A Curious Woman
Bess Campbell has escaped to the windswept Australian coastal town of Port Bannir, determined to begin her life again. She is loving her fresh start, thanks to her fun job running a hip gallery, her territorial chickens, and a lot of self-help books to find her new, better self.Port Bannir local Margaret Gale runs an austere maritime museum, and rules her staff with an iron fist. She has no time for that crazy modern gallery or upbeat, earnest Bess sweeping around town on her hipster bicycle.After a heated dispute over an antique collectible dildo, there’s little hope Margaret and Bess will ever see eye to eye.But when Port Bannir is rocked by a senseless murder, both women find themselves implicated. Can they work together to expose the truth––or will the truth prove far too dangerous?A funny, fabulous, cozy mystery filled with quirkiness and a sweet serve of lesbian romance.100,000 wordsThemes: antique collectible dildo · Australia · Australian coastal town · cozy mystery · hip gallery · senseless murder · territorial chickens

A Curious Woman Details

TitleA Curious Woman
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 2nd, 2019
PublisherYlva Publishing
ISBN-139783963241604
Rating
GenreMystery, Romance, Cozy Mystery, Crime, GLBT, Lesbian, Queer

A Curious Woman Review

  • Diane Wallace
    January 1, 1970
    'ARC provided by Ylva-Publishing in exchange for an honest review'**'A good lesson for any writer: make each sentence worth reading and something in it will lead the readers into the next one.Good writers write not just in sentences but with sentences.Get them right and everything else solves itself or ceases to matter...'3.5 stars!I was overcome with a desire to fit together the many pieces of this somewhat intriguing,suspenseful and fine amateur detective mystery of art history,bitterness,ange 'ARC provided by Ylva-Publishing in exchange for an honest review'**'A good lesson for any writer: make each sentence worth reading and something in it will lead the readers into the next one.Good writers write not just in sentences but with sentences.Get them right and everything else solves itself or ceases to matter...'3.5 stars!I was overcome with a desire to fit together the many pieces of this somewhat intriguing,suspenseful and fine amateur detective mystery of art history,bitterness,anger and the unmasking of a killer or killers. Time and again Ms.Lea sways a bit from the overall point of the story to give readers a chronicle of certain artifacts with it's secrets and whether it was of modern or contemporary around the museums. For me,I do think that Ms.Lea took a topic that seems at the outset to be and at the very least mundane if not downright tedious at times, however adding her skill in telling a story -- especially one that might be completely factual -- to shine through from page to page. A chance encounter because of business reasons starts the two main characters talking; then Margaret realizes that she might have underestimated Bess, whose unique outlook on the world and surprising insight into the inner operations of a museum worker/curator -- did peak her interestAs Margaret begins to take stock of the entanglement, evidence and witnesses growing against her, there comes a short brief of time where she was forced to ask herself if it was worth it in her returning to her hometown. Then there was Bess who on the otherhand was trying to learn the truth behind the murder of her boss -- even to her detriment became a pawn to the cops and other suspicious characters with their own agenda. She even suspect the killer that she seeks might be one out for revenge and as the murders multiply, her quest grew more urgent to get to the truth -- with the help of some abscure individuals seeking to decipher the killer's taunting riddles .In the end, secrets prove more valuable than either Bess or Margaret could ever have known and hope for -- not only to the cops and town folks. Is it an easy read, No -- but i'm still recommending it!
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  • Lex Kent
    January 1, 1970
    3.25 Stars. This was a really oddball book. I’m a big mystery fan and I love books that are different, but unfortunately this didn’t really work for me. The writing itself was good, I just didn’t really connect with Lea’s story choices. I guess you could call this a cozy mystery (more on why I guess later) with a very slight romance between an ice queen-ish character and a slightly bohemian free spirited character. As I mentioned already I thought the writing was good. I was immersed in the sett 3.25 Stars. This was a really oddball book. I’m a big mystery fan and I love books that are different, but unfortunately this didn’t really work for me. The writing itself was good, I just didn’t really connect with Lea’s story choices. I guess you could call this a cozy mystery (more on why I guess later) with a very slight romance between an ice queen-ish character and a slightly bohemian free spirited character. As I mentioned already I thought the writing was good. I was immersed in the setting and didn’t have any trouble reading the book even if I didn’t always care for what I was reading. Even with me not really caring for this book, I would read another full length story by Lea.My biggest issue really was the characters. All the character, including the mains, was not the easiest to like. The mains did eventually grow on me but the rest of the people in the town are pretty awful. There is all this talk about how one of the mains loves this small town setting, and I had to think really, with all these creepy people? As I mentioned both mains did win me over, but I still didn’t feel as connected to either as much as I prefer in book I really enjoy. The reason I’m a little on the fence with calling this a true cozy mystery is because it had a sex scene. Usually cozy’s are very low on violence and have no or fade to black sex scenes. While the sex scene wasn’t super steamy it was explicit enough to almost knock it out of the cozy category in my opinion. And even with a sex scene, this book is very romance lite. I would not read this book looking for a romance, more if you want a zany mystery. This book had that really sort of off the wall feeling. With oddball characters that were out there for sure. I think it was supposed to be funny. This could totally be on me but I never laughed once. Humor books are tough for me so other readers might like this more than me. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s not supposed to be funny and I just didn’t get it. Oh well, not a book for me but the writing is there and I see potential in the author. An ARC was given to me for a honest review.
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  • Joc
    January 1, 1970
    Jess Lea’s A Taste of Her Vol 2 is one of the very few anthologies of short stories that I’ve given five stars to because every story was great. Her first novel didn’t disappoint either. Margaret Gale is a severe woman from her dress, her dealings with her staff, the way she runs her museum to the way she interacts with her community. Her staff members are terrified of her but she genuinely believes her mentorship will make them better curators. Bess Campbell works at a nearby gallery of curiosi Jess Lea’s A Taste of Her Vol 2 is one of the very few anthologies of short stories that I’ve given five stars to because every story was great. Her first novel didn’t disappoint either. Margaret Gale is a severe woman from her dress, her dealings with her staff, the way she runs her museum to the way she interacts with her community. Her staff members are terrified of her but she genuinely believes her mentorship will make them better curators. Bess Campbell works at a nearby gallery of curiosities run by a flamboyant hipster who thrives of controversy. Bess desperately wants to get hold of an unusual antiquity to display in their gallery but unfortunately it’s in storage at the Maritime Museum run by Margaret Gale. Because Margaret refuses to acknowledge or return Bess’ calls, Bess decides to turn up at the museum without an appointment. Margaret is quite intrigued by this woman who isn’t cowered by her demeanor but there’s still no way she’s letting her antiquity be used in a freak show. Then things in the small town take a turn for the worse when they’re both implicated in murder.Margaret is a fantastic character with her unrelenting austerity. Even Bess’ perpetually positive nature barely makes a dent. Their interaction is witty and the story has a lovely dark humour and quirkiness that runs through it. The unravelling of the mystery is very clever and wonderfully complex with a number of secondary characters who all add to the richness of the plot. It’s lovely to have main characters with diversity of body type and looks and even better that there isn’t an overt focus on it. I liked the characters so much that the only thing that disappointed me was that the focus was weighted much more in favour of the mystery than the romance.Book received from Ylva Publishing for an honest review.
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    I know I'm in the minority here, but I struggled with this read. I just want to mention from the outset that I'm quickly realizing that cozy mysteries and rom-coms just don't seem to be my thing personally. This is NOT a bad book, I just think that I have personal issues with cozy mysteries in general.Lea's writing style is solid, her pacing is good, but I just found myself having issues sinking into this read. The characters are wonderfully eccentric, but I didn't connect with them at all, and I know I'm in the minority here, but I struggled with this read. I just want to mention from the outset that I'm quickly realizing that cozy mysteries and rom-coms just don't seem to be my thing personally. This is NOT a bad book, I just think that I have personal issues with cozy mysteries in general.Lea's writing style is solid, her pacing is good, but I just found myself having issues sinking into this read. The characters are wonderfully eccentric, but I didn't connect with them at all, and I think that's solely my issue. I think my funny bone is broken, and maybe I just need to avoid these types of books. I found myself having to step away and pick up something else, then come back to this one, just to step away again. I'm honestly just not in the best head-space right now for a cozy mystery or rom-com, so I'm going to set this aside as a DNF at 50%, and possibly come back to it at a later date.With that said, I'm going to avoid rating this one and direct you to maybe check out other reviewers if you're considering this read. Again - Lea's writing style wasn't the problem here, I think it's a personal preference issue.**Many thanks to Ylva for providing me with an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.**
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  • Netty
    January 1, 1970
    Wow that bored me to tears I’m afraid, I just don’t know what went wrong for me I just couldn’t wait for it to end, I didn’t click with any of its contents or characters, I didn’t particularly find any of it humorous either only the first part where her assistant screamed her head off, the sex scene was good and it was written really well but I’m disappointed I didn’t like this book and so many others did but I suppose that’s what makes us different.2.5 stars An ARC was provided by YLVA in excha Wow that bored me to tears I’m afraid, I just don’t know what went wrong for me I just couldn’t wait for it to end, I didn’t click with any of its contents or characters, I didn’t particularly find any of it humorous either only the first part where her assistant screamed her head off, the sex scene was good and it was written really well but I’m disappointed I didn’t like this book and so many others did but I suppose that’s what makes us different.2.5 stars An ARC was provided by YLVA in exchange for an honest review
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    A murder mystery that keeps you guessing. I truly did not guess the culprit Bess lives in a tiny home with her chickens. She works at an odd ball museum until something terrible happens resulting in her and a rival museum operator become suspects.This story carefully unfolds little by little. What I really liked was the quirkiness of all characters in this small town. Usually I get confused when there are so many players. But that never happened. Every single person was unique and purposeful to A murder mystery that keeps you guessing. I truly did not guess the culprit Bess lives in a tiny home with her chickens. She works at an odd ball museum until something terrible happens resulting in her and a rival museum operator become suspects.This story carefully unfolds little by little. What I really liked was the quirkiness of all characters in this small town. Usually I get confused when there are so many players. But that never happened. Every single person was unique and purposeful to keep the reader trying to solve the case. I'm not a fan of time gaps. The epilogue takes place 3 months later. While it wraps everything up nicely, I was a little disappointed with how the main romance was handled. It didn't seem consistent with how the main book ended. I recommend to those who like murder mystery, quirky characters, tiny houses, and chickens. I received an ARC from YLVA Publishing for an honest review
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  • Lexxi Kitty
    January 1, 1970
    Arc from Ylva for honest reviewAdmittedly, I wasn’t certain if I would want to read this one until I spotted whatever I spotted. Had something to do with chickens, and I was intrigued enough to look closer.I’ve probably mentioned in reviews about romances how tired I am of miscommunication/disinformation/etc. being overused to cause issues with the people attempting to couple up. Well, good thing here – this one here doesn’t use that particular trope. But, then again, this is also more of a myst Arc from Ylva for honest reviewAdmittedly, I wasn’t certain if I would want to read this one until I spotted whatever I spotted. Had something to do with chickens, and I was intrigued enough to look closer.I’ve probably mentioned in reviews about romances how tired I am of miscommunication/disinformation/etc. being overused to cause issues with the people attempting to couple up. Well, good thing here – this one here doesn’t use that particular trope. But, then again, this is also more of a mystery than a romance so… This is a mix of two types of mysteries I’ve read before: the cozy amateur ‘sticking-nose-in-where-might-not-belong’ type (like with most of Dick Francis books, the ones not involve Private Investigators, at least), mixed in with ‘must solve the mystery or face risk of jail’ type of mystery (a favorite of Lawrence Block; I’ve no idea why I’m fixating on Francis and Block. When done right, that second type of mystery can be interesting – and it appeared to have been done . . . mostly right here. Too often, though, it seemed to be used to ‘force’ an ultra-skilled investigator (albeit amateur and or ‘different kind of investigator’) to use their skills to solve the crime. Right, so, this is a mix of a romance and a mystery, set in a small town in Australia.Two POV’s. Both have similarities and differences. One worked ultra-hard to ‘escape’ the small town she currently lives in – but was pulled back to town to help with family medical reasons. One of the reasons she wanted to flee involved her standing in the community – everyone sees her as basically evil, and more than likely a murderer. The other escaped to the small town after a particular event that has turned her family and friends against her. Bess is the one who owns the chickens and fled to the small town. Margaret is the one who tried to flee, but was pulled back by the failing health of her father.Which reminds me: you know those many books that show a character who have returned ‘home’ (or wherever the family member happens to be living)? This book is set a certain distance after that occurred, after the family member has died. I do not recall if any number was given for the number of years that have passed, but I believe at least a few have. Neat little twist, eh?Right, so: Bess works in a museum/Margaret runs a museum (this is part of my ‘similarities and differences’ that I forgot to include above). Bess works as an acquirer/buyer/whatever-this-is-called-in-museum world. Margaret, well, runs a museum. Both museums, the more classic Maritime Museum (Margaret’s) and the more ‘modern’ ‘odd random crap like dildos’ Cabinet of Curiosities (or whatever that was called; Bess’s place) are in the same small town. In Australia. Roughly nearish (by several hours on train) to Melbourne. Bess and Margaret interact near the beginning of the book because Leon, Bess’s boss, wants Bess to buy a dildo from Margaret (which Margaret insists on calling a Roman fertility . . . thingie, and Bess keeps calling a dildo). They interact later because both are intrigued by the other. Then Leon is murdered, and Margaret is a prime suspect.Things continue from there – including several occasions in which Bess keeps finding herself as a suspect for this or that, and being aggressively interviewed by the coppers, and Margaret finding herself in confinement and/or being a prime suspect.Naturally, then, with the coppers fixated on Margaret (and Bess for certain lessor things), the two need to investigate the crime (though Bess had already started doing so before ‘needing to’ because it’s her boss that got murdered and she didn’t particularly like that). And do, for a good portion of the book.I knew who the ‘big evil’ was fairly early on, but I’m not certain I would have but for an accident. For whatever reason, as sometimes happens with my Kindle, the book leapt forward hundreds of pages, and before I noticed what had occurred, I started reading certain things that confused me. It wasn’t actually the big reveal, nor was the ‘big evil’ spot-lighted there, but the character on those pages was acting weirdly, in the way I normally pinpoint as a ‘ah-ha! Suspect!’ way. Otherwise, I thought the mystery part was handled well.I liked how the common lesbian romance tropes didn’t end up clogging up the book. And I liked how the two main characters were okay with the concept of being lesbians, and the concept of lesbians hooking up, without any of that ‘oh my god no! someone might find out! It’s a small town you know!’ type stuff also common in lesbian romances.I can easily see how some people might not react the same way to the book as I did. I liked what I saw, but what I saw isn’t universally liked. Heh. I’m being purposefully vague. Rating: 4.25April 11 2019
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  • Megha
    January 1, 1970
    I love mystery books so i was really looking forward to reading it and It turn out to be an okay read for me. This is my first book by this author and I liked her writing.Margaret Gale runs her museum in Port Bannir and is an ice queen kind of person, Bess Campbell works at nearby gallery. They have a rocky start because of their argument about faux-Roman fertility symbol/Antique dildo. But they get close after a murder occur in their town and together they try to solve it. There was very little I love mystery books so i was really looking forward to reading it and It turn out to be an okay read for me. This is my first book by this author and I liked her writing.Margaret Gale runs her museum in Port Bannir and is an ice queen kind of person, Bess Campbell works at nearby gallery. They have a rocky start because of their argument about faux-Roman fertility symbol/Antique dildo. But they get close after a murder occur in their town and together they try to solve it. There was very little amount of romance. I love romance in my reads, so I was disappointed about romance part. It felt like something started and didn't finish.As for mystery, It was pretty good. I kept guessing who the killer is. Overall it was okay and but I really hoped it was better.
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  • Laure Dh.
    January 1, 1970
    👭📚👩❤👩🏳🌈 That’s in exchange of an honest review that I received an ARC of « A Curious Woman ». So, here it is !!1st of all : Thank you so much Ylva Publishing for providing me this book, I really appreciated my trip in Australia … &❤ Wow! ❤ Attagirl Jess Lea !! That’s a great debut novel you offered us… It’s original, unique and both intriguing & eccentric !! 👍👍 My rating : 4 starsThe story is located in the windswept Australian coastal town of Port Bannir and focuses on :° Bess Campbell 👭📚👩‍❤️‍👩🏳️‍🌈 That’s in exchange of an honest review that I received an ARC of « A Curious Woman ». So, here it is !!1st of all : Thank you so much Ylva Publishing for providing me this book, I really appreciated my trip in Australia … &❤️ Wow! ❤️ Attagirl Jess Lea !! That’s a great debut novel you offered us… It’s original, unique and both intriguing & eccentric !! 👍👍 My rating : 4 starsThe story is located in the windswept Australian coastal town of Port Bannir and focuses on :° Bess Campbell an openminded young woman who came here to begin a new life after a traumatic event & works in a gallery owned by a hipster known for his controversial exhibitions. & ° Margaret Gale an Ice queen who acts like a Disney villain while running an austere maritime museum. After more than two decades away, she came back in town ten years ago to take care of her ailing father and stayed after his death to be closer to her baby sister who suffers from psychatric problems. Seems everyone in town is afraid of her .. Oh, sorry, not everyone since Bess doesn’t seem to be impressed by this « witch with a capital B » …The brutal & senseless murder of Bess’s boss and the events which follow it implicate them … So they decide to work together to expose the dangerous truth.The pros : ° the title … « A Curious Woman » is just perfect to describe the main character’s behaviour. Bess Campbell’s curiosity is huge and it’ll lead her to a hell of an adventure … ° the not fantasised perfect toned bodied characters … Finally !!! So glad to find an author who lives in a more realistic world when it comes to her characters (this kind of author exist, of course, I know some of them but they are too rare …) => That’s really great to have, for once, not one but the 2 MCs who are like everyday women so … physically believable : a « voluptuous » woman (like millions of women in the world) and an over 45 (almost 50) year old woman, aging but who’s well « preserved » who doesn’t try to undo the time « damages » and is able to stay natural … ° a great intrigue (clever and complex in the same time) and some very good suspence… IDK why since the topics are totally different, but sometimes, it made me thought a lil bit to the movie « Usual Suspects ».° a romance which doesn’t look (at all) like a romance but which brings the idea of an HEA in the end ....° the good wording & style + some good (but not always likeable) secondary characters, (including Genghis the rooster)° a great humor . Gosh !!!! There are some really funny stuff & I giggled & laughed out loud … a lot !! (OK .. I think that my cats and dogs are now convinced that I’m crazy, LOL)° some really interesting vocabulary (including some slang aussie terms … I had a blast working on it !!) The cons :° the quite unhygienic side of B & M’s 1st « intimate encounter » … => Bet almost everyone won’t care about this « detail » but I do …° the non realistic side of the Hags .If I had to make a very short and quite different version of my review it’d be something like this : Did I enjoy this book? => Yes !!! A lot… it’s really fun & captivating (Seriously, I wasn’t able to put it down …) Did I find the characters believable? => Definitely …Is this book now included in my « must be re-read »-list? => Yes, absolutely …Will I purchase the paperback? => Yes … Would I read another book by this author? => Yes ! I’ll definitely check out her next novels … Would I recommend this book => Yes, mainly to all fans of mystery but, of course, everyone can give it a try …Hey guys and gals, you know that now it’s your turn … So … Grab your own copy and make your own opinion …Enjoy (or not) your reading …👭📚👩‍❤️‍👩🏳️‍🌈 Additional remark : If you don’t mind, I’d like to add a lil remark ‘cause something about the cover bothers me, a lot : What ??? => its illogicality when it comes to the chinese shadow of the woman on a bicycleWhy ?? => ‘cause, all the novel long, Bess, the one who rides her bike all the time, is clearly described as a very curvy /plump / voluptuous / rounded bodied woman with heavy breasts & hips but on the cover, it’s not that kind of woman we find. So since the character on the cover is supposed to be her, it doesn’t make sense (to me) to have a skinny lady on the bike instead of a plumper woman …
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  • Bugs
    January 1, 1970
    I was really looking forward to Jess Lea's debut full-length novel, "A Curious Woman," ever since Lee Winter mentioned it and having recently read its excerpt on Ylva. To say that I was excited and thrilled about exploring the tale after reading the excerpt would be an understatement! I must say, when I finally received my ARC copy and read the entire story, Ms. Lea didn't disappoint. Not at all! Not with her writing style nor her storytelling method and certainly not with all that eccentricity I was really looking forward to Jess Lea's debut full-length novel, "A Curious Woman," ever since Lee Winter mentioned it and having recently read its excerpt on Ylva. To say that I was excited and thrilled about exploring the tale after reading the excerpt would be an understatement! I must say, when I finally received my ARC copy and read the entire story, Ms. Lea didn't disappoint. Not at all! Not with her writing style nor her storytelling method and certainly not with all that eccentricity oozing out of literally every page, all those oddball characters, and quirky surroundings, that kept me entertained until the every end! So, well done, Ms. Lea!This story, right off the bat, was one eccentrically original and creatively intriguing tale weaved in the world of mystery. I mean, I can safely tout that I'd never come across a book in lesfic that was written THIS atypically before and Ms. Lea sure had some fascinatingly creative juice flowing in her story-weaving of this particular story of mystery and intrigue, nevermind that little hint of romance, too! I certainly never came across anything quite this original in lesbian fiction, which is reason enough to pick this one up to read and explore its thrilling oddities yourself, not to say there aren't other reasons to do so, mind! Once you read it, you'll know!Full commentary here... In Bugs' Own Words *An ARC copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Tiff
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up A Curious Woman by Jess Lea on an impulse. I was looking for something different and was struck by the book's description of quirkiness and fun. I'm down for a good rom-com and I am always curious about a new author from Ylva Publishing. Bess Campbell is learning to live a grounded grateful life. She has an off the grid tiny house, a handful of chickens and a job she absolutely loves at a hip and zany museum of oddities. Bess is a total hipster who lives her life quoting self-help ma I picked up A Curious Woman by Jess Lea on an impulse. I was looking for something different and was struck by the book's description of quirkiness and fun. I'm down for a good rom-com and I am always curious about a new author from Ylva Publishing. Bess Campbell is learning to live a grounded grateful life. She has an off the grid tiny house, a handful of chickens and a job she absolutely loves at a hip and zany museum of oddities. Bess is a total hipster who lives her life quoting self-help mantras. She is a ray of positivity and light, with a heart of pure gold.Margaret Gale is Bess's direct opposite. Margaret is stern, rigid and has guarded herself against everyone in her small seaside town. She is an outcast whose past is shrouded in gossip and rumors. Margaret comes across very cold and unforgiving but really has built a fortress around herself not to let anyone hurt her again.These two are thrown together when Bess's boss and Margaret's rival, Leon is murdered. Everyone in Port Bannir immediately thinks Ms. Gale is the killer and is ready to pin it on her. Bess comes to Margaret's defense and they begin a journey of uncovering who done it in this sleepy small town.What I liked about this book is 100% about Bess and Margaret. They were fascinating characters and their interactions together were delightful. The murder mystery was interesting but nowhere near as gripping as the romance. I wish there had been more of it. I'm hoping that this is a series where we get to see Bess and Margaret take on the bad guys again. For Jess Lea's first book I thought she produced an amazing debut. She is definitely an author whose works I will be reading again.3.75 stars
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  • Aj Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I'm in love! With this book, with Jess Lea's writing and with a woman who has such a chilling reputation that "...perhaps the ghosts were afraid to disturb her." Margaret Gale also has the ability to scare her assistant half to death, merely because she can navigate her museum in the dark and aforementioned assistant can't remember where the light switch is. This first glimpse of Margaret is wonderful; she's elegant, reserved, sexy and the scene is very funny. ““This is a small coastal maritime I'm in love! With this book, with Jess Lea's writing and with a woman who has such a chilling reputation that "...perhaps the ghosts were afraid to disturb her." Margaret Gale also has the ability to scare her assistant half to death, merely because she can navigate her museum in the dark and aforementioned assistant can't remember where the light switch is. This first glimpse of Margaret is wonderful; she's elegant, reserved, sexy and the scene is very funny. ““This is a small coastal maritime museum. What is there to alarm you here? We only deal with shipwrecks, scurvy, snow-blindness, mutiny , rum, sodomy, and the lash.” She drew the last word out with a long, sibilant hiss.” I probably would have been terrified of Ms. Gale if I was working for her as a teenager, but combined with her heels and a suit, yeah I would also have been utterly besotted!Bess is a wonderful character and I did really engage with her to the extent that at one point, I shouted at my kindle when I thought she was about to do something risky (thankfully I was alone in the room.) However, for me the story belonged to Margaret, it is an awesome story too by the way but more of that later. Ms Gale is typified by the wildness of the fearsome Southern Ocean contained in her maritime museum. She doesn't sugarcoat the ugly side of what early explorers and settlers had to do to survive, or gloss over it with fancy interactive displays. The region's accurate seafaring history is there for those who wish to learn more (don't ask about polar bears). Similarly, Margaret's own history is slowly revealed to Bess once she is able to excavate a few outer layers. One particularly beautiful passage takes place on the beach at night, with Bess and Margaret looking out to sea while being whipped by the wind. In her natural element Margaret begins to really open up about her past and how the coast brought her solace "It was peaceful. No one saw me." Such heartbreak from seven words. Aside from these two, 'A Curious Woman' features a seriously intriguing murder mystery that had me baffled right until the climax. (I did have a very fleeting suspicion about this individual but then rejected them. I also love that I was not able to predict whodunnit). There's so much going on, it's believable, at no time did I want to shout at my kindle that things were happening that weren't scientifically possible (this is something that happens a lot when I'm reading/watching tv etc.) In short, it's awesome. Finally the writing, from Margaret dryly describing a corporate nasty as "a refrigerator in a suit" & Bess having a rooster called Genghis, to some of the most vivid (I almost want to say fertile) descriptive writing: "...a flutter of colour against the concrete. A green dress in a shade that was both delicate and vivid, like a fern, its fronds unfurling."I got an advance reader copy of this book but I have already pre-ordered and paid for my own copy. That's how good it is and how much I want Jess Lea to write another novel as soon as humanly possibly. You should do the same, reading this book will make you happy.
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  • Rach (Les Rêveur)
    January 1, 1970
    This story was very a funny and quirky story that was quite different from any Lesbian fiction novel I’ve read before.Bess Campbell has escaped city life for the small village of Port Banir. She works at the Cabinet of Curiosities, a museum of the weird and wonderful, where no day is like the last. Ice Queen, Margaret Gale owns the Port Banir Maritime Museum where the locals don’t frequent often as her strict rules and the artifacts can make it quite boring. When a murder ties these two women to This story was very a funny and quirky story that was quite different from any Lesbian fiction novel I’ve read before.Bess Campbell has escaped city life for the small village of Port Banir. She works at the Cabinet of Curiosities, a museum of the weird and wonderful, where no day is like the last. Ice Queen, Margaret Gale owns the Port Banir Maritime Museum where the locals don’t frequent often as her strict rules and the artifacts can make it quite boring. When a murder ties these two women together they begin to see that not only is this a setup but maybe opposites do attract!Jess Lea set up a very exciting and unique story. I actually have a bit of a thing for the ‘Ice Queen’ trope so I was really excited about Margaret’s character from the beginning. It was nice to watch as Margret’s stone walls came down the more time she spent with Bess.I just couldn’t personally connect with the intrigue side of the story and kept wishing there would be more build up to Margaret and Bess’s love story. I guess I am just a romantic at heart.Despite this, I will give Jess Lea credit for constructing a story that doled out plot twist after plot twist. I wasn’t really sure where the book was headed at all until the very last few pages where I was shocked by the reveal. She built up a strong cast of secondary characters who are all well-fleshed out and have their own back stories of intrigue.I’ll definitely check out what comes next from Jess Lea.3.5 stars
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  • Margaret L. Hedman
    January 1, 1970
    Very Enjoyable. I liked A Curious Woman. It’s an intriguing mystery with the romance bubbling underneath. It can be a little confusing at times, but persevere. It will all be made clear.
  • C. Mack
    January 1, 1970
    Curious!Yep, this title definitely fits the description! I loved this novel, but I'm not sure I would read it again for at least a very long time, the reason behind that being its intriguing nature and unpredictable plot which made this 'who done it' an excellent read.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    A Curious Woman reminds me of an Agatha Christie-esque whodunit murder mystery. The protagonists could not be more polar opposites at first glance, Bess the minimalist self-improvement quoting (thankfully that lightened up quickly) hippie and Margaret the stern, rule-making (think Hecate Hardbroom) outcast of the quaint little seaside Port Bannir town who both slowly realize there is more than meets the eye than their first impressions of one another once both become implicated in a murder (or t A Curious Woman reminds me of an Agatha Christie-esque whodunit murder mystery. The protagonists could not be more polar opposites at first glance, Bess the minimalist self-improvement quoting (thankfully that lightened up quickly) hippie and Margaret the stern, rule-making (think Hecate Hardbroom) outcast of the quaint little seaside Port Bannir town who both slowly realize there is more than meets the eye than their first impressions of one another once both become implicated in a murder (or two). There are a lot of eccentric residents with skeleton in the closet secrets that slowly emerge throughout the story. Jess Lea crafts the interactions Bess has around town that with each one you could see them being the murderer and it leaves your mind going back to what you've learned before to question what you think you know and guessing until the very end. Jess Lea's debut novel was very well written though I had a few stops and starts reading this as I didn't feel rapt by the murder and didn't connect with many of the townsfolk other than Bess & Margaret, which made it a bit more difficult to get into and kept me from reading non-stop. I think this may be more due to the genre of cozy mystery (which I have admittedly not read since middle school). All and all this was a good book with a number of twists and turns due to the past and present secrets revealed throughout. I will definitely check out Jess Lea's future works.
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  • Timothea
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! It’s not like any of the books that I usually read (lesbian romance). While there is romance in A Curious Woman, it doesn’t follow the usual formula, I guess because this is more of a mystery driven story. But what I love is the complete quirkiness of this book. The lead characters don’t follow the usual story line of spectacular beauty, but they aren’t everyday people either they are just undefined characters that grab your attention. Throw in the humor of an oddities museum I loved this book! It’s not like any of the books that I usually read (lesbian romance). While there is romance in A Curious Woman, it doesn’t follow the usual formula, I guess because this is more of a mystery driven story. But what I love is the complete quirkiness of this book. The lead characters don’t follow the usual story line of spectacular beauty, but they aren’t everyday people either they are just undefined characters that grab your attention. Throw in the humor of an oddities museum , a protective rooster, a couple of murders and a vintage dildo, and you will get a story that is just outside of definition. I cannot wait to see what Jess Lea produces next!
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    An extremely enjoyable queer cozy mystery! I actually really liked this one. The writing and characterization were good, and the mystery, while not as tightly-plotted as some, was interesting. It had a slow beginning, but I liked the characters, particularly Margaret. The romance between her and Bess was believable and sweet. But most importantly for me, this book had all the hallmarks of a cozy mystery: a small town, quirky people, and lots of red herrings. I'm looking forward to a sequel featu An extremely enjoyable queer cozy mystery! I actually really liked this one. The writing and characterization were good, and the mystery, while not as tightly-plotted as some, was interesting. It had a slow beginning, but I liked the characters, particularly Margaret. The romance between her and Bess was believable and sweet. But most importantly for me, this book had all the hallmarks of a cozy mystery: a small town, quirky people, and lots of red herrings. I'm looking forward to a sequel featuring Bess and Margaret, if Jess Lea chooses to write one.
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  • Cheryl S
    January 1, 1970
    My goodness this was a FULL story. What do I mean by that, you may ask. There were tons of quirky characters, slow, slow burn romance, clever natural dialog, colorful seaside village with 2 interesting museums, one very very bazaar, red herrings galore and a mystery that just would not quit. I guessed the killer at least 3 times, just to be proved wrong each time. I had no idea who the killer was until the very end and the mystery came cleverly together. You won't be left with loose ends.My only My goodness this was a FULL story. What do I mean by that, you may ask. There were tons of quirky characters, slow, slow burn romance, clever natural dialog, colorful seaside village with 2 interesting museums, one very very bazaar, red herrings galore and a mystery that just would not quit. I guessed the killer at least 3 times, just to be proved wrong each time. I had no idea who the killer was until the very end and the mystery came cleverly together. You won't be left with loose ends.My only negative, it was a bit long and slow in spots....But always very colorful.
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  • Jaie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a startling and delightful read. The characters and setting seemed so over-the-top initially, but they were also grounded and fun. I very much enjoyed the story itself. The mystery was compelling and surprising and also made sense. The characters were all great. The pacing was spot on. I really enjoyed this read.Highly recommended! *Arc provided by YLVA in exchange for honest review*
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  • BookFiend17
    January 1, 1970
    I found A Curious Woman by Jess Lea a funny and quirky whodunnit. Margaret Gale is the staid and reserved gallery owner. An ice queen who’s staff are scared of and people in town avoids. Bess Campbell works at the new hip art gallery and the rival for Gale’s museum. Campbell is new in town and doesn’t know anything about Gale. Their interactions are witty and funny. I found the mystery part to be interesting and while I did connect the Faith part I wasn’t able to solve the mystery. I found the s I found A Curious Woman by Jess Lea a funny and quirky whodunnit. Margaret Gale is the staid and reserved gallery owner. An ice queen who’s staff are scared of and people in town avoids. Bess Campbell works at the new hip art gallery and the rival for Gale’s museum. Campbell is new in town and doesn’t know anything about Gale. Their interactions are witty and funny. I found the mystery part to be interesting and while I did connect the Faith part I wasn’t able to solve the mystery. I found the sayings to be quite humorous. (Author is from Australia I think) I received an arc.
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  • Della
    January 1, 1970
    “Margaret looked around the darkened museum, and weighed the harpoon between her hands”. Excerpt from A Curious Woman by Jess LeaI dare you to walk away from a novel which starts like this! For the life of me I could not put this novel down after reading this first sentence. It pulled me into its depths hook, line and sinker.Margaret Gale, owner and curator of the Maritime Museum has a dark past filled with a few dead bodies if all the rumours are true. She is a stern woman who is unliked and fe “Margaret looked around the darkened museum, and weighed the harpoon between her hands”. Excerpt from A Curious Woman by Jess LeaI dare you to walk away from a novel which starts like this! For the life of me I could not put this novel down after reading this first sentence. It pulled me into its depths hook, line and sinker.Margaret Gale, owner and curator of the Maritime Museum has a dark past filled with a few dead bodies if all the rumours are true. She is a stern woman who is unliked and feared by her employees and fellow villagers.Bess Campbell wants a fresh start in her life which involved moving to the village of Port Bannir and working at the artistically trendy Cabinet of Curiosities museum. Bess has simplified her life to allow joy and happiness to enter it. All goes according to plan until Leon Powell, the owner and curator of the Cabinet of Curiosities is found murdered. I really enjoyed this mystery/romance with its outlandish characters and twisting plot. The dialogue is witty and engaging. Bess is someone you want to cheer on to succeed in her life and goals. She is a good woman caught up in the intrigue of defending Margaret and finding out who the real murderer is. She is a real Curious Woman. 4.5 stars
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  • Jasmine
    January 1, 1970
    Bess Campbell and Margaret Gale clash over an artefact they each wish to display in their respective Galleries. But when Bess's boss is killed and the two women become unlikely allies as they work together to discover the true culprit. This was a lovely debut novel - it was totally wacky but totally fun! This book had a little bit of everything - ice-queen thawing (one of my favourite tropes), romance, some badass women, a little mystery, villains we love to hate. I loved Bess and Margaret's int Bess Campbell and Margaret Gale clash over an artefact they each wish to display in their respective Galleries. But when Bess's boss is killed and the two women become unlikely allies as they work together to discover the true culprit. This was a lovely debut novel - it was totally wacky but totally fun! This book had a little bit of everything - ice-queen thawing (one of my favourite tropes), romance, some badass women, a little mystery, villains we love to hate. I loved Bess and Margaret's interactions - their banter was so darn good! And their chemistry was amazing. I was slowed down a little and taken out of the story by long descriptions of past events, especially things the characters would already know. The humour was a little heavy handed for me sometimes, like they were trying to get every possible funny bit into this book. But then again, I'm not usually one for humour/comedy. I really love the quirkiness though. I loved the writing, the author has a way that makes a place and people just come to life. I will definitely be reading books by Jess Lea in the future. I received an ARC via YLVA in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jane Clements
    January 1, 1970
    I was really impressed by Jess Lea’s writing of short stories in The Taste of Her volumes 1 and 2. Although I’m not a fan of dominance sex, the humour and depth of the writing appealed to me. I was keen to read a full-length story by Lea to see what she would make of it.I wasn’t disappointed. Although it’s globally accessible, the uniquely Australian absurdist humour of the story had me laughing out loud. I recognised the characters, especially the superficially friendly good-old-bloke Australia I was really impressed by Jess Lea’s writing of short stories in The Taste of Her volumes 1 and 2. Although I’m not a fan of dominance sex, the humour and depth of the writing appealed to me. I was keen to read a full-length story by Lea to see what she would make of it.I wasn’t disappointed. Although it’s globally accessible, the uniquely Australian absurdist humour of the story had me laughing out loud. I recognised the characters, especially the superficially friendly good-old-bloke Australian male whose easy-going demeanour hides a roiling resentment of women, queers and anyone who isn’t white, straight and male. Their genuine bemusement that their birthright place at the top of the social structure is no longer theirs to be taken for granted.Bess Campbell and Margaret Gale are wonderful characters, each with their own set of ridiculous flaws and tragic histories. Their competing views of what a museum should be reminded me of the absurd differences of opinion about ballroom dancing in the Australian movie Strictly Ballroom.All of this humour wraps around a sharp analysis of the Australian social structure and an interesting whodunit murder mystery, along with a sweet but unusual love story. Lea toned down the sexual dominance a bit in this novel (although it’s still there) and in my view the book is all the better for it. I loved every word of this book and I would have loved to read another 100,000 of them.Jess Lea is a fantastic writer with a unique sense of humour that may not be to everyone’s taste, but I love it. I can’t wait to read anything else that she publishes. Lea could make a recipe book interesting and funny. Note: I was given an advance copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • MiskaCZ
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC copy was given to me by YLVA for a honest review.This ist a very good crime story. I was slightly skeptical, but the story proved me wrong. I really enjoyed reading. It is a crime story with realistic plot and strong characters. The relatioship is slowly building but interesting for anyone from small town. I kept reading because the crime story solution is mystery until very and. Bess and Margaret are strong person and I really enjoyed their interactions.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled with this one and found it hard to keep going. I do like whacky characters but could not find either of these likeable or make me care what happened to them. I found it hard to get into the pacing of the story, but that could be I just did not connect straight away.This is reflective of my personal taste of this cozy mystery. There is a detailed story that I'm sure others will enjoy. I did really like the teenage gang and would have loved to have more of them in the story.Arc supplie I struggled with this one and found it hard to keep going. I do like whacky characters but could not find either of these likeable or make me care what happened to them. I found it hard to get into the pacing of the story, but that could be I just did not connect straight away.This is reflective of my personal taste of this cozy mystery. There is a detailed story that I'm sure others will enjoy. I did really like the teenage gang and would have loved to have more of them in the story.Arc supplied by Ylva for honest review.
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  • Colleen Corgel
    January 1, 1970
    If you want a slow moving mystery with some really quirky characters, some small town shenanigans, and a budding romance, this is the book for you. I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this book, even though it doesn't start of that way. Our leads are fun, and maintain their characterizations throughout the whole of the book. Bess Campbell works for a hipster gallery that revels in controversial exhibitions. She's also a proud owner of a gaggle of chickens and refuses to drive, so she petals he If you want a slow moving mystery with some really quirky characters, some small town shenanigans, and a budding romance, this is the book for you. I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this book, even though it doesn't start of that way. Our leads are fun, and maintain their characterizations throughout the whole of the book. Bess Campbell works for a hipster gallery that revels in controversial exhibitions. She's also a proud owner of a gaggle of chickens and refuses to drive, so she petals her way to work in the small Australian town of Port Bannir. Margaret Gale is as cold as her last name, and is the proprietor of the local Maritime Museum. She runs a tight ship, and everyone in her employ, and the town is afraid of her in some form or another. Bess is not, however, and when she comes to the shop to try to haggle for an antique sex toy, the women are left somewhat flabbergasted by the encounter. Their argument becomes the least of their concerns when Bess's boss turns up dead. I love that both women have distinct character traits that are only partially informed by their pasts. I feel like Bess is just the type of person that would take a lot to get down, while Margaret has to be precise and in control, so her temper explodes when that gets disrupted. They come together over the murder, with both ladies being caught up in the case because of one thing or another. Their romance does take a back set to all the rest of the crazy plot, but the plot allows for the quiet parts of the story to belong to them. We get to see some of their back stories in their interactions, and they are a treat. I like that the mystery doesn't get solved until almost the last possible moments, giving the denizens of the small town of Port Bannir to air some old, dirty laundry and all their skeletons from those shut closets. Some of their stories are sad, some of the people are awful, and some are just bonkers. There's comedy in this book, but its a little dark and dry. I did find myself reading in bemusement at times. I did not love Lea's short story collections, but this was a fun read, and I hope we get more full length novels from Ms. Lea soon. I received an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Gail
    January 1, 1970
    I rec'd an ARC from Ylva for review.An intriguing, eccentric, comedic, angst filled story with a touch of romance. The leads Bess and Margaret surrounded by a quirky supporting cast (including a rooster named Genghis) make this a roller coaster read. Ms. Lea's writing is crisp and delightfully descriptive with a storyline twisting deliciously to the end. A very good debut novel worthy of 4 stars.
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  • Mindy
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed this book. The first chapter had me slightly confused as to what was going on but other than that it had me. Good ice queens are my weakness, and Margaret is definitely one. I also loved the fact that one of the main ladies (Bess) had some curves and wasn't the pretty or mousy petite type, and while she was kind and wanted to see the good in everyone, she still had backbone. The whole crop of characters throughout the book were eccentric in their own rights dealing with a small to Really enjoyed this book. The first chapter had me slightly confused as to what was going on but other than that it had me. Good ice queens are my weakness, and Margaret is definitely one. I also loved the fact that one of the main ladies (Bess) had some curves and wasn't the pretty or mousy petite type, and while she was kind and wanted to see the good in everyone, she still had backbone. The whole crop of characters throughout the book were eccentric in their own rights dealing with a small town and their nosy ways, getting stories completely twisted or making them up if they don't like the individuals involved. This book was a lot of mystery and some murders, with a touch of romance laced in. I haven't read many mystery novels as of late but this one definitely has me craving more. Well plotted and enough twists and turns to make you keep guessing, and in my case wrongly so, as to whodunit. There was enough reasons for different people to have been the culprit to make the reading fun and a guessing game. All I will say is... when it came up to who it actually had been, they had been sneakily off my radar, and I blame the writer for that... in a great way. :) Very enjoyable read with a quirky rooster to boot. :D Definitely pick up this book if you love mysteries, women-loving-women books, or simply love a great story!
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  • R
    January 1, 1970
    A Curious Woman was the perfect title to describe the main character’s demeanor. Bess Campbell’s curiosity led her to all sorts of predicaments, mostly unwanted, like discovering a dead body. Margaret Gale, the other main character, found herself in the midst of a murder investigation. Both women seemed to be total opposites. Bess tried to maintain a positive outlook and was outgoing and friendly. Margaret appeared quite serious and stern. Her life centered around her beloved museum. Margaret wa A Curious Woman was the perfect title to describe the main character’s demeanor. Bess Campbell’s curiosity led her to all sorts of predicaments, mostly unwanted, like discovering a dead body. Margaret Gale, the other main character, found herself in the midst of a murder investigation. Both women seemed to be total opposites. Bess tried to maintain a positive outlook and was outgoing and friendly. Margaret appeared quite serious and stern. Her life centered around her beloved museum. Margaret was basically the town’s pariah. Bess and Margaret did have one thing in common-they both suffered from a past tragedy that altered the course of their life.I liked the author’s detailed writing, especially regarding the museum. There was a lot going on in this story with its many diverse characters. Some were shady and a bit quirky. Most of them, however, were not likable. There seemed to be a harshness to them. But I guess that was supposed to add to the surrounding mystery. Personally, I enjoyed the cloak and dagger antics of 3 outcast teenagers known as the Hags. Actually, their intelligence and bantering made this story a more enjoyable read for me than the rest of the characters. An ARC was given for an honest review.
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