Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild Kink
Genre: Contemporary , paranormal, m/m
Reviewed by Anne
141 ebook pages
Overall this was a great anthology! The standout stories for me were those by Talya Andor and Megan Derr. Andor’s The Christmas Spirit is set in Japan and makes the most of the setting in a way that is fascinating to read about without begin overwhelming. The romance between Ash and Yuki was sweet, too! Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr also had a great world with potions and and generic old-fashioned setting. It was interesting to read a story set in a world where a m/m relationship is a normal thing. The chemistry (ha!) between the main characters was great, too.
Also very good were the stories by Pendragon and Ottoman. Pendragon’s was the only contemporary and I thought Warren’s blindness was well handled. Ottoman’s sex scene was super-hot and it dealt with some things I hadn’t read before. One of the characters, M.C. is transgender and in the process of adjusting her social identity to match her internal identity. I thought it was well done and had good world building, too.
Here for You by J.K Pendragon(m/m, contemporary)
Warren is blind and recovering from his wife’s death. At a holiday party he finds himself under the mistletoe with a mutual and male friend. He’s always considered himself heterosexual, but now his new friend has him wondering.
The relationship between Warren and Kyung moved pretty quickly, I thought. They each have their own issues to deal with besides, Warren’s surprise bisexuality, which turns out not to be a big deal. It was just the right amount to put in a short story, though. Once in a while I felt like the story was a bit jumpy, but overall it worked well.
The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
Ash is a black Southern American man living and working in Japan. He specializes in paranormal investigations. When he’s asked to look into a disturbance involving a figure skating star he’s immediately attracted, but thinks it could never work out.
There was so much I enjoyed about this story! I wasn’t very familiar with Japanese culture, but I felt like I learned some by reading this story, and I never felt like I was wading through a travel guide to get that understanding. The world building was good, too. The reality of what it was like to be a friend of a psychic was interesting! One of those “I’ve never thought about this before, but I bet that’s exactly what it’s like” moments. I also appreciated how their relationship progressed slowly. I’ll definitely be looking for more by Talya Andor!
A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
This one had a promising start, but then a little fairy guy showed up and I was just done. I have a thing again romance where there’s a guardian angel type character. I know better than to read them. I may have missed out on something good, but the odds of it working for me are very low, so I moved on to the next story.
Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman (f/trans, sci-fi/fantasy)
An-An and M.C. are out on a job Christmas eve. M.C. needs to investigate and possibly exorcize something that’s murdered multiple people. At they same time they’re dealing with some relationship issues, including how M.C. is transitioning away from a female identity.
The storyline about a transitioning person was about as foreign to me as the fantasy world building in this story. It was very well done, but very new to me. M.C. wants to be referred to as “they and their” instead of “she and hers” or “he and his.” This was so new for me to read, and it really kept pulling me out of the story. I think that’s just because I wasn’t used to it. It was an interesting story, though, both for the paranormal side of things and the sexual side of things.
Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
Kingston is a potionmaker. He’s surprised to see Hux, his routine and anonymous hookup come into his shop. The timing is right – he’d been working up the nerve to ask Hux if he wanted a relationship, but first they need to deal with the problem that brought Hux to his shop.
I enjoyed this story from start to finish. It had a historical London feel to it, if historical London had men looking for husbands and magical potions. It was probably a bit simplistic when it came to handling the crime that was committed, but I was excited enough about Kingston and Hux that it didn’t bother me. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Megan Derr, too!