Title: The Journey Back
Author: Kristen Slater
Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages
At a Glance: More tell than show, but a good story nonetheless
Blurb: Having quit his job, Idris is trying to make it home to his partner of twelve years, Dan, in time for Christmas. Stuck on a train during a snowstorm, Idris has nothing to do but think back on how much he has missed by putting his career first. His job has been straining their partnership for years, and now Idris worries he’s damaged it beyond repair. He desperately wants to get back to the UK and salvage their relationship—if there’s even anything waiting for him when he gets home.
Review: Kristen Slater is a new to me author and I enjoyed the style of this story. The flashbacks did become a bit much after the first few, but seeing as the story was told from Idris’ POV, it works. I would have rather seen the action as it was happening, so to speak, but as I said, these are Idris’ thoughts on the relationship, and if he has damaged it beyond repair.
While I liked the fact that Dan was so forgiving, he was very harsh to Idris in some of the flashbacks. I can also say that Idris was rather clueless, which I suppose can be chalked up to male stubbornness. The homecoming and climax of the story was sweet, but it made for an abrupt ending. All-in-all, enjoyable and I’ll most likely read works by this author again.
Title: Last Of Summer
Author: Genna Donaghy
Pages/Word Count: 23 Pages
At a Glance: A quick and enjoyable read
Blurb: Although Rowan Stormbringer was raised Wiccan, he’s never felt a connection to magic. That changes on the eve of Yule, when he encounters a magical creature, a phoenix, that needs his help getting to Stonehenge before the sun sets that day. Hiding a magical creature in the mortal world is tricky at best, but partnering with a good-looking, snarky taxi driver may be just the ticket Rowan needs. As they explore their instant attraction to each other, Rowan and Martin must learn to trust one another if they hope to deliver the phoenix home in time.
Review: Short story is short, and Donaghy is a new to me author. I kinda wanted more of this slowly fast story, if that makes any sort of sense. The potential for more was there, especially with a nice HFN. I also liked the fantasy aspect of this story, the second one in the anthology I have read that wasn’t contemporary. Well, not completely anyway.
Rowan, though a lapsed pagan, if one can be such a thing as a lapsed pagan, falls back on his roots and helps out one of nature’s fantastic creatures, a phoenix. I really liked him and his banter with the phoenix. Martin was a bit annoying, but he was fairly open-minded about Rowan and his phoenix. While there was a hefty dose of insta-lust in this story, I liked the fact that there wasn’t insta-love. It was a short, sweet tale about hope and renewal, and just a plain enjoyable short tale. I’ll read more by this author if I find her work.
Title: Love Light
Author: Jane Darius
Pages/Word Count: 21 Pages
At a Glance: Very detailed story and sexy to boot!
Blurb: Nick, a bartender, and Ben, a hotel reviewer, have been together two years. Though he hates the paperwork involved, Nick agrees to accompany Ben to a beautiful lodge on the Mozambican side of Lake Malawi. Over a bottle of wine, they trade Christmas horror stories from their pasts. But memories of hurt and loss only serve to remind them how lucky they are to have found each other. It might be time to try out the showerhead built into the tree outside….
Review: A lovely, sexy times tale about two lovers getting to know one another in a more intimate way than intercourse. Although there is sex in this story, I liked the fact that Ben and Nick sat down to talk to one another about their pasts. It’s the simple slice of life moments that need to be done just right to work in a tale, and I think this short story format was a good one. I’d like to see how Nick and Ben are in say… five years. I’ll revisit this author’s works regardless of whether she touches on Ben and Nick or not.
Title: Minstrel’s Solstice
Author: Nicole Dennis
Pages/Word Count: 29 Pages
At a Glance: Short, sweet and excellent world building!
Blurb: A wasting plague swept over the Four Quadrants, changing how folks view the traveling guilds. Most travelers now make permanent contracts and settle in villages instead of continuing on the road. Needing to alter his lifestyle, Kerryll MacGhylle rides deep into the Northern Quadrant in search of a place to belong.
The Northern Duke, Cullan Gryffyn D’Antuono, accepts the contract of the frozen minstrel arriving during a powerful ice blizzard. He nurses Kerryll through the ravages of the sickness. Though they live at opposite ends of society, they have more in common than they realize.
Review: This was excellent! I wanted to read more about this realm that Dennis created. It was so richly detailed I felt like I was in this world and wanted to know more about the MCs as well as the side characters on the Duke’s estate.
Kerryll and Cullan had an instant attraction and while it wasn’t quite insta-love, it was close. Really close, as this takes place all within two days and Cullen asks Kerryll to stay with him for more than just his minstrel talents for a wonderful HFN. I loved that there was a promise of more to come for the MCs at the ending of this tale, as it was too short. I hope that the author will revisit this verse. It felt like the beginning of an adventure, one I would definitely love to read more of again and again. I will seek out more this author’s work.