Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel-length anthology

The authors of the Unconventional at Best anthology are offering a copy to one lucky commenter. Be sure to check out the end of the post for more details.

Unconventional at Best is an anthology of works written by some of the hottest novelists on the m/m scene today.  Each story revolves around some form of convention and involves everything from the paranormal to the contemporary. It is an amazing body of work and I highly recommend it to you


A New Normal by Carol Lynne

“You and everyone else here have shown me that normal is defined by who you choose to surround yourself with, not what strangers on the street think.”

And so begins Charlie’s new journey into a renewed relationship with his best friend, Jake.  Jake, who has loved Charlie for years, has stood in the shadows while Charlie was manipulated into marrying his best friend Jen.  Sublimating his need for fulfilling sex and the fact that the love he had for his wife was more brotherly affection than anything else, it takes her death to make Charlie realize what he has been hiding from all along–his love for his best friend.

But Charlie simply wants to be “normal” and not have to deal with the bigotry and hurt from both strangers and family.  After Jen dies he realizes what is really important, and discovers that A New Normal is where love begins and doubt ends.

Carol Lynne delivers the first short story in the Unconventional at Best anthology and hits a home run out of the park.  Heartfelt and lovely, the story explores what it means to hide our true selves and the cost that such a decision carries.  Her characters, Jake and Charlie, were simply two lovely men who found that their friendship carried with it the desire for something more.  This was a love story–love lost, love regained–tender and sweet!  Rating:  5 stars

Convention Confusion by Amber Kell

Convention Confusion plants us square in the midst of a sci-fi convention and two friends determined to get their hands on the autograph of their favorite author, Jennvian Fellows.  So of course it follows that Billy Ferris allows his best friend Cathy to dress him as the female pirate made so famous by Jenn’s books.  Little does Billy know that Jenn is actually an alien Prince in search of his mate.   As secrets are revealed, a love develops and the only question that remains is will that be enough to guarantee these two a happy ever after.

I really appreciated the fun and zany premise of this short story and I was rooting for the two boys all the way.  However, this story struck a single chord and never really deviated from it.  The storyline had little tension to it—even with the introduction of Cathy’s abusive boyfriend.  Convention Confusion was simply a nice story but lacked the sparkle and energy I am so used to seeing from author Amber Kell.  Rating:  3 stars

Ninja Cupcakes by T.A. Chase

Ethan had a gift.  He not only concocts delicious confections in his bakeshop, he crafts his creations specifically for those who need them.  Blessed with the “sight,” Ethan has more than an inkling how to lend a certain spice to the lives of each of his friends and family.  On top of this delightful gift is the fact that Ethan had fallen in love with an astrophysicist of all things, Callum Maclaughlin.

However while Ethan is sure that Callum will be an important person in his life, he is not sure if Callum loves him in return.  So when Ethan’s brother Earl asks him to cater the Sci-fi convention, Ethan knows this is his chance to find out if love is in his future.

T. A. Chase offers up a magical and beautifully written love story.  One that speaks to the heart and reminds us that love goes so much deeper than the surface, that it cannot be derailed by life’s circumstances, and that each of us has something to offer to another person despite our flaws or handicaps.  Ninja Cupcakes was, simply put, a love letter from an author to her fans.  The story Chase weaves with such a delicate hand leaves you slightly teary eyed and wanting more!  Rating:  5 stars

Operation: Get Spencer by Jambrea Jo Jones

Ben likes women—loves them.  Beds as many as he can every chance he can get.  So what does it matter that sometimes lately, he can’t seem to get beyond a kiss.  That recently he can only think of how Spencer’s lips would taste, how Spencer’s body would feel, how Spencer would  be so hot in bed…whoa.  Spencer is his gay best friend…and Ben is NOT gay—no way.  Unless of course you are talking about Spence and then…

Jones gives us a delightful story of two best friends who’s lives are turned upside down when the straight guy falls for the gay guy.  Yes it is a classic “gay for you” but set-up with really likeable characters, witty yet poignant dialogue, and the most fun angst I have read in a while.    These two boys were just adorable and the story was written with a light hand—making it all the more believable.  Rating:  5 stars

Fan-Tastic by Stephani Hecht

Deke has never thought much about second chances.  Being a fairly jaded actor in a highly popular TV series has left him doubting whether he will ever find a man who will see him for who he is, rather than all the fame and glamour.  Then at a comic con convention he stumbles upon Blake, who has secretly been crushing on Deke since he was a high school freshman and Deke was the senior playing the role of Puck in Midsummer’s Night Dream.  They click…and now all Deke has to do is convince Blake that everything the two of them have thought about second chances has been wrong, that they really can lead to happy ever after.

This was just a sweet story of redemption and hope from beginning to end.  Poor Blake, who had been made to feel he was the reason his parents had divorced, has secretly been longing for Deke for years and is trying to launch his own comic book series, throws in all he has for one last chance to make something of himself and hopefully land the man of his dreams.  When these two meet, you can feel the attraction build and the story simply unfolds, each sweet and tender moment after another.    Rating:  5 stars

Rough Awakening by Devon Rhodes  

Mario is trapped in a lover’s triangle without any of the benefits.  His former partner Luke and his new boyfriend Derek are all part of an adult sports team—and tri-captains to boot.  An upcoming tournament finds Mario having to bunk in with the lovebirds and he is desperate to find any way to avoid it if at all possible.  Enter Jordan, a member of an opposing team and a hottie that Mario has had his eye on before.

The two hook up online and decide to room together and instant sparks fly.  However, Mario, who secretly yearns to give up control, is a top in every sense of the word and so is Jordan.  Now all that remains for this fledgling relationship to take wing is whether or not Mario can give over control and hold onto the man who he thinks could be the one for him.

Rough Awakening was one hot ride of a story.  Everything clicked in this short, from the dialogue, to the sex, to the constant second-guessing that was internally happening with each man.  You felt as though you had a private viewing to decidedly intimate moments and encounters.   I really enjoyed the chemistry between these two characters.  Their hook-up and instant infatuation was totally believable and I would love to see the author take this short and evolve it into a full-length novel.  Rating:  5 stars


The authors have generously donated a copy of Unconventional at Best to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to enter.  The contest closes on Sunday, November 18 at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the contest, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay and leave your email address if it is not in your profile.

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