Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
I was not sure what to expect from Bedtime Stories, but when I saw the list of authors, I knew I had to read it. The best way that I could describe it would be to say that these are the perfect stories to read just before bed. Suitable in length, with simple plots and themes, these stories will encourage sweet dreams.
Whiskey Wishes by Anna Martin
Jamie left home at 18, gay and afraid of coming out to his family, but the recession forces his return to his home town, and his business degree nets him a job at the local whiskey distillery. Still not out at home, Jamie meets Aiden, a visitor in town, and the two become friends. The two men spend evening after evening together, eventually falling in love. Jamie cannot keep this a secret any longer and decides to come clean and tell his family that he is gay.
There was a bit of a love at first sight component to Whiskey Wishes but the relationship built up slowly, which fit my world view, since Jamie was not yet out to his family and needed to feel safe and comfortable, both with himself and with his budding relationship with Aiden.
Flickers by Tia Fielding
Five years of peaceful homeownership comes to an end when Ben is visited by a spirit who is fond of checking out Ben’s ass. After five weeks of visits, the ghost decides to communicate with Ben, and with the help of some flickers of light, Ben discovers the name of his spectral admirer. Ben now has a ghost and a mystery.
I like ghost stories and the paranormal, and so it was a pleasant surprise to come across this harmless, sweet and somewhat sad story in the anthology. Surprisingly, the character that I felt the most empathy for was the ghost. The living characters were okay, although Ben had the most depth, and a pretty good sense of humor.
Click your Heels Three Times by Blaine D. Arden
General West is determined to pair Prince Theodorin with his son Munkin, except that Prince Theodorin loves someone else. When Theo declines the General’s offer, the General uses magic to transport Theo to an alternate world, frozen in time. Nothing changes in this frozen world, except for Theo. Odd things begin to occur and eventually Theo recalls his mother telling him that if he wants to return home, all he needs to do is click his heels together three times, but can this childhood saying help Theo to escape from the General’s magical trap?
As far as trapped in alternate world stories go, this one was not bad. Theo’s character was well thought out and written, and since the bulk of the story featured only him, we got a good idea of the type of man he was. The few secondary characters were simply caricatures with no real depth, but this did not matter as their interactions were minor and they did their parts well.
Frangipani Kisses by Liam Livings
Unemployed, John fills his days volunteering at a local charity shop. When the charity shop is deemed redundant, the news hits John hard. His boyfriend encourages him to use his love of baking to raise money, and so John cooks up a plan to save the shop with a bake sale.
Can I just start by saying that a bake sale, no matter how good, will never achieve the results described in Frangipani Kisses? From that point on in the story, the realism that had been built up went right out the window and the ending was a forced, fast forward HEA. None of the characters had any significant depth and I did not feel for them and their situations.
Charmed by M.J. O’Shea
Kelly could be called “casual” except that it would not be a strong enough descriptor for him. Luke shows up at the bar Kelly manages and somehow, Kelly is in lust. Luke asks Kelly out for dessert, and though Kelly agrees, expecting some hot sex to get Luke out of his system, Luke does the unexpected and somehow manages to get Kelly to date. Afraid of appearing weak to his staff, Kelly sends Luke packing even though it just about kills him.
Loved it, just loved Charmed. A well thought out “love at first sight” story with good pacing, an appropriate amount of angst, and a surprising twist at the end that show how you just never know what people are really thinking unless you ask. To me, Kelly and Luke fit together like PB&J and it did not hurt that Luke was a ginger…
Torches by Kit Mullender
Jem is a busy man as a doctor practicing in a small hospital while still living in the city. With little time for himself, one of life’s few pleasures for Jem is the jazz club located in the basement of the building next door. Although he enjoys some of the performances, Thursday nights (or rather Thursday night’s guy’s) performances are his favorites. Because of this, not even the grumpy pharmacist, Elias, can get Jem down at work. Jem resists visiting the club, preferring the safety and lack of surprises found at home, but when forced to go to the jazz club for a colleague’s birthday on a Thursday, Jem and his colleagues discover a big surprise.
In some ways, this story had one of the best premises, but the choppy scene shifts made it a challenging one to read. Coupled with two characters that I just could not empathize with, Torches left me feeling flat.
Miles To Go by B. Snow
Is Joe gay? Is Joe straight? The answer is both yes and no, depending on who you ask. Joe’s wife leaves him, stating that he is gay, and refuses to come home until Joe has had seven dates with other men. If he doesn’t feel anything, she will come home, but she is convinced she is right. There is love, but no passion. Joe disagrees. Danny is hired to babysit for the infamous dates and that is where the trouble is brewing. Joe has an attraction for Danny that is shoved deep down and Danny is getting progressively fed up with Joe’s obvious denial. Joe has a chance but since Danny won’t admit his feelings and Joe is confused and oblivious, the two men risk missing out on something good.
I have to say that Danny was a fantastic character, although Snow did do a good job with Joe, and the secondary characters as well. Sadly, Joe’s refusal to admit out loud what he is thinking throughout the story became tiresome. This is a case where Joe was labelled by everyone as gay, which made him uncomfortable, when it sounds like he is bi and should be left to figure out his preferences on his own.
As far as anthologies go, this one was good. I have always been a fan of short stories and the good ones from Bedtime Stories will appear on my late night re-read list in the future.