Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: Stitch (Gothika 1) Anthology by Kim Filelding, Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, and Sue Brown


Stitch is an anthology of four novellas by m/m romance authors, each with a Frankenstein/Creature theme. It is the first in a series of gothic m/m romance anthologies called gothika.

Dani's rating:

Worth reading for Fielding's and Easton's stories alone! One historical, one dystopian/sci-fi, both are creative, romantic, and thoughtful.

3.6 stars rounded up to 4; see the much more accurate individual story ratings/reviews below.

The Golem of Mala Lubovnya 
Kim Fielding 

#historical; comfort; tears and heartbreak; sensual, nongraphic sex; mysticism; fantasy; gorgeous HEA

Astoundingly beautiful! This is part fable, part historical fiction, about a small Jewish diaspora in Eastern Europe whose Rabbi creates a golem out of clay (You are dust, and to dust you shall return) to protect the Jews against the Gentiles who would wish them harm.

How can a creature with no soul have such a vast capacity for love?

Jakob and Emet stole my heart. Emet's loneliness, his yearning to touch and be touched, to MATTER, broke my heart, and Jakob's quiet kindness, his faith and shame, his ability to see BEYOND, broke it again.

I would have liked more on-page steam (I wanted this love consummated every which way, a million times over), but this story is heartbreaking and evocative, with one of the most poignant endings I've ever read.
"I'd do anything. I'd have nothing but my name and this cloak, but I'd give everything. I will crumble to dust before I allow him to be hurt." 

Eli Easton 

#dystopia/sci-fi; comfort; fantasy; steamy sex; mystery; HEA

Reparation is sci-fi/dystopia set on another planet where a "spores" farmer discovers that truth and love sometimes go hand in hand.

This story reminds me of Neil Shustermnan's Unwind series. On Kalan, "recons" like Knox are used for slave labor; they are mostly human with some machine enhancements for brute stength. The recons' humanness is recycled; they are made up of harvested parts.

But Edward, left alone following the death of his right-hand man and mail-order bride, really sees Knox and senses in him a sharp intelligence, something truly human, something MORE.

The mystery behind Kalan's consciousness unfolded with subtle clues and a slowly developed tension. The ending is at once shocking and...expected (because how could something that's supposed to be good cause so much pain?), and, while not everything was wrapped up in a neat bow, we still get a HEA.

I would have prostrated myself for an epilogue, but the setting and world-building are fairly complex for such a short read, the chemistry between Edward and Knox SIZZLING (hot, urgent sex included!), and the story immensely satisfying.
They kissed long and hungry and slow...The way their bodies felt pressed together, and the slick suction of their mouths, aroused them both. But there was no need to go anywhere or do anything more than to stretch out this moment....

Jamie Fessenden

#historical; steampunk; machinery/robots; healing; tears and heartbreak; sensual sex; HEA

A well done steampunk fantasy/historical about a mechanical man who is so much more than the sum of his parts, Fessenden's story begs the question: What makes us human? Lightly steamy and thoughtfully written, Watchworks doesn't take the easy way out.
There was no denying that [Luke's] skeletal frame covered in pistons and hydraulics and gears was a machine. Yet something in Harland's vision had changed. Luke looked beautiful to him, even like this. And Harland knew now that no one else would ever look as beautiful to him, not until the day he died. 

Made For Aaron 
Sue Brown

#contemporary; grief; mystery; fantasy; no sex on page; unconvincing HEA

This is the one that doesn't belong. Contrived plot (rich and powerful gay "mafia" builds human-like "maders" to help sad gays in need; I know, what? ), a ridiculous "mystery," and a complete lack of character development make for a rather painful read.

There were many plot holes, the writing was stilted, and the ending absurdly abrupt. This was my first read by this author, so I can't say if this story is indicative of her work as a whole.

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