Saturday, September 27, 2014

ARC Review: All in a Day's Work (Anthology)


A guy’s got to make a living. He can do it the conventional way—by selling cars, scooping ice cream, or delivering sandwiches—or he can earn his money as a spy, a historical interpreter, or the host of a myth-busting television show. Whether the men in this anthology are working hard to build their own business or performing in drag at a dance hall, every day has the potential for surprises and the chance to satisfy their lust or maybe find something more permanent. For the guys in these stories, what’s all in a day’s work might be anything but what they expected.

Dani's rating:

This is a well-written, fun anthology with a "work" theme: chefs, spies, TV personalities, delivery guys, men in costumes, and men in dresses. Most of the stories are contemporary, with one, Unmasked, set in the future and one, Dance Hall Days, set in the past.

Most were plenty steamy, and one, Not Quite 1776, was downright porny. A couple even had a HEA! There was sex in a tent, sex in a car, and sex in a dark closet.

Rounded up to 4 stars, because what's not to love about that?

Review of each story below:

Extra Mayo
Henrietta Clarke
No steam (NONE, not even a kiss) but plenty of sweetness in this shortie about shy, geeky Walter (who seems to have Asperger syndrome) and Glyn, the new sandwich delivery guy, who never puts extra mayo on Walter's sandwich, the same ham sandwich Walter orders every day of the week.

Despite Walter's quirks (his first text to Glyn read: "Hi Glyn, this is Walter. Don't call me.") and Glyn's insecurities, the guys manage to find their way to a first date.

The last section of the last chapter offered a glimpse of a lovely HEA. I loved what Glyn wrote on Walter's sandwich wrapper! Adorable.

Ice Cream Dreams
Shae Connor
This is a fluffy shortie about a chef and an ice cream maker/business major making magic in (and out!) of the kitchen. The MCs were cute as pie (or cake?). There was insta love in spades, but the sweetness won me over, and the steamy bits didn't hurt either. I liked Gage's grandpa as a secondary character. I really wanted to see Gage and Loren's relationship taken to the next level. This was a very readable story with a happy but open-to-interpretation ending.

Bru Baker
I wasn't sure about this one at first (the present-tense narration was a little jarring), but I finished with a huge grin on my face. Troy and Ryder are stars of a show akin to MythBusters. They are maybe-more-than-fuck-buddies, but even though there's fandom speculation about them "shipping it," they have not gone official with their relationship. Troy (whose POV we get) is sure that Ryder doesn't want anything serious. Little does Troy know!

This was really cute and hot enough to read twice. The "hidden" hand job(s) were all kinds of smexy. Kudos to the perfect use of social media to spice up this little tale.

This wasn't long, but I really felt the love and connection between the MCs. And That Twitter hash tag at the end: Awwww! #bestillmybeatingheart

Not Quite 1776
Therese Woodson
HOTNESS ALERT: I dare you not to drool at the combustible sex between Henry, a commitment phobe and history buff who works at a museum, and Owen, a mechanic who likes to dabble in Revolutionary War reenactments.

There was a lot of steam on page, but the sex sort of took over the story. The only connection explored between the men was sexual. We learn next to nothing about the MCs, except that Henry is promiscuous and guarded, and the ending, while somewhat hopeful, provided no closure. I wanted one more chapter, just one more.

Kay Walker
Not a traditional romance, Unmasked is set in a futuristic, dystopian world where capitalism rules, money talks, the air isn't fit to breathe, and the chasm between the rich and the poor is miles apart. Imagine civilization NOW and then think of the world in a generation or two if nothing changes. Even vaccines are privatized and available to the wealthy only.

Raven is a masked spy working for a corporation hoping to overturn the world order one bit at a time, and Glitch, a techy genius, is Raven's handler. We get mystery, tension, and fairly thorough world building for such a short story. Both MCs felt fully realized; the connection between them was charged, and the little bit of steam well worth the wait. The ending was HFN, realistically so. To have ended with a HEA would have been to push the story in a direction it wasn't ready to go.

I would love to see this one rewritten into a complete novel!

The Bet
Holly O. Hale
This cute story is about a married couple, Jack and Aaron, who own a company together. The two make a bet about having sex at work: Jack is all for it, while Aaron thinks it's too risky. Who wins the bet? Does it matter? The fun is in the playing.

There wasn't any real character or plot development here, but there was plenty of steam with a bit of kink thrown in. The scene at the meeting was quite funny, if not entirely realistic. That whole thing was, uh, hard on Jack, that's for sure.

Dance Hall Days
Amy Jo Cousins
This was the longest story of the bunch, and also my favorite! Cousins writes gorgeous prose, and this story about a Nancy boy with the voice of an angel and the gruff bouncer at the drag dance hall where they both work was captivating.

Set in 1930s London, Dance Hall Days is a perfect blend of the lyrical and dirty. Laurie once sang Frank a song. When Frank turned his back, Laurie allowed himself to crumble, earning money by blowing johns in the coat room, until one night changed everything.

Laurie and Frank were lost souls. Frank couldn't imagine himself with such a pretty boyo until he realized that Laurie was so much more than the rouge and dresses he wore. My heart broke for them both, trapped in their loneliness, missing what was right in front of them.

I wouldn't call the ending a HEA, but certainly the beginning of one. His songbird. His brawler.

Short Timer
Jenni Michaels
A 1969 (of course) cherry red Mustang is sex on wheels. Working at a used car dealership in the heat of the summer, Davis just wants to go home and cool off. But when he sees hot-as-hell Kiran walk through the door, he goes for ride instead.

This was the shortest story of the bunch, fun and sexy with a twist at the end.

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