Miranda Macleod – Your Name In Lights

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After eighteen years, the stars may have finally aligned to give Cecily and Rorie a second chance at happiness together. The trouble with stars, though: they don’t stay aligned for long.

As Cecily settles into her life in sunny California, she imagines her biggest challenge will be learning to take care of herself as a newly divorced mother and publicly out lesbian. The last thing she expects is to land the acting role of a lifetime. But is it worth being so far away from the loving support of her girlfriend and son?

Rorie is dismayed by the prospect of a long distance relationship, but there’s no time to dwell on it. Between stepping in as a surrogate parent and facing a family crisis of her own, she’s soon in over her head. Will Cecily ever be the true partner that Rorie needs?

Despite time, distance, and some persistent paparazzi, Cecily and Rorie have found in each other a love to last a lifetime, but only if they can learn to navigate the dual pressures of fame and family.

REVIEW
Cecily and Rorie are back! Your Name In Lights is book two of three in the Love’s Encore series. A Road Through Mountains was released this past spring, and the third installment, Fifty Percent Illusion is coming out in October. Three seasons of Miranda Macleod? Don’t mind if I do! Hey, Miranda… *Waves*… Maybe a Christmas short story starring Cecily and Rorie? Make it all four seasons? An encore for Love’s Encore?

It doesn’t hurt to try, right? 🙂

Fast forward six months from A Road Through Mountains: Cecily and Rorie finally have their second shot at luuuuurve and these two have a LOT of catching up to do. What would you do if you were separated from your true love for nearly twenty years? Maybe a better question would be, what wouldn’t you do? But as fate would have it, a hot minute after Cecily has finally settled in California, she’s already off to Portland for a once-in-a-lifetime acting gig that she can’t pass up. Meanwhile, Rorie has major mama drama that’s starting to brew, and it has the potential for changing life in a very drastic way. I’ll just leave it at that, so I don’t give anything away.

In Your Name In Lights, one of the things that I admired about Cecily was her tenacity to succeed. As she sets out on her new life in California, she’s determined to make it on her own, without having to rely on her inheritance and without relying on anyone else, including her new girlfriend. She’s not looking for handouts and she has pride and drive in creating her own success. Ooo girl, go on wit yo bad self.

Miranda Macleod also brings some interesting points for her readers to consider regarding the price of fame in this novel. Us non-celebrity folk don’t really have to worry about being followed by the paparazzi and having our pictures splattered on tabloid pages for the world to see. We don’t have millions of people who are watching us and scrutinizing our every word and action. Celebrities don’t have the luxury of leading private lives and are much more exposed and vulnerable to those that want to take advantage of their fame and wealth. It’s always easier to believe that the grass is greener on the other side, but there are always pros and cons to every place in life. Just as with the choices that we make, there’s always something to gain and something to lose in its place. Readers will have the opportunity of seeing the flipside of fame through the lives of Rorie and Cecily. Honestly, reading Your Name In Lights has made me a little more sympathetic towards celebrities. Money certainly doesn’t buy love or happiness.

As far as the writing for this novel, it’s exactly what you would expect from Miranda Macleod: entertaining and a pleasure to read. It was a bit slow to warm in the beginning, but it picks up the pace considerably towards the middle, and has a nice little cliffhanger at the end. I would recommend reading A Road Through Mountains and Your Name In Lights back to back. If you’ve already read A Road Through Mountains, take a quick skim before you dive into this novel. Sometimes, it helps to prep your palette before taking your next bite.

Another homerun from Miranda Macleod. I’m eager to read the final installment, Fifty Percent Illusion this fall!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend (Seeb Remix)
2. Maroon 5 – It Was Always You
3. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!
4. Calvin Harris – This Is What You Came For
5. Chainsmokers – Roses
6. Yuna – Best Love
7. St Lucia – All Eyes on You
8. Alicia Keys – How It Feels To Fly
9. Usher – Dive
10. Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

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

STRAWBERRY-BASIL BOURBONADE
-1.5 oz of McKenna bourbon
-0.75 oz of agave
-3 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-3 medium sized strawberries sliced
-5 basil leaves
-Ice

Muddle the basil leaves, agave, and strawberry into your mixing tin. Pour ice and the remaining ingredients into the mixing tin and shake whatcha mama gave ya.

Gerri Hill – Keepers of the Cave

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While the investigations go on in Dallas and Baton Rouge after the disappearance of a senator’s daughter, FBI agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley are assigned to the sleepy backwoods of East Texas for a dead-end assignment to infiltrate an all-girls school.

Random disappearances dating back fifty years and more raise red flags that point to a tiny, isolated community of Hoganville. But CJ and Paige fear there will be little distraction from the memories of the one-night stand they shared six months ago.

Nevertheless, they integrate themselves into the lives of the teachers and staff, but soon the odd behavior of the townspeople has them convinced something sinister lurks there. Something, perhaps, that even the residents of Hoganville don’t know about.

REVIEW
Who was your TV girl crush during the 90s? If your answer is Agent Dana Scully, then Gerri Hill’s Keepers of the Cave is right up your paranormal alley!

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Gillian Anderson… Hubba Hubba! ❤

Honestly, paranormal stuff scares the bejesus out of me. I am the absolute worst date to take to a spooky movie. I’ll spend the entire film curled up in fetal position with my ears plugged and my eyes closed. Spooky books are slightly less terrifying, since I have more control of the outside variables (i.e lighting, reading setting, background music). But that doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to sleep with the lights off that night. Despite scaredy-cat tendencies, I couldn’t put down Keepers of the Cave. This book is the ish!

Gerri Hill is a versatile writer who has perfected the pitch and tone for various subgenres within lesbian fiction: traditional romance, paranormal, thriller, crime, mystery. This novel is no exception to her all-encompassing delivery, and you’ll feel the hair raising above your neck as you fall deeper and deeper into the storyline. Keepers of the Cave is categorically a paranormal romance. There are elements in this novel that are extraordinarily unreal (the town of Hoganville, its people, the resident monster, etc.) and this creates an intriguing contrast to its central love story, which is much more conceivable in its cadence.

CJ and Paige’s love connection isn’t built upon the premise of fate and destiny. There’s an initial spark and attraction, but that doesn’t go much further until they’re forced to confront the nature of their connection directly while on assignment together. The back and forth between CJ and Paige as they navigate their way through their own feelings is refreshingly honest and direct. These two kick-ass women grow to love and respect each other, despite their differences and the potential complications that come when you’re working together and sleeping together. No rose-colored glasses here. They’re both well aware of what they like and dislike about each other, and these ladies are all in.

Readers, beware! This book will keep your eyes wide open and the midnight oil burning well into the night!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Mumford & Sons – The Cave
2. Hozier – Someone New
3. Coldplay – Sparks
4. Ray LaMontagne – Can I Stay
5. Death Cab for Cutie – Stay Young, Go Dancing
6. Mumford & Sons – Believe
7. Civil Wars – Same Old Same Old
8. Fleet Foxes – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
9. Of Monsters and Men – Dirty Paws
10. Civil Wars – Dust to Dust
11. Ray LaMontagne – Be Here Now
12. Kaleo – Way Down We Go
13. Iron & Wine – Woman King

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

PATRON SILVER TEQUILA

Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Everybody!

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

Miranda Macleod – A Road Through Mountains

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When Cecily Parker volunteers backstage at the Oakwood Theater, the only thing she wants is a few hours of relief from the doldrums of her upper-class suburban existence. The last thing she expects is to be reunited with the only person she ever truly loved, a woman she left behind almost twenty years ago. 

Rorie Mulloy has build a career as an award-winning production designer in Hollywood, but her personal life is anything but a success. When she agrees to design the sets for a community theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire in Connecticut, she has no idea that the woman who broke her heart and ruined her for love will be assigned to her crew.

As the sparks are rekindled between them, these star-crossed lovers just might have a second chance at love. But only if they can overcome the ghosts of their past, and survive the sometimes comic cast of characters determined to keep them from their happily ever after. 

REVIEW
Some people look forward to spring flowers or summer sun around this time of year. I look forward to ROYGBIV, since it’s….. (drumroll)…. PRIDE SEASON! Right now, my neighborhood (gayborhood, really) is bursting with color as businesses and residents pitch their rainbow flags and equality signs. It’s a wonderful feeling to enjoy brunch with your closest friends at a local breakfast cafe that supports LGBT. That’s something I never take for granted.

Pride Season is also when everyone “in the scene”, in the periphery, or out in hiding gather in one square mile to celebrate. We’re watching (or marching in) the parade together, line-dancing in the Country tent, guzzling down over-priced booze, and also… (dun dun dun) running into our ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriends). For those of us that have this experience, you know that it’s the MOST. AWKWARD. THING. EVER.

Cecily doesn’t run into Rorie at Pride but at a local theater, so it might as well be. 😉 There are few places that are as inclusive as a theater for those that are of the straight and non-straight persuasion.

In William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Jacque’s monologue that begins, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” is perfect in describing the succession of stages in Cecily’s perfectly planned life. She’s the lead actress who’s expected to play her role and move seamlessly from scene to scene: growing up, attending university, joining a sorority, marrying a rich husband, a house with a white picket fence, two children and a dog, etc. When Cecily meets Rorie, Cecily loses all her lines. The irony is that Rorie assumes that Cecily was only pretending with her, when the truth is really the exact opposite. Cecily has only been most authentically herself with Rorie. It’s only when Cecily goes back to her carefully scripted life without Rorie that she’s mindlessly going through the motions again.

Fortunately, fate brings Rorie and Cecily back together again after nearly two decades apart. What happens following that… Readers, you’ll just have to pick up this book and see for yourself! This is another fantastic novel by Miranda Macleod that you won’t wanna miss!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Michael Brun – Tongue Tied July
2. Jarryd James – Do You Remember
3. Kimbra – Two Way Street
4. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Stars
5. Lapsley – Hurt Me
6. Patrick Baker – Feel the Same
7. Sophia Black – OVR AGN
8. Rationale – Re.Up
9. JP Cooper – Colour Me In Gold
10. RAC & St. Lucia – Ready For It
11. Ruben Haze – City of Dreams
12. Wolf Gang – Lay Your Love Down
13. Chvrches – Warning Call
14. For The Foxes – Running Back To You
15. David Guetta feat. Zara Larsson – This One’s For You

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

SIDECAR
-2 oz of Cognac
-1 oz of Cointreau
-1 oz of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake shake shake until it’s chilled. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with a twist of an orange peel.

Suzie Carr – A New Leash on Life


When a hurricane blow through town and threaten the future of Olivia Clark’s animal shelter, she publicizes her desperate plea for help to the masses. Aid comes from a surprising source: Chloe Homestead. Olivia’s ex-girlfriend from thirteen years ago and the only girl Olivia has ever loved. Chloe, a self-made millionaire, offers to finance and manage the shelter’s repairs and operations, a gesture Olivia is in no position to refuse. Working intimately together to provide loving care to homeless animals, Olivia struggles to keep her composure in Chloe’s fun and flirty presence. As Olivia’s walls start to crumble, the past catches up to them. Chloe has a dark secret, a secret that she’s been carrying around for thirteen years. 

Will Chloe’s secret threaten the future of the shelter and the relationship she has worked so hard to restore?

This book delves deeply into the selfless world of dogs, animals, puppies, animal shelters, philanthropy, and family.

REVIEW
I can’t get enough of these novels featuring lesbians who work in animal shelters. Just! Can’t! Get! Enough! Almost immediately after reading Rescued Heart, I came across A New Leash on Life by Suzie Carr. You can tell almost immediately that this author is a die-hard animal-lover. If I was working for the HR department at ASPCA, you’d bet I’d be dialing her number. It’s heart-warming and gratifying to read and review well-written works of fiction that are not only great stories, but that also help bring awareness to its readers on current issues and causes in our world. One of the messages from this novel is clear: all animals deserve a whole lot of love and a happy home.

With novels, if there’s too much detail, readers get aggravated and/or bored and want to chuck the book before they’re done. If there’s too little detail, the story seems superficial and rushed. Suzie Carr has a well-balanced approach to her writing, so you won’t find any long-winded narration (like.. ahem, Charles Dickens) in her novels. She provides just the right amount of detail to keep readers engaged in the plot-line and the characters.

There’s plenty of angst and a closet full of skeletons just waiting to pop out and spook the shit out of the characters. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that Chloe was (and is) in quite the predicament and as the reader, you will eventually be able to understand why she made certain choices and sacrifices in her past. There’s a lot to be revealed and you’ll be eagerly anticipating what will happen once the blindfolds are off.

What I enjoyed about this novel is how beautifully human the main characters were portrayed as being, and how imperfectly perfect they are as they make their way back towards each other. Their situation is less than ideal (to say the least), but in the end, life has a mysterious way of fitting it all together. They are, to each other, exactly what they need from another and you’ll be rooting for them all the way.

SOUNDTRACK
1. The Strokes – Someday
2. Oasis – Wonderwall
3. The Killers – Change Your Mind
4. Morrissey – The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get
5. Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows
6. Keane – Bedshaped
7. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
8. Coldplay – Warning Sign
9. Foo Fighters – Walking After You
10. Vampire Weekend – Step
11. Smashing Pumpkins – Beautiful

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

BLUE MOON BELGIAN WHITE

Lyn Gardner – Ice

Ice

The last time Maggie Campbell and Alexandra Blake worked together, they both received two-week suspensions. This time… it’s worse. 

Ice begins when a boy is kidnapped from a London park and Detective Inspectors Alex Blake and Maggie Campbell are brought together to work on the case. While their goal is the same, their work ethics are not. Intelligent, perceptive and at times disobedient, Alex Blake does what she believes it takes to do her job. Maggie Campbell has a slightly different approach. She believes that rule books were written for a reason.

Unexpectedly, their dynamics mesh, but when her feelings for Alex become stronger than she wants to admit, Maggie provokes the worst in Alex to ensure that they will never be partners again. 

Three years later, fate brings them together again. Their assignment is simple, but a plane crash gets in their way. Now, in the middle of a blizzard, they have to try to survive… and fight the feelings that refuse to die.

REVIEW
Lyn Gardner, if you ever stumble across this blog, I have one question for you. When the HECK are you going to release another novel?!?!?! No pressure or anything, of course. 🙂 Your books are really a source of joy and uh… warmth, especially on cold winter nights. Readers, if you’ve read any of her novels, you know what I mean. *Nudge Nudge*

Almost immediately after I finished Give Me A Reason, I purchased Ice. True to Gardner’s style in Give Me A Reason, there is an intensity to the storyline and the characterizations. It’s not often that you come across characters that burn as hot as Maggie and Alex do in this story. Both are strong-willed and hard-headed and it adds fuel to the fire of their romance.

Sometimes, it takes a catastrophic situation to bend the will of a stubborn mind to accept and understand what the heart truly wants. Alex and Maggie are thrust into a circumstance that forces them to examine their feelings for each other. Trapped in a cabin, there’s no place to escape for those two. To add another level of complication to those feelings, Maggie has firmly identified herself as a person of the straight-persuasion, whereas Alex is definitely not of that variety nor wants to tangle herself with someone who is not out of the closet. Oh, feelings. Lots and lots of feelings. How the characters navigate through that landscape and find their way to each other makes this an immensely satisfying read. You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure.

Gardner certainly isn’t shy when she’s writing the intimate scenes between her characters in her novels. Has anyone ever played the fortune-cookie game? You get a fortune, and you add “in bed” to the end of it. For example, I might get a fortune that says, “Good things will come to you”. Just add “in bed” to the end of that, which makes the fortune read “Good things will come to you in bed”. I would suggest playing that game with this novel. It’s a guaranteed good time.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Duffy – Mercy
2. Cody Fry – Underground
3. Aquilo – Better Off Without You
4. Good Old War – Tell Me What You Want From Me
5. Alicia Keys – I Need You
6. Canopy Climbers – Far
7. Corinne Bailey Rae – Is This Love
8. James Morrison – You Give Me Something
9. Imaginary Future – Love is Beginning
10. Amel Larrieux – Make Me Whole

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

GLENMORANGIE NECTAR D’OR – 12 YEARS

Andrea Bramhall – Nightingale

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When Charlie Porter meets Hazaar Alim her first year of university, she’s instantly smitten. Hazaar has it all: beauty, talent, and brains. What she doesn’t realize is that Hazaar’s future has already been decided, and Charlie has no place in it.

Hazaar desperately wants to break her traditions and stay with Charlie, but when forced to choose, she chooses her family over love. When she realizes the choice she made is the worst one possible, it’s too late.

Years later, while working in Pakistan as a diplomat and negotiator, Charlie receives a phone call from a woman who says her British sister-in-law is to be killed for the family’s honor and asks if someone can save her. 

Charlie and Hazaar are on a collision course with destiny. If they make it out alive, can they believe in their love once again?

REVIEW
Before you dive into this book, I suggest you take a deep breath. And make sure you have a box of Kleenex near you. You’ll be reaching for it every few pages.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Nightingale is a novel that defies labels. Other than “lesbian fiction”, it’s hard to place it in one solid genre.  It’s even difficult to define the characters as being one over the other, or one and not the other. Before I got down to reading the book, I was afraid that the story would be along the same vein as the movie, Not Without My Daughter. Thankfully, I was mistaken. The approach that Andrea Bramhall took with Nightingale is very different from the approach that David Rintels took for the screenplay, Not Without My Daughter.

In Not Without My Daughter, it’s very clear who the enemy is. The enemy is a domineering Muslim man who tricks his wife into following him into a country that is hostile towards Americans. It’s a place with a vastly different set of ethics and cultural values, where the mother/protagonist has absolutely no power and no rights as a woman. The message that the movie is asserting about Muslim men and Iranian society is disturbing, and though it is based on a true story, the screen-play aggressively pursues a storyline that is very black and white and doesn’t give any screen-time or credit to Muslim characters that didn’t fit the enemy archetype. I guess there’s only so much you can fit into two hours?

It made me appreciate Nightingale that much more. The author of this novel offered a balance perspective without making derogatory assertions of those who follow the Islamic faith. She was still able to bring awareness to the readers that these types of political and power struggles do exist around the world today, and that as women, we are still greatly impacted and vulnerable. As lesbian women, we are constantly stigmatized and marginalized. Our voices are often unheard and our stories are buried. Nightingale gives a voice to a very real and plausible situation that each of us could be faced with and what could potentially happen in the aftermath if we decide to choose duty before love.

Ultimately, this is a book about hope and enduring love. This is not just a love story between two women, but between two souls searching and reaching for each other even during their darkest hour. It is about women who are victims of circumstances that are beyond their control. Hazaar and Charlie surpass almost-impossible challenges they are faced with and in the end, find their way back to each other. Personally, Nightingale is one of my top ten. This book will leave you with a lasting impression and it’s a powerful love story that’s worth every second spent reading it.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Norah Jones – Nightingale
2. Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
3. Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You into the Dark
4. Adele – One and Only
5. Eva Cassidy – Autumn Leaves
6. The Dunwells – Communicate
7. Alicia Keys – Like You’ll Never See Me Again
8. Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter
9. John Mayer – War of My Life
10. Norah Jones – Come Away With Me

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Drinking booze with this book will make you an emo drunk, and no one likes emo drunks.

Melissa Brayden – Waiting in the Wings

Waiting

If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found.

Jenna McGovern has spent her whole life training for the stage. She’s taken dance classes, voice lessons, and even earned her performance degree from one of the most prestigious musical theater programs in the nation. At graduation, she’s stunned when a chance audition lands her a prime supporting role in the hottest Broadway routing production in the country. In more exciting news, Jenna discovers acclaimed television star Adrienne Kenyon is headlining the production. 

Jenna settles easily in to life on tour and has a promising career laid out in front of her, if only she plays her cards right. She’s waited for this opportunity her entire life and will let nothing stand in her way. The one thing she didn’t prepare for, however, was Adrienne. Her new costar is talented, beautiful, generous, and utmost professional. As the two women grow closer onstage and off, they must learn how to fit each other into a demanding lifestyle full of unexpected twists and difficult decisions. But is Jenna ready to sacrifice what she’s worked so hard for in exchange for a shot at something much deeper?

REVIEW
Out of the les-fic novels that I’ve read, these story-lines seem to be pretty common:

  • Teacher + Student
  • Lonely and married “heterosexual” female falls in love with her cool new lesbian friend
  • Hollywood A-List Actress x 2

Who hasn’t fallen in love with a teacher? Or a straight woman? (or two, or three… hundred) And raise your hand if you didn’t trip all over yourself when you found out that Portia de Rossi is gay.

Yeah, I see no hands raised.

This story though, is less Hollywood than it is New York Broadway. It’s written in the author’s biography that she’s a theater director in her home state, so she’s not just a storyteller that researched a topic and wrote about it on the fly. She’s a subject matter expert and it shows, not just in the details written of the theater acting world in Waiting in the Wings, but also in the execution of her writing style. An example of this would be the ending of Brayden’s novel, How Sweet It Is. The author has the ability to draw from her own personal experiences and expertise to create fresh, original stories for her readers to enjoy.

Has anyone watched the movie Tangled? There’s a scene in the movie that reminded me of one of the important messages gleaned from Waiting in the Wings:

Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.

Like Rapunzel in Tangled, Jenna pursues one dream to find another. Jenna ventures out into her new world with innocence and naivete. Eventually, she finds the way to her heart and her home. It’s normal if you want to give this book a big hug when you’re done. It’s really that cute and heartwarming.

Waiting in the Wings is a wonderful introduction to Melissa Brayden’s work, and I guarantee that when you put down this one down, you’ll be reaching for more!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Great Good Fine Ok – Not Going Home
2. The Hunts – Make This Leap
3. Babe – Make It Real
4. Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend – Like I’m Gonna Lose You
5. Matthew Koma – Clarity (Live at the Cherrytree House)
6. William Fitzsimmons – So This Is Goodbye
7. For the Foxes – Running Back to You
8. Jewel – You Were Meant For Me
9. Grace Weber – Everything to Me
10. Alicia Keys – That’s When I Knew

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

FRANCIS COPPOLA DIAMOND COLLECTION CLARET 2009

Gerri Hill – At Seventeen

Seventeen

Madison Lansford and Shannon Fletcher met when they were ten years old. Madison-daughter of wealthy parents and Shannon, daughter of their live-in maid and cook-became fast friends, yet both knew their place in life. There was never a doubt that they would become lovers…there was also never a doubt that Madison would marry and maintain her social standing in the community. Little by little, they grew apart, their love affair ending with Madison’s marriage and pregnancy. Now, years later, Shannon returns to her old hometown to care for her ailing mother. Can they rebuild their friendship? Or will their new-found closeness bring back memories of their long-lost love? Travel through the years with Shannon and Madison and watch their love unfold as they move from teens to young women and into adulthood. 

REVIEW
This is the third book I’ve read that’s written by the infamous Gerri Hill, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. She has the lesbian romance-writing formula down, so I know that I’m always guaranteed a good time. (Snicker) At Seventeen is no exception to that formula. Her novels are pretty quick reads, and perfect if you’re sitting at an airport and need to kill some time before a flight. There aren’t a lot of surprises in the novel, and there’s a comfort in it’s predictability. You know that you can expect good writing and a good ending with Gerri Hill, which is the appeal of picking up her books. At least, it is for me.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly with this novel:

The Good – This is almost like the lesbian version of Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook, but the story starts in childhood, ends in (early-ish) adulthood, and no one dies together while holding hands. There’s a clear distinction between what happens in the past and what happens in the present, so there’s no confusion for its readers. It skips back and forth until about a third into the book, then it continues on in the present. The storyline of At Seventeen is really its strong point, and the buildup of the romance between Madison and Shannon is very nicely done.

The Bad – The characters were a bit one-dimensional. Characterizations bring a depth to the story and because of it’s absence in At Seventeen, it left me wanting just a little more. Some of the characters’ actions, especially Shannon’s friends, were confusing. Even when there was some clarification in the end, it wasn’t very satisfying.

The Ugly – There’s a kid in the story. I have no gripes about a kid being in any story, but his presence doesn’t add very much to it. And I get it, you could justify that his existence helps reinforce the message that things happen for a reason, but I felt like he was moved around like a Monopoly piece.  It was almost too easy to roll the dice and move him down the board when they needed him to disappear.

It wasn’t my favorite from Gerri Hill, but I enjoyed the novel and it provided a nice little escape for a few hours.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Priscilla Ahn – Dream
2. John Mayer – All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye
3. Regina Spektor – Fidelity
4. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You
5. John Mayer – Friends, Lovers, or Nothing
6. Colbie Caillat – Realize
7. Mariah Carey – When I Saw You
8. Janet Jackson – Where Are You Now
9. Meiko – Lucky We Are
10. The Cure – Love Song
11. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
12. Jason Mraz feat. Colbie Caillat – Lucky

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

SOUTHERN COMFORT CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
-1 oz of Southern Comfort
-Dash of Angostura bitters
-4 oz of chilled champagne (M&R Asti is recommended)
-Twisted lemon peel

Pour the Southern Comfort in a champagne glass.  Add a dash of bitters, then top off with the champagne.  Garnish with a twisted lemon peel.