A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Heart2Heart Anthology

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A very enjoyable charitable endeavor by eleven talented authors.  My review is done by story:

The Set-up

A short chapter about “how Bailey the geeky programmer lost his focus.” The segment focuses on Bailey as he’s setting up the final algorithms for the new Heart2Heart dating app.  He’s distracted by a sexy window washer who pantomimes calling him.  The story breaks here and is then continued at the end of the anthology.

The Professional Gamer and the Paranormal Photographer by Alison Hendricks – 3 stars

Shy photographer meets gregarious gamer—at first glance, the match seems destined to failure, but when the two get to know one another over a game—of course—they find they have much more in common than they’d thought.  And the interesting paranormal experiences Allen has captured on film intrigue Lawrence enough to continue their friendship to a relationship and they realize the match wasn’t so bad after all.  I didn’t feel the character chemistry in this one so only 3 stars here.

The Magician and the Mortician by AE Wasp – 4 stars

A very sweet story of a 42-year-old magician who lost his husband five years ago and has finally agreed to a blind date arranged through Heart2Heart.  The mortician turns out to be a quiet, sexy man who first saw Beto perform ten years ago and lost his heart to the magic of magic shows.  A pleasant surprise and coincidence that the two are destined to meet again.  Another unlikely match finds love.  I enjoyed the pace of this story and the characters were charming.

The Assassin and the Dog Walker by Charlie Cochet – 5 stars

What an adventure!  Charlie Cochet captured the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the sweet temperament of Daniel, the cute dog walker, and the cutting-edge, dangerous personality of the assassin, Lymond.  Another two unlikelys who found their way together through the H2H app. I know a story is a keeper (and a future re-read) when I’m smiling as I read along, enjoying every minute of the adventure, totally immersed in the lives of the characters. Kudos, Charlie! 

The Criminal and the Sommelier by Chris Owen – 5 stars

Phillipe is the Sommelier who is impressed, despite his initial misgivings, by the restaurant and their sommelier’s selection of wines—all provided by Heart2Heart for his first date with Angelo.  And Angelo? Oh my! Phillipe is very impressed with him as well—even when he finds out he’s an international art thief, or broker, as Angelo prefers to call himself. Full of humor, witticisms, adventure and fun, this fast-paced short story is only the beginning of the adventure in store for these guys.  I hope Chris Owen brings them back for a full-length novel. 

The Superhero and the NSA Agent by Hailey Turner – 3 stars

This story was a lot of fun to read – from the beginning to about midpoint.  The characters and the setup were intriguing and I especially fell in love with Damien in his Superman outfit—who wouldn’t?  It looked like it would be a sweet Valentine’s Day romance, but then the author fell victim to throwing them into hot, panting sex and canceling their romantic Heart2Heart dinner date.  To be honest, it felt out of character for them—especially for Damien, and I was no longer interested in them after that. 

The Tattoo Artist and the Writer by Lily Morton – 5 stars

Well, this one showed me that I can find an outstanding new author anywhere.  I never expected that this would be the story that would be OTT for me, but it was.  Two best friends, matched by Heart2Heart, find their way to love—a love that’s apparently been there for years but never acknowledged.  I’m definitely going to check out this author’s other work.  Excellent story. 

The Uber Driver and the Phone Sex Operator by Lucy Lennox – 4.5 stars

I feel like I’m the only one of my friends who hasn’t read Lucy Lennox yet, but that’s now taken care of with this humorous, sweet MM romance.  Travis is filling in for his brother Brody as an Uber driver when he picks up a cute, young guy who is having phone sex while in his back seat.  Lots of laughs later when it gets straightened out, and lots of cuddles and loving when the two get together to solve Azrael’s problem of being a 25-year-old virgin.  Add to that, the compatibility of their “real” careers and this was a romance made in heaven.  All right, not heaven—the Heart2Heart app.  Very enjoyable!

The Baker and the SEAL by May Archer – 5 stars

Another new-to-me author that hit her story out of the ballpark.  Nothing like a big, strong, ex-Navy SEAL with a heart of gold to melt this old lady’s heart.  But add to that a snarky, strong, independent baker with a penchant for vanilla—only in his cooking—and you have the perfect recipe (pun intended) for a sweet Valentine’s Day romance.  Loved it!

The Event Planner and the Electrician by Poppy Dennison – 3 stars

May-December romances are one of my favorite tropes and this sweet story captured the angst of the younger guy who falls in love yet again with an older guy, only to have their age difference thrown in his face, yet again.   I loved Theo ‘s character.  He reminded me of a sweet, energetic bundle of energy with a heart of gold.  And I enjoyed Harvey’s character as well—older, good-looking, gentle giant.  Though it took awhile, they finally got their Valentine’s Day wish. 

The Lawyer and the Lobsterman by Ruthie Luhnow – 2 stars

This one was my least favorite of the stories.  The lawyer, Isaac, had an abrasive personality and the lobsterman, Will, was super-casual and flirty.  Of all the couples, they not only seemed ill-suited, but also had poor communication and I couldn’t quite get behind their togetherness.  And though all the stories are about men who shouldn’t have been matched but were, in this one I couldn’t find their commonality—their spark, so to speak.  They ended up together but it wasn’t as satisfying to me.

The Florist and the Lawyer by Sloane Kennedy – 3.5 stars

This little tidbit was sweet and sexy, but to be honest, there was an overabundance of sex scenes. I would have liked more face-to-face, get-to-know-you time and less of the highly descriptive in-your-face sex time. Don’t get me wrong, Sloane Kennedy is one of my favorites, and I love her writing and storytelling style, but in this instance, less would have been more.  Another abrasive lawyer in this story, Harrison is matched with Nate, a cute, flamboyant twink, who eventually melts his heart, puts a smile on his face, and brings color to his black-and-white world.

The Fallout

A continuation of The Setup, which was the intro to the anthology.  It’s not clear who wrote this segment, but it’s really quite sweet and a story unto itself.   The window washer has distracted the programmer from the last testing of the algorithm of the Heart2Heart app and because of that, all the previous couples were mismatched.  Thankfully, the previous couples are more than happy with their mismatches and have contacted Heart2Heart to express their gratitude.  So the window washer and the programmer live happily ever after.  A very nice way to introduce and wrap up this anthology, the proceeds of which will benefit several different LGBTQ charities. 

In summary, not only is this an enjoyable group of stories, the authors have donated proceeds to their favorite charities.   I highly recommend this one to lovers of MM romance—especially to those who enjoy reading opposites-attract stories.

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COVER DESIGN:  AngstyG/www.angstyg.com’  .The cover features a photo of two guys, one with his arm draped over the other’s shoulder, walking down a road.   It’s a nice representation of the “coupledom” of the stories within.

BUY LINK:  http://getBook.at/Heart2Heart

Anthology Details:

It will only be available for 90 days, so Tuesday, May 8th will be the last time you can purchase this anthology.
Over 162k words total, contemporary MM romance

100% of the proceeds to 3 wonderful charities:

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Bisexual Resource Centre: http://biresource.org/

One n Ten: http://onenten.org/

Charlie Cochet on her Characters for the Heart2Heart Anthology Blog Tour (Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway)

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HEART 2 HEART ANTHOLOGY

May Archer * Charlie Cochet * Allison Hendricks * Sloane Kennedy *

Lucy Lennox * Ruthie Luhnow * Lily Morton * Chris Owen *

Poppy Dennison * Hailey Turner * A.E. Wasp

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 02.07.18

COVER DESIGN:  AngstyG/www.angstyg.com

ANTHOLOGY EDITOR:  Leslie Copeland

BUY LINK:  http://getBook.at/Heart2Heart

 

BLURB

Once upon a time, a bunch of authors wondered… What if a dating app that guaranteed you a love match broke down just in time for Valentine’s Day? What if you found yourself on a blind date with a random guy who might be your opposite in every single way? It could be a disaster. Or… When the code breaks down, fate just might take over.

Eleven of your favorite gay romance authors have joined forces to light up your Valentine’s Day with a collection of sweet, sexy, silly, and hot short stories, featuring a wacky cast of characters chosen from your reader suggestions! Morticians and magicians, superheroes and spies, lawyers and lobstermen, will all learn that love has nothing to do with algorithms… and sometimes you find it in the least-likely places.

And the best part? All proceeds from this collection will go to the authors’ favorite LGBTQ charities, to ensure that love in all its incarnations will be celebrated and protected every single day of the year!

It will only be available for 90 days, so Tuesday, May 8th will be the last time you can purchase this anthology.

Over 162k words total, contemporary MM romance

Charlie Cochet

The Assassin and the Dog Walker

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters?

Lymond is a gruff, broody assassin who’s just trying to have somewhat of a normal life, though his hope has been slowly dwindling until he’s signed up for a blind date through the Heart2Heart app by his younger brother Jerrott. Daniel is a professional dog walker who’s always surrounded by furry friends. He’s sweet, snarky, and looking to be swept off his feet by Mr. Right.

Was writing this story easy for you to do? Or was it a little bit outside of your normal writing zone?

It was a little outside my normal writing zone as I decided to go with first person point of views for this little story, and I generally write third. I also had to make sure I focused more on the romance than the action, which I normally try to balance out the two, but this story was more about two men finding each other under the somewhat strange circumstances. It was so much fun to write.

The characters you had to choose from were readers’ submissions, correct? Were there any other characters you considered writing about before you chose this couple?

That’s write. Well, when I saw assassin, how could I not, right? As I went through the list, there were so many fabulous characters to choose from, but I needed someone who would be perfectly opposite my broody assassin, and when I saw sassy dog walker, I knew I had my couple.

What were some of the reader submissions that stood out to you, and why?

There were so many of them. Really they were all fabulous! Everything from dancers to lumberjacks. FBI agent was one I ran across before I got to my assassin, but I loved the challenge of trying to write a romance for Lymond. Keeping the story light when an assassin is involved was certainly not any easy task.

Since the anthology is only available for a limited time, (90 days) do you have any plans for your story after that?

I’m not sure yet. I have had readers asking me about Crispin and Jerrott, so it’s very likely they’ll be getting their own story.

What do you think of the line-up of authors? How does it feel to be in such great company?

It’s amazing. They’re all authors whose books I own, many favorites of mine so it was an absolute honor to be a part of this, especially since it’s for such a good cause. It’s been a lot of fun, and a fantastic experience.

Is this something you’d like to be a part of again in the future?

I would certainly work with these authors again. Schedules can sometimes make things tricky, and I tend to take part in things like this when I personally know the people involved. Many of these authors I consider friends, so there really was no question.

You’re donating the entire proceeds to charity – can you tell us more about where the money is going?

The proceeds of the anthology is going to three charities: The Trevor Project, The Bisexual Resource Center, and One-N-Ten.

Have you ever been set up on a blind date? If yes, how did it turn out?

No, I’m not that adventurous. LOL

If Heart2Heart were to match you with someone, who do you think you’d get paired with?

If the app were looking for my opposite, probably the Math professor-who’d be thoroughly horrified by the C’s I got on the subject at school, and by the blank stare on my face when they tried to explain some math formula to me. I had straight A’s and a few B+’s in everything else, but Math? Nope. 

EXCERPT

“Breathe. Just breathe.

Why the hell was I so nervous? It’s not like I hadn’t gone on blind dates before. One of these days I was going to put my foot down, and Lissa might actually listen to me. I knew my best friend just wanted to help, but every date I went on ended in disaster. It wasn’t because of the guys she picked. It was me. Or so everyone told me. According to my mother, my standards were too high, and outside of a romance novel, I was never going to find the man of my dreams, so I should stop trying to find Mr. Right, and settle for Mr. Good Enough. Thanks, Mom.

All I wanted was a little romance. Was it too much to ask to be swept off my feet? To be treated like something special, and not just a hot piece of ass? Yes, my ass was fabulous, but there were other body parts attached to it. Unfortunately, the guys I had a habit of falling for weren’t interested in those parts, especially outside of the bedroom. I had a type. Big, strong, alpha dudes were my Kryptonite. A sexy voice and chiseled jaw turned me into a puddle of whimpering need, my resolve vanishing into nothingness, much like the men in my bed did the morning after. It’s like they all turned into David fucking Blaine the moment the sun came up.

I’d even caught one guy sneaking out my bedroom window at dawn. I’d asked him if there was something wrong with my front door. He’d been so startled, he lost his balance and fell into my downstairs neighbor’s rosebushes. Served him right. When I’d looked out of my window at him, he had the nerve to tell me he forgot his gym bag, and could I could bring it down to him. I said “sure”, and tossed it out the window, ignoring the manly yelp that followed shortly after. 

CHARITIES

We are pleased to be donating 100% of our proceeds to 3 wonderful charities:

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Bisexual Resource Centre: http://biresource.org/

One n Ten: http://onenten.org/

We encourage all readers to learn more about these groups and consider making a donation of your own. Every little bit helps.

 

BACKGROUND/TITLES

What began as a random idea quickly turned into a collaborative and completely voluntary effort from 11 authors, more than 130 readers, cover designer, 2 proofreaders, and one cat herder to keep it all together.

Readers were asked to submit ideas for characters, both typical and off-the-wall, and from that list, each author picked 2 seemingly mismatched guys and helped them find love.

May Archer – The Baker and the SEAL

Charlie Cochet – The Assassin and the Dog Walker

Poppy Dennison – The Electrician and the Event Planner

Alison Hendricks – The Professional Gamer and the Paranormal Photographer

Sloane Kennedy – The Florist and the Lawyer

Lucy Lennox – The Uber Drive and the Phone Sex Operator

Ruthie Luhnow – The Lawyer and the Lobsterman

Lily Morton – The Tattoo Artist and the Writer

Chris Owen – The Criminal and the Sommelier

Hailey Turner – The Superhero and the NSA Agent

AE Wasp – The Magician and the Mortician