Again I've spent a part of my weekend reading a bunch of seasonal stories from the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar set. I can really recommend doing this, it's very entertaining. The Christmas or holiday elements in these stories make them very enjoyable and cute. Here are my thoughts on a few of them.
Revelations of the Heart
Lori C. Hawkins
This story starts promising but then ends a bit rushed and slightly predictable. Owner of a flowershop, Danny, is single and facing a lonely Christmas. He would like to find a nice man to spend Christmas with, and maybe the rest of his life. His friend and co-owner, Amy, is willing to help him hook up with a man she knows, the lawyer Kent. Coincidentally Danny meets a sexy man himself on the same day: Sean, a former Marine. He starts to see both men. Complications are ahead of him.
Who he's going to end up with is not a big surprise, even when the author tries to mislead us. It's not about the outcome in this story but about the way that leads to the outcome and that's nicely done, although I thought it felt a bit schematic and rushed. Nevertheless, Revelations of the Heart is a pretty good read, but this particular story probably could've been great, instead of just good with a few more pages.
"I use the flower code all the time when I do bouquets for my clients. There are the obvious ones, of course, like red roses, but my favorite is purple lilac for 'love’s first blush'."
Dawn Kimberly Johnson
Mick is a shy guy living a quiet life as a gay man who still feels the hurt of his family rejecting him after his coming out. His seasonal job as a window-shop model suits him perfectly: standing still all say, quietly observing the outside world. Until one day a handsome man takes a good look at him. This man's gaze is making it hard for Mick to stay still.
This is a well-written, sweet, seasonal story, which is actually no more than what might be the beginning of a lovely romance. The protags don't really touch, let alone kiss - it's all about a mental (and magical) connection. It almost is a modern fairy tale (the first window display Mick's a part of, is in fact a fairy tale setting). When the church clock is beating the twelve chimes on New Year's Eve the story reaches its climax. Rather classic and in its sort a pretty good and enjoyable story.
It took every ounce of willpower not to move, not to react, and luckily, the stranger was currently captivated by some of the pricey gifts displayed beneath the tree.
The Hanukkah Surprise
Rebecca Lynne Fullan
This is a story about a couple that has been together for a while. The opening scene shows them in bed in the morning, David watching his sleeping boyfriend, Andrew, while playing with himself at the sight of his beauty. After their morning romp they head off for a three day vacation, which is a surprise from David for Andrew. But Andrew is not big on surprises, and in the end David ends up the one being surprised.
I enjoyed this one for its cute and very hot couple, the small emotional layer in the story, and the playful and humorous elements. In the small amount of pages it's made very clear how great these men are together, how their characteristics complement each other's personalities. I thought this was done very well. My only complaint is that the story ended rather abruptly, with a few unanswered questions left (or maybe I'm the only one thinking there was something more to the missing keys and the unexpected presence of the stuffed moose...). Overall, a good short story and a pleasant way of spending my time.
Andrew was something like a forest, he thought. Seeming serene and quiet, but also full of secret life, chipmunks and rabbits and even wolves. He would like it in the woods. He would be able to relax, slowly unraveling his thoughts into ease.
Ice Around the Edges
Evan is recovering from being shot at the shelter where he works when his first boyfriend, Dixon, comes to visit him unexpectedly. Ten years ago they broke up over a misunderstanding and now Dixon wants him back. But the reason of their break-up is still a bit of a problem.
As I've seen in other books by Mary Calmes, one of the heroes is pretty much of a macho. In fact, in this case I found Dixon to be a bit of an (over)confident ass. And there's nothing wrong with that, because it can bring some amusing friction the a story. But I have to admit that it was difficult for me to rhyme the confidence and egotism of the 'present Dixon' with the cowardliness of the 'past Dixon'. I'm not completely satisfied with how Evan and Dixon dealt with the past mistake. Other than that this was a great story: well-written, entertaining, hot and engrossing.
I had kissed the man a million times, and each and every time, it made my blood race, pulse pound, and my skin go up in flames. The whimper rose up out of me as his tongue swept inside my mouth. And the way his lips sealed so perfectly to mine, the way I was devoured, the sound he made in the back of his throat, I understood that his ache for me was as bad as mine for him.