Book Reviews

Grand Adventures (Anthology) at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Mixed Time Periods/Genres / Romance
Reviewed by The RBR Team on 03-April-2014

Book Blurb

On September 1, 2011, TJ Klune wrote, "'s not about the ending, it's about the journey..." in a review of Eric Arvin's Woke Up in a Strange Place. With those words, two men began a journey of love and invited us to ride along. TJ and Eric have shared so much with us: their wonderful books, their smiles, their humor, their lives, and their inspiring devotion to each other. In December of 2013, their journey took a detour when Eric was taken to the emergency room. He survived the surgery to remove a cavernous hemangioma from his brain stem, but the challenges TJ and Eric face are far from over.

The authors in this anthology donated their talent as a way to support Eric's continued recovery, to help bring strength to TJ, and to show both of them just how much love surrounds them. Grand Adventures is a diverse range of stories about the journey of love. We’re going on some grand adventures for a great cause. Thank you for joining us.

One hundred percent of the income from this volume goes directly to TJ and Eric.

Foreword by S.A. McAuley
An Unexpected Thing by John Amory
The Twinkie Ignition by J.E. Birk
When Friendship Becomes More by Sophie Bonaste
Isle of Waiting by Sue Brown
The Jogger by KC Burn
Holding Court by Cardeno C.
For Dear Life by Mary Calmes
Under the Full Moon by Ellis Carrington
Stripped by Shae Connor
That Place Across the Hall by C.C. Dado
Mistaken MD by Phoenix Emrys
Cops and Comix by Rhys Ford
Last First Kiss by LE Franks
Tomorrow by John Goode
From Fantasy to Friends by CR Guiliano
Witness Protected by Dawn Kimberly Johnson
Water Under the Bridge by Mia Kerick
A Gentle Shove of Human Kindness by Amy Lane
Air (Roads #1.75 million) by Garrett Leigh
An Atheist and a Yoga Instructor Walk into a Bar by Rowan McAllister
Stalking 101 by Moria McCain
Simple Desires by Tempeste O'Riley
Object of Care by Zahra Owens
Kid Confusion by Madison Parker
Fall Train by Jaime Samms
The Exhibition by Andrea Speed
What You Will by Tinnean
Prologue by Brandon Witt


Book Review

This anthology is really special for many reasons. Different from many others, it has a purpose that has touched many people’s hearts. Authors Eric Arvin and TJ Klune, both of whom write for Dreamspinner Press, have been through the hell of Eric’s medical condition and its consequences over the past few months, and the sale of this book is intended to help them cope. S.A. McAuley, one of the “crack crew” of friends who came to Eric and TJ’s assistance in the early days and have been there for them throughout, gives some of the background in her well written foreword. I cannot say it better than she does, so please, read her words. They come from the heart and moved me deeply.

The reason this anthology was published is to raise money for Eric and TJ as they work to adjust to a new situation. All royalties and proceeds will go to them, and we, the team that reviewed the book, hope that this review will help you make up your mind to buy a copy. Not just because it will support these two men who are so clearly in love, but because the stories contained within its pages are amazing. All of us who have contributed to the review have struggled to keep our comments short and to the point, but each and every piece deserves your attention. Some are funny, some are deeply emotional, but all of them have a common theme: love is a “grand adventure” likely to lead you to unexpected places, always with the hope for a better future – because it is shared.

So, dive into these reviews, hopefully followed by you buying the book (if you haven’t already) and reading the stories themselves. They are totally worth it.

Let’s go!

Prologue by Brandon Witt, reviewed by Serena Yates
A beautiful introduction to the “worlds” created by the authors donating their stories for this anthology, the prologue gives a unique framework for the varied contributions. I loved the idea of a gardener or caretaker who helps the worlds grow and prosper, weeding out the ones that don’t work, and making room for the ones that will. Like a fairy tale, or a fantasy set in a faraway universe, this short tale took me into a different realm with its almost poetic language, and set the tone for the entire anthology. Well done, Brandon!

An Unexpected Thing by John Amory, reviewed by Serena Yates
Jamie and Ben in this opening story are on a trip, trying to make their way to Seattle by car after unexpectedly landing at a different airport. Jamie is trying to read the map, without much success since he isn’t very familiar with the paper version, and Ben is driving. Without some sort of electronic device to tell them the way, they are completely lost. When they finally resort to asking for directions at a diner it turns out they weren’t as lost as they thought.

Just like some relationships, including theirs, the unexpected can happen but it doesn’t always have to be bad. The two men may be slightly bewildered by their exile “in the wilderness”, but they don’t really mind that much because they are together. And, after all, that’s the only really important thing.

The Twinkie Ignition by J.E. Birk, reviewed by Serena Yates
Benjy is a man afraid of his own birthday party. Huh? The things he does to prepare himself for it and the situations he ends up in may be hilarious, but the reason why he is so upset and panics is really sad. Luckily, his boyfriend Kyle is there to support him, help him deal with his fear, and ultimately makes him see there is nothing they cannot deal with as long as they do it together.

I loved this story of quiet support, the deeply felt emotions of both men, and the way Benjy manages to overcome his fear. A great illustration of how love can make your life worthwhile, this one is likely to make you laugh as much as cry. Simply wonderful!

Simple Desires by Tempeste O’Riley, reviewed by Serena Yates
Even though James, an artist, and Seth, a businessman and his lover/Dom, are characters from ‘Designs of Desire’, this short story stands really well on its own. It is a snapshot of their lives together now that James is a full-time artist, and makes very clear how much they love each other. The heat between these men jumps off the pages, and any excuse to become physical is eagerly taken advantage of.

I loved how the somewhat “revealing” nature of James’s work makes him doubt the priest in the audience will appreciate his style. But the priest is very much in love with his own man, and definitely approves of “love in all its forms”. If you’re looking for a short, hot story about a successful artist and his lovingly dominant boyfriend/partner, this read is right up your alley.

What You Will by Tinnean, reviewed by Serena Yates
Kipp and Hyde are characters from ‘Two Lips, Indifferent Red’, and they are a wonderful example of “older, extremely rich man” falling in love with a much younger guy. As tumultuous as their initial meeting and courtship was, in this short story the focus is on them adopting a baby now that they have settled into a loving relationship. Marriage truly becomes these men, and watching the lifestyle of the rich and famous was a lot of fun.

If you like billionaires and the way they live, and if you want to now what Kipp and Hyde are up to, then you will probably enjoy this short glimpse into their post-wedding life.
Air (Roads #1.75 million) by Garrett Leigh, reviewed by Lena Grey
Joe is a caregiver for Ash who is his friend Pete's best friend and lover. Ash has a mental illness and sees the world through different eyes. Joe stays with Ash when Pete can't be there. It's not an easy task, because Pete is the only person who can get through to Ash, but Joe keeps trying. On this particular day, Joe, with a lot of persuasion, gets Ash outside, agreeing to go to the beach; but Ash won't go on the train, and doesn't like the beach with the volley ball court—no explanation. Joe tries his best to keep Ash comfortable. He has a great deal of patience and is helping Ash, but inside, he blames himself for not seeing Ash's illness sooner. While they’re on the beach, Joe leaves Ash for a few minutes to get something to eat. When he comes back, Ash is talking to an old man named Reg whose is obviously not well. It turns out that Reg is a mental hospital patient who is there with his caregiver, Esme.  She tells him her story about struggling to overcome her issues with mental health and gives Joe a pep talk about dealing with Ash trying to encourage him. Ash is a paradox in every way, a constant puzzlement, but Joe reassures her that he refuses to give up on him.

This is a very poignant story. I love the characters and appreciate its message. It's sad, but it's also hopeful with Esme's reassurance that people can and do change and to a certain amount, we determine our own improvement even with mental health. If Ash can or wants to do that remains to be seen, but, just as he is, Ash is a special person. I recommend this touching story to anyone who wants to read something a bit more complex and thoughtful, something to remind us how fortunate we are.

Object of Care by Zahra Owens, reviewed by Lena Grey
Who can resist a kitten? Certainly not rough, tough cowboy Gabel, who, when he finds out his kids are hiding one, tries to say he hates cats. But, after a short time, he becomes more attached to it than anyone else in the household. Gabel won't let the kitten sleep in the children's room; instead, he brings the little thing into his and his lover, Flynn's, bed. Even though the cat slept all day and kept them awake at night and made Gabel grouchier than ever, he becomes more attached every day. Since the kitten has a collar, they guess that he must have an owner, and advertise on Facebook. Predictably, someone claims that the cat belongs to his nine-year-old son and makes arrangements to come get it. The meeting turns out to be more than they expected. Ensured that the cat is in good hands, there are no tears shed when the kitten goes back home. For a little being, the cat leaves a big space in the house and in their hearts—until Gable comes up with a way to help ease that heartache.

I liked this story, although I felt a little lost because it's based on characters which I wasn't familiar with since I hadn't read the book that introduced them. But, for the most part, it was easy to follow. The kitten, of course, stole the spotlight and won everyone over including me. Thanks, Zarah, for reminding us that loving animals gives our lives better quality.

Water Under the Bridge by Mia Kerick, reviewed by Christy Duke
Tim and Ben have shared a lot in their life together. They may be young, having just finished freshman year at college, but the wisdom that Ben exhibits and the deep, abiding love they have makes these young men older than their years. Finals are done and Ben decides to take Tim away for a weekend getaway, into the mountains of New Hampshire, because Tim has been stressing a lot lately with family issues, and Ben and Tim just need to be alone and together.

Making love by a flowing river under an antique bridge reinforces Ben and Tim's devotion to one another. And it reminds them both that no matter what may happen in their lives, they can work anything out as long as they talk to each other. A beautiful story about what's important in the world. Love, just love.

From Fantasy to Friends by CR Guiliano, reviewed by jj
A poignant and somewhat sad story of an opportunity missed. Graham Hamlin is giving a lecture at a college that he transferred out of for reasons that make coming back a bit painful. He would have gladly passed up on this event, but not given the choice he will muddle through. Much to Graham's amazement, the man whom he had a huge crush on still works at this college. And then things just get stranger and stranger. 

This is a fascinating confluence that initially just adds more pain to Graham's memories. However, he is in a solid and loving relationship and that provides a very strong bridge for Graham to handle the unexpected revelation and multiple interactions that he has with the man he was so smitten with. Graham has definitely grown taller, stronger, and capable of converting a fantasy into a friendship. Touching!

That Place Across the Hall by C.C. Dado, reviewed by jj
Josh has his typical one-night-stand guy in his apartment when someone wakes him up banging on his front door. Ah yes, it is his neighbor from the across the hall probably doing his June Cleaver imitation once again. Not quite. Instead, Brandon, is inviting Josh to a birthday party for the eighty-year-old tenant from the second floor. It will be held on the roof-type garden cultivated and cared for by Brandon.  

This totally charming in-house get together allows Brandon, the neighbor across the hall from Josh, to completely turn Josh's life around in a most innocent and loving fashion. In fact, by the end of this win/win party, three tenants have their lives and living quarters changed for the better.  Beautiful!

Mistaken MD by Phoenix Emrys, reviewed by Serena Yates
Have you ever wondered if a stethoscope can have magical abilities? Neither have I, not until I read this story. And no, the object that quickly becomes the centerpiece in this tale doesn’t really come with an ability to make amazing stuff happen, but it does serve as a very interesting conversation starter. One that Peter, the narrator of this story, sorely needs if he ever wants to get over the devastation the previous owner of this piece of medical equipment has left behind in Peter’s heart.

Within the space of an hour, as Peter sits on the bench near a dog park and gets peed on by not one, but two canines, I found out what is wrong with his life, why he is depressed, only to finally see hope appear on the horizon. What follows is a wonderful, funny, and very encouraging conversation that gives Peter hope for the future, and made me smile. If you’re looking for a fun story with a hopefully-happy ending, give this one a go.
When Friendship Becomes More by Sophie Bonaste, reviewed by Christy Duke
This preface to my review is for the author and anyone who reads this story and, subsequently, this. My best friends are a gay couple, Tim and Jeff, whom I love with everything inside of me. When Tim first took Jeff home to his parents’ farm, Jeff had pretty white gloves on his hands, which he enjoyed holding out in front of himself and admiring, and picked up one little twig at a time and took it to the mulcher. For you see, Sophie, Jeff doesn't get dirty, ever. And Tim's dad asked him if he'd prefer to go in the house with the women, and Jeff was deliriously happy at given that choice and he disappeared inside with the women. So, reading about Jamie and his gloves picking up twigs for the fire just made my day.

Jamie, Roy, Dylan, and Austin have been inseparable since meeting their freshman year in college at a Gay/Straight Alliance event. Four years later these young men are never by themselves even though they are different in many ways. Jamie and Roy are roommates while Dylan and Austin share a place. Dylan and Austin are geeks of the highest order. Jamie needs a lot of love, hates to be alone, doesn't like confrontation, has OCD, and thinks camping is anything less than a five star hotel. Roy has a secret from Jamie, is a disorganized mess, and he loves everything to do with the outdoors, which is why these four best friends are spending a few days camping. But Roy is also the one person Jamie runs to whenever he's upset or needs help because Roy makes Jamie feel safe and secure.

I've always believed that to be in love you need to be friends, too, because otherwise what happens when the passion slows down? One little kiss shows Jamie what's been right in front of him and Roy sees his own value reflected in Jamie's eyes. A sweet, soft love story about the beginning of what can be.

The Exhibition by Andrea Speed, reviewed by Christy Duke
I swear the author wrote this just to tease the ever-loving crap out of me. You see, this is a short story about Roan and Dylan in the 'Infected' series and I'm dying for their final book due out this year, so hence, the author is teasing. Hmpf! But, oh, it was good to see my guys. So very good. Especially since Roan was on his best behavior as the supporting husband of Dylan, the artist, at his gallery showing. I know, I know, right? Roan on good behavior?

It made me happy to see Roan and Dylan in a relaxed atmosphere where the bond they have as a couple really showed. The fact that Roan promises not to talk smack about any of the people in attendance, well, at least until he and Dylan can do it in private together, just screams out their relationship as stable and strong. I love these guys and can't wait for their next book.
Holding Court by Cardeno C., reviewed by Christy Duke
This author has a magical way of writing characters who always stay with me. In 'Holding Court' the author has done just that, again, with Esav and Court. They grew up together, sort of, as Court is five years younger and was Esav's little brother's friend. On the evening that Esav's parents throw him a congratulations party for becoming a lawyer and getting a job, Court and Esav share a night of unimaginable passion and tenderness. But a relationship is not to be. Not then, anyway.

Ten years later, Esav sees a painting of himself hanging in a bar and finds that Court, an internationally famous artist, has moved to Denver and bought a bar. Their reunion is seriously hot and Court lays his cards on the table, hoping that Esav is ready to deal. A great story about love and that time and circumstances don't matter, only the strength of the love.
Cops and Comix by Rhys Ford, reviewed by Christy Duke
This author is well known for her fiendish delight in murdering people. Well, characters, not real people. At least, I don't think she's actually killed any real people, but, then again, who knows? She sure is creative about murder. Poor Alex. Nothing quite like opening up your comic book store for the day and finding a dead body in front of your discount table. Not just any dead body, either. One that's been dead for a while and is rotting on your carpet. Okay, eeewwww. Then again, Alex does get to meet James, the LAPD detective who gets the case, and the attraction between the two is smoldering. Typical Rhys, however, the romance is cruising along after James solved the first homicide, when poor Alex gets another dead guy in his shop. This time, the dead guy is dressed up for their homage to Lovecraft. Killing people right, left, and center.

I love a good whodunit, although Rhys, you're going to need to expand this story because there's just too much good in here! This was such a fun, slightly gory, escape into pop culture, with a ton of laughs, and definitely right up TJ and Eric's alley. James and Alex are great together, and their first date is a laugh out loud moment, and I so want to see more, more, more of this story.

For Dear Life by Mary Calmes, reviewed by Christy Duke
Only Mary Calmes can write a short story that grips me from beginning to end and leaves me wanting for so much more. A fantastic story about friendship, family, and love, Kevin and Wade sucked me into their orbit and I was so happy to spin along with them. The fact that the story involves some very nosy, nagging mothers, fathers, and sisters kept me supremely happy and laughing throughout. And because it's a Mary story, I also did some crying.

Kevin and Wade have been best friends since they were thirteen. Kevin's been in love with Wade for that whole time, too. But Kevin walking in on Wade kissing some other guy sent Kevin running and now he isn't even Wade's friend anymore. Wade's mom is right. Wade can't see what's right in front of his face and Kevin is too much of a coward to fight for what he wants. A family tragedy brings them together and helps to show them both what is truly important in life. A beautiful story that reminded me, too, of what's most significant in life.
Witness Protected by Dawn Kimberly Johnson, reviewed by Lena Grey
You never know how much someone means to you until you are in danger of losing them forever. When US Marshal Kirk Torrent is assigned the task of protecting a witness, he doesn't realize how taken he is going to be with the man he is keeping safe. Griffin is very atypical of most witnesses. He's one of the good guys who, unfortunately, was at the wrong place when a crime was committed. Unlike most witnesses, Griffin is determined to do things his way as far as the protection process goes. Try as he may, Kirk cannot ignore the intensity between them, even though it isn’t proper behavior considering their situation. He isn't easy to keep up with either and eludes them more than once, almost causing a tragedy. Knowing that he will go into the Witness Protection Program after his testimony makes them both sad, but Kirk knows it is the only way to keep him safe. With a heavy heart, he watches Griffin leave, taking Kirk's spirit with him. But fate has a way of coming through just when you need it to; and in this case, with the help of his friends in high places, things work out much better than it seems it might.

This love story starts with a bang and doesn't stop going, presenting us with a tale of action, angst, with some humor and unexpected circumstances mixed in. I recommend this to those who like to read stories that are fast and furious, but are also full of love and promise for better days to come. Thanks, Dawn, for the exciting and satisfying tale of two unique men.

Fall Train by Jaime Samms, reviewed by Lena Grey
When Brad settles down for his frequent train ride, in the most unpopulated car as possible, he isn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. He meets an obviously tired, desperate looking young man and is instantly curious about him. Realizing he needs help, he gladly lends a hand. He befriends the young man, Jacob, who is from Lithuania. Their exchange is very enlightening; Brad learns that Jacob is here to obtain citizenship in Canada. The fervor with which he speaks of becoming a citizen is inspiring. Jacob talks about the new life he's starting which will give him the freedom to live his life as he wishes, without being fearful. Hearing this, Brad realizes that they have more in common than he first thought. Brad wants to see Jacob again, but Jacob comes from a place where even being too friendly with another man can lead to dire circumstances and is very untrusting and uncomfortable with the idea. Brad's mission is to learn how to win Jacob's trust.

This is an endearing story, well written, with great characters who touched my heart. I'm impressed that Jaime was able put a lot of information and passion into such a short piece. I recommend it to those who like warm, romantic stories with happy endings. Thanks, Jaime. It's a beautiful story.

Stripped by Shae Connor, reviewed by Christy Duke
Ugh. Valentine's Day. As far as I'm concerned it's a useless greeting card company holiday. I certainly couldn't blame Jon for going to a high end strip club when he found himself alone for the first time in three years on this day. I most certainly couldn't blame him for eyeballing Blake during his performance. Blake is gorgeous and he works hard to keep his body in peak condition. Jon pays for a private lap dance but instead he just wants to talk to Blake. Neither one of them understanding exactly what's going on here, they agree to a hotel room for the night, something that is most definitely not the norm for either of them.

In the unlikeliest of places, a strip club, Jon and Blake both find something they've been looking for.  Neither one of them believes in Valentine's Day, but maybe after this year it'll be their favorite holiday. Such a good story that emphasized there's a lot more to a relationship than what goes on in the bedroom. Thank you, Shae, I enjoyed it very much.

Stalking 101 by Moria McCain, reviewed by Serena Yates
This story had me at the opening sentence: “REGINALD ISAAC Thornton the Third stalked his prey with all the grace of a turtle, or so it felt to him.” Humor: check. A mystery as to who or what is his prey: check. And finally, a man who may be a student but is probably used to getting what he wants, and is now clearly at a disadvantage: check. The way the story is set up is hilarious, and the hunting imagery had me laughing throughout. All the guy really wants is to talk to the object of his admiration/lust/obsession, but he sure doesn’t make it easy for himself. Plan after plan doesn’t work, embarrasses him, or gets commented on by his twin sister, but there is one certainty: Reginald will not give up his quest for the hunky construction worker who has caught his attention.

I loved this story! It is short, funny, and the two men are really hot together once they manage to connect. But the best part is the ending – it had me in stitches!

Under the Full Moon by Ellis Carrington, reviewed by Christy Duke
Aaaaahhhhhh, a paranormal adventure featuring a werewolf alpha, Neiran, and a young vampire, Andrei, in a time when peace is "supposed" to exist between the two factions. Andrei protects Neiran's nephew from Andrei's own family and is hurt in the process. I've read a lot of blood drinking scenes in my years, but these two men were some of the sexiest and incendiary yet. Andrei's family turns their back on him, but it may just be the best thing he could hope for when Neiran asks him to stay.

Hot, sexy werewolf and vampire was just what I needed, and now I got it. A nice love story to show that sometimes differences are only skin deep. I would very much enjoy reading more of this world.
Isle of Waiting by Sue Brown, reviewed by Lena Grey
Paul is in a bad mood. His lover, Olaf, broke a Skype date. He's lonely and horny and ready to take it out on the world. He heads over to his brother Sam's house in a foul mood. Sam and his husband, Liam, try to distract Paul, but he's determined to be his stubborn, obnoxious self. Seeing how happy Sam and Liam are together only makes his mood darker. Finally, they have a small measure of success when Sam gets his disagreeable brother to sit down and read a story which, surprisingly, Paul enjoys and takes home with him to finish. Just as he's getting to sleep, his lover texts him. They have a very unromantic, but typical, angry Paul-like exchange. Knowing Paul as he does, Olaf figures out what's wrong with him and very bluntly and efficiently puts things in perspective for them.

It was nice to visit with Sam, Liam, Olaf, and even Paul, who I know by now is mostly bluster. I've missed the banter between Paul and Sam and enjoyed seeing them in action once again. If you've read any of the 'Isle of Where?' series, you will especially enjoy this story; if you haven't, I'd like to suggest that you read it because, otherwise, you are missing a great series with wonderful, colorful characters in an unbelievably close family. Thanks, Sue! I loved it.

An Atheist and a Yoga Instructor Walk into a Bar by Rowan McAllister, reviewed by jj
Adrian's sister sets up a blind date for him with Brian Worthy, the tech support fellow from her office. Brian eventually walks into the bar with a yoga mat on his shoulders in some tight shorts that really show off his ass. Adrian doesn't recognize his blind date right of the bat, since he is so a no-yoga guy. When the yoga guy turns out to be his date, Adrian wants to exit as soon as possible. Brian is extremely clever in getting Adrian to be forthcoming about what kind of guy he would really like to date. Brian is not only quite smart, but incredibly intuitive. I loved Brian.

Brian maneuvers his conversation with Adrian in such a masterful fashion that Adrian does not bolt. The balance of the evening all works like magic! Now, I not only love Brian, but he has completely mesmerized me. This is a winner!

Last First Kiss by LE Franks, reviewed by Serena Yates
Short, intense, and emotionally draining, this is the story of three men who grow up together only to be torn apart by circumstances and the lack of talking about what’s really important to them. Jeremiah, or J as he prefers to be called, tells the story, and it was fascinating to read about his inner turmoil, pain, and final realization that there is only one thing that’s really important: love. The language is incredibly descriptive, and the author paints a picture with her words that had me moved to tears.

J may be the one who ran away, who calls himself a coward, but it is clear that all three men had issues. Danny’s suicide brings J back to his hometown years after he left, and his emotions are allover the place. Chief among them are anger about Danny leaving them, regret that he didn’t do more to be closer to his best friend, and devastation about Henry, the third man in this triangle of friendship and love. It made me sad to watch J and Henry struggle to get at the truth, but incredibly relieved they managed to carve out a new reality for themselves once all was said and done.

The Jogger by KC Burn, reviewed by Christy Duke
Justin is twenty-eight and a shut-in. He didn't start out that way. Oh no. Over a year ago he was brutally mugged, so he closed his office in town and worked from home, having his groceries delivered while he healed. But it became easier and easier to not leave the safety of his home. And, for the past year, he's watched his new neighbor jog past his house every day, no matter the weather, at exactly the same time. As he watches him, Justin makes up stories, and fantasies, about the man and his occupation, for he certainly can't go outside and introduce himself, even though the man started smiling at his window about six months ago. In a strange quirk of fate, Justin rescues his jogger, Samuel, from possible death and it forces Justin to leave his house. It also forces Justin to seek therapy to work on his agoraphobia.

This was such a wonderfully sweet story and I would've loved more. It's amazing what we can do when we set our minds to it, and the right incentive doesn't hurt, either. *grins* The author left me in a place where I can dream up the next part of Justin and Samuel's lives and fantasize about where they might end up. Thank you, KC!
Kid Confusion by Madison Parker, reviewed by Lena Grey
How far would you go for your best friend? Would you dress up like a giant penis? When Trish asks her best friend, Lucas to help with decorating for a Pride Day celebration, he has no idea what he's agreed to. Even worse, he has to put up with an ex who is as flamboyant as they come and constantly irritates Lucas about being so hung up about everything. Donovan is obnoxious, but funny at the same time. Lucas isn't impressed, but when he learns that the play involves depictions and songs about penises, and that he has to be one for his part, he goes crazy and almost quits helping entirely. Donovan and Trish talk him into at least watching the movie the play is based on, and he starts to accept the idea.

This story is hilarious, full of wit and sarcasm which kept me laughing all the way through. It shamelessly references two stories by TJ and Eric adding to the frivolity of the situation and presents us a bit of Pride history to boot. For a funny, outrageous look at what Gay Pride celebrations can involve, I recommend this story. Thanks, Madison, for all the laughs.

Tomorrow by John Goode, reviewed by Lena Grey
Paul met Ryan in college five years ago; they have been together ever since. As in all relationships, there are times when a couple becomes so set in their ways, there's a fear of their love fading, not being as vibrant as it was in the beginning. Paul wants to take the next step and propose, but he's worried that his lover isn't ready. He plans an atypical, romantic visit to the beach to see how things go before he tells Ryan he wants to move things forward. Ryan has no clue that there is a problem and that Paul is upset and continues their normal banter, teasing Paul, which upsets him even more. When Paul confesses his dismay along with his plan to try to make things better, Ryan looks at him like he's got three heads. He has no idea this was even in Paul's mind. It turns out that Ryan has a plan of his own, which will reassure Paul that there will definitely be a tomorrow.

This is an endearing love story showing what can happen when there's a lack of communication. Instead of asking Ryan how he felt, Paul confuses him even more by trying to show him in a way that is so foreign to Ryan that he doesn't get it; but their love triumphs and happiness is restored. I recommend this story to anyone who is a die-hard romantic and believes that love can conquer all. Thanks, John, for the reminder that talking to each other is the key to a good relationship.

A Gentle Shove of Human Kindness by Amy Lane, reviewed by Christy Duke
I hope Amy will forgive me that when I began reading and realized the story is about THE Angel Gabriel, well…I couldn't get the mental image of John Travolta as Gabriel out of my head. I know, I know, he played a different archangel, but, still… So, that's what I pictured as I watched Gabriel get "sentenced" to a week on Earth living as a human in hopes that he would see and understand why we are so precious to Him. The fact that Gabriel ended up in a strip mall Starbucks in Northern California simply amused me. But I watched him watch the people, the everyday people, and I understood why Gabriel became interested in Jamie and Ernie. For they are good young men who struggle every day to be who they are meant to be, and with a little nudge from Gabriel, perhaps they'll be who they're meant to be, together instead of alone.

This was sweet and loving with a reminder about human kindness, that, frankly, I needed when I read it. So, thank you, Amy, for the memorandum. *grins*






DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review, however, several of the reivewers also bought a copy in support of Eric Arvin and TJ Klune.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Anthology/ 29 Short Stories, 320 pages/137539 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-March-2014
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $17.99 bundle, $24.95 audiobook
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