The Men in Uniform Anthology from Wayward Ink Press is a collection of stories in a variety of genres. I have read the entire anthology but am only providing detailed reviews for a selection of stories since there are so many. My overall rating reflects my average rating for entire collection, not just those reviewed here.
Issue No. 1 by Eric Gober
Being Captain America is a tough gig, especially in the competitive world of Hollywood Boulevard’s tourism industry. Stef Rogers may be dressed up as Captain America for the tips, but when he hears the Sesame Street gang harassing a woman for payment, he feels compelled to help. Sadly, Stef is taken down by none other than Cookie Monster, and in the process, meets Officer Buck, who proclaims him a hero, and for the purposes of the investigation, takes Stef’s phone number, but is it really for th investigation? Stef sure hopes not.
I must commend the editor for selecting this story to go first, as it drew me in, and made me laugh repeatedly. Stef and his best friend Tara were perfect together, especially as the Captain and Tenille (which I happen to have on my iPod, BTW), and officer Tim is elusive, incredibly attractive, and shown as more than just your stereotypical one-dimensional police officer. Tim and Stef’s attraction and the beginning of their relationship felt right, and I could see them making a fun couple.
I am normally not one for quotes, but seriously could not resist including these, and these won’t ruin the fun!
“A little foolish, Officer Buck. TMZ’s about to tell the world I got my butt kicked by Cookie Monster.”
“Stefan Rogers, is it?” “Yes sir.” “Well, Mister Rogers, if the Muppets terrorize you again, call 911, okay?”
“So when’s the wedding, future Mr. Buck-Rogers?”
Rating: 5 stars
The Pinkerton Man C.J. Baty
Stiles Langberry enjoys being a constable at Scotland Yard, but his preferences are a closely-held secret until his lover, tired of being blackmailed, kills himself. Stiles had been ignoring the blackmailer’s threats, until he is called into his superior’s office and encouraged to resign and leave England.
Now in St. Louis, using the surname Long, Stiles is hired by Pinkerton’s and his first case is to investigate the murders of three male prostitutes. Long’s frequent visits to the brothel bring him in contact with the three suspects and an employee named Paul, but when one of the suspects is arrested for brutally torturing his boy, the police close the case on the murders.
The Pinkerton Man was one of the longer stories in the anthology and was set in the past. Anyone who knows me know that I “don’t appreciate” historicals, and yet I really enjoyed this story. Stiles was not the most likeable character at first, but as he conducts his rather unconventional investigation into the murders of the three prostitutes, his humanity and likability came to the forefront. This story had one of the most satisfying endings considering the grim subject matter.
Rating: 4 stars
Mission: Protect The Ex by Alina Popescu
Six months after being dumped by Aiden for being in the military, Sean must now protect Aiden from a death threat. The reunion is painful, and resentment runs high from both men. When a motion sensor is triggered in the middle of the night, Sean goes into high alert, determined to keep Aiden, the man he still loves, safe.
One of the better stories in the anthology, Mission: Protect the Ex had a cute premise, and two nice characters in Sean and Aiden. It was apparent that the men had unresolved issues, and that they still felt something for each other. The plot progressed well considering the brevity of the story, and I quite liked the twist at the end, I was truly not expecting it.
Rating: 4.5 stars
The Emperor’s Slave by Eddy LeFey
Timothy Kellerman is a soldier in the resistance who has spent the last three years fighting an extra terrestrial people called the Draaduuri, until the day that his resistance camp is attacked. Timothy decides to take action to save the hundreds that have been captured, and figures that since he is as good as dead, why not save a few prisoners before he dies. Timothy becomes debilitated by a presence, a voice in his head, and he is offered a deal, one that he can not refuse. If Timothy turns himself over to the Draaduuri, they will free all of the imprisoned humans. Timothy could end three years of fighting, misery, and death.
One of a surprising number of sci-fi stories in the anthology, The Emperor’s Slave was well written, with a solid back story, plot, and characters. The one area that caught my eye was the progression of Timothy and Yuuhaan’s relationship was exceptionally fast, but considering the length of the story, it couldn’t be helped. Overall, a satisfying read.
Rating: 4 stars
Yes! Yes! Yes! by Lily Velden
Finn, “patron saint of bottoms,” keeps Francis up (literally) every night except Mondays, with a seemingly never-ending stream of willing men. Frustrated and horny, Francis decides that he must see Finn for himself, but his multi-day stakeout is a failure. On laundry day, Francis meets Jamie in the building’s laundry room and for the first time in months, Francis isn’t thinking of Finn.
To be honest, the concept of paper-thin walls and anything that would keep me from a good night’s sleep should be enough to make me dislike this story, but once the focus shifted to Francis and Jamie, my irritation at an inconsiderate neighbor soon dissolved. I really liked Jamie and found Francis to be rather humorous, and the plot twist at the end, let’s just say that I thought it to be brilliant.
Rating: 4.5 stars