Title: The 45th Parallel
Author: Lisa Girolami
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Release Date: May 18, 2015
Pages: 264
Book Source: Advanced eBook copy

Val Montague travels back to her childhood home of Hemlock, Oregon, to handle the estate of her dead mother. All she wants to do is follow her mother’s wishes, liquidate the assets, and leave town.

Cam Nelson, a high school dropout and town outcast, has struggled to establish a small business and leave behind her “good-for-nothing” reputation.

When they meet, Val’s rather unpleasant trip becomes much more bearable. Soon, however, peculiar and dangerous events begin to plague her when she begins to suspect her mother didn’t die the way everyone said she did. And soon Val realizes that in this eccentric, woodsy beach town, a chance for romance just might lead to death.

My Review:

I like mysteries and beach towns, and I haven’t read a lesbian novel since college, so I thought I would give this book a try. I am happy that I did.

I was a bit skeptical at first since I am not usually a fan of very descriptive writing. When I read mysteries I enjoy witty dialogue and actions sequences. If the author starts romanticizing about the scenery, I’ll find myself skipping over those passages to get back to the mystery. But Lisa Girolami’s descriptions were so visually entertaining that I did not skip ahead.

Towards the beginning of the story, Val ends up going to a church that her recently deceased mother attended. The scene with the preacher was pretty heavy with scripture, and I was concerned this book was going to keep going in such a way that made all religion/churches out to be against GLBTs. Girolami balanced it out very nicely though with another character, who although very religious, didn’t care about whom people loved.

There’s also that old joke, What did the lesbian bring on the first date? A moving van. Val and Cam do end up falling for each other very quickly, but this isn’t any different than most straight romance novels out there. I was expecting it, but I really didn’t want it to be overly unrealistic. Fortunately I did not get that feeling. And if you are one of those people who happens to find a wonderful partner, and you realize it right away, more power to you.

I was amused by how much of a Nancy Drew novel this felt to me, with the female characters breaking into places with flashlights, and not going to the police until they had more evidence.  And what was great was that the author even made a nod to this towards the end of the book with Val having a thought about her feeling like an older Nancy Drew.

If you are looking for a book with tons of lesbian sex, this is not the book. Since Val and Cam are running around so much trying to find clues and not get killed, there is not a lot of time for sex. But the one major sex scene that takes places if very sensual, and enjoyable to read. You feel the connection between them, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

The one little problem I had with the storyline was with Cam and how she completely neglected her candy store business. As far as I could tell she is the only employee, and yet she was not at her store for a good part of the book. I believe the story happened over just a few days so maybe she just put a “Closed for Family Emergency” sign up, but it felt like the author just forgot that Cam had a business to run. At least in cozy mysteries the main character either has other employees cover for her while she’s off solving a mystery, or she has a job that is flexible enough for her to be solving a mystery while working, like Stephanie Plum in the series by Janet Evanovich.

If you like mysteries with a bit of romance, you should definitely give this book a try. I look forward to reading future novels by Lisa Girolami. If you would like to purchase this book, or other books by Girolami, click here.

*I was given an Advanced eBook copy by the publisher, Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I was not given any money or material incentives for an honest review of this book.

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