Okay, it’s possible that is my saddest title yet, but hey. This year I had a bounty of awesome lady-love reads, and I figured I would do what I usually do and try to list of some of the great books I read this year, in case you’re looking for gift ideas, or just awesome books for yourself. I’m going to start off the posts with some wonderful lady love.
Jessica Webb’s debut novel Trigger takes the medical thriller narrative and gives it an ever-so-slight sci-fi twist. We meet our heroine, Dr. Kate Morrison, in a Vancouver ER, where fate puts her in the right place at the wrong time: a man stumbles in off the street and collapses, and while Kate tries to save him, police arrive and demand she not touch him at all. When she does—and when nothing bad happens and she manages to save the man’s life—instead of praise, Kate finds herself in the harsh criticism of RCMP officer Sergeant Andy Wyles, the woman who ordered Kate to keep her hands off the patient.
Someone has turned human beings into bombs. Triggered by touch, people like this man have been exploding, and Kate is the first human being who seems somehow immune to triggering the effect. Mystery, a dash of sci-fi, and a pretty awesome spark of a romance begin in this book, and you can enjoy more of the characters in Pathogen and Troop 18. (And after that, pick up Repercussions, too, because Webb is just that damn good.)
Yolanda Wallace’s 24/7 was a book I read while I was on vacation in Hawai’i. (Yes, I was kind of trying to go for a vacation read theme about a hot place while visiting a hot place on vacation. I’m a nerd.) Here we meet Finn, a travel writer who isn’t so good at making long-term connections, and Luisa, an officer with the Mexican Federal Police.
They have a very quick—and fiery—connection that they both enjoy, never really thinking they’ll encounter each other again, but when the all-woman resort adventure Finn is enjoying for work turns out to be an opportunity for them to maybe get to know each other since it’s within range of Luisa’s life, things get a bit more complicated. And then, when the criminal element Luisa is trying to defeat also gets involved? Things go from complicated to deadly.
Wallace has a real knack for turning up the tension and for heart-stopping thriller moments. Also? I rooted for those ladies something fierce.
I want to start with a note about the world-building. From that point of view, Pegau completely nails a science fiction story on an icy, mining-centric planet with an effortlessness I’ve only really before seen with Stephen Graham King. You “get” her world without having to do any work, the characters and moments provide such simple context that words like “pirq” and concepts like “the void” just slide right into common vernacular for the reader. The narrative immerses the reader from step one.
With an agent investigating corruption is herself falsely accused of actions just as corrupt meets a woman on the run trying to protect her two children who has an idea of just how deep that corruption goes, the characters are both heavily invested in seeing things through. But they’re also unable to trust each other, given the barriers between them—and despite the attraction they feel—which makes their relationship crackle from the first step.
Deep Deception hits all the right notes: action, mystery, thrills, sci-fi, and love. It’s all here. And frankly, I can’t wait to hop back in an air-car and revisit more of her worlds. I’m so glad I found this book.
You should really start with the first in this series, Miss Match, but this year I read Unlikely Match (and the third book, Strike a Match). There was a secondary character in the first book, Shelly, that I had high hopes would be part of the romance in Unlikely Match. Wish granted! Shelly is a mix of super-smart, nerdy-hot awesomeness, and self-consciousness. And there’s Claire, an up-and-coming PR whiz at Lucinda’s company, and it turns out she gets to play opposite Shelly and I was on board from step the first.
Fiona Riley has three strengths: One, her dialog is Melissa Brayden-good, with the verbal jousting reaching laugh-out-loud on multiple moments. Two, Riley handles family in such a perfectly queer way. Three, the sizzle (which is awesome) is so in character. Fiona Riley knows chemistry, and the simmer-sizzle-burn is set up to perfection.
So, if you haven’t started with Miss Match, do so. Then hit this one, and then grab Strike a Match. You can thank me later.
Speaking of awesome series! The first of Maggie Cummings’s Bay West Social books hooked me in on a couple of levels: it has a bit of a “chosen family” vibe to it (albeit entirely with women) and I loved the ensemble feeling to the setting, a lesbian-exclusive housing development.
There are two main characters in Totally Worth It, Meg and Lexi, and they’re an interesting pair of lenses to see the story through. Meg offers the “new girl” perspective: she’s in awe of the lesbian mecca, and in her twenties, and flying pretty solo. Her romantic entanglement is secondary to her character’s journey of finding friends and becoming a part of the Bay West group.
Lexi, on the other hand, grew up enmeshed in the culture of Bay West, is very much Meg’s “entry” into the place, and has a more central romantic storyline (a forbidden relationship and something of a May/December one, to boot, which was nice). Meg’s arc takes the rest of the trilogy to play out, but each book in the series deals with another couple, too. So you get four romances in three books.
Oh! Melissa Brayden. You are my rock of lady love. Strawberry Summer has a lovely then/now split to it, where you visit the heroine in the present as well as her teen years, and her love from then collides with her present day, and might just be a possible “now” too. This is a second-chance romance that takes place in wonderful small town and oh, it’s lovely.
Margaret is a farm girl. Courtney is a city kid who arrived during high school. They sparked. Hearts slowly opened, and then…
Well. There’s a reason they call these stories second-chance romances, right?
Brayden spins her usual strengths here: amazing dialog, heartwarming family vibes, and a setting (in this case, a strawberry farm) that lives and breathes like it’s a character in and of itself. Toss in a sudden, heart-breaking turning point, and you’re in for yet another wonderful ride.