Rating: 4.75 stars
Animal Magnetism is an anthology of 15 short stories by 15 wonderful authors of m/m lovers brought together by members of the animal kingdom. It may be a snake called Ganymede or two kittens in need of a home and names. It could be a collection of spiders loose in a basement or klepto octopus with a fondness for pens, all types of animals can be a catalyst for love for the right people and under the right conditions! In these stories, the authors give you all those animals and many more on the path to romance and love.
I am such a sucker for animal stories and this anthology gave me 15 wonderful stories to curl up with and enjoy. What delighted me the most was that along with the cute dog and kitten stories, the authors came up with tales that revolved around a falconer and his golden eagle, a pick pocket and a horse with trust issues, a groundskeepers relationship with an Indian palm squirrel named Jonno, an artist with a potty mouthed parrot, and a earthquake that allows a man to find love and start over even as it destroys everything around him. Some stories are light-hearted romps through a grade school teacher’s pet experiences to the terrifying race to outrun the waves of a tsunami, the range of emotions and settings are of such tremendous variety that there is something for everyone within this strong anthology. An animal lover and retired Park Naturalist, so many of these stories contain elements that resonate with me, whether is was because of animals I have worked with, situations I have been in or just plain animals that fascinate me and I know you will love them too. This is a tremendous anthology and I know that I will return time and again to these stories to meet up with the people and animals they have introduced me to and have so totally engaged my feelings. I highly recommend you pick this book up. Here are the stories in the order they are listed in the anthology.
Stories included are:
A Few Too Many by Heidi Champa. – A sheepdog imbibes after a competition and his drunken state introduces his owner to the new vet in town.
Having a Ball by Cari Z.- Uncle Jimmy is petsitting his niece’s snake and accidentally overfeeds it too many mice. Lucky for him, there is a gorgeous herpetologist living a floor above. Great plot and wonderful characterizations had me laughing out loud. A favorite of mine.
Along Came Spiders by Matthew Vandrew – A nurse and a police officer get trapped in a basement full of loose spiders when they come to the aid of an unconscious man during an earthquake. Again, we get strong characters, great plot and oodles of spiders. Terrific.
Cuddling Up by Chris T. Kat – Big cat keepers have a disagreement over zoo protocol and end up hot and heavy before its over.. The author really knows zoo protocol so the characters actions are very realistic while the sex is as hot and steamy as they come
New Tides by Avery Vanderlyle – I loved this story of a man adjusting to being single after a breakup as well as a new job in an aquarium where the catalyst to a new love happens to be a octopus called Cleopatra. The author got everything right, from the detail about the University of Maryland’s programs to the curious intellect of the octopus and the wonderful characters trying to find love among the marine fauna. Absolutely a delight and a story I read twice.
Care and Rehabilitation by Kim Fielding – A man gets help in dealing with the death of a partner when his St. Bernard mix brings him a baby bird in need of a helping hand from a bird rehabber who knows something about loss. Fielding gives us a sensitive portrayal of a man unable to move forward after the death of a partner and the event that finally helps him move on. I loved this beautiful story that relates the rescue of a small bird to the rescue of a man in the stasis of grief.
Butterbean and the Pretty Princess Make a Home by R. Cooper – I have recently found R Cooper and now gobble up all she writes. Here is another example as to why Cooper has become an instant favorite. Those names alone are pure gold as are the men behind them. Cooper takes a normal situation of roommates in love and elevates it with two unique characters dancing around the L word. All it takes to push them over is two small kittens. Love, love this story
Jonno by Emily Gould – Palm squirrel meets man, squirrel bites man, man meets vet. Turns out squirrel not so bad after all. So cute.
On an Eagle’s Wings by A.J. Marcus – After I read that Marcus is also a falconer everything about this story made sense, including the authenticity running from page to page in this tale of love in the wilderness that comes to two lonely men. Vivid descriptions of the wilderness carry the author’s love of the outdoors and his appreciation of nature and raptors with such mesmerizing clarity to the reader that I felt I was there. Great job.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Skylar Jaye – Can love be found among chickens? Why yes they can in this story that manages to bring chickens up close and personal while delivering a love story for the egges, oop ages. Sorry, couldn’t resist
Tears for a Broken Sun by Minerva Wisting – A surprising white knuckle ride of a story inspired by Great Tohoku Earthquake. Wisting makes us feel every second of every minute of the approaching tsunami. We understand what the uncomprehending Akira does not, that his dog Wan is trying to pull him away from the shore up the mountain to safety. Our anxiety mounts as he notices the absence of birds and the wild barking of his dog after the earthquake. Not a missed step in this superlative story of love found among a natural disaster.
Stripped Bare by Lily Velden – An artist with a potty mouthed parrot has his first showing and love shows up as one of the buyers. Cute and clever.
Wild Horses by Kate Pavelle – A pickpocket named Kai steals a cellphone and its owner wants the phone returned. When Kai does, he finds not only sanctuary but a path to love as well. I loved this. While not a HEA, the author shows us tantalizing glimpses into a possible future for everyone involved, including the horses. Everything about this story fascinates and intrigues the reader, from the hidden backstories of the main characters to the very nature of the special horses themselves. I wanted so much more once the story was over.
Show and Tell by Liz Makar – First grade teacher Damian Coletti kills the class room pet yet again. Can the new pet store owner save the class from another loss and find love at the same time? Why of course, he can. Funny, with terrifyingly accurate portrayals of kids and great characters looking for love romp through the pages of this story.
The Conch Republic by G.S. Wiley – Wild conchs lead two men back to love in this story set in Key West. I have never read a story that used live conchs as a springboard to love so this is a first. It’s so successful that it might start a whole new take on the puppy love thing. Conch love, who knew? Great story, wonderful characters and a plot so easy to relate to that I felt like I was in a Key West state of mind.
Cover: Cover Art by Shobana Appavu . The cover works best when viewed up close so you can see all the different types of animals. At a distance, it all seems very confused and busy.