry in the world was which of the girls in her cell phone to call on a Saturday night. But it’s not long before Samantha sparks a fire in Hunter that has her questioning her old habits and longing for new ones.

Isn’t it a bad idea to fall for one of you best friends? Samantha and Hunter are about to find out.

REVIEW
This is my favorite kind of story; a romantic love that gradually blooms from a friendship. In my opinion, this is the best kind of love… but a complicated one, especially within the lesbian community. I live in Los Angeles and I’ve had my fair share, and also seen a fair share (too much, really), of friends turned lovers into ex-lovers, then turned lovers with ex-lovers of friends, then turned enemies into friends of lovers, and all the “fun” and “exciting” variations and dynamics that come with it. Ever heard of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The lesbian version is “Zero Degrees of Ellen DeGeneres”, which can make things very VERY frigid, even in sunny California.

But moving on with the review….

If Hunter were cast for the L-Word, she would definitely be Shane: the effortlessly cool, sexy player type. And if I had to choose to live vicariously through any of the characters in the Soho Loft series, Hunter would be my choice. This fictional character gets more action than my realistic one (realistic, meaning ME). What happens when free-spirited Hunter starts rooming with her best friend Samantha, the queen of schedules and structure who firmly believes that everything has a designated place? Dynamic chemistry. These two polar opposites bring each other out of her own little comfort zone. Hunter learns where to put the big knives, and Samantha learns to tree-pose. You’ll get the reference once you finish the book.

It’s an unconventional romance in conventional circumstances. From the Soho Loft series, this was my absolute favorite, but it really has nothing to do with the writing quality. It’s mostly just personal preference. It’s a very sweet story, and it was easy for me to get lost in the romance between these two characters. Read it and share it with your closest gal pals!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Walk the Moon – Shiver Shiver
2. Usher – DJ Got Us Fallin In Love
3. Beatles – Blackbird
4. Lauren O’Connell – House of the Rising Sun
5. Magnet – Lay Lady Lay
6. The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still
7. Frank Sinatra – The Way You Look Tonight
8. Ne-Yo – Let Me Get This Right
9. Louis Armstrong – La Vie En Rose
10. Tegan and Sara – Love They Say

CHEERS!
This book is best read with an….

ITALIAN GRAPE JUICE SOUR
-1 oz vodka (the good kind)
-1 barspoon of Amaretto
-2 oz of white grape juice
-1 barspoon of lemon juice
-lemon wheel and green grapes for garnish

Place all of the ingredients, minus lemon wheel and green grapes, into a shaker with ice. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish. Pucker up!

Melissa Brayden – Kiss The Girl

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Sleeping with the enemy has never been so complicated.

Twenty-eight-year-old Brooklyn Campbell is having a bad day. A speeding ticket, and a broken heel are all working against her laid-back vibe. To top it all off, her birth mother, whom she’s never met, has requested contact. The only bright spot is an impromptu date with a beautiful and mysterious brunette.

Jessica Lennox is what you would call a high-powered executive. She’s the head of a multi-million dollar advertising firm in New York City, and it didn’t happen by accident. But when the blond head turner from the wine bistro turns out to be her number one competitor, her life gets infinitely more complex.

Is New York big enough for both Brooklyn and Jessica? Maybe it’s just time they experienced it together..

REVIEW
Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, Radclyffe, Robin Alexander, Georgia Beers, Jae, Fannie Flagg, Gerri Hill… If there was a Hall of Fame for lesbian writers, a plaque with their pictures would be tacked against a wall, forever immortalized. Melissa Brayden is a few books shy of plaque-status. She’s a FAST rising star and almost all of her books have been a home run. Kiss The Girl is no exception, and would be a wonderful introduction to her writing style and stories.

What I love about this book (and this series) is how relate-able the main characters are. I bet that all of us, gay or straight, can list at least ten people that have something in common with Brooklyn or Jessica. They’re strong, smart, competent women. There really needs to be more novels written with this type of characterization. I just wish that the author gave a little more insight and background into Jessica; what makes Jessica, Jessica.

The novel had a nice, consistent pace. There weren’t really any parts that were slower than others. It was engaging, and humorous, and it was finished in one sitting.

If I had to compare the novel and the Soho Loft Series (Kiss the Girl, Just Three Words, Ready or Not) to a TV series, it would definitely be Sex And The City. It has a very light and comfortable feel, and it’s perfect for a poolside read.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Jem – It’s Amazing
2. Everything But The Girl – Five Fathoms
3. Verite – Colors
4. Cole Plante – Before I’m Yours
5. Ivy – Edge of the Ocean
6. Samantha James – Rise
7. Sia – Day Too Soon
8. Sophia Black – Anchor
9. Azure Ray – Across The Ocean
10. Billie Holiday – I’ll Be Seeing You
11. Tori Amos – A Sorta Fairytale

CHEERS!
This book is best read with a….

CUCUMBER MARTINI
-2 oz of vodka (use the good kind!!)
-1/4 oz of lime juice (1/4 lime)
-3 slices of fresh cucumber
-2 mint leaves
-1/2 oz of simple syrup

In a shaker, add the 1 cucumber slice and 1 mint lead and crush with a spoon. Add ice, vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup and shake shake shake. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the remaining cucumber slices and mint leaf. Oh you fancy huh