Rebecca Langham – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

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Rebecca Langham is a single mum who lives near the Blue Mountains (Australia). Completing a dual degree followed by postgraduate work, she has majors in English, History, Gender Studies and Education from the University of New England.
 
A Xenite, a Whovian and all-round general nerd, Rebecca is a lover of science fiction, kittens, and caffeine.  When she isn’t teaching History to high schoolers or wrangling children at home, Rebecca enjoys playing broomball and reading.

 

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Purchase your copy here

Aurora Rose slumbers in the city of Oldpass, a cursed kingdom once allied with Grimvein. The victim of a malicious spell, she is powerless to control her own fate. At least, that’s how the story goes.

Now, as Grimvein faces attack, Prince Amir has been tasked with the life-threatening rescue of Aurora, his parents hopeful he will marry the princess and secure safety for their kingdom. Talia, the strongest spellcaster in the known lands, protects and guides the prince in his quest to save a woman that threatens to change their lives forever.

In finding Aurora, the pair will realise the truth about themselves and each other, coming to understand just what – and who – they really want in life.

 

Click on the covers to learn more 

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Why do you need to read Rebecca Langham’s work?  

Epic, sci-fi world building. Her writing encourages further thought into today’s society and the impacts our decisions today can have on tomorrow. I always found it easy to get lost in the stories she has crafted. 

 

Connect with the Author

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Rachel Bowdler – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

 

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Rachel Bowdler grew up and still lives just outside of Manchester, on the edge of West Yorkshire. She was insistent on becoming a dancer until the first time she put pen to paper, and has been writing ever since. After graduating from the University of Salford with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she delved briefly into the world of photography before becoming a freelance romance author, focusing on her passion of representing diverse characters and relationships in her stories, particularly with queer, curvy, and working-class protagonists. Her dream has always been to smell the pages of her own book, and she accomplished this after self-publishing her first novella, Paint Me Yours, in 2021. Her only wish now is that her words make readers feel warm and fuzzy inside – and maybe to see her book on a shelf one day.

When she isn’t assaulting her computer keyboard or daydreaming about fictional people in her pyjamas, you can find her cuddling and walking her talkative dog, Enzo, enjoying and photographing the rural scenery of the local Pennines, wishing it was time to put up her Christmas tree, and painting with watercolours (but not very well!). 

Her festive debut novel, Honeymoon for One, will be brought to readers in November 2022 with Bonnier imprint, Embla Books.

 

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Purchase your copy here

Though they are polar opposites in many ways, best friends Bryce and Thea are both attracted to all things horror, including true crime — and to prove it, they co-host weekly podcast episodes of Perfect Crimes together with their producer, Mikey, in the dusty basement of Stone Grange’s local bookstore. When a string of murders suddenly begins to plague their small, unassuming town and the police find themselves at a loss, it seems that there’s nobody more qualified to help solve the mystery.

However, it’s soon realized that Bryce and Thea are already more entangled than they could have ever expected, because the murders follow a pattern. Their pattern. With every case discussed in the podcast comes a new imitation of the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death, and Bryce and Thea find themselves trapped in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the killer, as their friendship — and feelings that they’ve always left hidden until now — is pushed to its breaking point.

When the evidence begins to pile up, conflicting suspicions of the killer’s identity begin to rise, and friends and acquaintances of the duo become victims; things seem to get closer to them with each death. Can they survive the dark shadow following them around town, and remain the strong-willed, closely connected partners in crime they’ve always been? Or will their obsession with murder prove their undoing in a final, emotional showdown as the killer is revealed?

 

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Check out the above books in her Pride sale through the month of June!

Saving the Star, a romantic bodyguard suspense with a Hollywood actress who is facing a threat more dangerous than she can grasp; Holding on to Bluebell Lodge, for fans of soft contemporary, small-town, Hallmark-esque rom-coms; and The Fate of Us, which has a hint of magical realism and fantasy as it explores soul mates and past lives. All of these books are 99p/99c!    

Click on the covers to learn more!

 

Connect with Rachel

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

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I have playlists for each book I write. I usually listen to a few songs from them before writing or between, but never during because I can’t focus with background noise, unfortunately. Here’s the one I made for Partners in Crime, which was fun because it’s much moodier and darker than my usual works. 

Spotify Playlist for Partners in Crime

 

Caitlin Ryan – Author Spotlight

Meet the Author

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Caitlin Ryan, a self-proclaimed nerd, hails from Australia. She enjoys spending her time reading, playing video games, tabletop games or getting lost in tv shows or movies in her free time. She lives with her lovely wife and their three cats and two dogs!

            She is just like the rest of us, fangirling over her many girl crushes. In her free time you can find her cross-stitching, reading (and even if she doesn’t have free time), or out hiking enjoying nature.

Her work is available in Kindle Unlimited

Latest Release

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Purchase Here

Two coaches. Two teams. One championship. All of the hairspray (and drama).

College cheer coach, Holly Morgan, sacrificed her own cheer dreams to be a mother. She’s spent the past eighteen years building a name for herself at Langley Cunningham College while raising her daughter. Now, Alexis is off to Pride. Holly’s entire life is her team, and that’s fine with her. The small town dating prospects are slim, anyway.
Everyone in cheer knows Sasha Hamilton’s name. Her stunts are legendary and her follower count in the millions. People have big expectations from her now she’s hung up her pom-poms and taken over as head coach of Pride College. Sasha’s life has been cheer since she was seven, coaching is the natural next step for her. Except, she’s not sure she’s going to be a good coach, or even if she wants to be.
Sasha is a huge fan of Holly, Holly’s a big fan of Sasha, but somehow they get off on the wrong foot. It’s going to take some kind of cheer miracle to get them on the same side, especially when their teams are sworn rivals.

Click the thumbnails to purchase!

 

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Connect with Caitlin Ryan

Once Upon a Lesbian Reader Group * Twitter * Website

Coven Be Charmed by Caitlin Ryan

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

A little charm goes a long way with witches.

Rose Cromwell is a life coach but that doesn’t mean she believes in all that woo-woo stuff. When her romantic weekend away at the mysterious Honeydrop House turns supernatural, she doesn’t believe it. A witch? She can’t be.

It turns out it’s harder to escape who you are than it is to outrun a bushfire. Rose is thrust into a world of witches, warlocks, witch hunters, and demons where ancient tensions put her in the middle of a fight to destroy not only the coven but Rose herself.

With no choice but to turn to the coven, Rose discovers none of the coven are what they seem. In fact, nobody is what they seem. Not even her girlfriend.

 

Review

Coven by Charmed follows Rose on her journey of discovery. If there was any way to discover you were a witch, I suppose doing so at a bed and breakfast wasn’t the worst way to find out.

            The Honeydrop House has a way of attracting witches through its doors. Once you’re there it seems as though you’re there for a reason. Rose does exactly what anyone would do when she’s told she’s a witch. Laugh and think it was all an elaborate joke. I mean, witches, warlocks, vampires, and ghosts? None of them are real.

            What I absolutely loved about this book; was how easy it was to fall into the Honeydrop House and get lost in the cast of characters. Each witch in the coven were unique, had their own temperaments, and I swear they all made me laugh, grit my teeth, and have my heart beating faster full of anxiety.

            There were a lot of little pop culture references that made me feel like Rose was my age and someone I could relate to. Though she did seem to have a little more of a handle on her life than I do. Even if she had to take lessons on how to be a witch from a ghost.

            Also, just, I have to say it. Zombie cows. That’s it.

            There was an aspect of memory loss that played a part in the main storyline, and it was done so well. It was interesting to see how differently it affected some of the coven. Lottie was a complete surprise; I was not expecting that at all.

            This first installment wasn’t heavy on the romance. It provided the foundation for an epic romance though. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens because I was seeing the seeds of a couple different opportunities (my inner fanfic author popped out and wanted to ship certain characters together). So there weren’t any spicy scenes in this, but there was plenty of action and witchery afoot.

            I really enjoyed reading this. It was a fast, easy read and I’m looking forward to reading more about the coven at the Honeydrop House.  

 

           Get your copy here

No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey

3 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
 

 

The Review

A fake relationship for the weekend with someone you’ve never met face to face shouldn’t be that awkward of an experience. Right? In the second installment of Rachel Lacey’s Ms. Right series, Lia and Grace’s story unfolds.

            Lia has always heard about the mysterious Grace from her best friend Rosie. Yet, somehow, Grace has always conveniently dipped out of any obligations that would have allowed them to meet. Attending a wedding in London is the perfect opportunity for the pair to meet face to face and see. Lia grabs the chance to meet Rosie’s ‘best friend’ who lives in the UK.

            Lia wasn’t expecting to like Grace as much as she does. Grace is everything she wants in a partner. She’s fun, smart, gorgeous, and keeps Lia on her toes in the best way. It’s an impulsive move, but when the opportunity presents itself for Grace to come to New York, Lia offers to accompany her on a road trip.

            Feelings and lines get blurred. Lia wants everything she can have with Grace. Grace only wants right now. She doesn’t do relationships and can’t give that to Lia. She’s upfront about that, which was nice, but she was so stubborn.

            I loved each of their stops on the road trip. It was exactly the kind of trip I wanted to take and to go on with my partner. My favorite was the T-Rex moment. It just warmed my nerdy heart. And immediately went on my to-do list with my partner. The flirtation, kisses, and spice between them was excellent. There were a few times my heart fluttered and I let out a happy little sigh.

            Grace was a frustrating character. I just … I’m trying to put it into words without spoiling anything for ya’ll, but there were a few times I skimmed Grace heavy scenes. She irked my nerves.

            I do have to say, the ending really pulled everything all together for me and I was definitely happy with how their story ended up.

Get your copy here

Errant by L.K. Fleet

3 Out of 5 Stars

Summary

Aspen Silverglade used to be a force for good, but now she’s just a sword for hire. On the run from the people she once trusted most, she needs to keep her head down and keep moving.

But old habits are hard to quit. One night in a tavern, Aspen tries to save a woman from some unwanted attention. The woman, Charm Linville, is in the middle of a subtle and delicate act of thievery, and she does not appreciate Aspen blundering in.

The disastrous and public rescue-gone-wrong makes the townspeople think Aspen and Charm are a couple. This mistake sets Aspen’s bloodthirsty betrayers on Charm’s trail, tying the two of them together.

Even if Aspen can’t run from her past any longer, Charm shouldn’t have to suffer. Despite Aspen’s determination to work alone, Charm insists on helping—and she has a past of her own. The two of them don’t care for each other’s methods, but as they journey through the villages and wildernesses of Falland, solving problems and meeting magical friends and foes, Aspen and Charm grudgingly come to care for each other. Can these two guarded, stubborn women admit their feelings, or will Aspen’s enemies kill them first?

 

Review

 

Errant (volume one) features two novellas penned by a combination of three authors: Felicia Davin, K.R. Collins, and Valentine Wheeler under the name L.K. Fleet.

In a series of mistaken heroics, Aspen attempts to save Charm from what she believes to be unwanted attention. As it turns out, Aspen interrupted Charm in the middle of pickpocketing her latest victim. In effort to cover, Charm pronounces Aspen as her wife. This marks the start the wild journey they end up on together.

This is a lighter fantasy filled with mischief, tropes, and adventure. Aspen and Charm annoy each other in the best ways. I got an absolute kick out of the pair of them. The romance was a little lighter and there were no spicy scenes in this volume (but I read there may be some in the next!). It was a little campy at times, but I feel like that’s what made this a fun and easy read.

What I had wished for was full length novels. With a novella you get dropped into the story and action without much build up. There was so much about Aspen and Charm that I feel like we weren’t able to learn about them. Perhaps in volume two?

Get your copy here

My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham

5 Star Read

Summary

Wilder Girls meets The Craft in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: what price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?

Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy… but she’s also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of the river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn’t let her drown. Finch doesn’t know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she’s felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena’s suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts—beauty, power, adoration—in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

The Review

I don’t know if I was in a darker headspace or what, but I LOVED this book. I was very suspicious about the fact that it was branded as Wilder Girls meets The Craft. Which was an entirely accurate description. This is a YA sapphic horror, and there are some intensely dark moments.

Finch Chamberlin experiences an unthinkable tragedy the day she additions for a position at the Ulalume Academy. She isn’t sure why she didn’t drown with her parents, but she knows it wasn’t natural. Whatever is calling her to Ulalume Academy, it feels like it needs her to be there.

Selena St. Clair, the stereotypical popular girl, and her friends accidentally summon the creature that sends them spiraling on their dark journey.

Selena was the most surprising character out of everyone. I thought I was going to HATE her with a fiery passion, but I really ended up liking her.

There were a lot of elements that seemed to draw me deeper into the world of Ulalume. The imagery was vivid and rich. The dialogue flowed well (and it was clear the author wasn’t trying to sound ‘young’). I felt like I was in Rainwater, Maine on the ride with Finch and Selena.

The cyclical nature of Nerosi, Finch, and Selena discovering what happened in the past, understanding the echoes and then their lightbulb moments. There was a sick part of me that wanted to know how far these girls would go to get what they wanted, but at the same time, I was pleading with them to stop.

This is the first book this year that I had fun reading and I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for Kayla Cottingham’s work in the future.

On Sale March 29, 2022 – Pre-Order Here

Finding Sarah by April Canniff

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Finding Sarah

Author: Aprille Canniff

Publisher: Fulton Books

Release Date: August 26, 2021

Genre:  Romance, F/F Romance

Tropes: Trauma, New Girl in Town

Themes: Internal Struggle, Relationship, Love

Heat Rating: 3 flames    

Length: 60 000 words/ 187 pages

The book ends on a cliffhanger. There is a follow-on book coming.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

The past has left her scarred and broken, but does she have the strength to risk her heart on the future?

Blurb 

When Sarah steps off the plane in Provincetown, she has only one goal—to leave the past behind her. As she begins her journey of rediscovering herself, she meets one of the town’s deputies under less-than-ideal circumstances but soon finds herself drawn to her in ways she knows she can’t allow.

Deputy Catrina Diaz loves her job, her family, and her friends, which is why she became a deputy to begin with, to keep her town and those she loves safe. When she crosses paths with Sarah, a newcomer to town, she finds herself wanting more than Sarah is wanting to give.

Sarah fights hard to find herself as the past keeps finding new ways to haunt her. As their relationship grows, will the secrets Sarah is hiding, secrets that Cat realizes everyone knows but her, finally pull them apart? Can Sarah trust Cat enough to overcome her past and the insecurities it has caused and take a chance on the one thing she thought she could never have again-love?

Excerpt 

Grateful for the privacy, Sarah sat down, facing Cat on the couch. “Cat, I don’t want you to think…” Sarah paused, struggling to find the words to explain.

“What? That you’re avoiding me?” Cat reached over and took Sarah’s hand, their fingers automatically intertwining. “Sarah, I like you. I like spending time with you.”

Sarah was overcome with sadness. “Cat, we can’t.”

“Give me one good reason why.”

A tear slid down her cheek as she spoke the simple truth that had consumed her since she had met Cat. “Because I’m broken, and you deserve better.”

Cat reached over and gently wiped the errant tear away from Sarah’s cheek. “We are all broken in some way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other to heal.”

Sarah shook her head, frustrated for what she wanted and for what she could never have. “Cat, you don’t understand.”

“No, I don’t, but I’m willing to wait until you are ready to tell me. Until then…” Cat leaned forward and gently, almost shyly, placed a soft kiss on Sarah’s lips. The feel of Sarah’s lips flooded her senses and filled her with a warmth so intense she finally understood what all the romance novels were talking about. She understood what it meant to fall with one simple kiss. “I want to spend time getting to know the Sarah you are wanting to become.”

Sarah did her best to fight back and hide the feelings she had for Cat, but that kiss, how could she hold back now? That one simple kiss tore down the walls she had built to protect herself and others. She had to do what was right and stop this before it got out of control, but what her mind wanted was overridden by her heart, surprising even herself. “Cat, I don’t know if I could handle you walking away if you find out what happened to me. I’m telling you, it’s horrible, and it’s not something you can unsee.”

It broke Cat’s heart to see the tears that were now flowing freely down Sarah’s cheeks. She wanted to erase the past and the hurt it had caused her. Instead, she pulled Sarah into her arms and held her as she cried. “I see you for who you are, and that’s all that matters. Just give me a chance to prove it to you.”

Sarah wanted to say no because she couldn’t take anymore hurt or disappointment in her life, but the longer Cat held her, the harder it was to fight. Finally, she dried her eyes and sat up. “Maybe…”

About the Author

Aprille Canniff retired from the military after 24 years of service and has deployed to multiple Middle Eastern locations throughout her military career.  She is a full-time Deputy Sheriff who loves her job and wakes up every morning ready for another day.  Her passions include fishing as a catch and release type girl and hiking with her wife.  Her two cats determine the pace of her future books so she never gives a timeline for completion.

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Review to Follow Soon!

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.   

 

Get your copy here!

Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell

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3 Stars

Summary

In this sexy, sophisticated romantic comedy, two women juggle romance and career across continents.


Charlotte Hilaire has a love-hate relationship with her work as a museum courier. On the one hand, it takes her around the world. On the other, her plan to become a professor is veering dangerously off track.

Yet once in a while, maybe every third trip or so, the job goes delightfully sideways…

When a blizzard strands Charlotte in Spain for a few extra days and she’s left with glorious free time on her hands, the only question is: Dare she invite her grad school crush for an after-dinner drink on a snowy night?

Accomplished, take-no-prisoners art historian Adrianna Coates has built an enviable career since Charlotte saw her last. She’s brilliant. Sophisticated. Impressive as hell and strikingly beautiful.

Hospitable, too, as she absolutely insists Charlotte spend the night on her pullout sofa as the storm rages on.

One night becomes three and three nights become a hot and adventurous long-distance relationship when Charlotte returns to the States. But when Adrianna plots her next career move just as Charlotte finally opens a door in academia, distance may not be the only thing that keeps them apart.

Add Meet Me in Madrid to your Goodreads!

Review

Charlotte Hilaire lives a busy life as a museum courier. She travels from museum to museum, country to country. It sounds much more exciting than it can be. She sticks to a tight schedule and never has the time for anything fun.

When a blizzard in Spain delays Charlotte’s return to the states, she finally has the chance for fun. Except the fun leads her in a place she wasn’t quite expecting when she meets up with former classmate, and crush, Adrianna Coates.

The heat between the pair combusts over the span of the three days Charlotte is stuck in Spain. They spend more time in the bedroom than outside of it. As time passes, they find themselves calling and wanting to see more and more of each other, even when facing the distance.

In an effort to become closer to each other they both take the chance of turning their careers in different directions to make it possible.

What I really liked? How smart Charlotte and Adrianna were and how they admired that aspect in each other. I love when there are characters who are themselves and they have little geeky things they get excited about.

Also the steam factor. I hoped with the portrayal of a long-distance relationship there would be video chat and phone sessions. I wasn’t disappointed. The buildup to them meeting up with each other in persona again was exciting.

There were a few flat spots where I felt things just dragged a little too much for my liking. Some of the secondary characters I just, felt weren’t needed or were an after thought. There was a lot of angst and judgment in the workplace that while is prevalent in the academic world, I like my romance with a little less angst. So if angst is your thing, you’ll find it in this novel for sure.

 

 

Read an Excerpt Below

 

The car arrived with the luggage while they were still flirting and deliberating in the kitchen, the cava as yet unpoured. Hearing the buzzer, Adrianna had reluctantly thrown on a robe and slippers and run down the three flights, leaving Charlotte still leaning on the counter to contemplate what came next.

“I’m putting your very nice suitcase in my room,” a breathless Adrianna said as soon as she closed the apartment door behind her. “It won’t fit in the study.”

It would have fit in the study. But it fit a lot better in the bedroom.

“I’m out here,” Charlotte informed her. She had taken the bottle and glasses and resituated herself on the living room sofa. If it had been in the States, the long, upholstered couch with its plethora of throw pillows would have sat smack-dab in front of a flat-screen TV. This one, by refreshing contrast, faced a wall of tall, arched casement windows looking onto mostly sky and a distant cityscape punctuated by the city’s numerous church towers. Today the potted trees and summer furniture on the neighboring balconies were coated with an inch or two of velvety snow.

What sun there had been was already dimming.

Adrianna was surprised, but certainly not disappointed, to find Charlotte curled up at one end of said sofa, glass in hand, taking it all in just as she herself liked to do at sunset.

“It’s beautiful,” Charlotte said. “Doesn’t look like any place else I’ve been.”

“Sure doesn’t.” Adrianna sat down close beside Charlotte. Encouragingly close, she hoped.

Charlotte filled Adrianna’s flute with pale bubbly and raised hers in a wordless toast. Their glasses clinked.

“What are we drinking to?” Adrianna asked.

“Bank closures and oversold hotels?” Charlotte replied with a laugh and a gulp. Her legs were folded under her and as she went to set down her glass, she slipped into Adrianna’s shoulder, not seeming to mind at all when Adrianna leaned into her and caught her eye.

“If you’d have looked at me like that in school, I’m not sure what I would have done,” Charlotte said.

“I can’t promise I never did,” Adrianna admitted. “Especially there at the end.”

“You were definitely shopping around at one point, as I recall. Like a freshman for new classes,” Charlotte said. “Least that’s what it looked like from where I stood.”

“I was a train wreck,” Adrianna said solemnly. “My ex cheated on me with someone I cared about and I was worried to death I wouldn’t get a job—and interviewing cross-country practically every week while I finished the last chapter of my diss. Those days seem incomparably easy, yet completely impossible when I look back. But I fucked things up with a lot of people and I hate thinking about it.”

“Your heart was broken,” Charlotte said, reaching for the cava. She’d stopped looking at Adrianna but her voice conveyed empathy.

Had someone broken Charlotte’s heart? Adrianna wanted badly to know.

“And I did that to others in return,” she said.

“You are indeed a heartbreaker,” Charlotte laughed.

“You’re one to talk,” Adrianna replied. “I can’t believe you weren’t dating your pretty little ass off—or seeing faculty on the sly at least. I don’t think I do believe it.”

“Well, you can believe it or not. I’m not saying I didn’t sleep around some. But grads and faculty were off-limits. Not out of moral approbation. I just knew it would throw me off my game. I don’t mind telling you I had tempting offers from both parties.”

Good thing Adrianna wasn’t one of those former suitors. It was so much better finding her again like this, now that they were both past the stage of perpetual heightened insecurity. Now that there was no history with Charlotte, only possibility.

Neither of them were drunk, just usefully relaxed, their inhibitions disarmed by the alcohol, their focus sharpened by the caffeine.

Adrianna set down her own near-empty glass and turned toward Charlotte.

“Let’s toast to layovers instead.”

“With what?”

“Come here,” Adrianna said, just to see how Charlotte reacted to being told what to do.

“Make me,” she replied, finishing what was left in her flute and starting to rise.

“Where are you going now?”

“I’m thirsty. Think I’ll get a glass of water…”

“Fuck the water,” Adrianna said. She pulled Charlotte back down to her for a deep, wet kiss that burned deliciously from the sparkling wine in her mouth and on their lips. Charlotte responded with a kind of unrestraint, immediately taking the lead. God did she. Adrianna suddenly seemed to feel her touch everywhere. It was one of those moments when you don’t realize how much you want something—someone—until she’s within reach. She wasn’t going to lose her second chance.