Pick up this anthology and read five great stories about what happens when Valentine’s Day comes to Bluewater Bay. Visit with new couples, and revisit some old ones, as they navigate the waters of love. Each story in this anthology stands alone, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the books in the Bluewater Bay Series yet. We thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for wonderful stories centered on Valentine’s Day, we definitely recommend you pick this one up.
Just Another Day by L.A. Witt
Rating: 4.75 stars
Reviewed by Kris
Levi Pritchard hates Valentine’s Day. And even though he’s been loving—and living with—Carter Samuels for a while now, he still doesn’t want to do anything about the awful, commercialized day. When he comes home from interviews to find Carter cooking a special meal, his heart sinks. He’d told Carter how he feels about Valentine’s. But what Levi never took into consideration is how Carter feels about the day, and when Carter blows up and they have one of their rare fights, Levi knows he’s blown things. Of course, he also knows how he can make it up to Carter and show the man that he loves him. If only he can finally get up the guts.
Oh, yes. I loved Levi and Carter in Starstruck and I was super happy to see them returning again in this anthology. And let me tell you, Witt captures these guys so well, bringing them back and showing us their life together as it moves forward. If you haven’t read their story, don’t worry; this definitely works as a standalone. What we get with this short story is two men who are in a committed and loving relationship who find themselves hitting a snag…and working through it to find a compromise and be there for each other. Witt does an outstanding job of letting us see the “realness” of these two characters and the situation. A sweet, wonderful, well-done story with a perfect Valentine’s Day theme.
I’ll Be There by Z.A. Maxfield
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Kris
Spencer Keppler might be awesome in front of a camera, but in real life he’s socially awkward, especially around fans. He agreed to go to a conference to grant a dying woman’s wish, but he’s alone, and scared, and his lover, Nash Holly, knows he has to get to him. With a snow storm raging across the Midwest, Nash has to employ some creative means to get there. He really should give it up, the storm is making it impossible, but Nash’s mind and heart are set and Spencer needs him. With the help of his twin brother and a gaggle of geniuses, Nash just might be able to make it to Illinois and Spencer before Valentine’s Day concludes.
This story. Oh my god, you guys, this story. Utter perfection from word one. I don’t even have the words to tell you. But I promise I’ll try. First off, I’ve been in love with Nash Holly since Hell on Wheels, and this story showcases one of the many reasons why. He’s going to get to Spencer no matter what it takes, because Spencer needs him there. I love his determination. And Spencer? Oh dear, the growth he shows in this story is just astounding. I’m floored with the amount of plot Maxfield managed pack into such a short space. This story really is perfect. It has everything. I laughed, my heart got melty, the characterizations were perfect, the pacing was ingenious, and I was completely entertained the whole time.
Nascha by Amy Lane
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Crissy
While taking care of his ailing grandnephew, Nascha—a man overcome with Alzheimer’s in his old age—remembers back to a time when he was young and had love, a time when he was happy and thought it would last forever. But then life intervened and decisions were made and things got in the way. But can Nascha make life better for his family while healing his past at the same time?
Amy Lane will surprise you with this one. In a good way. I was taken off guard because I wasn’t sure what to expect—bi-sexual, ménage, flashback cum not really historical but yeah, kinda historical only because of the flashbacks. This story was heartbreaking. Poor Nascha has been through the wringer in his long life, and while sometimes it seemed that he would have it all, life always seemed to find a way to dump on him. Until the end. I found this story strangely sweet and comforting, and the ending absolutely hilarious and perfect. If you read this story and wonder how in the world does this story relate to Bluewater Bay and Amy Lane’s upcoming story? I’ll tell you. Cal—Nascha’s sick grandnephew—is the MC of her upcoming The Deep of the Sound, out in June.
No Easy Way by S.E. Jakes
Rating: 4.25 stars
Reviewed by Crissy
Cary was sixteen when the love of his life up and left Bluewater Bay for the Army without explanation. He hasn’t heard from Dylan in six years—until now, until the letter he receives in the mail telling Cary that Dylan is coming home.
Dylan had his reasons for leaving and he knows the way he left was not handled well, but he also knows that he still loves Cary and wants him back. And he knows Cary still loves him and he has proof—the books Cary has written about him, not even changing Dylan’s name or the way they met. One problem. Cary has a boyfriend. It’s not going to be easy. Cary is determined to stay as far away from Dylan as possible but Dylan is determined to win his man back. No matter what it takes.
I loved this story because for one, I love a good second chances story and two, it was freaking hot. This story was the longest of the anthology and the most involved with several secondary characters and an intricate backstory. It’s emotional and tense in places, but most of all it’s scorching. The way Cary—introverted teacher by day, smexy author by night—writes about the things he wanted to do with Dylan, but never had the chance to, and the way Dylan is determined to make it happen to win Cary back—geez, I need a fan thinking about it.
The one thing I was a bit iffy about was Cary’s relationship with Kevin. From the beginning, Cary and his BFF are firm on the fact that Kevin is not the man for him, yet Cary stays with him. But the cheating and lies. See, it’s not clear until later that it’s not exactly cheating because they’re not exclusive, but not being up front about it? I didn’t love that so much. So the big blow up… yeah, it was a thing at the end. And now I’m hoping Jakes’ next Bluewater Bay book will be Kevin and the porn star. But overall, I liked this one so much.
Helping Hand by Anne Tenino
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Crissy
After accidentally outing himself to his parents and brother, Lucas Wilder still goes to the Valentine’s dance with this BFF Audrey, but the night doesn’t end the way he thinks it will. With both Lucas and Audrey leaving for California soon, Audrey stays at the dance to give the boys she’s grown up with something to think about while she’s gone, and Lucas walks home. Alone. In the drizzling rain. But then his knight in shining armor rides up in a truck. Gabe—Lucas’s brother’s best friend and Lucas’s forever crush. What happens next Lucas would have never seen coming and it only shores up his determination to get out of town quicker.
This my favorite of all the stories in this antho. So this is the beginning of Lucas and Gabe’s story. From what I understand, we’ll be seeing more of them again—sooner rather than later, I hope. This little prequel is killer. In so many ways. First, we have Lucas and his dad, who you want to hate. And I thought I did in the beginning, but by the end I realized he’s a sad man stuck in the only life he thought he had to choose. I’m hoping to see that the relationship between father and son blossomed between this story and the next. And then Lucas and Gabe—I can’t. I just… Wow. There are so many things that are good and perfect and sweet and horribly painful with what happens between Lucas and Gabe and I am on edge—dying—to know how these guys have their happy ending. Because they have to.
Tenino does a wonderful job with this short. A backstory. A buildup. A teaser. I am dying for more.