Sunday, February 23, 2014

ARC Review: A Valentine Rainbow Anthology- Heather's Reviews, part 2

The Colors of Romance (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the blurb:
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.
Heather's rating:


Okay, I clearly had some issues with this story. I thought it was well intended but instead of romantic it struck me as kind of desperate. I almost want to give it 1 star but I could see some promise in the story and I didn't hate it so I'm being generous.

I think part of my issue is that the main characters in this story read really young, like 15 instead of college age. They were emotive in a childish way and I didn't get any depth to them. I also thought that the romantic gestures were over the top to the point of being outlandish. I didn't feel a huge connection between the characters, though I thought that the mystery twitterer was sweet.

I also, like many of the readers, had issues with the twitter/text speak. I'm one that uses social media a great deal, but it is a huge pet peeve of mine when people use abbreviations in texting. Like does it take so much more effort to write "talk" instead of "tlk"? Especially with most phones filling words in when you start typing them?? It is an issue of personal taste and I disliked it in this story.

What can I say? One of the weakest in the collection so far.

Orange You Glad I Said Kiss (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the 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. 

Heather's rating:

Um, who else was afraid that someone was going to have sex with a chimp in this book?? Show of hands?

Aside from the fact that I was a bit disturbed by the idea of a chimp watching porn, this was a strange read for me. First, it requires a complete suspense of reality to believe the story. I get the whole concept of fate, and I'm a cornball romantic cheese-fest lover, but this was over the top, even for me.

Secondly, I think the whole "I love Casey and might want to marry him" one day and the "I love TJ and think we'll be together forever" the very next day was off-putting. I just didn't like the way that Eli flip-flopped with his emotions.

Also, the writing-style felt rushed to me, and the ending was super-DUPER rushed. Though it had some cute moments and I mildly enjoyed parts, this was a weak story for me.

Blue Valentine Blues (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the blurb:

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. 

Heather's rating:

The worst in the collection for me so far. This book was hard to finish, which is saying a lot because it was only 37 pages.

Where do I start? The writing was stilted, the conversations were stiff and unnatural, I didn't get any sense of the characters personalities, and I didn't feel any chemistry between the MCs. Also, there were many editing issues, but I'm guessing (??) that those got resolved between my ARC copy and publication time.

I'm hoping that others enjoyed this story more. I personally thought it was a bit depressing and the characters to be immature and underdeveloped.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Aunt Adeline's Bequest (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the blurb:

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. 

Heather's rating:

I'm not a historical lover but this worked for me. It is the kind of story that hits you emotionally, right from the start.

I liked the mystery element and the physically imperfect MCs. When some historical M/Ms can be bleak or depressing, I found this to be hopeful and more about healing and acceptance. It was lovely overall and a nice read for historical lovers. A nice contribution to the Valentine's Day collection and one of the stronger stories. I'll be looking for more from this author in the future.

In Trouble with Angels (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the 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. 

Heather's rating:

This one was not really my style- lots of gods and religious talk that I didn't much care for. For me, the romance got lost in the shuffle. The relationship felt like an afterthought, and I prefer my romances be more about relationship development. Just okay for me.

Pretty Sally Couldn't Marry Albert (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the blurb:

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. 

Heather's rating:

This might be my first M/M romance about a guy who is asexual. While Albert certainly has romantic love for Harry, he maintained a very low interest level in sex... huh.

There was something very touching about this story. I think that the fact that Albert and Harry were both damaged in one way or another and found each other again decades after they parted ways was really moving. I wish the dialogue wasn't as awkward and that the pacing was better, but there is something about the story that worked for me.

An interesting read, to be sure. I think it would have been even better as a full-length book.

A Secret Valentine (A Valentine Rainbow)
From the blurb:

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! 

Heather's rating:

I almost dropped my rating on this to two stars because of the final sex scene (the "magic" blowjob and having condom-less sex with someone that you aren't in a monogamous relationship after JUST attending an AIDS benefit-->POOR TASTE). However, the rest of the story was very sweet.

This is a very satisfying story for friends-to-lovers fans. I liked the camping scenes a lot, as they established chemistry between Steve and Burgess. Also the Valentine's dance at the end of the story triggered my cuteness meter... I just melted when the two guys finally got their HEA.

All in all, a worthwhile short and a nice addition to the Valentine's Day collection.

You can purchase the entire anthology from Dreamspinner Press here!

Happy reading, my lovely friends!

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