I picked up this antho because it had several authors that I have never read and I thought this would be a good introduction to their writing. I have been in a reading slump so reading short stories was kind of perfect for me. I only read four of the stories and will give a brief review below.
All the stories have the same general theme. One of the characters has been chosen to participate in a calendar to raise money for a literacy foundation. All stories take place in and different cities but can be read as stand alones. As I mentioned, I only read four of them but didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.
Annabeth Albert: LEVEL UP
When Landon, a genius physicist, is picked for a charity calendar, he must deal with an inconvenient attraction to Bailey, his rising-star photographer. Can he slay enough demons from his past to ensure a future together with him?
This story was sweet and sexy. Landon and Bailey communicated via email to set up the photoshoot. Landon mistakenly assumes that Bailey is a women and is surprised when he meets him. Although Landon is very attracted to Bailey, he is hesitant to move forward with any sort of ‘ship with him. There is a content warning at the beginning of this story because Landon was the victim of sexual assault. All this happened off the page, but Landon still deals with the consequences. Anyway, because of this Landon has a hard time trusting and being physical with other people. Bailey was amazing. He was willing to move at Landon’s speed to set the pace. It was really great.
The one drawback to this story was that I wish I had seen a little less of the sex and more of the non-physical stuff. For example, there are a few times when it’s mentioned that Landon and Bailey spent several nights gaming and messaging each other. I would have liked to have seen more of that. Overall I enjoyed this story, but would have liked a little more non-physical development to have been on the page.
Vanessa North: RIGGED
For Kaitlyn, seeing her best friend Gordon naked is no big deal—until watching Sean tie him up changes everything.
This was the hottest and filthiest entry that I read in the anthology, if you’re looking for that kind of thing. Kaitlyn and Gordon are best friends and work partners. But both seem to harbor some unrequited feelings for the other. When Gordon is photographed for the calendar, Kaitlyn tags along. Gordon is tied up by Sean, an expert rigger, and Gordon and Kait both start seeing each other differently. I am not a rope or kink expert, but it seemed to written very well. Sean was very educated in the matter and seemed to share that info very well.
I really like Gordon and Kait and Sean individually. But their development in to a poly relationship seemed fast and underdeveloped. One night together and they all magically decide that not only do they want more BUT they want to enter into a serious poly relationship.
Roan Parrish: NATURAL ENEMIES
When buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle meets freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios, it’s hatred at first sight. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows him how exquisite it can feel to lose control. When opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.
This was my favorite of the ones I read. It was fast-paced, sexy and sweet. Both Milo and Stefan are botanists, one doing more lab work and one working a botanical garden. They had great chemistry and the sexy times were HOT. The way Parrish describes Milo’s apartment through Stefan’s gaze was just beautiful. This story definitely encouraged me to make sure I put some Roan Parrish books on my TBR
Karen Stivali: LEGAL BRIEFS
When organizing a naked charity calendar puts Rose’s tenure bid in jeopardy, the last person she wants help from is Michael, the gorgeous, arrogant lawyer she butted heads with during his shoot. He’ll defend her for free, but if their secrets come out they could both pay with their hearts.
This is a take on enemies to lovers as it starts off with Michael being late for his photo shoot and that causing serious issues for Rose’s career. But we quickly learn that Michael is really just a softie at his core. They quickly begin enter in to a ‘ship. Michael then makes a big mistake and has to redeem himself. I felt he made good. There was a moment of WTFery with Michael’s brother that was a little disturbing, but didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the story.
Overall the four stories I read were good. For 99 cents, it is a good way to read stories by new to you authors or enjoy authors you’ve already read.