Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Blooming Marvellous and Collected Stories is an anthology featuring short stories, all from author Josephine Myles. They have each been previously published in a variety of places, including some website freebies, and this anthology pulls them all together. I have not previously read any of them, although we have reviewed one as part of the review for the anthology where it was originally published.
Unlike many anthologies that are linked by theme, these stories are linked by author and cover a wide variety of topics and genres. Most are contemporary or paranormal, but there is also a historical and a futuristic tale. And while most of the stories bring Myles’ trademark sexiness and heat, including some with mild BDSM, others are on the tamer end. I happen to adore Myles’ writing, but for those who aren’t as familiar with her work, this is a great way to get a taste of her style in a variety of genres.
Most of these stories are very short (there are nine stories in a little over 100 pages), so we don’t get HEAs in most of them. I think this is smart as it is hard to make a believable HEA in such a short story and Myles does a great job really setting up the relationships and making us believe in a future for these characters. So I really enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend it to both fans of Myles’ writing and to newcomers.
Originally Published: Tea and Crumpet Anthology
Ky is a street artist and a regular gardening for the city doing community service for his crimes,. When the posh James shows up for his service work, Ky is intrigued by the handsome man. Ky figures there is no chance someone like James would be interested in a guy like him. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun when they are off duty. But it turns out James might just want a guy like Ky after all.
This is a sweet story of two guys from different worlds who end up finding a connection in the midst of the drudgery of their community service job. I loved Ky’s voice and he is a great POV character, fun and a bit quirky. We get some nice hope for the future for these guys, not to mention a sexy silver fox in James (I kept picturing Anderson Cooper…). Very cute.
Demon du Jour
Originally Published: Free on Website
Gavin is sort of a geeky virgin who summons a succubus in order to get laid. He is expecting a female, but what he gets instead is a male succubus who specializes in other men. Gavin is surprised to find himself turned on by a man, but since the succubus is hot and Gavin is horny, he decides to go for it. This story is on the erotic end, but it also has a nice message about how sometimes what you think you want isn’t always what you really need, and opening your mind can give you the happiness you are looking for. Sexy and sweet.
Originally Published: Sexy Sailors Anthology
Ryan is a university student and every day he passes a sexy redheaded narrow boater on the way to school. Ryan hasn’t quite worked up the nerve to introduce himself, but when he sees the guy pick up someone else one night, he finally gets brave enough to seek the boater out. It turns out Kev is interested in Ryan as well and takes him back to his boat where the two have some hard, hot sex that drives them both wild. This one ends on an HFN but there is definitely hope for a future between these guys. I really liked this story (and adore Myles’ narrow boat books) and it is definitely on the erotic end. Very hot and well done.
Originally Published: Free on Website
Eddie has recently been dumped by his boyfriend Philip and is now living out in the middle of nowhere all alone. When his friend Tyler comes by for a visit, Eddie is a little put upon. The guys are friends but nothing more and Eddie doesn’t particularly want the company. And when Tyler gives Eddie some chocolates that are supposed to give him three wishes, Eddie is skeptical to say the least. But it turns out if he opens his mind and opens his heart, he may get exactly what he wants after all.
I loved this sweet story about finding love in unexpected places and how it takes a little magic to sometimes see what is right in front of you. This one is on the short end and very tame with no sexual content at all. But very sweet and romantic.
The Devil Went Down to Swindon
Originally Published: Mine Anthology
Darren Lock lives in a nowhere town, singing with a band and hoping to make it one day. His chance might be around the corner as Pop Idol is auditioning singers, but Darren isn’t sure he has the nerve to try out. When Darren offers to sell his soul for the confidence to try out for the show, the devil appears willing to make a trade. He doesn’t need Darren’s soul, but in exchange for use of Darren’s body he promises to make him captivating when he sings. Since the devil (aka Nick) happens to look like Mickey Rourke in his younger days, Darren doesn’t need too much convincing.
Darren has never really had confidence to act on his sexual desires and Nick seems to read his mind, knowing all of Darren’s secret fantasies. They spend a week having fabulous sex and Darren finds himself unexpectedly falling for Nick. But when it is time for the auditions, things don’t turn out exactly as expected.
This story is a lot of fun with a clever twist and it’s super sexy. I liked seeing Darren finally open himself up to what he really wants and stop living under the shadow of his father’s judgement. Great story and very hot.
Originally Published: Like That Spark Anthology
Gerryn has had the hots for his partner Sarkan for a while now, and though they have a friends with benefits thing going on, it seems clear that Gerryn needs Sarkan more than the other way around. When the two capture a thief who has stolen some magic circlets, Gerryn decides it might be time to get the upper hand with Sarkan for the first time. It turns out the circlets allow for someone to “record” a sensation and play it back for his partner on continuous loop, creating unending sexual pleasures. And Gerryn is determined to make Sarkan just as needy and hot for him and Gerryn himself feels around the man. And as it turns out, the feelings between them might not be all one sided after all.
This is a fun futuristic story that is also super sexy. Gerryn is determined to show Sarkan such pleasure that he will finally need Gerryn back, and in the process the guys are crazy hot. But I also liked that we see some vulnerability in Sarkan too, and despite what Gerryn thinks, we find that there is a lot more to their relationship than they originally expected.
The Frog Prince
Originally Published: The Handsome Prince anthology
Simon finds himself volunteering doing organic gardening and helping to save mating frogs, all for the chance to spend time with Jasper. Jasper who is golden and beautiful and presumably straight and who would never be interested in a guy like Simon. But after the two spend long hours together taking care of the frogs, it turns out Jasper be more interested than Simon originally thought.
I really liked this story and found it had a nice message about how appearances can be deceiving and people are not always exactly what you think. It turns out Simon’s idealized version of Jasper isn’t exactly accurate, and that makes him all the more real and appealing a partner. This was another sweet and sexy story with really likable heroes.
Tea for Two
Originally Published: Free on Website
Richard has two hours alone with his valet Oscar and he intends to make the most of them. Oscar loves to submit and Richard likes nothing more than helping his lover fully enjoy the experience. These guys are super hot together and I loved the care we see from Richard as he manages the scene with a constant eye toward Oscar’s needs and desires.
The story ends with a bit of a twist, and I will admit I was a little confused at first (ebook formatting affected the section breaks a bit). But once I fully got what was going on, I was just delighted. Very clever and incredibly hot. Loved this one.
Originally Published: Lashings of Sauce Anthology
Archie and his best friend Gan are preparing to participate in the Chinese New Year parade and perform the Dragon dance. All the time spent practicing is just reinforcing Archie’s feelings for Gan, but he doesn’t dare admit his attraction. As Archie faces his anxiety about his feelings, he imagines a dragon, symbols of good luck in the Chinese culture, to be his companion, giving him strength and guidance. As the young men prepare for the dance, things are a bit rocky with the performance. But as their connection grows, it translates into the dance, and the bond between them makes the performance just glow.
I loved this sweet story of young love and two guys who are both pining for one another but not sure how to show it. Myles really captures that anxiety and uncertainty in Archie, worried that speaking out will ruin his friendship with Gan. And the incorporation of the culture and the dance and the dragons all works so nicely here as it intertwines with the story of their romance. One of my favorites of the anthology.