MEC Reviews The Devil’s Orchard by Ali Vali

I approached Ali Vali’s fifth book in the Cain Casey series with a bit of caution. Not that I don’t love the series – I’ve re-read it quite a few times, enjoying the action, humour, and characters enough to find them a welcome haven when I’m stuck in one of those moods where nothing new piques my interest. Vali’s created memorable characters and some complex plots full of crosses and double-crosses that still keep me riveted, even when I know damn well what’s going to happen next because I’ve read the books so often. I will admit though, that the author’s habit of ending each book with cliff-hangers was starting to wear on my nerves. There’s nothing worse than racing through the last few chapters of a book, completely captivated by the plot then find myself left dangling precariously (along with the characters) with unresolved plot points and the promise of resolution in a year or two when the next book comes out. It appears that I don’t do patience well. 🙂

From the scuttlebutt I picked up at the GCLS conference, Vali plans two more books in the series and possibly a “prequel”. She’s already started to lay a bit of groundwork around the history of the Cain family and I’m suspecting that the prequel won’t be about a young Cain, but about her great (great?) grandmother. That’s a book I’d be very interested in reading. Needless to say, the last two books in the Cain series will be downloaded as soon as the BSB newsletter announces their release and I’ll be rereading the series from start to finish on a semi-regular basis.

The Devil’s Orchard is a welcome addition to the series. It picks up a short time after The Devil Be Damned and I think it does a lot to bring the series back on track, focusing the story back on Cain and Emma. Many of the characters who had larger roles in previous books are relegated to more peripheral parts; something I think needed to be done in order to make sure the whole storyline didn’t spin out of control. Vali was juggling a lot of characters and intersecting plots without having the chance to close some of them off satisfactorily within the confines of one book – hence the cliff-hangers. The Devil’s Orchard closes off a few outstanding plots (and characters … cause what’s the Devil series without a bit of retribution, murder, and mayhem?) while setting the stage for lots more action and intrigue in the next two books. Although I didn’t want the book to end, I was happy with the way things closed off in this chapter of the Cain saga.

Cain and Emma’s relationship is rock solid in this book – which is a good thing because everyone and everything seems to want to take them both down. The FBI continues to dog their every move – and the arrival of a new Special Agent in Charge with his own agenda adds some new wrinkles as he seems to be more willing to bend the law in his pursuit of Cain. The drug wars are heating up with Juan Luis, Anthony, and Gracelia seeming to work at cross purposes (although if the worked together, I think that they’d disintegrate even faster – the word dysfunctional does not even come close to describing that family). Shelby brings in a new investigator who has her own issues with Cain and then there’s a random obsessed old flame of Cain’s who is bound and determined to get Emma out of the picture and have the mobster all to her delusional self. Seriously, with all that going on, there was no room for the other romantic leads and supporting characters from the other books.

With Muriel and Shelby, Remi and Dallas, and Merrick and Katlin in the background, this book is more action than angst. It’s hard to believe that this series spans only about a year … Vali packs in a lot in that time frame and there were points where I wanted to go back and re-read The Devil Be Damned to refresh my memory of who’s who in the zoo and what dastardly things did they do. In addition to dropping the reader right back into the thick of things, Vali sets up things for future conflict – giving some tantalizing hints of what is yet to come. This is a book you don’t want to put down because you don’t want to miss a thing. My only quibble is that there were too many POVs in the book – I already know that the bad guys are bad, I don’t need to keep going back to see how bad (and sometimes just plain stupid) they are.

I found this to be a bit darker than the previous novels – with Cain making some rather harsh decisions and reactions on both a professional and personal level and even Emma is becoming more involved in the less than savoury side of Cain’s business. Cain advises Shelby that in order “To avoid the fruit of sin, stay out of the devil’s orchard. … Revenge is something you think will soothe the ache that loss leaves you with. Like apples growing in an orchard, it will tempt you, but it’s an illusion … Take my advice and avoid the orchard, the sin and the devil you’ll find there.” An interesting warning from someone who spends a good portion of the series exacting revenge (or is it retribution) against those who have harmed or threatened her own family.

Vali loves to tell a story that is firmly entrenched in the greys – you’re cheering for the criminals and jeering at the FBI. When all is said and done, Cain is a mobster – she’s smarter than the FBI, loyal to her family and friends, but make no mistake, she’s ruthless and unforgiving if crossed. Vali doesn’t sugar-coat the violence, but she doesn’t dwell on it either. I wouldn’t classify this as noir – Cain’s just a bit too charming and likable to be a noir anti-hero. It does have a gritty bite to it – definitely a departure from the standard lesfic romances; but, it still stands up as a strong ongoing romance series. The relationship between Cain and Emma sizzles and, even though they’ve been together for the last five books, they are still working their asses off to get to their happily ever after – no matter how many bodies they have to dispose of to get there.

If you’ve been reading the Cain series, pick this one up. It’s an excellent addition and ties up some of the loose ends from the other books. The Devil’s Orchard is a fast-paced read, full of twists and turns with an end that will leave you satisfied (for now) but eager to find out what Vali has in store for the New Orleans crew. If you haven’t read the series – go back and start at the beginning. This isn’t a series you can read as standalone – Vali’s developed a complex set of plots and characters that deserved to be savoured in their entirety. My love of this series has been re- invigorated and I’m looking forward to seeing how Cain’s story will play as the series comes to a close. Definitely recommended.

December Book Binge Weeks 2 and 3 – What I Did Instead of Going to the Mall

With the ridiculously fast approaching holidays, I’m finding myself increasingly less interested in venturing out of the house – especially when even getting a litre (quart for you Yanks) of milk involves an obscene amount of time spent circling in parking lots, eyes peeled for an open or soon to be vacated spot. I did do my time in retail hell – a few hours at the mall that was planned out like a Navy Seal mission (get in, achieve the objective and get out with as little bloodshed as possible). The last couple of weeks, I’ve had to the chance to spend some time on the couch with a big mug of cocoa and I’ve been digging out more books for my e-reader and *gasp* a few honest-to-god paperbacks that grabbed my attention.

Beyond Innocence by Carsen Taite

The newest from Taite, Beyond Innocence is a legal procedural. I’ve read most of Taite’s stuff and I have to say that she shines in this milieu and I do hope she sticks to this type of novel – not that Do Not Disturb was horrible, it didn’t hold my attention as much as her legal novels. When Serena Washington’s estranged brother writes to her from death row, she is compelled to do whatever she can to help save his life and contacts the Justice Clinic as a last ditch effort to help. There she meets Cory, a Dallas ADA who has been suspended for prosecutorial misconduct and is serving out her community service working for the “other side”. As you would expect, sparks and legal writs fly. What I liked about this book were the shades of grey (no, not the smutty Shades of Grey) – both in the relationship as well as the cases. As Cory keeps saying, whether about her own scandal or the cases she’s involved with, it’s complicated and sometimes the wrong thing is done for the right reasons – or what seems to be right at the time. The romance builds slowly – well, slowly for a lesfic – with lots of smoldering looks and with just enough angst to keep the two women from jumping right into bed. If you like legal dramas – pick this one up. If you don’t – read it anyways. I enjoyed it. Recommended.

Talk of the Town by Saxon Bennett

Nobody does quirky like Saxon Bennett. Somehow she has terribly implausible characters doing ridiculous things and I still find myself drawn into their lives and cheering them on. We’re introduced to Mallory Simpson in her therapist office, where she spends the session in an upside down lotus position, wearing pajamas and a tie. Like I said, quirky. The book follows Mallory, her best friend and unrequited love Gigi, and the various other friends as the navigate falling in and out of love. Bennett writes great characters who are funny and engaging and you can’t help but like them. She balances humourous dialogue and situations with and some interesting insights about relationships quite well. This is one of Bennett’s earlier books that I picked up through a sale at Bella and I’m glad that I did. When reading this one, I could see some similarities with the more polished Family Affair (freaking hilarious – get it) – but that didn’t detract from the book. If you’re looking for a funny, fast paced story that is engaging and sweet – pick this one up. Recommended.

Month of Sundays by Yolanda Wallace

Based on the promo blurb, I’d been looking forward to this book for the past few months. The premise just screams romance. Throw in a chef as one of the main characters and I was completely smitten with the storyline. Rachel Bauer, a reserved accountant who is recovering from a nasty break up, is set up on a blind date with Griffin Sutton, a gorgeous celebrity chef who is more than a bit of a player. After Rachel rejects her initial overtures, Griffin convinces her to allow her to try and woo her with a series of culinary trips around the world over a month of Sundays. Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed with the book overall. I still like the premise, but the execution just didn’t work for me. I had a hard time getting my head around what attracted the characters to one another in the first place and I just didn’t “feel” the romance even though it develops over a long (in lesbian terms) period. Also, the author has a habit of using pop culture references then explaining them in detail – which is a pet peeve of mine. Not necessarily a bad book – but not one that I enjoyed.

The Dragon Tree Legacy by Ali Vali

Although Major Wiley Grimallion is retired, she still keeps her black ops/sniper skills sharp taking on select “jobs” that require a more direct brand of justice. Settling into New Orleans, she receives a message from a long lost love, Aubrey Tarver, and is drawn into a violent confrontation with some rather nasty drug dealers. While Wiley and Aubrey deal with their unexpected reunion and the repercussions of Wiley leaving many years ago, there are a number of dark plots weaving themselves into a tight net around them. Nunzio, from the Devil series, is back, trying to ingratiate himself back into the drug trade in New Orleans, specifically with a mysterious and violent drug lord who has some rather dastardly dealings with Aubrey’s current lover. A rogue CIA agent is trying to strong arm Wiley into exterminating another drug lord/CIA asset in Mexico, leveraging the local FBI (who were never very bright in the Devil books). About halfway through I thought that this is going to be a series, but she managed to wrap everything up by the end.

There’s a good bit of action and double-crosses in this one – with a darker tone as it deals with the drug underworld and throws in some black ops just to raise the danger stakes. At times I thought there was a bit too much going on with all the subplots and some timeline inconsistencies which distracted from the cohesiveness of the overall story. There’s also a whole lot of angst– Wiley and Aubrey never stopped loving one another but, the amount of shit that happened and is happening is going to be hard to overcome. Wiley is a bit less of a rascal than Cain Casey, and at times just a bit too noble for her own good, and Aubrey makes me want to give her a shake and ask “Really? You thought that was a good idea? Really?”

In summary, Dragon Tree Legacy is a good dark intrigue book, full of action and suspense. If you like the Devil series, this will probably be one that you enjoy, but I don’t think it quite hit the same mark as the first few in the Casey series.

And Playing the Role of Herself by K E Lane

This was originally a fanfic story and I loved it so much I bought the published version a couple of years ago at the GCLS. As an actress on an ensemble police drama, Caidence Harris is nursing a bit of a crush on Robyn Ward, the famous and successful lead on a “sister show”. Piqued by online fanfic about the shows, the producers decide to write in a lesbian kiss between Caid and Robyn’s characters and the smoldering unspoken attraction ratchets up. There’s a wonderful chemistry between Caid and Robyn and as their relationship develops you can’t help but develop a bit of girl crush on both of them. My one qualm is that Caid seems to get herself into an inordinate amount of trouble – especially whenever things heat up with Robyn. But what romance doesn’t have a few bumps in the road. Well-paced, well-written, humour, action, romance and a bit of angst – this book has it all. Definitely recommended.

December Book Binge – Week 1 or What I Did During Christmas Hiatus

For some reason or other I haven’t been reading as much as normal. It could be the fact that after three years, I got cable installed in my house and now I spend an inordinate amount of time watching Chopped and Iron Chef along with the odd sprinkling of Storage Wars, Parking Wars, Love It or List It, Dancing With the Stars, and others I’m too embarrassed to admit to. I’m beginning to remember why I decided against getting cable when I moved three years ago. Now that I’ve pretty much satiated my curiosity about what everyone seems to be watching all the time… and the fact that most shows are doing the “fall finale” thing … I’m back to reading and went on a bit of a e-book buying binge.

It seems that there is always a slew of new books released every month through BSB, Bella, and many of the other publishers and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on reading them – and in some cases increasingly disappointed when I make selections that are disappointing reads. So I figured I’d do a quick look at several new releases and give my first impressions.

This week’s reading was kind of a catch-all, running the gamut of speculative fiction, romance, uber, and erotica. At least I didn’t get stuck in a rut.

Silver Collar by Gill McKnight

If you haven’t read the Garoul series, stop reading this review and start reading the books. Seriously. Silver Collar is the fourth book and I like the way that the series and McKnight’s style is evolving. There’s still a wonderful undercurrent of humour in this one, especially with some cameos from Hope and Jolie (and yes the damned dog), but also a darker more serious tone, similar to Indigo Moon. Luc, the villain from Indigo Moon, is on the run – but not making it far as the mysterious illness is sapping her strength and her rationale. She ends up trapped by a scientist who is intent on revealing the Garoul’s secret to the world in order to avenge her father’s death years ago. Luc and Emily are at odds though most of the book in a “who’s got who” kind of struggle. I was curious to see how McKnight would handle transforming the manipulative and amoral Luc from Indigo Moon into a hero of her own story. It works well – pitting her against Emily who has no problem standing up against her and pushing right back. There were a few “Really?” moments in the book, but McKnight is adept at mixing in a bit of absurdity and I found myself more than willing to suspend my disbelief, giggle a bit and eagerly move on with the story. This is definitely a strong addition to a great series and I’m looking forward to seeing more of all the characters she’s introduced so far.

Crossroads by Radclyffe

Rad’s newest medical romance delivers what you would expect – hot doctors, emotional baggage, romance and HEA. Crossroads takes place in the Philadelphia and we get some cameos of characters from past books set here – Jett, Linda, Honor and Quinn. I have mixed feelings about having past characters make appearances in new books – there are fans of Honor and Quinn that love the chance to check in on their fave couple to make sure things are still going great; but, the scenes with Honor and Quinn detract from the budding romantic relationship between the protagonists.

The main characters are new – Hollis Monroe, the gorgeous and dedicated obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancy cases, and Annie Colfax, the lovely and wilful midwife who has some trust issues when it comes to doctors. There’s quite an obstacle for them to overcome early on and, refreshingly, they seemed to manage it like mature adults rather than wringing the angst out of it for half the book. This is a solid romance and it was nice to see the relationship build between the women rather than the instant soul mate attraction that sometimes rears its head in lesbian fiction. At the same time, Crossroads doesn’t deliver the same slow burn smolder that Fated Love or Turn Back Time did. I enjoyed this one more than the last few of Rad’s books – it had a believable plot and characters that were given time to develop – and I really do think she shines when she writes medical romances.

I just hope I never have to have surgery if I’m in Philadelphia, because none of the Doctors there ever get a good night’s sleep.

Love Match by Ali Vali

Love Match started out as online fiction and I will admit that it sold me on Ali Vali as a writer and got me to buy her early published works. With the published version of Love Match, Vali has made some changes – added a bit more exposition about both the characters and switched up a few things in the plot to give it a bit of a different flavour. It is still definitely an uber story and it managed to bring back all the things I loved about reading uber – the smart and sassy characters, snappy dialogue and a good dose of humour. There’s still some uber trope that irked me, but overall I quite enjoyed reading the more polished version and was quite happy that I took the plunge and bought this one.

When Parker King, a champion player both on and off the tennis courts, meets Sydney Parrish, a rather stern and serious commercial pilot, things get off on the wrong foot. Despite this, the sparks start to fly and Vali spends time developing both the characters and their growing romance. Sure, Parker is broody, rich and misunderstood and Sydney is spunky, stubborn and cautious to risk her heart again… but it’s a lesbian romance and its roots are uber. It works. There’s a few subplots conspiring to keep our lovers apart and injecting the requisite amount of danger and suspense. At times I kind of wish Vali skipped these and focused more on the developing romance. One expanded subplot didn’t sit well with me and I suspect that it was added and an extra justification but I found the additional POV distracting from the main story and it was a bit distasteful.

Summoning Shadows:A Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novel by Winter Pennington

Is it just me, or is it rather hot in here? This is the second in the Rosso Lussaria series and I would strongly recommend that you read Darkness Embraced first or you may be a bit lost. This is a different kind of vampire series, breaking from the current norm of having the vampires living openly or at least among humans and sometimes other supernatural creatures. In this series, the Vampires are isolated in their Clans, with little to no communication with other groups and next to no integration with humans – very unlike her Kassandra Lyall
series. I found both books in this series (and the Kassandra Lyall series) to be thoroughly enjoyable thanks to Pennington’s writing style and the characters.

Summoning Shadows picks up shortly after Darkness Embraced, with another attack on the Clan. Epiphany, Renata and Iliaria, after a good long roll in the hay, set out to forge alliances in order to protect the Rosso Lussaria and other vampires from the rogue Dracule who seems intent on destroying them all. It was nice to see the characters leave the Sotto – one of my main complaints with the first book is that it all took place in the underground home of the Rosso Lussaria and there was little interaction with anyone or thing outside that rather insular world. The second book expands the world and we get lots more action and world building – and I’m quite fascinated with the Dracule and Azrael. The characters are more than engaging – even the ones you aren’t supposed to like – and as the main character, Epiphany’s confidence in herself as well as her own powers is further developed.

This is a book that I would classify as bordering on erotica – there is a fair bit of very hot and heavy sex in it and a bit of kink. If that interests you, definitely pick this one up. If it doesn’t, you may want to give it a try because Pennington’s writing is strong enough to keep a good balance so that the sex doesn’t overwhelm the plot and her characters are compelling. Just don’t read it on the bus.

** All these books are available in e-book format through and Kindle books are released a few weeks after the paperbacks come out.**

Cheri’s Funk Reading List

As some of you already know, I’ve been feeling a bit off the past couple of months. When I’m in a funk, I reject most of the reading I should be doing for reading that I want to do. That means that reviews that I should have done are still waiting to be done. And I’m not sure when I’ll get all caught up because I’m still a bit funky.

Since my funk reading list tends to be only old favorites, I thought I’d share what made the list. There are a few other books on the list because they were selected as Books of the Month for the Mostly Lesfic Goodreads group or for Cocktail Hour.

Ok, here we go! These are not in any order because I can’t remember in what order I read them. Some of them have already been reviewed here so I provided links to the older reviews.

Open to Persuasion by Allie (CanadaBadGirl) – This is one of my favorite SVU fics. I think Allie aka CanadaBadGirl or CBG is a great storyteller and I’ve read everything she’s written in the Bad Girls fandom but I think there are other SVU fics that she’s done and she may also write for other fandoms. Not sure. This story not only has a very good depiction of a relationship between Alex and Olivia but two good cases. I highly recommend it. Andy and I also featured this one on an episode of Cocktail Hour and I reviewed it previously here. I haven’t read that review recently so who knows what I said…

My Lord by Mayt – This is a super long, super angst filled, and super good Conqueror fic. Are there some issues grammatically? Sure. Does it take away from the epic tale? Not at all. This is possibly the best Conqueror story I’ve ever read. There are a total of 7 books and some are better than others but, overall, just a great series. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby. Mayt has plenty of other fics available and a published series that starts out with Hesed by Maytee Aspuro Y Gonzalez

Snowbound by Queenfor4 – I came across this story awhile ago during a browsing of Calli’s Creations galleries of covers. I’m one of those people who will pick up a book because the cover grabs me… I had forgotten about it until Cari Hunter’s Snowbound was selected as the Mostly Lesfic book for May and it came up during my search. So I read it a couple of days ago. I very much enjoyed it! Megan Galagher is a homophobic mystery writer who ends up snowbound with a lesbian doctor, Randi Oakes. The unfolding of the story is good and the relationship building is good, too. I’d read it again and do recommend it. A nice Xena Uber. I also just noticed that UK reviewed the story here awhile ago so you should see what she had to say, too.

Snowbound by Cari Hunter – I just reviewed this one here.

Bonded by CBG – One of my very favorite stories in the Bad Girls fandom. CBG does angst like nobody’s business. She also has a very good grasp on the essence of the characters. A joy to read.

Biography & the sequel Plus Ca Change (or Ties That Bind) by CBG – Another favorite! AND this one has been published! You can find it under the name A Walk in the Rain by Alison Barnard. I grabbed the sample from Amazon to see if it started out differently and it appears to be exactly the same with the exception of changing the names of the characters that appeared in Bad Girls. I will, eventually, buy it to support the author but will probably wait until the next time I get the urge to read it. Shouldn’t be too long. Incognito also reviewed both of these stories here and here.

Reapers, Inc.- Brigit’s Cross by B. L. Newport – This was the April book of the month for the Mostly Lesfic group. We all agreed that it was pretty damn good. It’s the story of a newly dead woman who becomes a grim reaper. Initially, it was hard for me to get the image of Dead Like Me out of my head but as I got into it, it was definitely a good read. It’s the first in a series and you’ll probably want to pick up the second one just before you finish the first so you can move on. You’ll know if you want to continue by mid-book.

Soiled Dove by Brenda Adcock – I love westerns – especially westerns with brothels and whores. I didn’t really love this one but I didn’t dislike it either. It was ok. I enjoyed it mostly. I guess it just didn’t move me but it did give me a few hours of entertainment. I don’t not recommend it. You know what I mean?

The Road to Glory by Blayne Cooper & T. Novan – I’ve read this one before and enjoyed it but I enjoyed it even more the second time. I just love Cooper’s sense of humor and Novan’s ability to write angst and there’s lots of both here.

The Story of Me by Blayne Cooper – This short story is, in my opinion, fantastic. It’s classic Blayne Cooper. Stalkers, squirrels, and mishaps make this a very funny, well done romp.

None So Blind by LJ Maas – This is one of my very favorite romances of all time. It’s got the classic formula but Maas, I think, was a fabulous storyteller and I fell in love with both Torrey and Taylor. Yes, there are some issues – lots of flashbacks and many times when the lack of communication between the main characters makes you want to shake them violently – but I just don’t care. My dear friend, incognito, reviewed it here a long time ago so you can see what she had to say, too.

Balance of Forces: Toujour Ici by Ali Vali – I read this one for my appearance on Cocktail Hour with Andy and Ali Vali. It had been awhile since I read a book of Vali’s that I honestly enjoyed. I enjoyed this one. I don’t know if it was because it started out as an online fic – I love her old fan fic more than just about any book she’s put out – or if it’s just a good story, but I do recommend this one!

There were a few more but I can’t remember what they were. I’m still on the edges of the funk so who knows where that will take me!

A Rock for Remembrance by Ali Vali aka A. Valdivia

What makes you happy? Is it the little things in life – like a walk on the beach one Sunday morning under a clear blue sky with a cool wind tossing your hair around, is it going to sleep holding the hand of your loved one – yet again? Maybe it’s something like reaching a goal you’ve set for yourself like doing your five miles run faster than last year or getting the job, the house, the girlfriend or something else that you’ve set your eyes on?

I’m quite sure that there isn’t one thing that makes every one of us happy, but rather millions of different things that can make different people happy. Anyway – if we are to believe the typical alt romantic storyline – we can rest assured that money and prestigious positions won’t guarantee a life of happiness. That’s great since we can’t all be billionaires! There isn’t enough money to go around – at least not after the last couple of years of bank crises.

If you don’t believe me go look up some of these stories to see for yourself! The writers can’t all be wrong – can they?

In “A Rock for Remembrance” by Ali Vali you’ll meet the 35-year-old Julian Lowe the current head tuna (I never heard that one before!) of the Lowe Company – a vast shipping empire. Julian is filthy rich with a job she loves and a grandmother and a loyal staff that loves her to pieces, but as you might have guessed – she is not happy. Julian is missing something in her life that a good friend can’t provide.

It might be a coincident, it might be luck or maybe there really is someone who listens in on our prayers? Anyway when Julian’s friend JJ sends out a late night prayer for someone to come by and love Julian – preferably someone short, blonde and cute – the answer is immediately provided in the form of Summer a little blond – 4-year-old girl! Well if you’re not too specific in you request the delivery might get a bit messed up! You shouldn’t worry though, Summer is a great start to a turn around for Julian, she is cute and lovable, and she will help Julian strike up a connection with another slightly older blond – the lovely kindergarten teacher Kiki who works in the Lowe company’s daycare facility.

Kiki is all you ever wanted; beautiful; warm-hearted, fun and mother to a lovely young boy by the name of Tiger, and if the adults won’t admit that they take an instant liking to each other nothing will hold back the children – Summer and Tiger become best friends in a heartbeat.

If you like to peek into the lives of the filthy rich or how Ali Vali presume that they live their lives, then look no further for your fun.

**SPOILER ALERT** This is a Valentines’ story so rest assured that the women will find a happy ending in each others arms even if they take their time. If you want the living happily ever after ending you’ll have to read both “A Rock for Remembrance” and “..and A Canopy For Happy Endings” and should you want to know even more about the family life of Kiki and Julian you can go for the sequel “Skipping stones“.

I found the stories to have a bit of a humorous tone, but a not too exciting storyline. I’ll give a few points extra though because of the kids. They might be too wise for their age, but they are a nice addition to the storyline as are a number of other supporting characters. It’s nice for once to see the protagonist having a meaningful relationship with someone beside their love interest.

I’ll leave you with a list of stories with likewise riche or successful female protagonists who seems to have a spot of trouble with finding happiness in their lives, but as you know – love conquers all! Most of the stories have been reviewed at this site at an earlier time, so if you want to know a bit about the storylines go look up the reviews.

– “Sheridans Fate” a short story by G. Brooke(review)
– “True Colours” a novel by Karen A. Surtees and PruferBlue (review)
– “Noemi” a novel by Katia N. Ruiz (review)
– “Turning Tides” a novel by A. K. Naten (review)

I also remember a couple of stories by Alex Tryst with filthy rich female protagonists:

– “Adventures of a Super Dyke” (The story is posted in several parts)
– “Love in Photograhps

The Cain Casey Series by Ali Vali

It’s been awhile since I posted a review but I’m happy to pick it up with a brief review of the Cain Casey (or The Devil) series. The fourth in the series is being released next month so I figured that if you haven’t read the first three yet, you’ll have plenty of time to get caught up before the next one is available for purchase.

Derby Cain Casey is the head of the Casey crime family. She’s good looking, rich, and powerful – and heart broken. Emma Verde won the heart of Cain, made a life with her, and then betrayed her.

I don’t want to get to far into the plot but let me tell you that if you like a Godfatheresque story with plenty of violence – and more lesbians than it would see possible in one business – and sex, The Devil Inside is a great start. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series. The second book, The Devil Unleashed is good, too. I thought it was well worth the read. Still some pretty good, gory violence and hot sex along with a good story line. The third book, Deal with the Devil I thought started out well but by the end was moderately disappointed. Particularly the ending which just sort of stopped. And not in a really good cliff-hanger way but in a “holy crap, I’m at my word limit and have to stop right NOW!” I also believe that one of the character names changed between book 2 and 3 – but it may have been between book 1 and book 2. Nothing major, but it threw me off for a minute.

I haven’t even thought twice about not buying The Devil be Damned. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the series. Ali Vali is a great writer and she tells a good story. She does a good romance, too, but this series is all about the gangsters. At least it is for me.

Game, Set and Match by Ali Vali aka A. Valdivia

For some the World Cup (football / soccer) is the focus of attention right now, others might spend time watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament and some – like I – am waiting for the cyclist of The Tour de France to get on their bikes and pedal out of Rotterdam in The Netherlands on July 3rd.

If you get tired of watching the sports on TV, you might want to take a little time with a (fan) fic touching on a sport theme. So I invite you to pick your favourite game on the list below and to relax while you “watch” the ladies work out!

How about starting off with a game of field hockey ? If you like this game or if you are just curious as to what it’s all about, you might look up “The Player” and join Gil and Emma while they play the game and get to know each other – review.

Should field hockey not be to you liking, you could look in on “America’s Sweetheart” by Catherine Burke a sweet romance written on the backdrop of women’s soccer in the US (review).

If golf is your sport – you can stop by “The Deal” by M. Ryan (review) in this story you’ll be treated to an almost play by play run through of the game, while you follow Kaz’s in the world of News.

The road from Kilimanjaro” (review) might be somewhat off a strict sports theme, but if you are not too keen on chasing after a ball you might like to go hiking up the mountain slops of Mt. Kilimanjaro or journey along on a safari with KG MacGregor, while Mary Kate and Kristine get acquainted or perhaps you would rather join Ryan and Jamie on a bike ride in the “Beginning” of their rather long relationship in SX Meagher’s ”I Found My Heart in San Francisco” series – by the way – you’ll find plenty of sports played out in this series as Ryan is a real sports jock (review).

Blue Calm” by Larisa will give you a touch of the atmosphere on the beaches of Hawaii while Tucker learns to navigate the waves on a surfboard and Dunk takes her last win in the Pipe Master Competition (review).

Finally I’ll leave you on Centre Court with Parker King and her racket as she whacks the ball and let it fly past the player on the other side of the net to win the women’s singles final in Wimbledon. Parker is the “bad girl” of the tennis world – dating and discarding women as “just another notch in my lipstick case” (That’s a new one … I think?) and it’ll take a transatlantic flight and a disastrous – but funny – meeting with a blond pilot to changes Parkers lifestyle.

Emily – the blond pilot in question – on the other hand takes her love life serious. Returning from a three weeks stretch of transatlantic flights she meets Gail – her partner of three years – for a short vacation at a rented beach house to reconnect, but this is just another disaster waiting to happen as Gail’s long time habit of drinking becomes unbearable.

Luckily enough it turns out that Parker resides next door to the beach house that Emily rents and I guess that that is all the invitation needed to start Parker and Emily off on the road toward friendship and perhaps, who knows something more. Hey don’t get too excited – you’ll have to watch the ladies work through some misunderstandings before they can walk the path laid out, but that’s just the way it is in romantic fiction !

Ali Vali has penned a number of stories among these “A place to dance” which is the one I like best, but “Game, Set and Match” is a nice romance with a sprinkle of drama and a bit of funny dialogue that’ll keep you well entertained. Just bear in mind that Ali Vali has a tendency to be a little lax with the editing, which might be slightly confusing at times.

In case you are wondering – I do know that you can find a ton of (fan) fic’s on the theme of women’s basketball. I might get around to do a list of basketball fics later – perhaps when the indoor season knocks on the door again.