Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ARC Review: A Valentine Rainbow Anthology - Part 1

The Accidental Cupid - Xavier Mayne

While performing as Cupid on Valentine’s Day, Josh has the unpleasant task of delivering a break-up message to Dallas from his girlfriend, Jess. Jess is convinced Dallas is gay, and when Josh tries to comfort him, he finds she may very well be right. When Dallas’s best friend Austin arrives, it’s up to Josh to show both young men the love and acceptance they’ve always had in each other.


That was adorable, OMG. Soooooooo fecking cute!!!!

Josh is playing Cupid on Valentine's Day, delivering pre-ordered poems and gifts. Until his last customer, when he gets to play Cupid for real after delivering first a crushing blow, and then real, thus far unrequited, love on a platter. Both Dallas and Austin were super cute, and the emotions were high, and the boysecks was lovely, even if we didn't get to see all of it. Romance galore, just perfect for a Valentine's Day anthology.

Aunt Adeline's Bequest - Amy Rae Durreson

One snowy evening, wounded WWI veteran Jasper Pritchard arrives at Valentine Nugent’s sweet shop with an unusual request. Jasper’s deceased great-aunt has left him a fortune, along with a box of indiscreet letters she wants returned to the writer, and the only clue is a tin sold in Valentine’s shop over twenty years ago. As they search the shop’s records and uncover a love story from long ago, they find far more than the answer to the mystery.


Well...this was lovely, touching on war heroes and their suffering, chocolate (YUM!), the need for secrecy, and two young men made for each other, with a bit of mystery that is solved by the end.

A reminder that love is love. That scars don't define a person, and that chocolate can be a cure for many ails of the heart.

The writing was rather good, fit the time period, as did the description of the scenery, and this was a lovely short to enjoy just in time for Valentine's Day.

Nicely done, new to me author.

Blue Valentine Blues - Ken BachtoldBlurb:

When Josh put a blue valentine in the class box for Bobby Prentice in fifth grade, he just wanted to show how much he appreciated his best friend. Years later, both the ridicule he suffered and his unrequited feelings for Bobby have followed him to the university where they both teach. Bobby would like to say many things to his friend, but he doesn’t know if he can find the courage in himself that he admires in Josh.


The blurb is almost the entire book, and actually a bit of a spoiler. This was rather MEH overall. A story of one man (Josh) who's been in love with another man (Bobby) for a very long time (fifteen years or so), set in a place where seemingly everyone from his fifth grade class also works at the college where he's now employed.

Full of cliches, the dialogue feels a bit stilted, and the characters aren't well fleshed out. The typical homophobic asshole plays a big role in the MC's torment, as does the object of his affection.

Yeah, this didn't work for me at all. Two stars for effort.

Campfire Confessions - Bru BakerBlurb:

Best friends Case and Mitchell are so inseparable everyone assumes they’re dating. Case’s dad even buys them a joint gift—a camping trip. Even though Case hates the woods, he wants Mitchell to have a good time. When they discover the trip is a couples’ retreat, they have to fake a relationship. Case can’t understand why the trust and intimacy exercises the other couples struggle with come so naturally to them. After all, they’re not really boyfriends….


The premise was cute - two guys, best friends, both gay but not in a romantic relationship with each other, go on a camping retreat for Valentine's Day, where one of them figures out what the other one (and everyone else, apparently) has known all along. Friends without benefits no more.

Unbeknownst to Case (who hates being called Casey for some unknown reason), this camping thing is a couple's retreat. Of course, he also doesn't realize that Mitchell is in love with him, and has been for some time, and that everyone around them thinks they're a couple. I had a hard time connecting with him, because he came across as a bit of a jerk, even if his inner monologue and the things he'd say were often funny. He's also much more oblivious than was realistic. I mean, come on, are you really trying to make me believe that you've been friends with Mitchell, who is also gay, for that long, you live with him, and you do all kinds of couple things with him, but you don't know that he's in love with you and that you're actually in a relationship, except for all the romance and boysecksing that would normally happen? Are people really that removed from reality?

Anyway, the writing was quite nice, and I enjoyed it.

The Colors of Romance (A Valentine Rainbow) - Ashavan DoyonBlurb:

A disastrous date during his freshman year of college has left Theo Dwyer with no faith in men, relationships, or especially Valentine’s Day. When his roommate sets him up on a blind date, naturally Theo refuses. Then a persistent online suitor known only as TruClrs4vr begins sending Theo flowers and arranging romantic virtual meetings. After his treatment by his ex, Theo is reluctant to trust another man, but the determined TruClrs4vr might be the one to rekindle his passion, one color of the rainbow at a time.


Adorably cute and highly romantic, suffering from slight sugar overload, but perfect for a Valentine's Day read, this book tells the story of Theo Dwyer, who had his heart broken on Valentine's Day, and mystery man, who romances him via social media, flowers and hot cookies and milk. With a coming out, a virtual movie night date, and themes of what love and romance actually mean, the author won my heart.

No sexing, but then none was needed to make this a nicely done short, and make this cynical reader believe in true romance again. Points deducted for text speak which were a little difficult to decipher at times. Yes, yes, showing my age.

Nicely done, new to me author.

Come Clean - Dawn Kimberly JohnsonBlurb:

Peru Cabral, the youngest of five brothers, has just come out to his family. Lawson Todd has returned to his small hometown in disgrace after losing his corporate advertising job. When Peru and Lawson spot each other at the family Laundromat where Lawson works, the attraction between them is undeniable. But the fears, insecurities, and false fronts both men are hiding behind might doom the relationship before it begins—unless the brothers Cabral step in.


Say it with me ...1 ...2 ... 3 ... aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! This was adorable! A whole family of big brothers making sure that their baby brother's love interest checks out. And then Mama gives her blessing too. I loved the chemistry between the MCs despite their age difference, and I adored the big brothers, even when they struggled with Peru's sexuality. And Lawson was so sweet and kind and caring - just a joy.

No sex, dammit, but still a lovely story.

A Cupid's Wager - Deanna WadsworthBlurb:

The name’s Lio, and I’m a cupid working for the Gay Division of the Inter-Dimensional Association of Cupids. An Aztec god, whose modern name, Ethan, doesn't make him any less scary, just busted me shooting a closeted human with a gay lust arrow. I might find him sexy with all those tattoos and piercings, if I didn’t have a rule against getting it on with other supernaturals—especially ones working for the Straight Division. Now, to save my butt I'll have to strike a bargain with this tough god. But what I didn't see coming was my little wager not only risks my career, but places my broken heart completely in Ethan's hands.


Holy hot boysecks, Batman, but lacking in substance and explanation for the main theme of this novella. Lio, a Cupid working for the Gay division, meets up with Ethan, an Aztec God, who has his own agenda. A little wager about a Gaydar (a mechanical device to detect gay men, LOL), and an arrow that missed its target, and Lio and Ethan engage in a bit of voyeurism and sexing of their own.

The main theme of the novella is Lio's fear of being used and having his magic taken, and there's no explanation as to why Ethan acts differently than expected. The dialogue was sharp and humorous, and the sex scene super hawt.

However, it felt like a setup, like a first chapter of a longer novel, and left me wanting more.

You can buy the entire anthology from Dreamspinner Press

** All ARCs for these reviews were kindly provided by Dreamspinner Press. Positive reviews were not promised in return. **

Thanks for stopping by. Please come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the reviews. Until then, happy reading!

Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with these books, authors or bookseller listed. 

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