Author: Anthology – Edited by Felice Picano
Publisher: Cleis Press
Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages
At a Glance: A great collection of short stories with something for everyone.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: Gay romance is coming into full bloom in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act’s fall, and the literary world is giving this full expression. New series editor Felice Picano is one of the top gay writers in the world with many awards and much critical acclaim to his credit. Picano has written novels, plays, and major nonfiction works and he is at his finest when it comes to the subject of love. In Best Gay Romance 2015, he gathers a sweepingly romantic collection of short fiction that is long on love (and sex).
Review: Anthologies of short stories are always great, because when you’re in the mood to read but not wanting to commit to a full novel, you can take your pick of stories. It’s also a great way to discover new authors. This anthology was a special treat to read for several reasons. First, it’s a Cleis Press anthology, so I knew it was going to have a good selection. I had enjoyed their BGR books from other years and have yet to find one that disappoints. Second, the editor is Felice Picano. I’ve read his works before, and it’s always high quality, so I knew that this collection would have excellent selections. And finally, many of the authors in this collection I’ve already read before and enjoyed, so I knew even if the unknown authors were a miss for me, I was sure to have several fantastic stories that made up for it. Lucky for me even the unknowns were chosen with care, and this anthology really does have a bit of everything. From a novel with demon-induced time travel to a story with Jane Eyre appearing in it, you’ll find at least one—but most likely several—stories to enjoy.
Normally when I review an anthology, I like to review each story, but there’s just too many to do with this one. I will say that each story was enjoyable, but I’ve pulled my top three for review.
In “Discodemius” by Jerry L. Wheeler, Kevin attempts to summon the demon Azmodeus, but gets a different one instead, that sends him back to the 70s. Trapped there for two months, he finds love, only to have it ripped from him when the demon, Discodemius, sends him back to his own time. It seems like that’s it for his love, but is it?
I enjoyed this story because it was so unexpected. I’ve read Jerry Wheeler before—and had the wonderful opportunity to meet him and hang out—and he has a great sense of humor that translates well into his writing. I had been expecting another traditionally romantic story, but this one had elements of the fantastic that sucked me in. I laughed at the demon Discodemius, and laughed when Kevin was “entertained” by being sent back to the era of the disco. There is tension when his time is up, but a twist at the end had me laughing again, this time at the demon!
“Reader, I Married Him” by Michael Thomas Ford was perfect. If you’re an English major you know where that line comes from, and as soon as I saw it in the table of contents, I knew I would love the story. I was not mistaken. Though the story itself takes place during a single night, the title clearly lets the reader know that the story of Adam and Jay is far from over. And I really wish I had the entire book to read! I love that Adam is into Jane Eyre, and Jay is referred to as Bertha Rochester by his lady landlords (he lives in their attic apartment). The two of them just click so well, and it felt authentic reading it. Too bad there isn’t more!
Finally, “The Kingdom of Haeven” by Eric Andrews-Katz. This story is not what it appears to be. It seems, on the surface, to be a sci-fi story, but after reading it—and bursting into tears—I went back to reread the beginning and was hit with the beautiful intricacy of the story. It gives the brief glimpse of General Tyler and Captain Wilyem as they discover whether or not Tyler has been named the new king of Haeven after the passing of the previous king. After massive over-population on Earth far in the future, two new planets are settled with gay men moving to Haeven and lesbians moving to Minervite. I was deeply touched after reading this story. The twist at the end was as unexpected as it was heartbreaking.
You can buy Best Gay Romance 2015 here: