Cuddling: a Multi-Authored Anthology

Title: Cuddling Anthology
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 312
Characters: Multi-Characters
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

What happens after “happily ever after”? No matter how long they’ve been together, the couples in this anthology find that keeping a relationship alive takes work. Whether it’s job conflicts or family issues, the seven-year-itch or just plain stuck-in-a-rut routine, these men face the challenges of keeping the spark alive with humor, creativity, and romance.

Stories included are:

Cupcakes for Two by K. Lynn
At First Sound by G.S. Wiley
Dream Lover by Nico Jaye
Happy Holidays by Anna Butler
The Responsible One by Eva Clancy
Home on the Range by Anna Martin
The Cat’s Out of the Bag by Rowan McAllister
Like an Old Sweater by Elizabella Gold
Change of Heart by Rhidian Brenig Jones
The Thing I Love Best About Mitch by Dawn Douglas
Looking Back by Rob Rosen
Quarter Moon Over a Ten Cent Town by Stephen Osborne
Reboot by S. H. Allan
The Making of a Family by Caitlin Ricci
Remember When by River Clair
How to Date Your Husband by AC Valentine

Review:

Some of the stories feel a bit similar, but the positive feel, sweet romances, and hearty humor go a long way in making this a comfy anthology to snuggle up with.

Cupcakes for Two by K. Lynn

Jacob and Matt have been together forever, first as best friends growing up and now as boyfriends. As the end of college draws near, their lives are once again changing, but they know they will face the future together. Their anniversary seems like a perfect time for Matt to remind his boyfriend that all they have, all they are, started with “Cupcakes for Two.”

This was a wonderful, sweet start to the anthology. From Jacob’s point of view we get insight into a loving romance, a relationship that has endured since childhood. This story is given through poignant yet mundane dialogue I loved reading. Both men are realistic, well-drawn out characters that it was an absolute pleasure to read about them. And when the first story in an anthology brings tears to your eyes, you know you’ve got a great book in your hands.

At First Sound by G.S. Wiley

In 1932, Bobby Carling is an up-and-coming young Hollywood actor. His fans love to read stories about his wild partying, but they don’t know Bobby’s secret: he’s in a loving relationship with an older man. Soren Sjovold was once famous as silent-movie star Silvestro Sardini, but with the advent of “talking pictures”, his heavy accent doomed his career. As they approach their two year anniversary, Bobby still wonders how Soren can accept the injustices of his career and of their relationship, but Soren has a surprise to remind his lover what’s really important.

This was a cute story about Bobby, a one-cowboy-role actor, who is very successful. In secret he has lived for years with Soren, a retired actor who never fit any role when the talkies came. Their anniversary celebration was held in a theater setting, and the Swedish comments were amusing. Yet the story was so short it felt a bit lacking, without a point, but nonetheless a cute little tale.

Dream Lover by Nico Jaye

Although Brady’s job as a corporate attorney is demanding, Chris has learned over the years to cope with the strains of his lover’s schedule. Even when Brady misses his own birthday surprise, Chris is more resigned than angry—it’s not the first time he’s come in second to Brady’s job. However, Brady comes home with a surprise of his own that just may introduce something into their relationship Chris never dreamed was in the cards.

Work does get in the way of most relationships once the newness and first crush has worn off. Chris wishes his big-time lawyer-lover Brady were around more, especially when he even misses his own birthday due to business. But… Brady has a few surprises for Chris, and that made this story rise from the sad mood to happy and bubbly. And the hot sex was good too!

Happy Holidays by Anna Butler

John Hogarth and Kit Lewis have been domestic partners as long as they’ve been working partners, running a small but growing design agency in New York. After fifteen years together, Kit wonders if they’re getting stale and takes a typically creative approach to inject a little romance and excitement back into their love life.

I swear, if I hear “Do you know what day this is?” one more time… Kit and John have been together for fifteen years, and then Kit comes up with something to keep things lively in the bedroom. Creative. While Kit is bursting with good ideas, John is at first confused, then happy to be lead around by his dick to wherever Kit wishes. This story had lots of humor and a wonderful established relationship, excellent writing and a good pace.

The Responsible One by Eva Clancy

After five happy years together, things between Tom and Owen have grown strained thanks to Tom’s job. When Tom leaves Owen at home to spend yet another Saturday working, Owen stumbles on a stash of porn Tom’s hidden away. Does Tom have secret desires he’s never admitted to Owen? And if so, what does it say about their relationship that he’s never spoken up about them?

This one reads a lot like a larger novel. We get both points of view, Tom and Owen, who learn something new about each other after five years of being together. This is an emotional, romantic and sexy tale, with some realistic dialogue, both rows and making up, and hot sex.

Home on the Range by Anna Martin

Colton Maverick has been away from his ranch for over four months, looking for an investor to save his floundering business and leaving his artist husband, Alistair Graystone, in charge. Gray hasn’t let Colt know how badly he’s struggled in his absence or that he’s hired a ranch manager to help out. When Colt returns home without warning, Gray doesn’t have time to tell him before Jared shows up, and Colt angrily accuses Gray of sleeping with the younger man. Will saving the ranch lead to the end of their marriage?

Husbands of many years, Gray and Colt have to face the facts their relationship and their lives aren’t going as well as they’d thought. This reads like a realistic depiction of a long-time marriage where the couple thinks they know things so well they don’t need to talk about what’s troubling them. Finally, as always, the bough breaks, and it’s time to face the music. A good cowboy story.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag by Rowan McAllister

When Michael learns that his boyfriend of six years lied about being on a work trip, he assumes his lover is cheating on him and stages a breakup scene that would make any diva proud. Unfortunately for Michael, everything doesn’t quite go as planned, and he learns a secret about Joel that he never expected… a furry little secret he’s not sure how to deal with.

Michael is quite the drama queen, acting out like a teen on a temper tantrum, but it’s so over the top it’s pretty funny. And Joel’s secret isn’t as dastardly or devastating as all that. To each his own. Thankfully Michael’s mom is a voice of reason. Not all secrets deal with cheating, and when Michael manages to get his head out of his ass, he handles things pretty well. A good furry story.

Like an Old Sweater by Elizabella Gold

Jeff is about to turn thirty, and he’s not happy. His job as a librarian feels stifling, while Ethan, his boyfriend of seven years, leads a seemingly glamorous life as a popular author and blogger. Ethan keeps coming home late from book signings and conferences, which worries and frustrates Jeff. When a cute college student begins flirting with Jeff, can he resist the attraction of another man’s attentions?

An established couple, settled from comfort to boredom? The simplest things start to annoy, every comment merits an argument, every perceived slight becomes a matter of life and death, or proof of cheating. Jeff has an admirer at the library and Ethan is always away on business as a successful writer. But there’s nothing a good roll in the sheets won’t cure, especially for two men who get worked up over nothing and who still love each other. A nice little story, even though I was a bit confused at times about whose point of view I was getting.

Change of Heart by Rhidian Brenig Jones

It’s the last thing Charlie Langridge wants to accept but he has to face it: after five happy years together, his beloved Finn has fallen for another man. Another man who’s younger, better looking, and far, far sexier than humdrum, run-of-the-mill Charlie. Better, perhaps, to surrender with grace and let Finn go. But deep in the heart of the mildest of men, there is a core of steel—if only Charlie can find the strength to fight for the man he loves.

Charlie is sure his boyfriend Finn is cheating on him. Where’s the line drawn? Actual sex or merely wanting, being flattered and tempted? There is a difference, though, between thinking about something and acting on one’s impulses. The two men need to talk things through, about what all this means for their relationship, what the future holds. Being ordinary doesn’t mean there can’t be surprises and excitement, as this good little story shows when Charlie and Finn take a step in a new sexual direction, one they were always headed for in the end.

The Thing I Love Best About Mitch by Dawn Douglas

Tyler Freeman is two days away from receiving his PhD when Mitchell Masters, his live-in lover of two years, asks what he’d like for a graduation present. There’s something Tyler wants more than anything, but it isn’t a gift money can buy. And it isn’t going to be an easy request for Mitch to grant.

When your first meeting with a prospective partner’s family goes all wrong, when the whole gay thing isn’t even addressed, it’s natural to feel apprehensive about trying again. But Tyler knows the best thing about Mitch, and they have a rapport to make things happen. A cute little story.

Looking Back by Rob Rosen

For their ten-year anniversary, Glenn buys Mack a session at Memory Merge, where computers allow couples to view their collective pasts in the hope of rekindling their cooling love affairs. As Glenn and Mack witness their first times together, they discover that seeing their history through each other’s eyes can shed new light on old, nearly-forgotten memories.

This was a fun little walk down memory lane, literally, with the aid of technology. Glenn and Mark feel like they’ve lost the spark, so they look back to find what was missing. New details about the past come to life before their very eyes. It is important to remember that as time passes it can feel like love has waned, when it fact it has grown deeper. I liked this inventive little story, very upbeat and romantic.

Quarter Moon Over a Ten-Cent Town by Stephen Osborne

Dylan Reed, head librarian of sleepy Flemyng, Illinois (population 1100) and his lover, ex-marine John Mackelby, have been together long enough that the townsfolk almost accept them as “regular people.” But behind the peaceful façade, there’s trouble brewing. John is spending more and more time at work, often coming home after Dylan’s gone to bed. And Dylan’s suddenly started meeting mysteriously with John’s best friend, Cody. Can the suspicions both of them harbor possibly be true, or can they find their way back to the days when they each thought the other hung the moon?

Sometimes witnessing something can make you believe there’s something going on, when there isn’t. Misassumptions and lack of communication lead to a few bruises and bruised egos here, but the instinct to protect the one you love is always there. This was a wonderful tale, written with humor and spice. I liked this one a lot. The story itself is not that unique, but the way it was told made me smile throughout. The ending had me laughing out loud.

Reboot by S. H. Allan

Josh works in a high tech job that takes up most of his time and attention. Flynn, his boyfriend of five years, is a rock singer, often on the road for weeks at a time. When the stresses of their jobs interfere with their life together, Flynn vows to “fix it,” but Josh is afraid Flynn’s idea of fixing it may be to end their relationship. Will Josh be able to show Flynn how much he means to him before it’s too late?

Being so engrossed in work that you don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you can go horribly wrong, especially when loved ones are concerned. One wrong comment, and the shit really hits the fan. This tiny tale read like a longer piece, which I liked. In fact, I liked the whole story. When Flynn does his thing on stage I was practically jumping up and down on my seat, rooting for him. A great, realistic and human tale of misspoken words and beautiful singing and loving through the thick and thin. And what an awesome name for a band!

The Making of a Family by Caitlin Ricci

Exhausted after a grueling business trip, Arden can barely wait to return home to his boyfriend Serio’s tender loving care. The last thing he expects is to find Serio with his own bags packed and ready to leave. Arden knows things haven’t been great between them lately, and Serio’s hurt that Arden doesn’t even know what’s wrong. Arden’s convinced, though, that what the two of them share is too strong to let go, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make things right.

Losing a child is the worst possible thing that could happen. And it happens to a lot of people at once, but the parents especially. Serio can’t get past it while Arden is trying to. Arden uses work to hide from the loss, but Serio can’t do that anymore. A confrontation is inevitable, or they go their separate ways. This one is a total tearjerker, so have napkins at the ready. The emotional toll of losing something so precious is beyond imagining, but the author delivers in spades. I felt the loss so deeply that I was gushing like a waterfall. A beautiful story.

Remember When by River Clair

Ben and Aaron have been together five years, but the demands of Aaron’s grad school studies keep them from celebrating the milestone events that mean so much to Ben. Determined to arrange an anniversary to remember, he plans for them to revisit the places they’ve shared special moments—their first meeting, their first kiss, the first time they told each other “I love you.” By the end of the day, though, Ben wonders if he and Aaron are even on the same page if his boyfriend can’t remember the important moments in their past.

What are relationship milestones? This little story shows us that what is significant to one, can be less that for another. Doesn’t mean there isn’t caring and that the spark of love has died. Ben and Aaron are a realistic couple who sometimes argue over nothing, like people do, but who love each other and long for the days when things were fresh, exciting and new. A great story of real life and true love.

How to Date Your Husband by AC Valentine

Ryan and Mike are stuck in a rut but still in love after more than ten years together. When Mike finds an article offering love-life tips in an old magazine, he suggests trying them as a way to add some spice back to their lives. Ryan thinks Mike is crazy, but he’s willing to do anything to make Mike happy, even if it means dating his own husband.

Spicing up one’s relationship by going back to dating. Be it experimental theater, or transparent underwear, or discussing sexual fantasies, trying new things goes a long way in showing the two men what they already knew but tended to overlook at times: That the two husbands who never really dated love each other and belong together. A wonderful upbeat and funny ending to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Gay and Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies: A Multi Authored Anthology by Storm Moon Press


Title: Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 118
Characters: Anthology-Many Characters
POV: 3rd and 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4.5




Blurb:

Ah, the allure of the office romance. The sly smiles across the room as you wonder if anyone else knows. The danger of being caught by the boss. The thrill of those stolen moments in the copy room or supply closet. It’s this feeling that we’ve condensed, distilled, and captured in the short shorts of Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies. We’ve compiled thirteen brief tales of men and women getting it on with a co-worker or a boss in a steamy office romance.

Some of them are established and have been sneaking around the office for some time, like Lori Hunt and her P.A. Ms. Lovell in She’s the Boss or Tom and Neal in Personal Assistance. Others, like The New Guy’s Greg and Eli or the awkwardly-named Rebecca A. and Rebecca B. from Tele-Romance are just beginning to experience the allure that can come from keeping the secret. Nor are such trysts confined to the office itself, spilling out into stairwells, copy rooms, gyms, and even computer server rooms. Whatever the case, though, they’re sure to arouse your imagination, and maybe even leave you looking at your own co-workers a little bit… differently.

Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies includes:
Skype Wars by Rob Rosen
Hands On by K. Piet
One Week by L. Alonso Corona
Working Lunch by Ann Anderson
Personal Assistance by K. Lynn
She’s the Boss by Angel Propps
The New Guy by John Amory
Stair Walking by Harper Bliss
1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart
Fair Play by Anna Hedley
His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose
Tele-Romance by Erik Moore
Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Review:

Skype Wars by Rob Rosen

New technology naturally breeds new means for having sex. Skype, for instance. Paul needs his computer to work, but IT is doing maintenance. So Paul contacts his go-to-guy, Craig, who he secretly has a crush on due to many emails with smiley icons, and just Craig’s friendly manner. One small Skype session to help out leads the two men talking, and then having sex via Skype.

Hot internet sex with cameras is an excellent way to start this anthology. Paul and Craig are so cute together, and though not on the same floor of the building, the sex is hot. This is told in the first person.

Hands On by K. Piet

Sarah and Gwen are massage therapists who have no clients due to wintery conditions. Sarah has a huge crush on Gwen, and their solitary snow-bound situation allows them to get closer through an impromptu massage that goes spectacularly right.

This was a hot little lesbian tale. From Sarah’s point of view, we are left wondering is Gwen lesbian or not. A massage doesn’t always have to lead to sex, now does it? Fortunately for smitten Sarah, it does. The writing is close to the skin, palpable, sensual. Sarah’s sweet shyness vs. Gwen’s strong straightforward character made this a likable read.

One Week by L. Alonso Corona

Tom and Michael are colleagues on the same floor as salesman. Michael is sort of Tom’s boss but not quite. And they’ve had a heated moment in the backseat of a car, and though Tom kind of resents Michael for being so perfect, they’re trying to figure each other and their attraction out.

I admit this wasn’t for me. The story is told in the present tense which threw me a bit. Never been a fan. But once I got used to it, there were timeline confusions: I couldn’t distinguish what happened in the past and what in the here and now. Still, this was the most realistic story of all of these. We are very much in the dark about what goes on inside the mind of another—unless we allow ourselves to get close, even with the risk of losing our hearts. And that was what made this story stand out in the end.

Working Lunch by Ann Anderson

Janice is on a lunch break when she is surprised by her lover, Amber. Even knowing people can walk by or start coming back to the office any minute, Amber goes down on Janice—under her table.

Sneaky and sexy. This was just a window into the relationship of these two women, but the danger of getting caught while giving oral can certainly spice up sex. Hot, and recommended.

Personal Assistance by K. Lynn

Tom is the personal assistant to the most disagreeable boss in the office, Mr. Thompson. However, when no one is looking, there is tenderness in said boss, and Tom knows how to work (with) his boss.

Secret blowjobs when anyone could walk in? Not bad, especially for a couple who work diligently to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret. Tom has remarkable patience, and Neal shows his true colors while being pleasured. Definitely worth the read.

She’s the Boss by Angel Propps

Lori Hunt is the bitch queen of hell-also-known-as-office, and Ms. Lovell is her PA. However, behind the closed door of the boss-woman’s office, all bets are off. The boss becomes the slave.

A short glimpse into the intimacy between two women, BDSM elements are abound as domination shifts from employer to employee. There was only one bit that I didn’t like, which was the boss lady calling her PA daddy. BDSM vocabulary, yes, but sounded so off. Other than that one word, this was sexy all the way. There’s a masculine prop to this heated encounter, but under the circumstances it works. This is in the first person.

The New Guy by John Amory

Eli Grey is rich, but his family situation puts him in need of a job at the first of every month. A real job so he can learn to be self-sufficient. As a result, he’s the perpetual new guy. Until he becomes the assistant’s assistant to the exec of Mech Tech, Greg Fallon. A chance meeting in the restroom leads to an unanticipated but very welcomed sexual encounter.

This story has the best line in the anthology: “Aaand I just saw my boss’s penis, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. Great.” The unexpected sex here draws the reader in, just like this particular job with benefits draws Eli in. Recommended read! This is written in the first person and present tense.

Stair Walking by Harper Bliss

The heroine here, speaking in first person, is drawn to Delphine, a masculine, unapproachable woman at their company who always seems to know everything, but is the total opposite of a people person. One day after work in the stairwell, the heroine is surprised by Delphine who takes total command of their sex.

We are not given a name for the heroine, since she speaks to us directly. Delphine is not a pleasant individual and she uses crass language and has a distinct lack of manners. But when she’s in charge in a sexual situation, submission becomes sweet for our heroine. I personally wasn’t taken with Delphine as I’m not fond of mean people, especially in romances. But… where the story leaves off we’re given a glimpse of the woman’s other side.

1-888-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart

Being a temp sucks. Being a temp who’s about to get fired sucks even worse. But having an office fling in the copy room with the post boy, Tommy, as a last hurrah? Not bad at all.

This was a fun little romp, perfected by the liberal use of a copy machine during fiery sex. Yay! When working in an office, getting a pic of your butt or your orgasm face is an absolute must. And we get a cute HFN ending. Quite liked this one. This is in the first person.

Fair Play by Anna Hedley

Ethan is an assistant to another jerk of a boss, Mr. Vincent Berk. Then one day Ethan has enough, and tosses a cup of hot coffee on his boss—the same cup Mr. Berk said was too cold. Guess it wasn’t, huh. What happens next is a spanking—but just who’s doing the punishing?

Who hasn’t had a bad boss in their work history? You know, the one who complains about everything, even things that aren’t real. But disciplining has its merits, here especially. Turnabout is fair play. This was exciting and rough, very good.

His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose

Harris is the assistant to Dean Ingold, a total dick of a boss. Yes, there’s obviously a theme here. When Harris tries to leave to quit his job, Ingold tells him he can’t due to his family situation, and pretty much forces Harris into a sexual encounter. I won’t ruin what happens after the sex, but there are surprises in store here.

This one was my least favorite story in this anthology. From the first page, there’s a lot of cursing, all the way through, quite unnecessary. Then there’s, what at first glance seems like, the rape scene mixed with cheating. Sure, that’s not the right conclusion, but I was so turned off by this that by the time I was proven wrong with my assumption, it was too late to start thinking about passion, let alone love. I was left cold and disappointed.

Tele-Romance by Erik Moore

Rebecca A needs the help of Rebecca B to get his work stuff done. RA has a crush on RB, and one evening of working late an innocent little remark on the messenger chat reveals the possibility that maybe it’s more mutual than RA thought.

This was fun and sexy, even though the two ladies are only having sex via messenger. You get a sense of both women, and they turn out to be different than either of them thought. Their talk, brief and punctual due to their method of communication, sets you at the edge of your seat. Just don’t drop the keyboard like RA. I liked this a lot.

Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn

Jeremy Saitou is a cocky, insolent brat who’s making Shawn Cole’s, the manager, job that much harder. Then Jeremy breaks the rules by calling a client, well, a poopoo head, and as his third strike Shawn is supposed to fire him. Shawn is totally in lust with Jeremy, but his impudence cannot be tolerated. However, Jeremy tells Shawn that to keep his job he’ll let Shawn fuck him. Will Shawn take up the offer?

I love Piper Vaughn’s work, no secret. Shawn’s feelings grow as Jeremy makes an effort to behave, and as a result we see Jeremy from a different point of view too, as opposed to his smartass attitude. Jeremy has a surprising vulnerability in the end, and seeing these two come together was so sweet and so damn hot. By far my favorite story. A wonderful ending to the anthology.

Reviewed By: Susan

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