Sunday, December 8, 2019

ARC Review: Homemade for the Holidays (4 Anthology Stories)

Choosing the right gift for that special someone can be the most daunting part of the holidays. In a sea of mass-produced items, why buy when you can DIY? 
The end-of-the-year festivities are the best time for crafts, whether they’re made from yarn, paper, flour, or even code. And with some love and luck, these special presents might inspire a romance that lasts an evening… or a lifetime. Nothing makes the season merry and bright like a gift handmade from the heart, and to bring smiles to the faces of the ones they care about, these guys are willing to get creative.

Todd's rating:

I read 4 stories from this 2019 Dreamspinner's Christmas anthology collection for our blog this year, and each short story is reviewed individually below.


ARC Review: Finding Yuletide Karol by L.A. Merrill

Fifty years of insta-love in under 40 pages.

Lee met Karol during the Vietnam war, at the lowest point in his life, when he really needed someone to pull him back from the brink.

Then after spending that single night together, 50 years passed without a single clue to lead Lee back to Karol.

I enjoyed this story, but the deep feelings that both men clung to after knowing one another for less than a day felt.. like a bit of a stretch for me.

I have a pretty firm dislike for M/M historical, because of the intolerance and very real danger for gay men in every single one of those past eras, which I find depressing as hell, but that's just me.

But the end of the story was pretty uplifting, even without divulging a single plan as to how the guys would proceed, so I felt that it was actually worth the read.

So I'd rate this one at around 3.5 "Sometimes… we help the Universe out" stars.


ARC Review: Piecing Together His Life by Jon Keys

This story had potential, but for me, it fell pretty short in both feels and excitement.

The older Colin seemed nice enough, but the way that he pushed Mason to show his quilt art felt overbearing, like a father pushing his low-ambition son to succeed.

I would've enjoyed Colin's encouragement much more if he would've treated Mason like the 32 y.o. man he was and had more actual conversations, instead of covertly helping with his career.

I also felt that not including the actual text from Colin's deceased mother's letter was a huuuuuge missed opportunity to illicit some much-needed emotion here. Not including that felt like a cop out and deprived the reader of details of what happened after Colin was disowned.

2.75 stars.


ARC Review: A Holiday Homecoming by Liv Rancourt


I kept waiting for that *spark* of romance and, to be honest, interest in this story, but it never really materialized.

With stories of old friends reuniting, even from long ago, my favorite thing is the rekindling of old, genuine feelings, of longing, but I didn't get much of that here.

The story was technically fine and well-written, but I never really connected with any real excitement, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood for what this one had on offer.

So for my own personal level of enjoyment, I'd rate this short story at around 2.75 stars.


ARC Review: A Stitch in Time by Asta Idonea

If you're looking for cute fluff, but don't require too many feels, you might like this short story.

On his way into a new crochet course, Connor immediately encountered Finn. And immediately lied, agreeing that he was there for a boxing class, instead.

Then, somehow, over the course of less than 30 pages, we saw both a "Big Misunderstanding" and a month-long separation, both plot twists that I don't enjoy.

The story was mainly a tale of being true to yourself, and avoiding the pitfalls of what's traditionally considered masculine or feminine.

I would've enjoyed the story more if there had been a lot more communication, a lot less internal monologuing, and tons more feels, especially since I had zero interest in all of the yarn talk.

So for me the story was pretty bland and I'd rate it at around 2.5 stars.

My ARC copies of these stories were provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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