A MelanieM Review: Heart2Heart Anthology, Vol. 3

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Rating: 5 stars out ot 5 (because just one of these stories earns it that let alone so many)

Once upon a time, a group of authors wondered… What if the Heart2Heart app — the dating app with a glitch that matched up the oddest, most perfect couples, and sponsored the charity date raffles that helped dozens of people find love — offered a classifieds section, too?

Need a handyman who knows how to wear a tool belt? Have a closet of drag costumes that needs a new home? How about finally tracking down that guy who made the perfect drink, or who’s just the right height to reach the top shelf?

Join some of your favorite authors of gay romance as they bring you sixteen brand-new stories inspired by reader suggestions!

Once again, all proceeds from this collection will go to the authors’ favorite LGBTQ charities, to ensure that love in all its forms will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

This collection will be available for only 90 days before it’s gone forever.

It’s rare that I come across an anthology that I actually gush about because the stories are just that good but Volume 3 of the Charity Anthology Heart2Heart is absolutely amazing!  From the overall concept to the authors involved to the stories inside, this is a 5 star ride all the way.  I’d say E Ticket but how many remember what those are any more?

The fabulousness starts right at the beginning with a split story that explains the concept behind the stories of this Collection.   That’s right a story, The Closet (Parts 1 and 2) by Eden Finley, both open and close this incredible collection.  The story both calls forth the birth of the ads format and sees in retrospect what those ads have caused to happen.  It’s lovely, poignant, and oh so touching.  And throughout all the other stories, the fact that this one was missing it’s ending hovered in the background waiting gracefully for it’s time to come.

Want to know just what a treasure awaits you? Here they are without ratings because, honestly, they all shine so brightly and with such variety, that you will be rereading them over and over again.  I can say that only 2 missed the mark with me and slid to a 4 and I think that was just my reading preferences.

  • The Closet by Eden Finley Part 1: 

A young man and a friend go to empty his deceased uncle’s home, one he hadn’t seen in years only to find someone who had loved him and knew him far better than anyone else.   As I said , this story “bookends” the collection.  It splits upon a revelation and the idea of putting ads in a dating app that the friend runs called yes Heart2Heart.  I won’t spoils the amazing delights this story holds but it sets the bar and gets your heart ready for what’s to come.

  • The Book by Aimee Nicole Walker:

Bookstore owner seeking identity of adorkable customer...” i

This how the ad starts.  Oh these ads. So many had me laughing out loud, including this one.  The story was fun, charming, sexy, and yes, romantic. Loved it!.  If you know this author, then you are aware of how quickly she can build a universe, fill it with great characters, and a relationship that you know will last.  She does it here. Line up the hearts!

  • The Date by Annabeth Albert

Wanted: Companion for exquisite five course gourmet Valentine’s Day dinner at a top-secret Portland restaurant, no sex or romance required…

I should just leave this at “nuf said”.  Because if you are again familiar with her stories, you are in for a treat.  In fact, I wanted this to be double the length as I didn’t want to leave this could behind.  I loved the food (yes, yes, there is food), amazing characters to grab your heart, and the perfect setting.    I want this couple for a lifetime, including their marriage! Listening, Ms Albert?

  • The Yarn Wrangler by Charlie Cochet:

Help Wanted: Yarn Wrangler.  Have you ever thought to yourself,  : I wonder what a house full of yarn looks like? Have you ever dreamed of getting paid to box up a whole bunch of yarn?…”

Yes, bring on the guffaws!  They are warranted!  While the start is oddly not humorous it quickly tumbles into lovely gentle laughter and love.

That’s how Simon meets Liam in a house full of yarn collected by his grandmother.  Plus there’s a cat with a yarn batting average any pitcher would be jealous of.  Oh but there’s an expensive boyfriend and….well, this a gem to be unraveled slowly.  And smiled and yes, giggled at.  Happy endings all around.

  • Dork Lord by Damon Suede: Missed Connections: Lion eyes, I love to watch you swim.

Tarquin, a swimmer finds his match where he least expects it.Hot, sexy, typical Damon Suede story.

  • Top Shelf by Hailey Turner: 

Can You Be My (Tall) Knight in Shining Armor? is how this ad starts. A very cute tale about a short guy in need of some tall help in his new apartment in DC.

  • The Family Reunion by K.M Neuhold:

Needed:fake boyfriend to get my parents off my back.

This is the story of Lawrence, the premed student needing a break and Roman the son needing a boyfriend for a reunion with his family in Boca.  Neuhold nicely turns around the character of Roman who isn’t all that likable to begin with into soHelp meone we can connect with in the end.  Lovely story.  And a believable ending.

  • The Last Drop by Layla Reyne

Dear Mr. Manhattan, We met nine months ago at a bar in New Orleans… starts the long ad

I just found this author with her book Dine With Me.  My only issue with this story is no recipes!  I needed the recipes for the drinks and meals served like crazy!  You will drool through this story.  Over the men and their relationship too..   Greg Valteau, chef and owner, and Tony Monaco, bartender extraordinaire.  Everything about this is sensual, hot, and amazing.

  • The Dog Walker by Lily Morton

SOS Call From Cornwall! Me: Broken right arm with a general lack of ability to do anything for myself for a few weeks….” is how this ad starts off.

No getting around this.  The Dog Walker is one of my favorites.  Something about this understated, gorgeously written story got under my skin immediately.  From the language to the layered relationship and the gentle revelations exposed over time.  It’s continued to haunt me.  I want more.  I can’t sing its praised enough.

Surprisingly it starts off with sex between Sim and Ziggy, a bold act for a nuanced relationship. Won’t say anymore.  Buy this collection for this story alone.

  • The Treehouse by Lucy Lennox:

“Help Wanted: Building  a treehouse for my kids this weekend and need a extra pair of hands…..”

This is why I read anthologies.  To wonder why I don’t read more stories by Lucy Lennox and smack my head.  This is a wonderful bright contemporary love story.  Great characters like Harvey the Angora Rabbit farmer just returned from NZ and Bryn with two kids trying to build them a treehouse, plus a matchmaking sister in a small town.  I adore this story.  You will too.

  • The Restoration by Mary Calmes

“Help Wanted: Laborers to assist with basement restoration. ….”

Of course, this is Mary Calmes so we are talking about the restoration of more than just a basement.  It’s a broken marriage in need of repair.   Alasdair McKenna aka Sandy is separated from his military husband who is always away on assignment and needs his flooded basement restored.  It’s been six months since he’s seen Kyler but it seems that Kyler is still looking after him…..

This is very Mary Calmes in the relationship between the men, one very protective, scary in a military way.  Sandy with his circle of friends who support them both.  The story works so well because the author knows her men and their dynamics.  It all works and works just as it should.  HEA!

  • The Vase by May Archer

FOR SALE: Antique Vase Authentic Limited edition hand-painted vase  from  local artist…”

I really left the best parts of that ad out, as I have for most of these ads.  Nauticolli indeed.  May Archer has another winner here with this story.  I easily wanted ti expanded, and a sequel too.  I has so much heart and I love the main characters and their relationship, short as it is.  Their future is so bright and I want to know what happens next.  Surely we need a followup story?  Pretty please.  We need to know how Malachi will get on with Landon’s cats don’t we?  Just read this story!

  • The Helping Hand by Nora Phoenix

Wanted: Someone with serious  furniture assembly skills and a buttload of patience who speaks IKEA…

Anyone who has ever had to assemble anything let alone something from IKEA, well you will relate to this story and the characters.  A gentle bear of a science fiction writer who needs help assembling his new furniture and the nature photographer who will show him patience for his furniture and in loving him as well.  Another gentle story, sweet, and endearing.

  • The Dream Machine by Piper Scott writing as Emma Alcott

For Sale of the Low, Low Price of Free….

 

I will admit that this story seems the odd one out of the bunch, not a contemporary romance but one with a science fiction or whatever twist.  Just want a story I connected with but I could have been that it felt jarring among the others.  In another collection, it might have gotten a different reaction.

  • The Wedding Date by Susan Hawke

Date Needed! If you like weddings, awkward events where your date’s ex is the man of the hour, open bars, and crappy cake, I’m your man!…

Back to the lovely contemporary romance and with a unexpected twist.  Especially as it starts off with Hunter who fosters kittens with special needs.  Absolutely endearing, and the kittens are described in depth and will grab at your heart along with Hunter.Quinn answers the ad and the story is on.  Another true charmer in a collection’s worth.

  • The Wrong Guy by Sloane Kennedy

We bonded over a screw… of the nuts and bolts variety.

Travis and Jackson have been friends for a while and yet some things remain to be discovered between them.    It takes an ad to bring it all out in the open.  I liked this story.  Felt raw and real in places, emotional and painful, especially when assumptions you’ve made about someone turn out to be false.

  • The Closet Part 2 by Eden Finley

I debated putting the ad in that started it all.  In the end, I hit delete.  That’s as much a part of this story as walking into that closet.  And reading this ending.  It’s everything.

This is a one of a kind collection of stories.  It’s one you must read, and not just because its for chairty.  But because these stories resonate.  They are full of laughter, love, sex, sensuality, food, and romance.  Even yarn and kittens!

Don’t let it pass you by. It’s only here for 90 days.  Grab it up now.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by AngstyG is perfect for the collection and tone.  love it. Makes you feel it just looking at it.

Sales Links:     

All Proceeds Go To Charity:

Amazon US

Everywhere Else

Book Details:

Buy for $4.99 or try Kindle Unlimited to read over a million titles
Kindle Edition, 761 pages
Published October 1st 2019
ASINB07XP6D2M5
Edition Language English

Here is a Collection of Stories Not to Be Missed! Check Out the Charity Blog Tour for Heart2Heart Anthology, Vol. 3 Tour

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Heart2Heart Anthology, Volume 3

Supporting LBGT Charity

A Collaboration of Short Stories By:

Annabeth Albert, May Archer, Mary Calmes, Charlie Cochet, Eden Finley, Susan Hawke, Sloane Kennedy, Lucy Lennox, Lily Morton, K.M. Neuhold, Nora Phoenix, Layla Reyne, Piper Scott (writing as Emma Alcott), Damon Suede, Hailey Turner, Aimee Nicole Walker

This collection will be available for only 90 days before it’s gone forever.

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Once upon a time, a group of authors wondered… What if the Heart2Heart app — the dating app with a glitch that matched up the oddest, most perfect couples, and sponsored the charity date raffles that helped dozens of people find love — offered a classifieds section, too?

Need a handyman who knows how to wear a tool belt? Have a closet of drag costumes that needs a new home? How about finally tracking down that guy who made the perfect drink, or who’s just the right height to reach the top shelf?

Join some of your favorite authors of gay romance as they bring you sixteen brand-new stories inspired by reader suggestions!

Once again, all proceeds from this collection will go to the authors’ favorite LGBTQ charities, to ensure that love in all its forms will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!


Book Buy Links

All Proceeds Go To Charity:

Amazon US

Everywhere Else


About the Heart2Heart Anthology Series:

The first 2 volumes of Heart2Heart made a combined total of more than $50k USD. The net proceeds were donated to six incredible charities, including One-n-Ten, Ali Forney Center, Trevor Project, Rainbow Railroad, Trans LifeLine, and the Bisexual Resource Center. These volumes are no longer available, but thankfully the passion for the project hasn’t faded. Every step of the process has been donated:

  • Cover design, logo, and promotional graphics by AngstyG
  • Beta reading, editing, proofreading by the team at LesCourt Author Services, as well as Allison Roy
  • Promotional posting by LesCourt Author Services and the A Novel Take PR group
  • And of course, the authors’ time and efforts

More information on the Charities chosen for Volume 3:

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LGBT Youth Line

‍🌈 LGBT Youth Line: a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit* youth-led organization that affirms and supports the experiences of youth (29 and under) across Ontario. We do this by:

-Providing anonymous peer support and referrals;

-Training youth to provide support to other youth; and

-Providing resources so youth can make informed decisions.

Homepage


Kind Space

‍🌈 Kind Space: committed to providing accessible resources, events, social, and educational programming to celebrate and support people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Home


The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity

‍🌈 The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity: aspiring to support and transform Canadian and indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast in a shared vision of a discrimination-free gender and sexually diverse world.

http://ccgsd-ccdgs.org


These are all great Charities and we need to take care of our youth and the next generation. Love is Love. Be safe and kind. No one should have to suffer for who they are or who they love!!

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Three Evergreen 2012 Dreamspinner Holiday Short Stories by SA Garcia, Laylah Hunter and Charlie Cochet

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The Colors of Pastor Saul by SA Garcia

Rating: 4 stars

Pastor Saul Thompson operates a food kitchen for the lost souls and people fleeing from the wars his country is engaged in.  But thee is more to Saul then meets the eye as Saul can see Death or the Black Mantle coming for the people he serves.  Sometimes, Saul can make the Black Mantle retreat by his actions and sometimes even his intervention is not enough to save those who congregate under his roof from despair and death.  And each time, his “sight” or actions bring down a blackness upon himself that is becoming ever more frequent.  Then a man called Pink Cap comes into his sanctuary and everything changes for Pastor Saul, including the belief that miracles can still happen.

This is an unusual little story for the Holiday season and Advent calendar.  It takes place in an alternative universe in a wartorn country whose citizens are diseased, dying or just healthy enough to be conscripted into the army.  Pastor Saul is the last line of survival for people living on the edges, so very close to death and despair, something his government for whatever reason does not appreciate.  Pastor Saul would include himself among those classified as marginal but a true oddity, he sees colors around all the individuals, and as death and sickness close in, those colors turn dark just before the Black Mantle arrives to feed off the person before they die. This gift or curse is something he has kept to himself. The author’s vivid descriptions of Saul’s universe and chilling portraits of its inhabitants paint a picture of a dismal world populated by defeated and dying citizens with Saul acting like the boy with his finger in the dyke holding back the waters of destruction.  Then an amazing thing happens when a man called Pink Cap enters Saul’s life and their relationship allows both men to start to thrive once more.   True to Garcia’s world building, there is no HEA but even the slight glow of hope for these men are like the embers of a fire sparking back to life.   I would recommend this story, just not as a holiday read.

Safe Harbor by Laylah Hunter

Rating: 3.5 stars

When Blake’s father died  seven years ago, Blake was reeling in grief compounded by confusion over his sexuality.  His solution was to run away to the sea.  Now his ship has returned to port, and waiting on the dock for him is his best friend,  Tom.  Tom is the person who caused Blake to question his sexuality and make him realize that he was gay.  Now  Tom makes it clear that Tom forgives Blake for running away as long as Blake agrees to stay with Tom and his grandmother for Christmas.  And from all indications, Tom has realized other things about Blake as well. Can it be that Blake has finally found a safe harbor for good and get the happy ending he has wanted with Tom?  At Christmas time everything is possible.

At 30 pages, this is a short, sweet story of young love and coming out of the closet.  Hunter has a nice feel for her characters and settings although more of a back story would have been nice.  We just have three people here,  Blake, Tom and his grandmother, a most tolerant and exceptional woman.  it seems that during those seven years of missing Blake, Tom realized that he is gay and that Blake was gay too. This is a gentle tale of young love with appealing characters.  A very nice, quick holiday read.

Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

Rating: 2.75 stars

Elf Tim works for the Abominable Administrative Department at North Pole City and is majorly unhappy.  His Elf Boss, Noel, is harassing him and making his life miserable.  Other elves have transferred out of the department, but Tim seems stuck.  Stuck in a bad  job,  and with a bad boss out to get him.  Other elves, those hardbitten and mean work as the Frost King’s toy soldiers, those brave and smart end up as Rein Dears, flying the planes to deliver the toys.  But  Tim was’t even considered good enough to cut it as a Ribbon Curler in the Gift Packaging Plant, even after graduating from Claus College.

But when Tim stumbles into a plot by the Rat King  to destroy the Christmas spirit, he will have to work with Noel and Jack Frost with his helper Rudy to safe the day and even find some Christmas spirit of his own.

As you can tell, Charlie Cochet has turned a collection of traditional Christmas legends upside down and inside out, creating a North Pole City where Rein Dears are the glamourous flyboys with slutty sugarplum fairies to attend to their every need instead of reindeer pulling a sleigh. The North Pole is no longer a charming snowcovered gingerbread town but a Christmas City full of bureaucrats, homophobes, and thugs to go with the elves who have positions that range from Kringle’s Construction Firm worker to an elf who delivers coal for the furnaces (and dumps it on top of Tim).  I think this story contains some very clever tweaks on Santa Claus and the North Pole, and it is equally clear that Cochet enjoyed herself writing this story.  I just wish I had had as much fun reading it as she did developing her concept.

I didn’t.  Perhaps I love my traditional Christmas too much to enjoy such hard hearted concepts as Christmas sugar plum  fairies as whores, or a place where the work is such drudgery that the workers are as bogged down in Bah Humbug and  despair as anyone found in the blighted areas of any big city.   Yes, there is a happy ending but it is the stuff I had to wade through to get there that almost made me put this down before I finished.  Really?  There has to be homophobia even at the North Pole?  There are certainly enough sluts, and thugs and jerks of all types everywhere else in the world.  For me, they don’t need to be at the North Pole at Christmas, and I don’t want them in my holiday reading.  Sorry, but I would skip this one.

Mending Noel cover

Safe Harbor

It’s the Holiday Season! It’s all about Books, Holiday Books and the first Winter Cocktail Recipe

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I am definitely in the mood for the holidays this year.  I am singing carols under my breath, holiday songs are playing on the radio, the tree is getting decorated, and the aroma of Frasier firs and cinnamon waft through the house.  Of course the last bit is because our tree is a Frasier and cinnamon Glade was used liberally in every room Kirby ran into after rolling around in some dead guts he found in the  backyard.  In all my 25 plus years as a naturalist, I have smelled some rotten things but nothing prepared me for Kirby as he ran past me back into the house.

You know they talk about a delayed sense?  That was the horrendous smell that kicked in once Kirby was well past me and up the stairs into the living room.  And then the  smell hit and nausea followed.  And there is no way to chase a dog when you have a cane and no breath, so he romped his merry way through the house spreading foul odors and gunk as he went.  Yeah not a pleasant afternoon, following him with bleach and towels. And then he had to be sheared to get rid of the smell that not even tomato juice helped with.  But not even that deterred me from my Christmas cheer! I am a most determined elf!

So I decided to pile on the pressure and have two reviews a day this week.  One a Holiday story and one regular book.  The end of the week will find me making the first Winter Cocktail recipe that can be found at the bottom of the page.   Let’s try it out together, shall we?

Monday:                              New York Christmas by RJ Scott

                                                Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley

Tuesday:                              Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane

                                                Esau (Leopards Spots 6) by Bailey Bradford

Wednesday:                        Snowbound in Nowhere by Andrew Grey

                                                Cupid Knows Best by S.A. Garcia

Thursday:                           Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold

                                               Gregori’s Ghost by Sarah Black

Friday:                                 The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott

                                               Willow by Lee Brazil

Saturday:                              Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

                                                 Colors of Pastor Saul by S.A.Garcia

Winter Cocktail:  The Isle of Pines Cocktail:Isle of Pines Winter Cocktail

Ingredients
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup white rum
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
Ice cubes
Preparation
Bring pomegranate juice and sugar to boil in heavy small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool syrup.
Pour 2 tablespoons syrup, 1/2 cup rum, and 1/4 cup grapefruit juice into cocktail shaker. Fill with ice; shake vigorously. Strain into 2 Martini glasses. Repeat to make 2 more drinks.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit!