Monday, 28 December 2009
Monday Mistletoe Madness Minis - Week 4
The Santa Mug by Patric Michael
Darren is still grieving over the death of his lover on Christmas Eve a few years ago. In order to try and get him away from his house at Christmas, Max, Darren's best friend, asks him to come with him to his family's thanksgiving dinner, where Darren discovers that a second chance at love has been waiting for him for years.
Likes: The family scenes were the right mix of chaos and camaraderie. I liked Darren's bewilderment at being surrounded by so many noisy people and his reactions to this rang true.
Dislikes: The only sex scene was a flashback between Darren and his ex-lover which I felt was misplaced. It's a bit of a bugbear of mine, but in stories about moving on from grief I need to see the physical closeness between the two alive heroes, not the dead one. It may not have been so bad if there had been a sex scene later between Darren and Max but the end was too much about the dead lover and not enough about the new life between Max and Darren.
Overall: A well written second chance at love story with some touching scenes. There was a good mix of holiday cheer and letting go of the past. Grade: Very Good.
One Night Stand by Clare London
Teddy wakes up the morning after the office Christmas bash to discover another man in his bed. He is horrified and embarrassed to discover it's his boss who he's had a major crush on for a long time.
Likes: Clare London is the mistress of embarrassing situations. I loved the way that Teddy slowly came to the realisation that he's had sex with his boss, especially as it's clear to the reader that any feelings Teddy has for Marshall are reciprocated and yet Teddy is oblivious.
Dislikes: Morning breath. It's another bugbear, but Teddy wakes up hungover and I kept thinking "just have a drink of water and swill your mouth out a bit" but he didn't. The morning breath is even mentioned later and I find it a bit of a turn off.
Overall: A humourous story with a likeable, if clueless, hero. One for those of you who are looking for something less sugary this Christmas. Grade: Very Good.
Silent Night by Rowena Sudbury
Jonah is a wrestler who is stuck at the snowy airport on his way home for Christmas. Also stuck is ex-wrestler Max who is looking forward to getting home to his lover Seth. Their flights are cancelled so they are given a private lounge where they learn about each other's bad situations and comfort one another.
Likes: I liked Jonah and felt sorry for him that he's been used in the way that he has. He has very low-self esteem and it was lovely to see how a little care and compassion from Max started to break down some of those bad feelings he has about himself.
Dislikes: At the beginning of the story Max claims that he misses his boyfriend Seth and yet not an hour later is getting it on with Jonah. It wasn't enough for me to know that they had problems in their relationship, I needed them to break it off before Max had sex with Jonah.
Overall: This short is mostly made up of an extended sex scene, but there was enough in terms of emotional connection to get a understanding of the characters and their motivations. Grade: Good.
ETA: Rowena has written a great little free add-on to this story set during New Year's Eve which answers the question of what happens with Max and his boyfriend Seth. You can find it at her blog HERE.
Four Grooms and a Queen by John Simpson
Cops Patrick and Hank get an unexpected surprise and decide to celebrate by asking their lovers to marry them.
Likes: A good all round story of nice things happening to nice people. It wasn't difficult to like.
Dislikes: Not a dislike, just an observation that as this is a follow on short from John Simpson's Murder Most Gay series, which I haven't read, I didn't have the emotional investment with the characters. This made me seem more like an observer to a happy ending than involved with their story.
Overall: One for the fans, but still well written enough to be enjoyable to read. Grade: Good.
Simple Gifts by Andrew Grey
Eli and Geoff are spending their first Christmas together, but Eli misses his Amish family.
Likes: I liked the way that Eli's preparations for Christmas were less commercialised and simple.
Dislikes: This is a follow on from Love Means...No Shame, which I haven't read. There was one character, Len, who lived with the men and I had no idea who he was and what relationship, if any, he had to the heroes. Just one word or a sentence to explain that would have been nice.
Overall: Having not read the first book there was, again, a lack of connection between me and the heroes, this coupled with a lot of assumed knowledge made it a bit of a frustrating read. Still the writing was good and the ending left me with a happy glow. Grade: Good.
The Star Man by Jan Irving
Janitor Matthew has a crush on his CEO boss, Dove, who basically looks down his nose at Matthew. After a terrible row where Matthew is fired from his job, Dove is struck by lightening. When Dove wakes up, he has been possessed by an alien in the shape of an angel, who has been watching Matthew from afar for years.
Likes: There were a number of nice touches in the story, the use of the wings, the way that Dove's almost childlike innocence hides a slightly naughty love of kinky sex and Matthew's slow acceptance of Dove's feelings for him.
Dislikes: The ending left me with far too many questions about Matthew's future.
Overall: Despite the preposterous sounding premise, this was actually a lovely story of a man who is riddled with self-hatred and is saved by the pure love of a being who can look past Matthew's prickly defenses and see the hurt inside. Grade: Very Good.
Holiday History by Heidi Champa
Kevin's future is turned upside down when his father gambles away his college fund. Reduced to being an assistant to a painter and decorator, Kevin makes the best of his life as he scrimps and saves so he can go back to college and finish his degree in nautical history. Just before Christmas, Kevin's boss, Tim, gets them a job at a large house owned by a rich and lonely man, Gary.
Likes: I really liked Kevin. He was making the best of a situation which wasn't of his making and despite being from a rich a privileged background, he never looked down his nose at the blue collar, Tim.
Dislikes: Not much to dislike here, other than I wanted it to be longer as the ending was a little sudden.
Overall: This is my pick for the week, a cute story about how love can find you when you least expect it and change your life for the better. Grade: Excellent.
Buy these stories HERE.