Cathy Yardley

Books: Romance | Queer

Ponto Beach Reunion: Gouda Friends (2022), Ex Appeal (2022)

Role Playing (2023)

Ponto Beach Reunion

Gouda Friends (2022)

Gouda FriendsTam has had the day from hell.

"I'm sorry, Tam. But he's a vice president. What was I supposed to say?" Lydia had then pointedly glanced at her watch. "You can take tomorrow off, all right? Now, you'd better get going. The hotel people say the last train back is at eleven, and you don't want to get stuck."

However, the last straw for Tam wasn't coming home to find her boyfriend in bed with his ex.

The last straw was discovering he'd thrown away her emergency cheese–her favorite, she paid extra to have shipped across the country.

With no place to go, out of desperation she calls her best friend, Josh, who gets gets her across the country and hopes to help her get her life back.

Reading this, I felt I had a disconcerting amount in common with Tam.

Most of the shifts in her life were things she'd been driven to. Not things she'd enacted.

"C'mon. You must have had sex at some point," Brent had pressed. "Men and women aren't friends like that."

For a book with a zillion cheese puns, the story also had a lot of boinking.

So I did a lot of skimming. I don't think I missed anything pertinent to the story, but although I saw there was dialog, I didn't care to read around the sex scenes for it.

I loved the cheese and Tam and her friends. But I found her inability to talk to Josh (and vice versa) aggravating. I also loved that Josh was involved in Ghost Kitchens, which is an idea I find fascinating.

Will I read another book in this series? Perhaps. Probably if it's on sale. But there was a lot of boinking and there were a lot of puns.

Publisher: Montlake

Cover design and illustration by Philip Pascuzzo

September 2023 | Rating: 7/10

Ex Appeal (2022)

Ex AppealThis follows Gouda Friends and one of the characters is the brother of Tam from that book, but you do not need to have read the previous books for this story.

Vinh is very good at what he does–even though what he does isn't especially good.

Aimsley's team of consultants were fixers, the superheroes of the corporate elite, the ones who came in and cleaned up messes with discretion and creativity. They strategized. They maneuvered.

They made things go away.

Emily is his ex–and they parted on very unpleasant terms after Emily's father died and she had to return home to help her mother. Dropping out of college means that Emily was never able to follow her career path.

Banshee tended to run with ethical hackers for the most part, and Emily had felt comfortable there. That said, nobody was pure white hat there, either. Honestly, most of their alignments could be considered chaotic good at best, neutral at worst.

So she works at an IT call center.

"Can I turn this back on or what?" the caller groused.

She glanced at the clock. "Yes, you can," she said, and he continued to mumble obscenities, presumably under his breath, as she heard him power it up again. "How's it working?"

Another pause, a long silence. "It . . . seems to be working," he grudgingly admitted.

"All right. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call us anytime."

He hung up on her.

The story was interesting, and I kept reading, but I had a very hard time liking Vinh–specifically the work he was currently doing, and what he did to Emily in the past. Yes, there was an explanation, but the work he was currently doing? I had a hard time seeing him as anything like a goodguy.

Publisher: Montlake

Cover design and illustration by Philip Pascuzzo

February 2024 | Rating: 6/10

Role Playing (2023)

Role PlayingMaggie Le thought being divorced was hard. But her son Kit living for college was worse. Now she had no reason to leave her house, except to get food.

"Second: I have changed markedly since my twenties," she said. "I don't want to wear bandage dresses and club all night . . ."

Kit made gagging noises. "Ack! Brain bleach!"

She ignored his outburst. "I'm not saying that other women can't wear whatever the hell they want and feel however they want to feel. My point is, at this age, I don't want to get negged by some fifty-year-old douchebro who thinks I care about his opinion, just because he wants to sleep with me. I don't want to wear makeup or shave my legs or buy matched underwear . . ."

"I regret everything," Kit groaned. "You're right. You're old. You don't need to date, and I never want to have this conversation ever again."

Aiden moved back to Fools Falls to help out when his father was dying. Now he feels responsible for his mother, and trapped in a place he never wanted to return to, with friends he has possibly outgrown.

"But I bet with some makeup and maybe some clothes that . . ." Riley stopped, chuckling and shaking his head. "Okay, I'm lying. You can't even tell what her body looks like. She's swimming in that shit. How's a guy supposed to know what he's dealing with when a woman wears that?"

"I know, right?" a new voice chimed in.

Aiden and Riley spun to find Maggie standing in the kitchen doorway, obviously hearing them.

"For Christ's sake, what was I thinking?" she added, with an amused smile. "It's like I'm doing it on purpose or something."

When Maggie is invited to join a gaming guild, she assume that Aiden is like the rest of the guys–just barely out of high school. Which leads to a serious misunderstanding about each other's ages.

"Klara said some friend of hers wants to get involved with that crazy video game thing you do," she said. "Sounds like the lady's housebound or something. I don't know, I wasn't really listening."

In addition to a character who has deals with anxiety, there is also an ace character.

"But that attraction? Doesn't happen that often." He let out a little jagged laugh. "Like, really not often."

"So . . . ," she drawled slowly, as if she was processing it. "You're . . . what, ace?"

This was not the reaction he was expecting. "I'm what now?"

There were parts of this story that were unpleasantly familiar.

"She'll listen to you. She likes you better, anyway."

"Aiden, that's not fair."

Aiden shrugged. "I'm not trying to be passive aggressive with that, or anything. It's certainly not your fault. I'm just stating facts."

It didn't bother him as much as it used to that he wasn't her favorite. Although it did still bother him.

I honestly thought this book would be harder to read than it was, but mostly I think I'm numb.

I liked the ace rep, but since the character was demi, there ended up being a good deal of boinking.

Which I skimmed and skipped.

Publisher: Montlake

Cover design by Leni Kauffman

October 2023 | Rating: 8/10