Just to be transparent, I am one of the authors of this work. I wrote the last story that appears, Eye of the Storm, and my review does not apply to my story, because that would be ridiculous.
But I will start by saying that I’m really honoured to be part of such an amazing team of writers.
This is a collection of summer romance stories that vary from sweet to steamy, from happy endings to ambiguous endings to outright sad ones, from contemporary to historical, paranormal, and science fiction. “Summer Romance” was the theme, and since we come from a variety of disciplines, we approached that with some broad interpretations. I’ll discuss each story individually in order of appearance:
The 11th Hour by C.L. Cannon – A light-hearted contemporary romance about a man who has loved a woman his whole life, but he has never pursued it because he thought there was lots of time. But now she’s getting married. This story is a sweet romance that does not end how you expect it to. I enjoyed C.L.’s fun, character driven tale with a tongue-in-cheek approach.
The Doctor and the Demon by Jay Michael Wright II – This Civil War era gothic paranormal romance is my cup of tea. Jay explores and subverts the tropes of the genre with a loving hand. Despite demons and necromancers, the tale is a sweet romance. I want to know more about these characters, and since it says its “A Tale from the World of Talon,” I think I’ll be checking out his Talon books.
Scarborough Fair by Sarah Buhrman– This is a historical fantasy with a light touch of magical realism. Sarah knows her time period and location well and makes it come to life with vivid description that is a full-sensory experience. I love her intelligent protagonist, who thinks her way around corners rather than blasts through things, and since I’m reading her Runespells series, I think this is a hallmark of her writing. Loved it!
Summer of ’89 by Rebekah Dodson – This is a “contemporary” romance about an affair that I, as a woman in my 40s, found very relatable. I felt her character’s pain. Growing up is a process that lasts your whole life. We speak dismissively of a “mid-life crisis” as if it weren’t a *crisis*. But at some point, we are faced with a decision: are we where we wanted to be in life, and what is it that we really do want? Rebekah allows her protagonist to ask these questions, and so you will find yourself asking them too. I’ve been reading her Curse of Lanval series and this is a different approach that shows some of the broad scope of her talent.
A Summer Affair by Janae Keyes – Janae is probably the biggest name in the genre that we have in this collection, and you can see why in this story. This is an extremely well-written contemporary interracial romance about a summer affair, with a roller coaster of ups and downs. This is also the steamiest story that’s appeared in the collection so far. The ending is a bit of a shocker; you have been warned.
Dear Diary by Deliaria Davis – This is a raw contemporary romance about an Alaskan teenager from a rough background who falls in love with an older man, presented as diary entries. It’s very real, and the reason why becomes clear when you read Del’s biography. This is autobiographical. It’s her story. I love it because it shows that while real life is messy, we can all find our own moments of light and beauty. It’s inspiring. It made me tear up.
Along Came David by Kayla Kirby – This is a lovely sweet contemporary romance about a woman finding the courage to take control of her own life, aided by a man who believes in her. I found the protagonist quite relatable, remembering my own similar struggles to find my path as a teenager and young woman. I liked that this story was told from the point of view of David, not of the female protagonist. It’s a second person personal approach, different!
One Night Chance by A.C. Jade – So A.C. is this shy little Asian chick. Looks harmless. Assuming that is a mistake. This is by far the hottest, steamiest piece in the collection! Trigger warning: there’s a lot of stuff at the beginning that seems questionable in terms of consent, but it quickly becomes a wish-fulfillment fantasy of raw sexuality, so don’t worry, she’s into it. A military romance with a delightful twist ending.
Eye of the Storm by Diane Morrison (Sable Aradia) – My story is a planetary romance in the pulp sci-fi tradition. I guess you could call it an interracial romance too. I didn’t turn away from the sexy bits. When I was invited to the anthology, I wasn’t sure what to write at first, because I don’t normally write romance. Then I thought: well, if Lois McMaster Bujold can write both military space opera and romance, then why can’t I? This story has been cooking in my head for a while, because it’s part of my Toy Soldier Saga fantasy space opera series, and I wouldn’t have included this in the book itself, at least not in this way, so it was a great place to have the opportunity to tell it. You’ll have to tell me what you think.
I genuinely enjoyed this book! I was delighted by the broad variations in genre, approach, writing style, and levels of sexiness. I would have loved it even if I’d had nothing to do with it. These talented writers really deserve more attention, and I’m just honoured to be included.