Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
This anthology has stories that share the theme of the seasons. In some, the season is front and center, such as Winter’s Chill and Sweeter Than Honey, while in others it is not integral to the story. As in every anthology there were stories I liked more than others. I got introduced to authors new to me, several of which I will be looking forward to seeing again. All the stories here are fairly short, as typical in an anthology.
Brioche for Two – V.L. Locey (3.5 stars) Brian is a businessman who orders two brioche delivered from the bakery where Isamu works. Isamu is a broke film student and can’t figure out why an obviously well-to-do man such as Brian would want to have anything to do with him. Of course, he helps Isamu with his film project on finding passion. It really is the story of their meeting and maybe beginning.
Sweeter Than Honey – C.M. Valencourt (4 stars) Grayson is a vegan baker who sells at the market where Wyatt sells honey from his hives. Some nasty attitude prevails and it is up to Wyatt to show Grayson not everyone is cruel. New to me author and this story was adorable. I admit, the vegan aspect drew me in – I am a vegetarian always trying to make that leap to vegan. The uninformed and sanctimonious way Grayson attacked Wyatt is, unfortunately, all too common in the vegan community . Wyatt is patient and a good person and I enjoyed reading about the bees.
Special Nights – DJ Jamison (3.5 stars) Sam suffers from severe insomnia and sometimes trying to sleep just isn’t worth it so he heads off to spend time in the very early morning at the diner where Hunter works. Hunter has a lot going on in his personal life right now but he takes the time to talk to Sam. This is set across the year and how they slowly become something to each other. I liked the flirting between the two and the fact that nothing was rushed. They shared snippets about themselves and didn’t fall into bed, which made it seem real. It was cute, maybe needed to be a bit longer.
Winter’s Chill – Cathy Brockman (2 stars) Jeff is working on his grandfather’s house so that his mother can sell it. Lane is his next door neighbor and during a storm not only does the power go out but Jeff is trapped under a fallen branch. Luckily, Lane hears it and rescues Jeff, then offers to let him stay by Lane’s, where there is a generator, heat and food. It is the week they spend snowed in that they get to know each other. This one had potential but I didn’t think it lived up to it. Part of it may be a personal thing, as it is written in present tense and that isn’t preferred for me. The other part is that they have conversations that seem forced and stilted. The writing style wasn’t working for me and this one wasn’t a favorite.
Beach Boys – Annabelle Jacobs (3.5 stars) Russ is on vacation with his best friend, Sarah, and another friend, Karen. It was technically a girl’s weekend until the third girl broke her ankle and Russ is invited to fit in. It’s a sweet bungalow right on the water and he’s extremely happy to be there. Even more so when spying the hot surfers on the beach. What more could he ask for? Told in first person by Russ, I liked the whole meet your guy on vacation and this one was sweet instead of all sexy. I liked that too because this is the very beginning of something for these guys. There are some funny parts, such as Bailey the dog and her love for tug of war, that made me smile.
Who Do You Love, My Valentine – EJ Smyth (2.5 stars) Nox is a god who has been crushing on a human, Matt, for more than two years. It happens that at Valentine’s season Cupid needs some help and of course Nox draws the short straw and has to fix Matt up with someone else. How can that be! Especially when Nox misses the shot and now Matt is falling in love with a woman, Joanie. Now what? Right in the beginning, Nox is invisible and he is licking Matt’s neck and fondling his groin, while Matt is unable to know what is going on. He even admits it, “It was a creepy thing to do, but he was close, so very close.” Ummm, nope, not a reason and that made me very uncomfortable. Joanie was accidentally shot by the arrow is now extremely attracted to Matt and Nox just sort of pushes that to the side, which was annoying. I did appreciate that when Matt is hit with the arrow, it hurts! That was unique. This one was up and down for me, but feather sex pushed it down a little.
Favorite Flowers – Chris McHart (4 stars) Gabe owns a flower shop, working with his best friend, Tara. Tara is on him to get out there and start dating again, that “Not every guy is a cheating bastard.” But he doesn’t want to and he’s sticking to his guns. Then a customer comes in, totally overwhelmed, and wants to buy flowers. He starts coming in every week to get a bouquet but never gives any indication of being interested or even being available so Gabe is sure it’s nothing. He doesn’t even given Gabe his name until much later, Jason. This was by far my favorite of the anthology because the dance they are doing in the flower shop was shy and sweet. Jason is going through a divorce after sharing with his wife, who was his best friend, that he’s pan, so he wants that out in the open right away. I applauded him for that. Jason’s way of asking Gabe out was romantic and lovely, and his reasoning for keeping Gabe a little at arm’s length was perfect. “Just you, me, lube. That’s it.”
The Last Chance – RJ Scott (2.5 stars) Luke is a senior in college, set to graduate. He can’t forget the kiss (and frot) he had with the captain of the hockey team four years before. Of course, said Captain, Justin, hasn’t spoken to him since that day. Luke “wanted to, but he avoided me, and I got the message.” Now it is senior year and for some reason Jason’s jock friends are apologizing for things Luke might be holding against Justin because of them. That part was cute. What wasn’t so cute for me was that after four years of ignoring him, Justin has now decided to make a move. His friends are trying to help and that was cute, but after four years of nothing, I wanted way more groveling than we got. At first, Luke acted like I expected a self-respecting person to act when they’ve been treated poorly and get, “Please believe me, I had my reasons” as the excuse. “I should have spoken to you. I’ve waited so long.” You are on the same college campus! So I thought the end was totally out of left field, particularly when you factor in that in reality, they only spent part of one evening together. I am a big RJ Scott fan but this one didn’t work for me.
Cover art by RJ Scott is soft, sweet and fitting to the mood and style of the stories.
Published April 19th 2018 by Love Lane Books Limited (first published April 16th 2018)
Original TitleLove for all Seasons