Marthese reviews A Royal Romance by Jenny Frame

‘’Duty and service come first’’

I have a soft-spot for queer royalty romance books. I have said it before and I stand by it. When I discovered A Royal Romance by Jenny Frame, it was an immediate add to my TBR. When I saw there was an audiobook, I took the opportunity to honour one of my New Year’s resolutions. The audiobook is narrated by Lesley Parkin, and let me just say that the voice was fantastic.

Set in the future, Frame’s A Royal Romance follows Princess Georgina (soon Queen) and Beatrice Elliot, a Republican charity worker. Georgina is the first openly gay monarch and the first woman to be first in line before her brother. The royal family were (almost) all a delight; they were so supportive of Georgina – although as head of the family, they rely a lot on her. Who will she rely on?

Beatrice and George meet after Georgina becomes Queen. On her road for coronation, George wants to support one main charity – to give them patronage and exposure. She chooses Beatrice’s charity for their great work and Bea, as the regional manager, is the only person who can take her around the country on site visits. This sets some sparks flying. They clear things enough to be able to work together, but the class and cultural divide is ever-present, and it doesn’t take much for hostility and misunderstandings and feelings of inferiority and inadequacy to take over. A lot of misconceptions have to be cleared up first.

Bea is refreshing to George. They both challenge each other to think in a different way. It’s a monarchy match, especially because George has to marry and she prefers to marry for love…she just has to convince Beatrice.

Sarah and Reg Elliot, Beatrice’s parents were also a delight. It’s the kind of family most people dream of.

The ending of the story was action packed. Some tragedy and lots of celebrations.

The world building in the book was deeply researched and it shows. I learned a lot of new things about monarchy and places. There were a lot of staff positions, creating this intricate web of people surrounding the royal family, although at times I felt there were too many people involved. There were also a lot of traditions (George is old-fashioned) and protocols (much to Beatrice’s annoyance). All this added up for the story to feel realistic.

While I enjoyed the story I felt there were some things that could have been better. There was the generic discourse of ‘gay or straight’. Moreover, despite the story being set in the 2050s, it’s still ‘man or woman’. I would like authors that acknowledge other sexual and/or romantic orientations and a diversity of genders! I also had minor problems with lack of explicit consent or delayed consent.

I also felt that their relationship moved too fast. Granted, there was a timeline and it’s not like they could afford to have privacy, but Bea’s character would have at least said something.

The narrator was great. Parkin gave different voices to each character and distinguished them from the narration voice. At times, I forgot it was just one person. My only issue was with the Belgian accent but accents are very hard to replicate. George’s voice is very poised, whereas Bea’s voice is saccharine sweet.

Despite loving royalty in books (they spice things up), I’m much more of a presidential republican but the reasons given in the book for Monarchy actually made sense and I went on the journey with Beatrice.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It entertained me during many hours on the bus. The struggle for Georgie’s and Bea’s relationship was real. I would recommend to romance lovers, monarchists or British lovers. This is a perfect beach (or cozy) read.

Babusha reviews Charming the Vicar by Jenny Frame

Charming the Vicar is the sequel to Courting the Countess and tells the story of the ultra femme and sexy af Bridget Claremont, the vicar of Axedale. Jenny Frame has been my go-to lesbian content author since I read Royal Rebel and this is my favourite book she’s written so far.  Her characters are always adorable wholesome lesbians, which are my absolute end-all kink and their love stories never fail to induce at least a week’s “book high”.

Bridget is used to having to guide lost sheep to their flock, but this one might just be out of her reach. Finnian “Finn” Kane is a famous magician and an even more famous atheist who has spent her life exposing “fake” evangelists and psychics. A confident playboy butch if there ever was one, Finnian is hiding away in Axedale after a personal tragedy and absolutely refuses to entertain Bridget and her “collar” under any terms.

I really loved both characters and their stories. Bridget’s struggles with the church hierarchy as an openly lesbian vicar is very realistic yet it doesn’t venture into tragedy as most novels might be wont to do.  She may be almost widely accepted and loved in Axedale, barring a few, but is haunted by her previous life, even more so as her need to help Finn open up and cope with her grief becomes a lot more than just her day job. We also find out a lot more about Bridget’s history and how she came to be the person she is.

Finn starts off as this skittish, damaged  ‘deer’ who has suffered deep loss and is instantly suspicious of church figures, trying to run Bridget off many times, but Bridget is also no ordinary ‘herder’ and is up for the challenge. They slowly fall in love and embrace other sides of their relationship and personalities they’ve given up. For Frame’s characters, the struggle with their faith in love and faith in God is two sides of the same coin and hence constructs a genuinely empathetic tale of two scarred people who are facing a relatable struggle in faith in love of all kinds.

For anyone who’s read Courting the Countess, Sam, the awesome farmer butch, also makes an appearance and is funny and supportive as ever. I hope we get a book of her falling in love with a cute sweet femme soon. Also, a shout-out: for the second installment of Lady Hildegaard’s adventures. This story was especially awesome for this poor lesbian looking for a dashing knight to save her.

The ending was wrapped up in a particularly pretty little bow, but for a topic which is as sensitive as the Catholic Church’s views of LGBT vicars and priests and how easily it could have gone wrong in a different genre, that’s probably a good thing!

I give it four stars and would read again and again when I’m feeling especially ~love-lorn~.

Babusha is a 23 year old ace lesbian who loves queer love stories in every form- especially fantasy lesbian assassins who can kill her with one look. I am constantly searching for that mythical POC bookish lesbian nerd and will at some point actually start writing out of sheer desperation and boredom. I’m obsessed with mutual pining and angst with happy endings, with complex, flawed characters who are still cinnamon rolls that should be protected at all costs.

You can find her gushing about her fave gay novels and movies on Twitter @redqueensparta

 

Julie Thompson presents A Mother’s Day Booklist Bonanza!

Happy Mother’s Day! In the United States, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May. I’m lucky in that I was able to share a whirlwind of a Saturday with my mom recently. We shed the hustle and bustle of city life behind, shopped the outlet mall, and had fun watching Dwayne Johnson save the world alongside his gorilla pal, George, in Rampage. Let’s celebrate the wonderful, complex mothers in all of our lives with a bouquet of books! Mother’s Day has many meanings for all of us and I hope that this arbitrary date is just one of many for you and yours. I’ve assembled a mixture of families that I hope speaks to your experiences and brings you joy whenever you think of your family. This list is drawn from some of my recent favorites. What stories have warmed your heart recently? Let me know in the comments below!

In Our Mothers' HouseIn Our Mothers’ House is an amazing picture book written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. Told from the point-of-view of the eldest daughter after they’ve all grown up and flown the nest, she remembers fondly the loving and supportive home that she and her adopted siblings experienced in their mothers’ house. Despite a frosty treatment by a homophobic neighbor, the family shares imaginative holidays (see their homemade Halloween costumes!), summer block parties, and a warmth that radiates through all they do. The mothers and children share the deepest sense of family.

All the Little Moments
All the Little Moments by G. Benson – Contemporary romance set in Australia.

Anna, an anaesthetist, steps in to raise her niece and nephew after their parents are killed in a car crash. While she loves them, author G. Benson presents Anna as a complex character who feels conflicted by her distaste for Melbourne, leaving her child-free life behind, misses her best friend/brother, and wonders if dating is at all compatible with her new life.

 

Bingo LoveBingo Love by Tee Franklin, illustrated by Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San – Graphic Novel. Historical fiction/Contemporary romance. Second chances.

This adorable and moving story follows Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray. The women first meet as teenagers at a church bingo game in 1963, but are wrenched apart when their love is discovered. Decades later after marriage to men and children, the two meet again at, you guessed it, a church bingo game. The path to second chance romance isn’t easy, but that just makes it all the more wonderful. Keep a box of tissues close.

Collide-O-Scope
Collide-O-Scope by Andrea Bramhall – British crime series.

I always imagine Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon as Heather Peace’s DS Sam Murray from the television series Lip Service. Gina Temple, single mom with a dead beat mistake of a father for her daughter, manages a campground in a tiny fishing village in Norfolk, England. The two meet in book one of the series. Despite corpses and high stakes, sparks fly.

 

Alice & Jean
Alice and Jean by Lily Hammond – Historical Fiction, 1946 New Zealand.

Alice Holden keeps the home fires burning while her husband is off fighting during World War II. Two small children keep her hands busy, but she can’t stop the fluttering of her heart every time Jean delivers milk to her door. She really does bring all women to the yard. As the women fall in love, small town complications and Alice’s emotionally battle scarred husband complicate matters. Obligation, loss, new love and new beginnings weave a rich tapestry. How many women forged lives anew like Alice and Jean tried to do?

The Fall
The Fall by Robin Alexander, read by Lisa Cordileone – Contemporary romance.

I just had my six month dental check-up. Instead of plopping down and finding romance with the local dentist, and single mom, Sunny Chase, I came away with a clean bill of health for my chompers. Noel Savino has no such problems, though she plays it casual because it’s safer that way, yeah? However, casual nighttime shenanigans are anything but casual where Noel’s large Italian-American family are concerned. Narrator Lisa Cordileone delivers a vibrant performance that enhances the humor and personalities present.

Heart of the Game by Rachel Spangler. Contemporary romance.

Sports journalist Sarah Duke is living her dream: covering the St. Louis Cardinals. On opening day she meets a precocious young fan and his hard-working, newly out single mother, Molly Grettano. FYI: baseball puns abound. If you’re a cornball like me, you’ll love ‘em!

 

 

Additional books featuring mumsy: