Sunny Reviews Midnight on a Mountaintop by Amy Dawson Robertson

Another winner from ADR! This novella is the sequel to Midnight In Orlando, and picks up with Nic and Susan’s story four months after they met in Orlando.

Nic is still slightly neurotic and Susan is still mostly level-headed, but they each seem to be rubbing off on the other just a little bit. When this book begins, they haven’t seen each other since the conference in Orlando, but have kept in touch daily through the wonders of modern technology. They have both decided that they’re ready to take another step in their relationship by seeing each other again in the form of a vacation together, and maybe more – if they can just muster the courage to actually do it.

The delightful Jeanne, who was the first person to befriend Susan in Orlando, has also kept in touch with her new friend and soon makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Jeanne and her partner Jo own two neighboring cabins in West Virginia. Jeanne offers the second one to Susan and Nic to join them for a weekend getaway. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues.

I didn’t find this book to be as laugh-out-loud funny as the first one, but the characters are still lovably quirky, and there’s an underlying sweetness to their relationship that they didn’t have yet in the first book. However, we are talking about Nic and Susan here, so nothing about their weekend happens easily. It seems like anything that could go wrong, does, but without giving away too much, I think it’s safe to say all is well in the end.

Jeanne and Jo are great secondary characters, but we get to meet newcomers Harry and Cassandra who all but steal the show. So, pick up this book, make sure you have bail money, put on your Thundershirt, strap on your snowshoes, and expect the unexpected when it’s midnight on the mountaintop.

You can download a sample or purchase Midnight On A Mountaintop by clicking here.

Sequella Reviews Scapegoat by Amy Dawson Robertson

I love sequels! Especially when they already exist while I am reading the book(s) prior to the sequel. Miles to Go left me wanting more of Rennie, more of the aftermath of Tajikistan, and more of a future for Rennie and Hannah.

You certainly get all of that in Scapegoat. The book deals with the aftermath of Tajikistan, not only for Hannah and Rennie, but also for a surprisingly large number of the side characters from Miles to Go. Each of them has their own struggles and issues and there is almost no interaction between them at the start of the book. This leaves the reader with a lot of parallel plots in the beginning. In addition, the intrigue for Scapegoat is complex, so I ended up a little bit lost in a few places. It certainly didn’t grab me as fast as Miles to Go but once everyone is in place, the action in Scapegoat starts. And once Rennie is moving again, I couldn’t put it down.

The relationship between Hannah and Rennie is more in focus in Scapegoat, don’t worry though, there is still plenty of action, bad guys, and close calls. This book is definitely more of an intrigue than a romance.

My major complaint about this book is the formatting. There is no visible sign that marks new scenes. In the beginning, where everyone is on their own and has their own scenes, this can get very confusing.

I think Hannah and Rennie would be worth a few more books. The combination of super-secret special bad-ass chick and investigative journalist make me hope for more. I am even fine if the romance remains just a small, little extra on the side as long as there are more books. I guess I am ready for another SEQUEL!

Click here to download a sample or to purchase Scapegoat

Midnight in Orlando by Amy Dawson Robertson

I love books that are a joy to read. So, obviously, I loved this little gem of a book. I’ve had a really crazy work week and just wanted to escape for a short while. I sat down with Midnight In Orlando and read it straight through. It’s only a little over 100 pages, so that wasn’t too difficult a task, but I had only planned to read a chapter or two. The story and the characters just drew me in and gave me no choice but to keep reading.

The chapters alternate points-of-view between the two main characters, which is not always a favorite thing of mine, but it really works here. It gives the reader very helpful, and often humorous, glimpses into the minds of both quirky, but lovable, leading ladies.

The story takes place at a conference for writers and readers of lesbian fiction. Susan is a lonely, workaholic attorney with a color-coded calendar and secret bedside stash of lesbian romances. Nic is a near-neurotic, reclusive writer of very popular lesbian fiction who has purposely avoided any connection with her fans and readers. Both are fearful that they’ll never meet Ms. Right or even Ms. Right Now.

In an attempt to broaden their horizons and come out of their self-imposed shells, they both decide to attend the annual Labrys Literary Conference in Orlando. I’m sure you can guess what happens next. However, I can almost promise you that their meeting and budding romance is probably nothing like you are imagining, so I urge you read this novella to see what really happens.

I can also promise you that you will smile, laugh, and cheer them on as you read. Oh, and you might want to make sure you have at least a couple of hours to spare before you start.

Click here to purchase or download a sample of Midnight In Orlando

Action Round-Up!

It’s round-up time again.

This time around I’m going to look back at some of my favourite action/intrigue/suspense novels. There’s a fair number of this type of book in lesfic – a little bit of action and danger seems to move the romance along. For this particular round-up I’m going to focus on military and espionage types of books. Normally, I’m not a big reader of these kinds of books – was never in the military and have little frame of reference for them. These books stand out are good solid action novels that manage to transcend into some interesting character studies and fascinating reads.

Whatever Gods May Be by Sophia Kell Hagin

If you’re looking for something different, this is definitely a book I’d recommend. The novel follows Jamie Gywnmorgan, a young woman who joins the Marines, struggles her way through basic training and sniper school and then is deployed into a war zone. Kell Hagin makes this a fascinating story – both with her writing style as well as with the story itself. Jamie is a survivor and the author reveals her and the world she lives in slowly, never dumping expository information and the bits and pieces you pick up about her past fit perfectly (and give a bit more insight) to her character as she grows within the book. I’d definitely classify this as a military/action, with a bit of speculative fiction as it is set sometime in the not so distant future. Some of the technology and the conflict she enters as a Marine may be new, but the core of the book – Jamie and those around her – experiences are familiar and universal. Ignore the book blurb because is does absolutely no justice to this book. Just pick it up and read it.

Rennie Vogel Series by Amy Dawson Robertson

This is definitely a kick-ass series – well-written, intriguing characters and storylines that are both topical and riveting. Rennie Vogel is an FBI agent who has been recruited for a special/black ops force. She’s faced with a tremendous amount of backlash because of her gender, but she proves herself as tough and resilient as her male counterparts and is grudgingly given a position on the team. The team’s first mission is to be dropped into Tajikistan and eliminate a charismatic extremist who is running a terrorist training camp. Things go terribly wrong and Rennie is forced to complete the mission, not knowing that a kidnapped American journalist is also being held at the compound. Scapegoat is a follow-up where Rennie and Hannah are both dealing with the aftermath of the Tajikistan mission … or not dealing with it. It was refreshing to see that there wasn’t a pat HEA after the first novel – bad things happened and both characters are struggling with that – and this gives the reader an even better understanding of both characters. Don’t worry, this isn’t a maudlin or introspective book – there’s plenty of action and intrigue and Robertson builds a plausible situation as well as ratchets up the suspense so you don’t want to put the books down until you find out how it will all end. The set-up of the second book and the attention Robertson put into the supporting characters makes me think (hope) that there will be more to come in this series. I just hope she writes fast.

Elite Operatives Series by Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou

This series had been out for a few years before I actually bought the first book. There was something about the covers and the big splashy “Elite Operatives Series” that made me cringe and think this was going to be cheesy – plus I’m never sure about what to expect when books are co-authored. I’m still not a fan of the covers – but once I started reading the first one, I was hooked. This is a great series that invites you to suspend your disbelief for a little bit and let yourself enjoy the fast-paced plots full of suspense, intrigue, and smoldering romance. I’m not sure how Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou divide the writing, but the narrative is smooth and flows well and the plots are a hell of a lot of fun to read.

The premise of the series is that there is a clandestine organization that recruits orphans from around the world to be the perfect spies and intelligence operatives. Without any family or national identity, they are bound to the organization, and to the highest bidder, for their services. The organization grooms and trains these children and young adults and the best of the best are elevated to the Elite Operative level and they are hired to perform a myriad of tasks from assassination, to re-appropriating stolen treasures, to hostage extraction. Each Operative has their own set of skills, and idiosyncrasies, and the series features a new protagonist and mission each book. The stories are set in present day but as they progress, the authors have taken some liberties with current events and done some interesting things.

Characters from previous books make cameos and there is continuity between books. Despite the links between the books, you could read any one of them as a standalone; however, being the obsessive reader that I am, I recommend starting at the beginning and working your way through them. I read somewhere that this is intended to be a seven book series – which is actually nice to hear. It means that the authors have an overarching storyline with a definitive end and the series won’t fall into the rut of formulaic storylines and characters. You can see it in each book as they set up the next story and characters.

Overall this is a fun read – the plots are full of twists and turns, with a fair bit of action, witty dialogue, lots of hot and heavy build-up of romance, and a nice bit of brooding angst (how can you be an international assassin without just a little angst).

Miles To Go by Amy Dawson Robertson

I had been looking forward to reading this book. It looked different from most of the romance offerings and I enjoy different. I also enjoy action and intrigue, so I figured a book that has “intrigue” in the subtitle should be right up my alley.

I’m always nervous about giving away too much about a book when I review it so I tend to stick to how a book made me feel and how well I connect with the characters and, of course, the technical writing aspects. What I’m going to do for this one is to copy the blurb from Bella for you and then I’m going to go on from there. Sound good? Good.

All Rennie Vogel wants is to serve her country. Rennie has devoted her life and body to training as an FBI counterterrorism operative. The brutal pace has slowly stripped away her private life until only the most fleeting contacts with other women are possible. When her ambition of being the first woman ever considered to join CT3 is finally realized, she pushes herself to the limit to earn the position. When one disaster after another befalls her, Rennie finds herself abandoned. Only then does she begin to unravel the misdirection and deceit that surrounds their first assignment, and to wonder if her failure, not her success, was part of the plan.

Ultimately, with miles of an inhospitable landscape and an ambiguous enemy between her and safety, Rennie must decide if she can trust the one thing she never has before: another woman.

Newcomer Amy Dawson Robertson delivers a gripping story with a heroine you will be determined to cover the distance with … every step of the many miles to go.

Honestly, this description doesn’t seem to match the book that I read. Yes, Rennie wants nothing more than to serve her country and she avoids nearly all connections with women for fear of having her lesbianism found out. But it’s more than just her fear of getting caught and having her career harmed. Rennie is a loner. Really. A loner. She has no close relationships at all. Rennie is a good, honorable woman who is solely focused on being the best she can be. And she’s also got a lot of insecurities that she battles and that’s part of what makes her an interesting character.

I also didn’t see Rennie as being abandoned. She was alone, but I can’t see how she was abandoned. And I really didn’t see much of the unraveling of any misdirection nor deceit. There are mentions of these things but I didn’t see them as taking center stage. As far as the other woman she’s supposed to try to trust, all I saw was Rennie trying to keep her safe and, pretty quickly, opening herself up to the woman who shall not be named here. I really didn’t see Rennie having a problem trusting her at all.

Here’s what I saw: a well told, well written story that I truly enjoyed. I liked the gritty, bloody details of Rennie fighting against the enemy, her own agency, and herself to survive. The subplots were good and interesting and I cared as much about them as I did about Rennie. Even characters that only made brief appearances were well written and had some depth.

This is not your standard, formulaic lesbian romance. I’m not ripping on standard, formulaic lesbian romance, I enjoy them plenty, but sometimes it’s nice to read something with a strong lesbian lead character that doesn’t focus on her romantic relationship.

While the book I read didn’t resemble the one described on Bella’s site, it was a good read that kept me involved in the story from beginning to end. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would going from the blurb. I will absolutely buy the next offering from this author. Which I hope is the sequel to Miles To Go. Definitely some unanswered questions in the first one.