From Velvet Lounger:
“I just finished “Invisible, as Music” by Caren Werlinger. It’s such an amazing story, so well written and with such depth I don’t know where to start to write a review. Simply outstanding.”
From Jude, Goodreads reviewer:
“If I had to summarize this book in a few words (or sentences, I’m not good at limiting myself, obviously), I’d say it’s about the definition of love, of what makes a relationship. It’s also about how society evolves, or doesn’t evolve, in regards to women and minorities. It’s about finding your place and acknowledging your worth. About not letting others define who you are. I don’t know if it’s a romance but it’s definitely a love story.
I never know exactly how to write about Caren J. Werlinger’s books. The best I can say about this one is that it’s quietly beautiful. Read it.” Read more HERE.
And from Renee (a message she sent me and gave me permission to share):
“Caren, I tried to do a review of Invisible As Music at the end of the story. I couldn’t get on, but I need to let you know how much this story meant to me.
I had Polio in 1949. Initially I was paralyzed on my whole right side, from head to toe. I ended up with a full length leg brace, which I wore until I was ten.
I remember the cruelty of kids…and some adults. My childhood was miserable and my teen years were even worse. I still had a noticeable limp, and my
right leg was much shorter and skinnier than my left. I ended up getting married and having two sons. He wanted to take care of me and I needed
to be taken care of. There’s a point to my little tale here, if you’ll just bare with me. Through all this I knew I was gay..even when I didn’t have a word for it.
It wasn’t until I came out (at30) and became part of the women’s community, that I felt I had any worth. As a lesbian, my friends and various lovers
never saw a “Pathetic cripple”. They saw me, a human being…a woman…an attractive woman!! Reading this story brought back so many memories,
even some which I had forgotten about. Because of women, like you, I went to college…got a Masters Degree, became a political activist, especiallyfor women’s and LGB rights. It was women like you who gave me the courage to dare to be different. I did have to go back into a brace, in my mid 50s. I was so happy you wrote about Post Polio Syndrome, because that’s what I have had since my mid 50s, and the doctors didn’t know and still don’t know how to treat it…because it can’t be treated….. I am now 74, and it does get worse as time goes on. It will continue to wreck havoc with my body until I become completely dependent on others to take care of me…..Not only did I love your story because I could relate to it personally, but because it is so well written, and it’s a story about a disabled woman. Your characters are so vivid and detailed. There’s never a lull or weak points in your writing. I happened upon you quite by accident, and when I read what the story was about, i ordered it immediately. Invisible As Music is a wonderful story. The ending was not a surprise to me, yet it didn’t make me sad. Ryn had given Harriett her dignity, joy and laughter, and love. She didn’t see a cripple. She saw a beautiful woman…in emotional pain and sadness. You now have another new fan!!! Thank you for your story…my story. Renee Radclyffe. I give your book ten stars!!!!”
From Olga M with Rosie’s Book Review Team:
“I occasionally read romance novels although I am not their number one fan, but there was something about this book that called my attention from the very beginning. I am always attracted towards stories that are set in special locations (real or imagined) and the description of the island definitely fitted the bill for me. And, in this case, first impressions were right. I loved the story and the place, and I wish it existed and I could be a part of the community in Little Sister.”
“The sense of belonging and the healing and growth of the characters is intrinsically linked to the way of life in this island that mixes Irish folklore and beliefs with Native-American (First Ones) ones. Werlinger creates a beautiful setting, both in its landscape and spirituality. Readers feel a part of this wonderful community, and I, for one, was sorry to come to the end of the book and would love to live in such a place.” Read more HERE
From Velvet Lounger:
“Along with the island we are presented with a large and well developed cast of characters from Molly’s warm and welcoming family to Kathleen’s abusive and mean spirited parents and controlling ex-girlfriend. We meet a wide array of islanders from the ferry crew onwards and all become friends, all drawn with depth and affection, they fill out the story into a well-rounded whole. Louisa and Olivia, the elderly spinster sisters and their portable father would steal the show if it weren’t for Kathleen’s adorable dog, all of whom add to an intriguing and complex tapestry of relationships.”
“Caren Werlinger writes extremely good books. Her early romances were very well done, her fantasy series one of the best out there and this new romance shows how she has matured even further as a writer in how she develops characters and the backdrop of the plot. The slow burn romance is lovely, but this tale of island life would stand without it, the various sub plots and cast of characters are a story on their own.” Read more HERE
The Standing Stones: The Chronicles of Caymin
From Velvet Lounger:
“Sometimes it is hard to find superlatives. The Standing Stone is an outstanding conclusion to this wonderful Celtic/Dragon lore saga. Simply brilliant world building, top class storytelling and writing that flows across the page and straight into your heart.
In book three of the The Dragonmage Saga, Caymin and Péist must find the hidden talisman that controls the dragons and destroy it, while both defeating the evil pairing that caused the dragon war a thousand years before, and helping her friends fight off the impending Viking attack led by a crazed Christian determined to wipe out the old ways.” Read more HERE.
“Caren J. Werlinger’s writing is consistently excellent – beautifully clear and lucid. The plot, both across the series as a whole, and within this book, is superbly developed and amazing in its level of detail. It is paced so that the reader never wants to put the book down. Action scenes that make your heart race, and difficult emotional traumas and personal development for the characters are interspersed with quieter moments of friendship, conversations, and scenes in which we get a glimpse into life in this unique historical and magical world.
The main storyline in The Standing Stones concerns a threat that has been building since the first book in the series. Caymin and Péist must find and destroy the Bloodstone (Méarógfola) and thwart a powerful dragon and dragonmage who were ruthless leaders and incited the last dragon war.” Read more HERE
The Portal: The Chronicles of Caymin
From Barb Taub:
“It’s always tough to create a believable middle book in a series arc, but Caren Werlinger succeeds brilliantly. The story arc takes Caymin and Péist both through adventures and through moral dilemmas, resolving them while still leaving enough threads open and a developing crisis to take us to the next book. I enjoyed the way Caymin’s character develops and grows, even as the slightly more alien dragon also tries to find his path as he matures. Caymin’s confusion about her attraction to another girl is sensitively and beautifully handled, fitting well into the context of the strong women who have guided her.” Read more HERE.
From Velvet Lounger:
“This is classic fantasy at its best. The world building is excellent, the incorporation of enough reality in the depiction of the lands and creatures grounds it in a history we can recognize, while sprinkling it with dragons, talking animals and portals to dream-worlds and time travel make it imaginary and unreal. Like many fantasy writers and fans the old days of Celtic and Druid has a built in attraction, calling to something in ourselves from a time both simpler and more complex.” Read more HERE.
The Beast That Never Was
From Velvet Lounger:
“This is the 6th of Caren J. Werlinger’s books I have read and once again she has stepped outside of the traditional romance genre. After a series of extremely well done lesbian novels and the start of a mage/dragon lore fantasy series, The Beast That Never Was is by far the lightest and most fun of her stories to date.” Read more HERE.
“A wondrous fairy tale for the modern age
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you look beyond your reflection, within the deepest parts of yourself and consider your emotions, what might you find? In an imaginative and thoughtful way, The Beast That Never Was leads the reader to think about such questions.” Read more HERE.
Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin
From Barb Taub:
“When I started reading Rising From the Ashes, I was skeptical. Dragons in Ireland? I went straight to my favorite Irish myth expert, Ali Isaacs, who didn’t let me down. In her blog post, The Serpent in Irish Mythology, she recounts several stories of heroes battling dragons. And best of all, she mentions their Irish name—péista.
So when the young apprentice mage Ash meets the strange creature who tells her it’s name is Péist, I knew we were in for some fun. ” Read more HERE.
Cast Me Gently
From Publishers Weekly:
Werlinger (Turning for Home) sets this graceful and touching portrayal of first love, and its effect on family and friendship, against a backdrop of 1980s Pittsburgh, Pa. Pharmacist Teresa Benedetto works for her large Italian-American family’s chain of drugstores and feels stifled by their expectations. Bank teller Ellie Ryan is also restless, needing more to her life than work and the search for her homeless veteran brother. The attraction between Teresa and Ellie is immediate, but as their relationship grows, so do the choices that each of them must make: do they stay in lives that are familiar, or do they take the next step into independence and interdependence? (Read more HERE)
From Lost Bookmark:
I loved it.
I just adored everyone in it, I laughed, I cried, I relived events from my own past. I hungered for pasta and wine, and donuts and cappuccino.
This is billed as a “classic lesbian romance” and I don’t really do romance novels. But this was more than that to me. It was a really great story that was about a romance. (Read more HERE)
Turning for Home
“Beautifully vivid and masterfully written, Turning for Home is an honest and rich telling of one woman’s journey to acceptance and happiness as she struggles to heal from the bitterly painful hardships of her life and strives to understand who she truly is without their weight. This isn’t a happy read by any means, but it is incredibly personal and powerfully composed. I found that the combined use of past and present narrations allowed me to connect very deeply with Jules as I came to know and love the both the vibrant child she was and the flawed but remarkable woman she grew to be. I highly recommend this book to any brave soul who wishes to shed a tear or two as they read what is easily, and without a doubt, one of the most poignantly heartfelt novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. I hope you have a box of tissues ready…you’ll need them.” The Rainbow Hub (Read more HERE)
” “I’m like you. Please help me get out of here.” Turning for Home could be the poster child for the “It Get’s Better” project. In fact, I wonder if the author, Caren J. Werlinger, has considered contributing her own video because I bet she would have a lot to add to the conversation. This is a book geared for adults, but it could be equally enjoyed by teens because a YA story is interwoven into the plot.” Jennifer Bardsley, the YA Gal (Read more HERE)
She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things
“Caren Werlinger always writes thoughtful and thought provoking novels. No rote churning out of a formula time after time. Each of her books tells a very different story and speaks to us in different ways
“She sings” is, at heart, a ‘Traditional’ romance. Woman meets woman, both have insecurities and issues to overcome, but spend the book working through them. It is never absolute though, that this couple will resolve into the ‘happy ever after’ of less complex tales. Their past histories and present complications leave us wondering, throughout, whether one will have the courage to change, and the other will have the fortitude to wait, to trust.” Velvet Lounger Read more
“Another masterpiece from Master Storyteller Caren J Werlinger. Each of her books is so vastly different from the last. I never know what to expect. But the one thing I’ve come to expect and have never been disappointed in is, her writing is consistently good, her stories diverse and they are page turners from start to finish.
There are some authors I’d buy without reading any synopsis or knowing anything about the story. This is one such author. An author I trust will entertain me with a book I can’t put down.” Terry Read more
“She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things is extraordinary and impressive on many levels. It’s a romance that goes well beyond the everyday with the inclusion of literary references, metaphors, and a subtly nuanced plot. I think that the book description provides all you need to know in terms of a synopsis, so I’ll focus my review on some of the points that, in my view, make this book an amazing read.” Lisa Tu Read more
Year of the Monsoon
“You know the kind of book where you deeply root for the two main characters? Like you really care about them? This is one of those.
Like Olive Oil and White Bread, this book skips the classic girl-meets-girl and begins with an already consolidated relationship. Leisa and Nan are together for 10 years when the story begins. Just like in any long partnership, their stability faces certain challenges: routine, work, intimacy, secrets, etc.
Right from the start the reader realizes that something is not right, like their pillars are fragile. Thus, when a series of events take place, it is expected that the structure cannot resist the storm – Leisa and Nan eventually crumble. Everything happens at once. Besides finding themselves again, they have to find a new way to make the relationship work.” Penny Read more
“Once again, Caren J. Werlinger has written an extraordinary novel. The first thing I noticed as I started this book was the completely new tone and point of view for her protagonists. It was a new tension that I’ve not seen in her other books. It was a bit chilling, but I knew that these people and this author would not let me down. It’s a remarkably fresh way of looking at “old reliable” relationships and some of the nuances that can plague long-time companions. I urge you to read this book… And then you’ll want to reread it! Honest!” Sheila Read more
In This Small Spot
2014 Golden Crown Winner for Best Dramatic Fiction
“Is it necessary to say anything about a book after the word “Magnificent” is used? Only if anything else helps to get someone to read this book. If you read the blurb on the cover, just remember that this is not a book about religion, but about how religion can be one aspect that enriches a person’s life.
In This Small Spot is a powerful story about love, not just of the heart, but of the soul. It juxtaposes two plot lines, one dealing with the profound love between two people and the other about the equally profound love of a woman for God and the community of women who bring her closer to his will, whatever that may be.” Piercing Fiction Read more
“I had an IM chat with a fellow author the other day. I asked her if she knew Caren Werlinger’s writing. My author friend wrote back immediately: “I love everything Caren writes. Everything.” I feel the same way. And that brief exchange made me wonder if Caren is the epitome of a “writer’s writer.” Somewhat similar to how Picasso is considered an “artist’s artist” but with one key difference: I can appreciate Caren’s writing as a reader, even while I am in awe of her writing skills.[I still don’t understand, or see, what Picasso is all about.]
I just finished reading “In This Small Spot” and I was just blown away. I wasn’t sure I would ever quite be able to extricate myself from the lingering aftereffects of the events and people in that story. Caren has once again given us models of strong, vibrant, and engaging women who, despite their strength and wisdom, struggle as much as the rest of us do when faced with decisions that affect the heart.” Sheila Read more
“This is a brilliantly written heart wrenching book about love and loss, set in an Abbey and built around a woman’s battles to survive bereavement and come to terms with her faith.
Dr Michelle Stewart looses everything when her life partner dies of cancer. She is adrift and lost in a world she no longer feels a part of. More than anything losing her partner makes her question the point of her vocation as a cancer surgeon, and her faith. She finds St Bridget’s Abbey by chance, feels pulled towards it and the peace it seems to offer.
So she gives up career, possessions, friends and family to see how monastic life will fit. And in doing so takes us into a world of women, isolated, cut off to a large degree, and choosing to take vows of poverty, chastity, silence and obedience. From of this life choice we see the nuns and novitiates struggling to overcome themselves, everything from chatting to being nosy to gossiping to wanting closeness and falling in love. As Micky goes through these emotions herself we are shown how even the women who have been in the Abbey for years struggle – it is clear the battle is never won, and even the elderly nuns can fall prey to pride and jealousy.” Velvet Lounger Read more
Neither Present Time
2013 1st Runner Up Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Contemporary Romance
It seems as though just about everyone has claimed insight into the nature of serendipity, destiny and happenstance. In fact, one of my most beloved quotes is attributed to former prime minister of Portugal and European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso: “What people call serendipity sometimes is just having your eyes open.” Yet, how does a woman go about seeing clearly while she’s trying with all her might to remain in the dark, to live in denial of that which is plain as day?” Read more HERE
“Neither Present Time was an excellent and very enjoyable read! I loved that the novel had so many layers, and the ways that the different storylines were interconnected. I liked the way that the relationships and lives of Cory and Helen, and Beryl and Aggie paralleled each other in some respects. The lives and histories of the four women over the years are interwoven.
The flashbacks were a great aspect of the book. They hardly seemed like flashbacks (the author uses the present tense as an interesting way to distinguish them) and I was always eager to catch up on Cory and Helen’s story. As someone who is fond of old books, I really liked the way that Cory’s book and the inscription played into the story.
I came to this book because I enjoy reading lesbian fiction, but I think that Neither Present Time will have broader appeal. Readers who like well-written literary fiction, and strong female characters will appreciate this book.” Lisa Tu Read more
“Such a beautiful, tender book.
Beryl has always been there for her family, for her controlling girlfriend Claire, for her job. She forms one thread of the narrative. The other is the passionate love shared by Corinne Bishop and her lover Helen. They are brought together by the serendipitous discovery of an old book, but they are truly united by themes of obligation and responsibility. At its heart the book asks the reader – at what point is it enough, and for these duties to end? What does it mean to share love?
A bald description cannot do this book justice. From a simple concept, Werlinger creates a world which is powerful and evocative, and filled with a cast of rich characters. It is almost not a love story; while the romance is sweet, Beryl’s true journey is towards herself. Corinne and Helen’s story is almost not a love story either, except that it profoundly is. It is not a story of falling in love, but of two people in their determination to stay there. The push and pull of a relationship made difficult by everything standing in its way. Not a romance, but a love that is renewed by the will and effort of its actors.” P. Industry Read more
Winner 2013 Rainbow Award for LGBT Historical Fiction
“Caren Werlinger has written a masterful and gorgeous story in Miserere. Like the other reviewers, I could not put this book down. The story is about redemption in unlikely places among people related by blood or historical proximity to one another against a backdrop of the travesties committed in Ireland during the potato famine and in American during the last years of legalized slavery and, again in America, during the late 1960s. The juxtaposition of the Irish problem with that of the slaves and other marginalized cultures and peoples in America was a flawless execution of seamless delivery by Werlinger–and at the same time, so sensitively drawn, so beautifully nuanced, so completely engrossing.” T.T. Thomas Read more
“Miserere is an amazing book. It moves easily between episodes from the different time periods, capturing the feelings and complexities of each era. It addresses instances from US history that are often forgotten or that are fading from memory and makes them feel alive and in the moment. Intolerance, ignorance and the tragic consequences of war are not unique to one period, which proves the point that history has an unfortunate habit of repeating itself. However, it also speaks to how the chain can be broken by the actions of a few good, and determined, people.
One note to lesbian readers, this is not your typical lesbian novel. Those who think books must contain scenes of lovers and the exclamations of feelings won’t find those here. There are relationships, but they are gentle whispers in a story that ultimately proclaims the right of people to be different whether the differences are cultural, racial, gender related or in sexual orientation. The book weaves an essence around the reader that draws you in and is compelling in the need to consume the story. Connemara Faolain Mitchell may be one of the most remarkable characters created in literature period, regardless of the genre.” Piercing Fiction Read more
Looking Through Windows
2009 Golden Crown Winner for Debut Fiction
“Werlinger has produced a better than usual first novel. The writing is tight, the editing is good and the characters are written to be three dimensional. The plot flows well, is engaging and holds the reader’s interest. A couple of scenes are a little contrived, but not enough to detract from the story. Romance fans will like this book, but it has more development than the typical novel in this genre. The story goes into depth about the issue of trust and the emotional baggage that can come with it, especially in a situation such as Emily faces. One way to know that a character is written in a convincing manner is when the reader would like to take that character and slap her for some of the things she does. When a character elicits that type of response it’s usually a sign of “reality.” ” Sage320 Read more
“I have just finished reading this book, as well as reviews that have been posted here by others, and will give my honest opinion. The author adds a lot of detail, which I personally enjoy, and you can’t help but love the characters immediately. I certain could relate to one of them and that’s perhaps one of the many reasons why I have truly enjoyed reading this book. Everyone likes different kinds of books and you can certainly make your decision based on the good OR bad reviews, but it’s always a good idea to see for yourself. I loved the style, the story, the detailed writing, and the characters. This author hasn’t disappointed me so far, so I’m definitely buying more from her.” Maya Read more