Wish Come True is a holiday charity anthology featuring contemporary, new adult stories. As soon as I saw the author line up on this one, I grabbed it and I am glad that I did.
A Very English Christmas by Keira Andrews
This is the first Christmas Isaac and David have spent with the new life in San Francisco and away from their sheltered Amish community. They are still living with Aaron and Jen, but are hoping to find a place of their own. However, they can’t afford much and it is tough to find something that is in their price range and accommodates David’s carpentry business and Isaac’s school. Still, this is their first English Christmas and the guys are determined to enjoy the new holiday celebration. It is wonderful to spend time with new friends and their small family. And they may just find their wish for a new home coming true as well.
Hurray! More David and Isaac! If you are a fan, as I am, of Andrew’s Amish series, you will certainly love this short holiday follow up to that trilogy. I loved seeing David and Isaac again sharing their first Christmas away from Zebulon. They have come a long way over the past year, but they still have a lovely sense of innocence and naiveté to go with their more sophisticated new lives. As with all stories in this series, it is sweet, romantic, and sexy. I absolutely loved it.
Mr Perfect’s Christmas by Joanna Chambers
Within the last year Sam lost his job, broke up with his boyfriend, and is now working a temp job at a law firm outside of the city. Sam doesn’t feel like he fits in with the new firm, especially since the guy he replaced is the perfect Nick Foster. Nick seems to fit in more than Sam every could and he keeps hanging around, even coming to the company Christmas party. Things are made all the worse because Sam is totally attracted to Nick despite himself. At the party, however, Sam learns that things are not quite what they seem and everything may work out better between them than he ever expected.
This is a cute story with a bit of an enemies to lovers feel as Sam has Nick set up as this bad guy in his head. Sam doesn’t fit in and has hard time adjusting to his new life, and he is constantly comparing himself to the seemingly perfect Nick whom everyone adores. As the story continues, we learn more about what is really happening, both with Sam and Nick, and realize both of them are misreading a lot of what is going on. At times Sam falls a bit too much into the self-pitying for me, but I did enjoy these guys together and found the story both sweet and sexy.
The Christmas Ship by Amy Jo Cousins
Josh is a college football player who suffered an injury that is keeping him out of the bowl game and is risking his future in the NFL. He worries constantly about his health and his future, but the one bright spot is his online friendship with “princessglitter.” The two chat all the time via youtube and twitter and share a love of anime. Over the past few months, they have become incredibly close friends and, when Josh is feeling really down, he decides to surprise his friend with a visit.
Benji is shocked when he learns Josh is on his way to Miami to see him. Benji is sure that Josh thinks he is a hot, young woman, based on all the flirting, and worries Josh will be horrified when he instead meets a flamboyant man in his early 30s. The two of them have become incredibly close, but Benji worries it will be all be ruined. But it turns out that Josh may surprise Benji in more ways than one.
I liked this story quite a lot, especially the dual points of view. We start in Josh’s head and he thinks about his injury, his friendship with “princessglitter,” and makes the decision to visit his friend. They we are flipped to Benji’s POV as he learns Josh is coming and tries to anticipate his reaction to the fact that Benji is a man. This is a sweet coming out story with lots of mushiness. Things move a bit too easily in a few fronts; Josh’s coming out, his first time with a male partner, and their ultimate HEA seemed a little too quick and easy even for a short story. I also found that the inclusion of snippets of their online chats were at times kind of confusing and the formatting made the time jumps a little hard to follow. But overall I really enjoyed this one and thought it was clever and fun with an unusual premise and interesting characters.
That Thing by Megan Erickson
Devin Master has agreed to help his sister, a wedding planner, manage a wedding when her assistant can’t make it. It is not Devin’s idea of fun, but he loves his sister and wants to help out. When she puts him in charge of keeping track of the difficult best man, Adrian Alvarez, Devin worries he is in for trouble, but he finds he likes the gruff Adrian. In fact, he likes him a little too much considering his sister would not be happy if he fools around with the best man. But the attraction between the two is strong, and they end up making a connection that surprises them both. But Devin and Adrian have only spent a couple of days together and live far apart. Now they must figure out if they can turn their fling into something that can last.
This is a fun story that works well with the entertaining and quirky Devin. I found him endearing and amusing and loved his POV. He wavers between taking his job seriously and pushing the boundaries a bit, which makes him a good match for the more gruff Adrian. When Adrian came out, a lot of his friends and family rejected him and he ran off to school to get away from it all. He is very close with the groom, so he has come back for the wedding, but he is a little wary. I liked them together and found the guys had great chemistry and a nice connection.
I had a few questions here. First, Adrian is painted as being super difficult and as if Devin is going to have to wrangle him to get him to behave. He is hesitant and reserved because he knows not everyone likes him there, but there is nothing to suggest he is difficult in any way, so it just seemed a strange set up. And ok, I know this is me being nitpicky, but I couldn’t get past Devin’s twin sister being “the most sought after wedding planner in the state of New Jersey.” Given he is just graduating college, at most she can be 21 or 22. We know she got an associates degree two years ago, so somehow this woman who is so young and has only been in business two years has managed to become the top wedding planner in the state? It seems so unrealistic that I got thrown out of the story trying to absorb it. In the end however, I found this one fun and sweet and I loved how Erickson took things a bit unexpectedly in the epilogue to tie things up.
Just Like Heaven by Suki Fleet
David is walking down the street when he sees a musician playing for money. David is drawn to the man and leaves him some money, but would never have the courage to talk to him. But when someone tries to steal the guy’s cash, David steps in to help and has a chance to meet Jess. When he learns that Jess just lost his job, David takes a chance and offers to get him work at his uncle’s catering company where David is working over break. Jess can’t quite believe that a stranger would go so far to help him, but he is thrilled for the job as it will help him see his sister over Christmas. Jess finds he really likes the shy David, but Jess isn’t a relationship guy. He figures once David goes back to school, that will be the end of things. But when it is time for them to part, David and Jess realize that what they really want is it to be together.
This is the first book I have read by Suki Fleet and I am so glad I had a chance to try her work because I really liked it. David is endearing as this shy, sweet guy who really has had no experience dating. He is so nurturing and caring and gives such support to Jess. Both these guys have to work through issues here; Jess puts up walls against anything serious, and David is learning to navigate his feelings in his first really romantic connection with anyone. I wish we had a little more time to understand Jess better. His issues with relationships are just teased out for most of the story and it takes a while to really understand him. But overall this is another story that ties up really nicely at the end and brings the short story into a well developed romance.
Not Your Grandfather’s Magic by Kaje Harper
Zeb Crowe is a month away from his twenty-first birthday and the time he is expected to come into the magical abilities he inherited from his father and grandfather. When Zeb’s grandfather gives him a cryptic prediction about keeping his mind and heart open, Zeb wonders if it might relate to the adorable guy he met while repairing Matt’s grandmother’s front door. Zeb knows he is drawn to Matt like he hasn’t been before, but Zeb also worries about getting involved with someone when things are so uncertain for his future and how his powers will manifest. But he is also determined to embrace his grandfather’s advice and keep his heart open, and in the weeks leading up to his birthday, Matt and Zeb begin to fall for one another. But when Zeb’s birthday arrives, things aren’t as they seem, and Zeb learns that Matt can truly be the person he can lean on when he needs it most.
I loved this story by Kaje Harper and found it the best of an already great anthology. It is such a lovely romance between two very sweet guys. Harper develops their relationship so nicely and we can totally believe in what they are building. Then when a crisis hits, we can understand how the foundation of their relationship and the strong bond between them help them both get through it. This story goes in all kinds of directions I didn’t expect, but yet that totally work for the story. Totally loved it.
Bottle Boys by Anyta Sunday
Benjamin Otto seems to have all the luck. Things generally come easy to him, in school and in life, and money is never a struggle. Ben is shocked when his dad tells him he doesn’t work hard enough and says that Ben must be responsible for earning the money to pay for their expensive family Christmas or his little brother will end up going without. Ben has no idea how to earn the money that fast, until he is inspired to collect bottles and return them for cash. It is going great until he realizes that Sebastian, a friend from class, needs the money even worse, and he begins to give Sebastian his proceeds. Ben knows he risks leaving himself with nothing, but he really likes Sebastian and watching him work so hard at multiple jobs to help out is family makes Ben determined to be there for him. Now Ben has to figure out how to keep helping Sebastian while still find a way to help make Christmas wonderful for his brother.
This was a nice story about a guy learning to work hard for what he wants and sacrificing his own happiness for someone else. It is sweet and feel good and I liked Ben and Sebastian. I think the set up is a bit hard to swallow; the idea that Ben’s father would spring this on his son and make him solely responsible for his brother’s holiday seemed a bit far fetched. I also think honestly Ben never seems like a bad enough guy to justify this ultimatum and for them to risk their other son’s happiness just to teach Ben a lesson. I think both these guys are likable, but the relationship end of things takes a while to develop and we don’t get to know Sebastian that well. That said, I enjoyed my first story by this author and would definitely keep my eyes open for more.
Overall I found this an excellent anthology with lots of really great stories. I got a chance to try some new authors and to enjoy some of my favorites. I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a great holiday anthology by some wonderful authors.
Proceeds will be donated to Lost-N-Found Youth , an Atlanta-based nonprofit corporation whose mission is to take homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths to age 26 off the street and transition them into more permanent housing.