Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
There’s something to be said for life experience, a little gray at the temple…
And then there is the appeal of youth.
When it comes to what the heart wants, Age Is Just A Number.
I love anthologies. Its a wonderful way to find new authors, pick up and read a quick story or two in a trope you enjoy. They can be a smorgasbord of finds, and I always find it fascinating on how the editors lay out the stories contained inside. I don’t always agree with their lineup. For me, I think you should lead with one of the strongest stories in the group. Pull the reader into your overall topic with the strength of that particular author’s writing and depth of story, no matter the length.
For me that didn’t happen here and that weak beginning proved somewhat disconnecting for the rest of the collection.
There are some fine stories here, and the editors and Wayward Ink Publishing ended the anthology with a strong finish with one of the best of Age is Just A Number. Everything in between is a bit of a mixed bag. Some so so, some good, some terrific.
I think May/December romances can be an interesting trope to explore. How do the people involved overcome the age differences involved? Because a span of age means a big difference in cultural references, generation speak, outlook, ideologies and more. For an author to get two frames of references across while making those individuals real, their relationship believable and one we want to see happen (instead of one we find squeamish) can be a tough obstacle, let alone in a short story. That some authors succeeded here is wonderful.
TWENTY LIGHT YEARS BETWEEN US by Eric Gober – 2 stars out of 5
An alien encounter…
An unfortunate misstep…
A lightning fast journey through space…
The laws of physics are about to wreak havoc on Walt and Michael’s May-December love.
I found this to be the least effective story of the collection. More a group of researched items from the 60’s tied together by a thin plot line then a real tale. All I noticed was brand names rather than any real feeling or cohesive story of any depth. This would not have been my choice for lead in story.
ALL ROADS LEAD WITHIN – 3.5 stars out of 5
When James spotted Rogue, a young man for whom wandering is like breathing, half-dozing on the hood of his car, he never expected that warning him about the dangers of sleeping out in the open would lead to a weekly visitor at his door.
I rather liked this dusty tale of love and wandering. It had a real feel for location and people. James and Rogue came alive on the trail, visit after visit. This story kept me going in the anthology.
NORTH PASTURE – 3 stars out of 5
Upon the death of his grandfather, up and coming Fantasy author, Thomas, returns home.
A place he left four years earlier to get over his unrequited love for Sam Fletcher, his older, straight, and very much married neighbor.
Thomas soon discovers, however, that things are much changed with Sam…
I wanted to like this more and I think I would have as a longer story. It has so many great elements that need enlarging. Thomas and Sam, Sam’s misconceptions and son. But it ends too quickly and left me feeling frustrated over what I thought the story could have been. Unfair? Maybe, but there it is.
AMERICAN MASTER BAKER – 4 stars out of 5
Dale Cameron Lowry
Baking is a way of life for Joey, a young pastry chef vying for first place in the popular reality show American Master Bakers.
But the judges have been showing favoritism to Terence, an aggravatingly attractive older man with more experience under his belt.
When the competition gets hot, so do the two men. Can a relationship that started in hatred end in love?
Loved this story. The cooking competition, the different pastries, the intensity and the heat of the kitchen? Wonderful. And oh, yes, the sex.
ALPHA AND OMEGA: THE CLAIMING – 4 stars out of 5
A young Omega shifter meets a much older Alpha.
Will Elliot let Issac help him be who he is too afraid to be?
A neat take on the Omega/Alpha combination. Elliot was a lovely new addition to the Omega shifter take and his predicament was unusual enough and his rescue drama and romantic that it made this story. I wanted more of both of them. Great job.
STAND AND DELIVER – 3 stars out of 5
Necessity has forced former soldier Captain Keen to assume the occupation of gentleman highwayman. His fortunes take a turn, however, the night he stops the Marquis de Beaumont’s coach and gets more than he bargained for when he utters the words “Stand and deliver!”
Idonea’s has part of a great m/m historic novel here. The trouble is that I found it only to be the first half. I got just enough of the Marquis and Keen to pique my interest in both but not enough to believe in a future for them. I really needed to see beyond that voyage. 3 stars for great details.
LOST AND FOUND – 4 stars out of 5
The loss of his best friend leads Phil to find love.
German Shepherd puppies and love. Actually loss, and new found found again. That’s the theme here and it works. Simple and sweet. Well done.
TRAIL TO LOVE – 2.75 stars out of 5
There’s only one thing Kit Conley likes more than horses and that’s Roman Meadery.
But will the elite rider ever notice him?
I’m a horse person so why didn’t I connect? I think it was the characters. They just didn’t seem real. Nor did the dialog. Nice horses though.
CRUISING WITH LOVE – 3.75 stars out of 5
Gus is under the thumb of a controlling father. Can meeting his mate give him a reason to make a break for freedom?
Nelson is twice Gus’ age, and very protective of what is his.
What will happen when Gus’ father tries to split them up? And what surprises does Nelson have up his sleeve?
Another nice tale of mixed shifters in love. Gus and Nelson meet on a voyage and discover they are fated mates. Pedroso convinces us that these two so very different species are, in fact, fated mates and need to be together. Gus’ dad is a nasty brute and it all works out in the end. I would have liked it more if the species made more sense to me. As it was they were so opposite, that this naturalist’s mind just couldn’t really go there. Prey/food. Sorry.
NEAR MISS – 5 stars out of 5
A few seconds, that’s all it takes to make a difference between life and death.
Between killing someone and stopping on time.
But is it enough to turn yourself around when you’ve hit bottom?
Or to make you recognize something good when you have it?
Without a doubt the finest story of the collection. I’m was happy to see that it ended the Anthology here. A train operator is traumatized by a woman trying to commit suicide in front of his train. The resulting PTSD almost derails his life until someone and something shows him the way back up. Its a remarkable story. This man’s pain feels immediate and real, his flashbacks horrific, and his life spiraling downward authentic and sad. That we can rejoice in his recovery and love is just as amazing. This story is worth the anthology alone.
As I said, anthologies are often a mixed bag but they are a wonderful way to get acquainted with new authors or find stories you might not get anywhere else. Short stories your bag? Are some of these authors new to you or favorites of yours? In either case, Age Is Just A Number: A Wayward Ink Publishing Anthology might just be the collection of stories for you. Fantasy, contemporary, supernatural…it has something for everyone. Pick it up and find the story and author for you.
Cover is not a favorite of mine. Just too hodgepodge with no hint of anything other than contemporary.
ebook, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing