Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author?

Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one.

When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s family’s business, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?

Review

This was such a fun read! If you are a fan of 90’s romantic comedy films, you are going to love Read Between the Lines. Lacey acknowledges the inspiration for this novel came from the classic rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. Lacey puts her twist on things to make them fresh, fun, and exciting.

Rosie Taft runs her family bookstore, and she loves it. Books, customers, connecting with people who love books as much as she does. Everything is threatened when Jane Breslin delivers notice her family’s company won’t be renewing the lease intending to demolish the building Between the Pages was housed in.

One bright spot in all of this is the fact Rosie can talk with her favorite author Brie online over Twitter.

Brie is a timid author who hides behind her penname and doesn’t make public appearances.

Life takes a wild turn when the world of Rosie, Brie, and Jane all crash together. No matter how angry Rosie gets with Jane, she can’t fight the attraction she feels towards Jane. Even with the turmoil of what it may mean for her business, Rosie finds her self drawn closer and closer to Jane.

Rosie is the sweetest and most determined character. Her enthusiasm for books made me excited to read again (this year hasn’t been my best reading year so to be excited about reading is huge). There were a few moments she irked my nerves, but I could understand her reactions.

Jane, I have a special place in my heart for Jane. As an author, who also writes under a pen name, I felt for her. She wants to please her family, but she wants to be a full-time author as well. She wants to help, but then she ends putting her foot in her mouth. A lot of people look down on romance authors, but this genre is such an amazing genre full of readers and authors who want to see the happiness of the world.

The chemistry between the two women, even when they were enemies, was intense. They were drawn to each other when they didn’t want to be. Which made their romance all the sweeter once it blossomed.

What I enjoyed about this, from both a reader’s and writer’s perspective, was the fact that we got to see their Twitter interactions. I’m a sucker for seeing letters, texts, emails in romance novels. You could feel the flirty undertones and the anxiety of their messages back and forth.   

 

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Lying with Lions by Annabel Fielding

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.

They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail – and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch – the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen’s plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice.

The Review

For anyone who reads my reviews, you know I love historical fiction. Throw in a little gothic intrigue? *chef’s kiss* I live for lush, descriptive, elegantly flowing storylines. It’s easy to get lost in the world and emotions of the characters.

While Lying with Lions had those elements, I found myself losing track of what the story’s purpose was. There were moments I got so invested in the new direction the story was going, and then a new chapter would pull me in a completely different direction.

What I liked (and kind of disliked) was the span of time the story occurred over. It was YEARS that zipped by. We did get to see the evolution of Agnes and her position in the Bryant family. I liked seeing her grow into someone bold and someone who could stand on her own with authority. Her intelligence is what drew me in further.

Lady Bryant, there had always been an element of mistrust. Slowly it unfolded in her political aspirations and how far she would go to ensure her wants were put first. That goes hand in hand with how she treated Agnes. Their relationship wasn’t as balanced as Agnes saw it as.

The romance aspect of this was mostly fade to black. I’d give it a one out of five on the spice scale.

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Waiting for Liz by Angela C. Kelly

Waiting for Liz by [Angela C. Kelly]

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Angela is twenty-nine and living what looks like a comfortable life in a Midwestern college town: she has a home with her adoring long-time partner, a circle of good friends, a recently acquired degree, and a job that uses it. But everything isn’t as lovely as it looks.

Slowly a soul-level unravelling is occurring within Angela, without her knowledge or consent. Each destructive self-sabotaging choice brings her closer to the kind of destruction that ultimately makes room for new growth in a person’s heart.

Enter Elizabeth. Though Angela claims to have paid little attention when they are first introduced, Elizabeth — Liz — eventually consumes her every thought, much like the drugs she and her wife have begun to use to mask the growing rift in their relationship. When Angela decides to call her partner’s bluff and invite this new “hot young plaything” to help them patch things up, a decades-long story of pursuit, addiction, love, and growth begins.

Angela’s story winds through her past, each tale about her relationship with Liz opening up a window to times even farther past that have shaped how she connects with other people, especially those she loves. Woven through it all are threads of addiction, abandonment, shame, perseverance, joy, and love. Has she come to terms with her past? With Elizabeth herself?

The Review

Angela seems to have it all. A comfortable life with her partner and great friends. Her life has become a comfortable routine. It’s easy. She hangs on to all these things, even though her happiness has been dwindling.

In a self-destructive attempt to address the issues between Angela and her partner, they begin to experiment with drugs. Angela also finds herself enraptured with Liz. Everything she does starts to revolve around Liz and the possibility of what if?

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I felt so many negative emotions while reading. Sadness, anger, frustration with what Angela was experiencing. And then on the other, we were given such a hard dose of reality as we followed Angela’s life.

If you have difficultly reading about drug use, this is going to be a tough one for you to read. I’ve got a bit of complicated relationship with addiction, so it was difficult to read. But, there are people who go towards drugs in the hopes that it will strengthen a relationship. The reliance that Angela developed hurt my heart.

As Angela poorly navigated so many different relationships, she steadily began to find herself and understand who she was and is as an individual. It an experience of personal growth that takes years.

Her careless and selfish nature made me so angry, but at the same time I could see she was doing whatever she could to hold on to life as she knew it to be.

Reading this? It felt like a sucker punch.

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Strength Check by Katherine McIntyre

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Roxie Esposito just opened a board game café in San Francisco and should be basking in success. Instead, she’s picking out shards from her last relationship and handling her perpetually drunk mother, both of which strain her finances and fuel the need for a roommate.

Melody Roberts finally got the promotion she’d been aiming for—across the country in San Francisco. The perfect escape from her stagnant life and the toxic relationship with her now ex-boyfriend.

The moment Mel answers Roxie’s ad for a roommate, the connection between them is explosive, warm, and real—everything they’ve both been longing for. Between horror movie marathons, board game nights, and deep talks, Mel and Roxie are falling for each other hard. Except the only problem with romance is they both seem to fail every single time, and when the grenade of exes, family drama, and their own insecurities drop, neither will escape unscathed.

The Review

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve reviewed any lesfic! Strength Check was the perfect read to get myself reacquainted. Geeky tabletop board games like Dungeons and Dragons and the found family and roommates to lovers trope? *chefs kiss*

Melody, ‘Mel’, Roberts moved across the country for her career and a fresh start away from the boundaries her ex-boyfriend put her in.

Roxie Esposito runs a board game café in San Francisco and has a string of bad relationships with a little bit of a financial strain sprinkled on top. So she does what she can, and runs an ad to rent out a room.

She gets lucky when Mel is who answers her ad. They immediately click with each other.

What I really liked about their relationship that it was rooted in friendship. They got to know each other organically. Mel wanted to learn more about Roxie’s café. She wanted to know more about the games and all of Roxie’s friends and employees are happy to teach her.

Their attraction burned slowly throughout the pages. When they finally kissed? Yes, please. They had intensity and passion and it simmered in the right ways.

I liked that there were characters I could fully relate to, in all their geeky glory. It’s hard finding a story you can find a little bit of yourself in each of the characters. It left me feeling at home, because these were my people.

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The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.

Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.

While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?

Review

Lucy Muchelney isn’t your average lady. She’s worked side-by-side with her father as an astronomer. She picked up most of the work during his declining years, but never signed her name to it when she sent it to the Polite Science Society. Once she arrives in London hoping to translate a French astronomy text for the society, but as a woman, they see her of little value.

Catherine St. Day, Lady Moth, irritated with the good ole boys of the regency era, decides she will fund the project and have Lucy translate the text as she wishes. In the process, the women end up falling for each other. It’s hard not to when you find someone as supportive and encouraging as they are.

While the cover is indicative of the romance aspect of this novel, it was much more than a regency romance. It showed the difficulties of being a woman in the world of academia during this time. It still is to this day, but to have it so forcefully shoved in your face over and over as Lucy and Lady Moth had, it would be discouraging to continue the work they loved.

Lucy was an incredibly bright character that I thoroughly enjoyed. She fought for what she wanted professionally and personally. Even when her brother doubted her and used her success to benefit himself, she was the better person. She was a true academic because she could handle legitimate criticisms and was willing to learn from any mistakes she may have made in her work. That’s was academia is meant to be. Hypothesis and experiment lead to theory.  

Catherine St. Day learned who she could be when Lucy entered her life. Her husband and many of the men in her life put little value in the work she wanted to pursue. She was able to travel and explore different cultures, but her observations only translated into a lady’s art, needlepoint. She was truly talented and as Lucy pointed out, an artist. The detail in her work was so rich I could see her work in my mind while I was reading.

This was an easy read to get lost in. I could hear Lucy and Catherine’s voices in my head during dialogue. I could picture Catherine’s home, their clothing, and London at that time. I would hope to still meet women like Lucy Mulchelney and Catherine St. Day. Women who were willing to challenge the status quo and to live life as they choose.

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