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Radclyffe

REVIEW:  Homestead by Radclyffe

REVIEW: Homestead by Radclyffe

Homestead

Tess Rogers grew up in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, but she always knew one thing to be true—one day six hundred acres of prime farmland would be hers. Then she discovers not even that truth can be counted on. Tess’s stepfather has kept important secrets, and Tess’s dream of breeding a line of organic dairy cows suddenly goes up in a burst of smoke and flame.

R. Clayton Sutter is an expert at managing just about anything—money, businesses, and people. Getting NorthAm Fuel’s newest shale refinery operational in the rolling hills of Upstate New York shouldn’t be much of a challenge, but then, she hadn’t counted on dealing with vandalism, petitions, and a woman she’d never expected to see again—one who still haunts her dreams.

When Tess and Clay square off on opposite sides of the heated debate, past and present collide in a battle of wills and unbidden desire.

Dear Radclyffe,

Your name has been on my terribly long list of Authors To Try for a while now ever since we posted some reviews of your other books. This one caught my eye because of Tess’s goal in life – to run a top-notch organic dairy farm. I have a great respect for people who run farms and especially dairy ones – up with the cows, be there to milk them twice a day, day in and day out regardless of anything else. I was rooting for Tess’s dream from the start. The main question for me was could you take a fracker and make me pull for her too.

There’s a boatload of stuff going on in this book: second chance at love, across the tracks, rural girl vs city, small business vs conglomerate. Lots of conflicts here but what I like is that the external conflict issues are relevant to today – fracking for badly needed national energy supplies and an infusion of cash into a hurting local economy vs organic milk production for the burgeoning Greek yogurt demand. And I do love me some Greek yogurt, especially the vanilla flavored with fresh fruit. I must stop now as I’m making myself hungry.

Tess is the small town, used-to-be bumpkin but she’s the one who had enough guts to try and contact Clay after their relationship imploded and be honest. Clay caved into the demands her Our-Family-Name-and-Prestige-is-Everything father issued and turned her back completely on their relationship. In my opinion, Clay is saved from being a total heel about how she left Tess without a word by the fact that she knew her father would rather destroy Tess’ reputation rather than give into anyone else’s demands. Tess is one hard cookie, but then see the above statements about dairy farmers, and I like that she’s actually mentally tougher than Clay – the one who’s always been seen as harder edged.

I thought all the issues were well handled and thought out. No one was made into the “villain” vs “the heroine” and a balanced view of all the opinions was shown. As someone who is undecided about fracking, I can only hope that companies treat the environment and the people directly concerned with the tact and fairness Clay demonstrates. But we are talking Big Business so I’m not holding my breath. But enough of my opinions of that. Clay shows the strength of character she’s described as having as she deals with a tough situation that gets dropped in her lap while Tess shows that she’s the intelligent person she’s portrayed to be as well as a hard worker.

One thing that did catch my attention in a bad way is the vandalism scene. It’s night, with unknown people possibly roaming the worksite who have already done some damage and Clay and her bodyguard are tracking him/them down. A slight romantic friction has developed between them over Tess and – with all this going on – Ella stops and says to Clay that now’s the time to discuss things. WTF? Ella is former Secret Service and she thinks this is a good idea? I sure didn’t.

I also got tired of Tess repeatedly charging headlong into the risk of danger despite Clay practically begging her to stay back, keep safe, keep out of danger. I realize it’s Tess showing how much she loves Clay, how much she can’t stand to risk losing Clay and that she’s stronger now then she was then but after a surfeit of it I just wanted to say, “Tess, sweet Jesus, will you just listen to what an expert has to say?”

The resolution of the Organic Dairy vs fuel supply conflict had me worried down to the end. Tess had poured her heart, time and sweat into meeting all the guidelines, had a business plan and chemical free cows in the near future and if she lost all that, I was going to riot for her. The solution is neat, clean and makes perfect sense. I love it when conflicts end that way instead of by deus ex machina.

The resolution of Clay and Tess’s relationship eventually worked for me. Fifteen years without Clay making any attempt to fix the devastation she left behind had me mad for Tess’s sake but she does own up to her mistakes in what she did and allowed her father to demand of her. I give her points for that and for not ducking Tess’s hard questions and anger once they got to a point where they were ready to talk. I think the relationship will have to be a bit long distance as Clay outlined but I think eventually it will all work out.

I’m glad I finally tried one of your books. The characterization is excellent, the plotting tight and crisp, and the issues realistic. If not for the slight out of control drama moments I would have liked it a bit better but it will end up a B- for me.

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Tomorrow’s Promise by Radclyffe

REVIEW: Tomorrow’s Promise by Radclyffe

Bold Stroke BooksRadclyffe,

In the acknowledgements, you mention this book's "checkered past."   You declined to change a certain aspect of the story, opting to shelve the project for several years instead.   I'm glad you made that decision because  Tomorrow's Promise is all the better for it.   This is a passionate romance between two strong, wounded women, and I enjoyed it very much.

Tomorrow's Promise is set in Whitley Point, a secluded island off the coast of Maine, and opens with Tanner Whitley, troubled party girl.   Tanner is James Dean boyish, has a boy name, and acts like a bad boy hero.   She drinks too much and sleeps around with beautiful women.   Every so often, she shows up to work at the family business, but just for the sake of appearances.

Adrienne Pierce has come to Whitley Point for the summer to heal.   It's a huge spoiler to reveal the exact nature of her injuries, so I won't.   I will say that you handled the issue with aplomb.   Adrienne gives Tanner the cold shoulder at first, but she has compelling reasons for doing so.   These two don't rush the sex or the relationship.   Adrienne keeps Tanner at an emotional distance, even after their first sexual encounter.   As they begin to trust each other, and make intimate confessions, their connection grows.

You have a flair for dramatic dialogue.   I love angst and this book delivers it.   The attraction between Adrienne and Tanner felt very real, and the sex scenes are highly sensual.   I would call it a hot contemporary, which is one of my favorite types of reads. Both characters talk like women, interact like women, and touch like women. They communicate well, in and out of the bedroom.   That was refreshing!

For readers who might be hesitant about lesbian love scenes, these are tastefully done, with little or no graphic language.   I don't have problem with dirtier stuff, but the soft/sweetness fit this particular story.

What didn't I like?   The writing fell short for me.   Plentiful adverbs and frequent POV switches give the work a choppy, unpolished feel.   You reveal the thoughts of too many inconsequential characters, hopping from one head to another.   The style becomes smoother, and these flaws less noticeable, as the story progresses.

Although I wouldn't describe your writing as "good," from a technical standpoint, I can see why readers might find it addictive.   This story reminded me of a soap opera, with big emotions and torrid embraces.   The characters are likeable despite the clichés.    Tomorrow's Promise has a traditional, category romance appeal (minus the alpha male), and I'm interested in reading more of your books.   Thanks to Mfred for the rec.   B.

Jill

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