Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ARC Review: A Valentine Rainbow Anthology - Part 2



In Trouble with Angels (A Valentine Rainbow) - Felicitas Ivey
Blurb:

With the increasing commercialization of Valentine’s Day in the 1950s, the Pagan deities of Love, led by Eros, gather to make sure everything runs smoothly. Shy, quiet angel Shateiel offers help, and Eros is quite taken with the cute angel, though he keeps his lust to himself. When the higher-level angels discover Shateiel’s little rebellious streak and how he’s been spending his time, they intervene to keep him from falling from grace. Now, Eros may wish he’d admitted his feeling before it was too late.
Rating:




Super cute, supernatural, super adorable, no sex, dammit. Lots of deities, a couple of angels, and The Voice (of God, presumably). Seriously, super cute. Not much substance, other than a bunch of deities getting ready for V-Day, and getting interrupted by God's angels about one who's been helping them for years. I liked the writing quite a bit - funny, biting and snarky, but also emotional where it needed to be.

Short novella worth your time. This was a fun read.




Love and an (Orange) Lamborghini (A Valentine Rainbow) - MA FordBlurb:

Freelance journalist Will Turner is struggling both financially and emotionally since being dumped by his boyfriend. While his sports car obsessed roommate, Niki, is busy leaving notes for the female owner of a Lamborghini Gallardo parked in their area, Will takes a last-minute assignment to interview a sportsman. The attraction between Will and racing driver Tim Johnson is instant, but Tim is unwilling to risk his career by coming out. Niki has big plans for Valentine’s Day, but it will take a near miracle for any of them to find happiness.

Rating:




I didn't really connect with either MC in this book, and the plot itself didn't work for me as a short. The exploration that the Race Car Driver Tim Johnson will likely face homophobia if he were to come out as gay, and the callous way with which he severs the budding relationship, including the explanation for his actions - meh. This wasn't long enough to really look at those issues, and I think it would be better suited for a full length story.




Orange You Glad I Said Kiss (A Valentine Rainbow) - David Connor
Blurb:

Elijah Wentworth works in a research lab, teaching sign language to an orange-loving chimp named Eddie. Eli enjoys his friends-with-benefits relationship with Casey, but being a believer in fate and true love, he’s unsure whether to settle or to hold out for something more. When Eddie starts signing poetry to Eli, Eli thinks Casey has trained the chimp to propose. It’s time to make a decision: marry fun but flaky Casey or wait for the soul mate who might be closer than he thinks.

Rating:




This was super cute, what with the monkey and his antics, but also very sweet. Eli works at a research facility to teach and observe a monkey sign language. Eddie, the monkey, is really adorable, but what I liked even more was the theme of Fate, of destiny.

Eli is in a sort of open relationship with Casey, a flaky kind of manwhore, who seemed to me to be using Eli not only for sex, but also for money. Sadly, Eli didn't actually see that, and kept hoping that Casey would turn out to be the kind of boyfriend Eli is looking for. Casey also works at this facility.

There's also TJ, one of the guards at the facility, with whom Eli doesn't have a lot of interaction, but who brings Eddie the monkey to him almost daily.

On one hand I felt sorry for Eli for being used like that, but on the other hand I wanted to smack him for being so blind and trusting.

The plot is pretty much covered in the blurb, and I liked the writing. Dialogue was organic and realistic, and the progression of the plot was well done for a short. What I didn't like was Eli's 180 at the end - that seemed rushed. I was glad that the blinders were finally removed, but I also felt a little like Eli was choosing TJ as second best.

I dunno. I think this might have worked better for me if it had been a little longer.

Still a solid four stars.






A Secret Valentine - B.G. ThomasBlurb:

After his divorce, Steve Manchester came out so he could be himself and find love with another man. But as it turns out, the only man he really wants is his sweet, intelligent, and gorgeous best friend Burgess Cameron. Burgess, however, wants to keep the relationship platonic. When Steve can no longer stand the unrequited love, he decides to move to San Francisco to start a new life. But before he leaves, Burgess invites him to a Valentine’s Day dance, where Cupid may have other plans for them both!

Rating:




Meh. I liked Steve, but I disliked Burgess. The grand gesture was grand and all, but I felt it was unnecessary to keep Steve in such suspense, and cause him anguish, all because Burgess wants to make the grand gesture. Still, the writing was engaging and pushed this short into three star territory.





Under the Table and Into His Heart (A Valentine Rainbow) - Raine O'Tierney
Blurb:

At the Under the Table host club, Valentine’s Day means one thing: cash. Neglected housewives, newly ex-girlfriends, and lovelorn thirtysomethings pay for the attention of handsome men. Shy bartender Jem has always wanted to be a host, and when the club’s owner, Miss Rye, accepts a contract from a MensLove Convention, Jem volunteers to flirt and make out with another host for the ladies’ entertainment. Bailey, an older man who’s had his eye on Jem, convinces Miss Rye to let him be Jem’s partner, and everyone gets more than they expected—especially Jem and Bailey.

Rating:



This was cute. I liked the premise, and I liked the execution, although there were a couple of things that weren't entirely realistic, but I chose to ignore them. Considering that this is a Valentine's anthology, and we always root for the guys to get the chance they want, I actually quite liked the outcome. I was lulzing at including the part about women wanting to see two men get it on. Why else do we read M/M Romance, huh?

Nicely done!






Valentine Shower - John C. HouserBlurb:

For Reuben, numbers are everything people are not: rational, predictable, and soothing. Outside of this family, his boss, Terry, is the one person he feels connected with. In the years they’ve worked together, listening to Terry’s jokes and stories over coffee has become a reliable part of his routine. But he’s missed having family nearby since his parents retired to Florida, and figures he’ll need a woman to correct the problem. He’s hurt and confused when Terry not only refuses to help, but announces he won’t be coming around much anymore. It’s up to Reuben’s no-nonsense sister Yaffa and his therapist, Dr. Greenberg, to help him understand Terry’s feelings—and his own.
Rating:



Excellent premise, but unfortunately somewhat lacking in execution due to it being a short novella. I would have liked to see a bit more exploration into Terry's mindset, and I think that Reuben came to his conclusions a bit quickly at the end, after being mostly oblivious to what's in front of him for most of the story.

Even though it isn't actually mentioned, it appeared that Reuben falls within the Autism Spectrum. He doesn't understand emotions, not even his own, and feels safer within a world of numbers and data. His boss and best friend Terry supports him, and Reuben also visits a therapist to help him figure out how to read people beyond the words they say. It's a struggle for Reuben, and the aspects of ASD within the boundaries of this story were well described.

I commend the author for never making Reuben feel like a caricature, but showing his honest struggles and misunderstandings. I think this story line would have been better suited to a longer story.






Pretty Sally Couldn't Marry Albert (A Valentine Rainbow) - Jefferson ParrishBlurb:

Recovering from a stroke, Albert struggles to help his sister deal with her husband's death and the demands of single parenthood. Everyone puts on a brave face, but the family is overwhelmed and left with a hole in their hearts. The discovery of a stash of old valentines makes Albert nostalgic for the sunny days spent with his childhood friend, Harry. Albert's nephew, Kyle, decides to find the long-lost Harry only to discover life hasn't been kind to Harry either.

Rating:



I really liked this story about two men, both nearly past middle-age, who find each other again after many years apart. One is recovering from a stroke, the other struggles to make ends meet.

I liked the description of Albert as asexual, as someone who self-identifies as not interested in sex, and is quite okay with it. He's living with his sister, who's struggling to raise her kids after losing her husband to war. I quite liked the flashbacks in which Albert reminisces about his relationship with Harry, his best friend from his school days, something that's brought on by finding a bunch of old Valentine's Day cards he received from Harry.

Kyle, Albert's nephew, then takes it upon himself to find Harry and succeeds. I liked the ending, even though it felt a little rushed, but it was realistic enough for me. The character of Albert is well explored in this short, something not easily done, and he felt truthful and real.

Very enjoyable.



You can purchase the entire anthology from Dreamspinner Press



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


Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, happy reading!









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