Sheena and Tara’s 7 Must-Reads from 2018

This episode of The Lesbian Review Podcast is the focused on Sheena and Tara’s 7 Must-Reads from 2018

This selection is a mix of genres, authors and kinds of leading ladies. But these are 7 books that we highly recommend.

Listen to the episode here

1 The Goodmans by Clare Ashton

Available in audio no

Synopsis

The lovely doctor Abby Hart lives in her dream cottage in the quintessential English border town of Ludbury, home to the Goodmans.

Maggie Goodman, all fire and passion, is like another mother to her, amiable Richard a rock and 60s-child Celia is the grandmother she never had. 

But Abby has a secret. Best friend Jude Goodman is the love of her life, and very, very straight. Even if Jude had ever given a woman a second glance, there’d also be the small problem of Maggie – she would definitely not approve. 

But secrets have a habit of sneaking out, and Abby’s not the only one with something to hide. Life is just about to get very interesting for the Goodmans.

Things are not what they used to be, but could they be even better?

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2 My Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker

Publisher Bella Books

Available in audio no

Synopsis

Anita Topaz, Queen of the Bodice Rippers, is deliberately a woman of mystery. But pressure is mounting for Anita to reveal herself to her clamoring public. It’s scrutiny that writer Paris Ellison can’t allow, especially since the glamorous “Anita” is a work of pure fiction.

Lady Diana Beckinsale excels at disappearing into a good role. Especially if that role gets her close to certain objects she desires. When Diana proposes the perfect solution to Paris’s predicament, Paris is less than enthusiastic. She can’t let someone as unsettling and observant as Diana get too close.

But Diana is persistent. After all, if she and the handsome, secretive Paris both get what they want out of an unorthodox arrangement, then it’s a win-win for them both.

My Lady Lipstick is high stakes on a merry-go-round of lies—it’s all fun and games until somebody loses her heart.

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3 The Music And The Mirror by Lola Keeley

Publisher Ylva Publishing

Available in audio No

Synopsis

Anna is the newest member of an elite ballet company. Her first class with her mysterious idol, Victoria, almost ruins her career before it starts. When she shows she might be a potential star, Victoria chooses Anna to launch a new season around.

Now Anna must face down jealousy, sabotage and injury, not to mention navigate the circus of friends and lovers within the company. The pressure builds as she knows she must pour everything she has into opening night and prove to her rivals and herself that Victoria’s faith in her is not misplaced. In the process, Anna discovers that she and the daring, beautiful Victoria have a lot more than a talent for ballet in common, and that not every thrilling dance can be found on stage.

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4 Daughter Of The Sun by Effie Calvin

Publisher NineStar Press

Available in audio no

Synopsis

Orsina of Melidrie is a paladin of the Order of the Sun, sworn to drive out corruption and chaos wherever she finds it. She has been ordered to leave her home and travel around Vesolda in search of a great evil she is supposedly destined to destroy. But after two years of fighting monsters and demons and evil gods, she does not seem to be any closer to her goal—or ever returning home.

Aelia is the Goddess of Caprice, the personification of poor decision-making. The Order of the Sun has classified her as a chaos goddess, meaning that her worship has been outlawed. During a run-in with Orsina, she is trapped in a mortal body, rendering her unable to leave Inthya.

Aelia is found by Orsina again, but this time Orsina does not recognize her in her new body. So Aelia pretends to be a mortal woman who is fleeing an abusive family. Aelia plans to use Orsina as protection as she hunts down the magical relic that will free her from her mortal body.

As Aelia and Orsina grow closer to one another, Aelia wrestles with her own desire to tell Orsina the truth about who she is, and her fear that Orsina will turn on her if she does. But the decision might not be hers after all, because their actions have not gone unnoticed by Aelia’s siblings.

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5 Marriage Of Unconvenience by Chelsea M Cameron

Audiobook available Yes

Narrator Eliza Cooper

Synopsis

Lauren “Lo” Bowman is in a bit of a pickle. She needs money, like ASAP. She lost her job, the rent is due, and her car needs repairs. Problem is, the inheritance left to her by her old-fashioned Granny has one stipulation before she can collect: She has to be married. Let’s just say suitors (of any gender) are not knocking down her door. 

And then Cara Simms, her best friend from childhood that she’s recently reconnected with, pours her heart out and confesses that she needs money to pay for grad school. Lo has a completely brilliant idea: They should get hitched. Not married married. Like, fake married. All they have to do is play the part for the lawyers, get the money, and then get the marriage annulled. Easy as hell. Well, it starts out that way, but being fake married feels a lot like being real married, and Lo is flipping out. She cannot be falling for her best friend. Can she?

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6 The Way You Smile by Kiki Archer

Audiobook No

Synopsis

Real life doesn’t play out like a movie. Electric connections mostly mean you’ve got static in your jumper. Camila Moore knows that; she’s not daft. She has two teenage boys and bills to pay, plus the only man she’s ever been with has traded her in for a gym bunny.

Returning to work’s the answer, but when she finds herself in the wrong room, wrong place at the wrong time, the last thing she expects is to be promoted out of obscurity into the arms of Harriet Imogen Pearson, media darling, hotshot entrepreneur and notorious lesbian playgirl.

Camila can’t believe it; she’s an ordinary woman, nothing special – in her view – so what’s Harriet’s motivation? What’s her end game?

Are Camila’s feelings just infatuation or is it real life love?

Kiki Archer is the mistress of chick-lit romance for women of all ages and inclinations.

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7 The Sex Therapist Next Door by Meghan O’Brien

Publisher Bold Strokes Books

Available In Audio Yes

Narrator Brittni Powers

Synopsis

Diana Kelley is a couple’s sex therapist with a problem: It’s her job to convince her clients of the importance of sexual and emotional intimacy, but after surviving a toxic relationship with an abusive ex, she’s sworn off love and can’t fathom ever making herself vulnerable again. When her best friend, Ava, is injured the night she is scheduled to assist with a hands-on sexual education workshop, Diana is forced to find a short-term replacement. The last thing she wants is a new lover, even a paid one. 

After a year of living in the apartment next door, all Jude Monaco knows about her neighbor Diana is that she’s a gorgeous older woman and the inspiration for more dirty fantasies than she cares to admit. So when Diana knocks on her door with a shockingly delicious favor to ask, Jude seizes the opportunity to learn more. 

Their professional relationship is supposed to be a clinical erotic arrangement between a sex therapist and her assistant, but at the intersection of sex and intimacy, anything is possible. Even love.

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Transcript

please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

hi there I’m Sheena and this is the lesbian review podcast this podcast is a spin-off of the popular review site thelesbianreview.com where we review the best books movies and music was leading lesbian bi or queer woman the goal of this podcast is to bring you closer to the best queer media and give you access to interviews with people who are behind the scenes in creating it today I’m very happy to have Tara on Tara and I are going to talk about our six must read books for 2018 Tara thank you for joining me thanks for having me so it was our five must reads and then I couldn’t decide and you could decide so now let’s has six much treats this is how it goes with us plus one isn’t it plus one we have one shared must read oh you’re right we do don’t we so so it’s do we do we do we don’t so that’s our seven seven most read books six plus one I’m not so good at math apparently okay so a seven my street books for 2018 so a very first one Tara you and I were talking about it and we both decided this was our absolutely best book of the year mm-hmm and it is the Goodman’s by Claire Ashton this is a book that has a lot going on there’s romance there’s a mother-daughter relationship is the end of a marriage politics in small town issues and we’re not gonna go into all of it except to say that it all just it weaves together really well it makes for a really interesting read so I am going to read from your synopsis because you wrote the synopsis of this in our joint review um meet Abby Hart which is an appropriate name because she’s the heart of the first half of the book she’s a doctor in the small town of Lud buri and has been friends with Chuck Goodman since they studied together at university they’re extremely close and for Abby the feelings run even deeper than that because she’s in love with Jude Jude on the other hand is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend whose name’s Sheena couldn’t remember and didn’t bother to put down because she didn’t like it but I noted this is great I I noted that it’s bill I didn’t like him either and I hated his guts so what happens what happens when Jude discovers that Abby’s in love with her is it possible for her to fall in love with her best friend even though she’s never had any inclinations towards women and then if you step this way we’d like to introduce you to Maggie Goodman she is like a whirlwind of passion as she sweeps through her life it’s an exciting time for the Goodman’s because Eli Jude’s younger brother is bringing his girlfriend to visit and the family will be back together again but Maggie is dreading telling her kids that she and her husband are in the process of getting a divorce it’s not that she wants to keep him close he’s just really bit more like a friend in her life that however becomes the least of Maggie’s problems when her past blows into town and turns everything upside down and because Ashton is an evil genius you would never know what’s around the corner oh did I write that that’s very good well done means book knocked me over just wrecked me when I read it and I can’t even talk about any of my favorite stuff or the best parts because it’s just going to ruin it but it actually like as I was there’s this one scene in particular that as I was reading I could feel my guts twisting and when and it made me like go back and read over previous scenes and I read them totally differently when I understood that thing it’s just it’s so good it’s so good it’s so well-written it’s so beautifully written the characters are so compelling like this is my book of the year for sure absolutely Ashton did some interesting stuff with the character work in this especially with the character of Maggie because she had Maggie do some unforgivable things to Eddie and Eddie forgave her time and again and then when it comes out why she did these things you just you feel so conflicted because you can see kind of where it’s coming from but you’re also like this is so wrong this is even worse than what we thought yeah I you read this before I did and you were all like Oh Maggie Maggie it’s all of Maggie she’s amazing I’m reading this I’m like what I don’t think I like her she is too much and then the more you get into it and the more you get into her story even as you’re getting this like really lovely almost almost light romance between Jude and Abbie and then there’s just this like and and and and then the twist and then it’s just like a sucker punch and it’s like oh I’m in a different book than I thought I was butthole wow what a book this is absolutely an Ashton has the way of doing exactly that to you I mean it if you look at her books just about every single one of them that she’s written has this moment in the book where you look at it and you’re like ooh this is not what I thought there’s something else going on here because even in Papeete Jenkins which is a much lighter much more kind of least twisty novel then she usually writes even that there was a moment when I was like oh I did not realize that something else was going on in the background yes let’s not go down the papi rabbit hole because I can talk about poppy Jenkins for two hours we can probably talk about the Goodman’s for two hours – that’s true but Ashton is an evil genius and you should absolutely buy this book so I’m gonna jump in here and my very first pick is my lady lipstick by Karen Cole maker which I thought was absolutely brilliant it’s published by Bella books and unfortunately there is no audio available for this book I’m just gonna read the synopsis Anita topes queen of the bodice rippers is deliberately a woman of mystery but pressure is mounting for Anita to reveal herself to her clamouring public its scrutiny that writer Paris Ellison can’t allow especially since the glamourous Anita is a work of pure fiction Lady Diana Beckinsale excels at disappearing into a good role especially if that role gets her close to certain objects she desires when diana proposes the perfect solution to Paris’s predicament paris is less than enthusiastic she can’t let someone as unsettling and observances diana get too close but diana is persistent after all if she and they’re handsome secrets of paris both get what they went out of the unorthodox arrangement then it’s a win-win for them both my lady lipstick is high stakes on a merry-go-round of lies it’s all fun and games until someone loses her heart and that’s a pretty apt description of of this book as such a fun book mmm that’s the thing that I found reading that one is that it’s a great romance and it deals with some quite serious issues and I felt like it was particularly timely in light of the me2 conversation there was there was a thread there that that comments on that and even despite all that it’s still very light very fun kind of madcap and has this like there’s just something so beautiful about the way diana wholly appreciates all of Paris’s butch ness I don’t feel like it’s fair to say that when we never see anything quite like that because we do see a lot of butch women in our fiction but but there’s something very special about her specific appreciation of it that’s lovely cool maker roads complex Butch and very often a fund analyst Vic we get very simple butchers so the butch woman tends to be very like surfacey kind of characters very one-track almost and it’s great to have the representation but in this I felt like she had a real human a dynamic person I mean her name is Paris and she bakes furiously and she cooks and it’s like oh yeah her stress-baking yes and she doesn’t even she doesn’t even eat all of it I love that so much like how she has that that arrangement with a bar to drop it off because she can’t eat all of it but she has to do it cuz that’s her anxiety management right and but then she’ll also get dressed up in a tailored suit you know with Sharan shoes and she makes the perfect butch and I love that it wasn’t the typical butch femme dynamic I love that there was just so much more to it yes well it also has the toaster oven thing going on absolutely and big bonus for fans of cool maker it’s got character from warming trend earns the boss so very small cameo but fun and Elise yeah angry alright what is your next one so this is my next best book of the year it’s called the music of the mirror by Lola Keeley and I just adored this book so I’m gonna read out the synopsis that April wrote for her review on the lousy review which i think is pretty great being the new girl at the ballet company of her dreams is so much more than Anna could ever have hoped for and she’s bursting with excitement first impressions are supposed to be the best impressions but Anna makes a random mishap and almost blows her career in the chance to impress her childhood idol Victoria Ford luckily for Anna her talent focus and determination make her stand out from the rest of the ballerinas and she becomes the candidate of choice for Victoria’s plans for the new season Anna just wants to dance and make new friends but outraged over her sudden rise in status petty jealousies and being on guard against injury set her apart from the rest of the company everything hinges on Anna success and she hopes that her best will be enough to prove the naysayers wrong well an N Victoria be able to navigate the murky waters of their feet assumptions in the opinions of others and will they be able to dance to the beat of the passion a slowly builds between them this so this is one one of the ones that actually started out as a fan fiction it was I believe it was a Supergirl fan fiction but it was set in an alternate universe so that it’s really just the characters that were lifted and there’s a part of me that wonders if because that’s how it began this book just doesn’t play by the rules it doesn’t follow a typical romance structure because there is so much passion in this book and not all of it is between Anna and Victoria it’s not just about the relationship they both have so much passion for ballet and it’s that passion that brings them together in a way that’s really beautiful it’s an incredibly slow burn it’s not and it’s not an enemies two lovers but there is kind of a certain antagonism there from the beginning because Victoria is this like she’s the ultimate ice queen and Anna just has stars in her eyes like she’s idolized Victoria for years and years because Victoria was like the ultimate of the prima ballerinas who’s not doing it anymore and so then she shows up and her idol is such a bitch and drives her so hard but like respect grows between them and then almost almost like a burg grudging friendship and then like love grows out of that and it’s just it’s so beautiful I adore this book and I hope we’re gonna see a lot more from Lola Keeley this is her first novel I cannot believe this is her first novel but I think we’re gonna see some pretty amazing things from her you’re right that was a good description for me April you go go mm-hmm all right my next book is daughter of the Sun by Effie Kelvin it’s published by a non-stop race and unfortunately there’s no audio available for this book I’m going to read the synopsis please bear with me if I’m pronouncing the names incorrectly because this is a fantasy and I actually no idea how to pronounce the names I had that problem when I was reading it I was like ah I’m gonna give it a go and I’m gonna hurt food waste or Sina of melody is a paladin of the order of the Sun sworn to drive out corruption and chaos wherever she finds it she has been ordered to leave her home and travel around for solder in search of the great evil she’s supposedly destined to destroy but after two years of fighting monsters and demons and evil gods she does not seem to be any closer to her goal or ever returning home a leah is the goddess of Caprice the personification of poor decision making the order of the Sun has classified her as a chaos goddess meaning that worshipping her has been outlawed during a run-in with or Sina she’s trapped in a mortal body rendering her and able to leave in Thea Elia is found by Oh Cena again but this time Oh Cena does not recognize her in her new body so Adia pertains to be a mortal woman who’s fleeing an abusive family Elia plans to use or Cena as protection as she hands down the magical relic this will free her from her mortal body as alien Orsino grow closer to one another a Lea wrestles with her own desire to tell or Cena the truth about who she is and I fear that will Cena will turn on her if she does but the decision might not be hers after all because the actions have not gone unnoticed by Elias siblings this is a fantasy story it’s it in the same world as if it kelvins first novel but it’s not the same characters and I love that and that’s generally the only time I read a series of books is when it’s not the same main characters I don’t tend to follow characters from one book to another this book is absolutely charming the character work she does especially with Elia and her growth from completely a chaos goddess is a very accurate description of what she is from there to something more gentle I don’t want to put spoilers in the book but let’s just say she does have an amazing character and the romance is so sweet yeah it’s super lovely and the world-building is actually fantastic too I mean I just completely quite immersed in this book yeah what did you think I thought it was adorable and it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the first book which I really appreciated like it literally it didn’t matter at all it was super easy to get into I loved a leas character r2 but I mean I also just loved how stoic and lovely and wonderful or Sina is – I loved her I just wanted to hug her for so much of it and then I wanted to punch that other person in the face I’m not gonna tell you guys why but you’re gonna want to punch that person – you’re listening to the Lisbon talk-show [Music] the lesbians all choked on you have a podcast information my next book is the book that made me happiest this year so I’m I I’m not going with my like one two three I I wanted to pick a couple of books that that stood out for me for different reasons and this one truly like when I read it it just made me so happy and in my review I said reading it is like eating an amazing cupcake because it’s super sweet and fills you up but you know like with feelings and not okay so this book is called marriage of unconvenient by chelsea M Cameron I believe it is available in audio I haven’t listened to it so I guess go listen to the sample if that’s your thing and check it out and get that if you want so Lauren lo Bowman has lost her job and now she’s in a panic she was already living pretty lean so she won’t be able to afford rent if she doesn’t find something soon Lowe has a sizable inheritance that’s been waiting for her since childhood but she can’t touch it unless she gets married when locos for brunch with her best friend Kara Sims she’s surprised to see Kara breakdown kara was poised to pursue her dream of being a physician’s assist a financial aid for grad school leaves her 20 grand short though jokes that they should get married for that sweet inheritance money and that’s when it hits her they should totally get fake married because who better to share her inheritance with and the one person who makes her the happiest which should be a quick and easy transaction soon gets complicated with things like rings dresses and oh yeah a whole bunch of feelings but can lo really be falling for her straight best friend this book is adorable it is so so so cute and here’s the thing like I love romances I love angsty romances obviously because I just recommended two super angsty romances in this very podcast I like the ones that made me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut again the Goodman’s hello but I also love super-sweet romances that leave me feel like somebody gave me like a nice fuzzy blanket and a kiss on the head and like a cup of warm cocoa and everything is good and this is exactly one of those and one of the things I that I love about this is something that Cameron wrote in her acknowledgments and I’m gonna read this because I actually think this is why books like this are so powerful she said in this time of turmoil and terror writing fluff feels like an act of resistance I want to give you a place where you can relax and enjoy yourself for a little while a world where everything turns out okay in the end and there’s lots of flirting and kissing and that is exactly what this book is if you are having a bad day if you cannot handle the media if your Facebook is blowing up with yet another horrible human rights thing in whatever and you just need some self-care time this book is like pure self-care you’re gonna love these characters you’re gonna love watching them fall in love it’s so freakin cute I highly recommend it okay that’s on my to-read listener why the terrible thing Terry you could pizza yeah you say this like I haven’t already read the first two of your picks because you told me I should read them I pretty much have them you away unsaid please read these make the priority yeah yeah that was the thing whatever all right my last pick and it’s by no means my least pick because this book is amazing is the way you smile bye Kiki Archer and fortunately there is no audio book available for it but who knows what the future holds the synopsis real-life doesn’t play out like a movie electric connections mostly mean you’ve got static in your jumper Camila mer knows that she’s not doffed she has two teenage boys and bulls to pay plus the only man she’s ever been with has traded her in for a gym bunny returning to works the answer but when she finds herself in the wrong room wrong place at the wrong time the last thing she expects us to be promoted out of obscurity into the arms of Harriet’s Imogen Pierson media darling hotshot entrepreneur and notorious lesbian play goal Camila can’t believe it she’s an ordinary woman nothing special so what’s Harriet’s motivation what’s her endgame all Camilla’s feelings just infatuation or is it real love and that’s a pretty accurate description of this book except you will laugh a lot and they are moments which are so awkward that you’ll just once you hide under something because you’re cringing so for the character it’s so cool Kiki author book in that way and you know what I find most fun about Kiki Archie books apart from the awesomeness of everything is that so many of these weird cringe-worthy amusing incidents she takes from real life did you know that I didn’t that’s pretty great though okay so let’s finish off your last one so my last one is the sex therapist next door by Megan O’Brien which is available in audio I haven’t listened to that either but I have to say you may not want to listen or read to this book in public if the title is not any kind of an indication for you and Lissa right oh my god so my synopsis is Diana Kelley has a big problem in a few short hours she’ll have a classroom full of women expecting a live hands-on sex education class and her best friend and teaching partner Ava has just called to say she’s fractured her spine needless to say Ava won’t be participating for a while and what’s the sex therapist to do in the meantime Jude Monaco has had a massive crush on the older woman next door for more than a year and she can’t believe her luck when diana has a proposal for her get paid to have sex with a woman who’s filled many of her fantasies oh yes please so they set the terms $500 a session sex only in the classroom and they’re only ever neighbors when they’re not in class diana has zero interest in a romantic relationship after the train wreck that was her last relationship and Jude is just happy to take what she can get with the woman of her dreams even though she knows it might lead to heartbreak but the class is about intimacy as much as it’s about sex so can they really keep things strictly professional okay so the thing is I’m not just recommending this book because it’s a Megan O’Brien book and it’s super hot because it is super hot and it’s a Megan O’Brien book so of course it’s super hot I’m recommending this one because I actually think it is one of the best if not the best erotic romances available out there in our sector she wrote a master class in how to do erotic romance it is exactly the way erotic romance should be written there is a lot of sex in this book no surprise but every single instance is necessary because it fuels the story it fuels character growth or it fuels relationship development so that means that sometimes we actually join Diana and Jude partway into an encounter we’re not there we’re not always there for the beginning of when the sex starts and we’re not always there for the end it is there like we’re there for exactly as much as is needed and I think that’s really refreshing it works so well because this is so much more than porn like it really is a romance and I mean important has its place and it has totally different purpose and goals but this is a true romance where the sex is doing something important all the time and I also think she’s always done great work in showing what enthusiastic consent can and should look like and I feel like she’s just I stepped that way up with how she has the characters exploring boundaries and talking about boundaries and what that means either in bed or in their case in the classroom but also outside so that it does include things like well we do this here we don’t do this here this is who we are as people and showing that when we think about boundaries it’s much more fluid than than just a sexual thing and I think that’s really powerful and that’s going to be really instructive and helpful for a lot of people to see that modeled in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen it modeled anywhere else thank you for coming to my TED talk that is seven amazing books that you should get right now cuz you probably got a whole bunch of patches of Christmas gifts whatever it is just burning a hole in your pockets these are the seven we think you should spin the box on yeah we do links are in the show notes as well as synopsis titles and all the other information that you’re going to possibly need to get the exact book that we spoke about today Tara thank you so much for joining me as always you are a darling thank you and that’s all for this week bye this has been the lesbian review podcast you can find this and other awesome shows by searching for the lesbian talk show anyway you get your podcasts we’re even on Spotify now find more information on our guests in the show notes as well as links to what we spoke about on this episode and if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and want to see us creating more awesome content then consider becoming a patron not only does this mean we can keep on doing this but you will get exclusive podcasts that do not appear on the channel you can find out all about it’s on patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show the link is in the show notes that’s all for this episode bye that’s my soapbox I hope you know wrong I shouldn’t have said soap talks I should have said so we’re coming to my TED talk I really did say that now and then you can we get all that incident thank you for coming to my TED talk