Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
This anthology brings stories filled with all things brother. From brothers dealing with a the paranormal, to estranged brothers, to brothers who have been in a relationship for years, there is a good variety of stories to be found here. If stories of brotherly love are what call to you, here are five short stories of brothers finding their way to each other.
As a Humanist Corpsman, Keith thinks he is fighting the good fight against the Infected. The Infection can be passed through sex and, although the outcome is different for each person, there is a mutation that takes place, ranging from becoming a shifter to developing a range of supernatural powers. After his brother, Riley, took off shortly after Keith kissed him, it’s still the thought of touching Riley that haunts Keith. When Keith’s team betrays him, it’s Riley that comes to his aid and Keith is faced with a life altering choice.
Some paranormal is added into this first story in the anthology and we are dropped right into the middle of the action. Two brothers on opposite sides and both longing for each other. There is not a lot of back story here, but Keith’s attraction to his brother is well displayed. While the world that is set up is interesting, we don’t know too much about it. Keith belongs to a Corpsman group and it is not made clear if this is a rogue group or how the larger population or government fits in at all here. The mutation that occurs after being Infected is also interesting, but we are only offered glimpses describing the different outcomes and we are not told how the Infection first came about. Keith’s longing was clear, but Riley was not as well developed. The ending offers closure on the relationship end, but not on the larger issue. A different take on society is offered here, nothing that goes too deep, and a relatively good start to the anthology.
Analgesia by Alisha Steele
Rating: 4.5 stars
Brandon’s brother, Ethan, has just returned home after a year and a half. The brothers have always had a loving, yet volatile, relationship and Brandon clearly thinks his love and lust for his brother is one sided. Brandon sets the ground rules for Ethan, but Ethan likes to play mind games. Determined to not let his brother get to him, Brandon tries to give as good as he gets, which may have him just taking the biggest risk of his life.
This was up there with one of my favorites in the anthology. The background behind the brothers comes out slowly and each new detail illustrates how the heat and attraction was constantly being increased as well as tested between these two. The story is told from Brandon’s point of view, so we only see Ethan as Brandon does and that is not always in the best of light. When we do get to see more of Brandon, it really helped pull the attraction and story together. These guys are hot together and once there are no more barriers, they are remarkably comfortable with each other. Since they live with their mother, a little more at the end of how they were going to sustain their relationship would have been welcomed. But, if you want to see brothers fulfilling years of teasing, longing, and desire, this is that story.
Depression, Love and Swimming Pools by Leigh Wilder
Rating: 3.25 stars
When Cale was 13, he found his father face down in the pool, a result of suicide. As soon as he was able, he left home for college and has only come back home occasionally. When he returns for a visit, he finds his older brother Derrick’s depression spiraling out of control. Although it feels right when Derrick finally reaches out to Cale, Cale resists for fear of being lost in Derrick’s world.
This story is more of one brother needing the other brother on several levels. Cale is relieved to not live at home anymore, but has not quite found what he has been looking for at school. Derrick has never gotten it together and is currently living in the family pool house and spends much of his time just floating in the pool. He is off his meds and suffers from depression. He knows Cale is the only person that can help him. This story attempts to show the connection between the men and how they have always wanted each other on some level, but it does not go into depth. For Derrick, wanting to be with Cale was always on his mind and for Cale it was more of a repressed feeling. Their physical relationship is more frantic than passionate and the men have a lot of work ahead of them to get their lives together and to figure out a relationship between them. The ending on this one is also more abrupt.
In Clouds of Obsession by Azalea Moone
Rating: 4 stars
Jeremy has been in love with his brother, Matt, for years. It started when he saw Matt changing in the locker room. Matt has never been particularly nice to Jeremy, but that has not stopped the attraction Jeremy feels. Matt announces he will be getting married and it takes all of Jeremy’s energy to make it through the bachelor party. It’s the chance that Jeremy takes after the bachelor party that has the potential to jeopardize their already tenuous relationship.
There were several things in this story that I should have had an issue with, starting with a flashback of Matt taking his frustrations out on a turtle near the start of the story. The attraction between the brothers is one sided it seems for most of the story. Jeremy idolizes his brother, mostly for his physical appearance, and there is never a moment shown of what else Jeremy is attracted to. Then, after the bachelor party, Jeremy takes things into his own hands so to speak and I was more interested in seeing the tables getting turned on Matt then perhaps the real issue or consequences that were present. These guys have a fairly dysfunctional relationship that can also be traced back to a glimpse of a conversation with their father and neither guy was particularly likable. Even with all of that, I was compelled to keep reading and see how these guys were going to figure things out. They do get an ending, yet how they will sustain that ending is not shown.
On the Edge by S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet
Andrew is so far out of control. He knows it, but he just can’t pull it together. He has been having a sexual relationship with his twin brother, Ben, for 11 years and even though they have moved away to a place where no one knows they are brothers, he uses drugs to deal with his shame. Ben has made his peace with the situation a long time ago and longs for a real relationship with Andrew. When Ben cannot take Andrew’s empty promises any longer, he tells Andrew they are over which forces Andrew to finally make a choice.
This was another favorite of the anthology and the title, On the Edge, is a term that describes Andrew well. He drowns himself in drugs, cannot hold down a job, and cannot fully connect with the music he loves to write. It all stems from the shame he feels from his relationship with Ben. This story was different from many other brother stories as the guys have already been in a relationship for many years. The story is told solely from Andrew’s point of view as he is dealing with the guilt and shame of his continued longing for his brother. The story does not attempt to show the brothers having a larger relationship and only deals with their sexual relationship, because that’s really all they have had. This story was well done and I was transfixed watching it unfold.
Note: This anthology does not appear to be available through third-party retailers, but can still be purchased through the Storm Moon press website at http://www.stormmoonpress.com/books/Fraternal-Devotion.aspx.