Wow, this is a fun anthology. Several different romance types all centered around conventions. Loved it! I’ve been going back and forth about my rating, should I give 4 or 5 stars. Well, I can’t decide. One reason I loved this book is several of the stories had an epilogue. That just helps make the short story complete.
‘A New Normal’ by Carol Lynne – This one is really good. This story is the ‘former lovers brought back together’ story. The MCs were lovers (I think) and best friends, but Charlie decided to forgo the difficult route of same sex relationships and married a girl he met in college. That left Jake on his own. After Charlie’s wife dies, Jake tricks him into playing music at the conference Jake organizes for authors and fans. There is anger and angst and lots of love. 5 stars
‘Convention Confusion’ by Amber Kell – This is also really good. In this story, we have ‘mates/insta love’ mixed with sci-fi/fantasy. Billy is hooked on a comic book series, and its author. So, he dresses up as one of the female characters in the comic book and goes to the comic-con. Jennvian know instantly that Billy is his mate, but is slightly confused because he always thought his mate would be male. I would say this is a romantic comedy more than anything else. 4 stars
‘Ninja Cupcakes’ by T.A. Chase – A sweet story. This is the ‘friends to lovers’ story with both men out of the closet. Ethan bakes special cupcakes. It’s not magic, but it is. Ethan says the ingredients are all natural, but they have an interesting effect on people. Callum is an astrophysicist who is speaking at the same sci-fi convention Ethan is providing desserts for. Callum and Ethan haven’t hooked up before due to simple logistics. They met four years before the story starts and became friends who stay in contact. This forced communication allows the men to fall in love as they get to know each other. This convention is their time. This is a sweet, romantic story about two men who are meant for each other. 3.5 stars
‘Operation: Get Spencer’ by Jambrea Jo Jones – Another fun read. This one is the requisite ‘gay for you’ story. To be fair, this is a well written sweet short story, and I like gay for you if it’s believable. Spencer is out and a comic book fanatic. Ben is Spencer’s best friend. Ben decides to confess his love for Spencer while they’re at the comic-con. Probably not the best plan, but hey, it does make it funny. This is another romantic comedy. What little angst there is, is really covered in humor. 4.5 stars
‘Fan-Tastic’ by Stephani Hecht – This is probably the sappiest of the stories. Okay, sappy is not a bad thing, it’s just a description. We’re at another comic convention where Blake is trying to sell his comics and maybe get to meet Deke, an actor Blake has known/wanted since high school. Well, it turns out Deke actually loves the comic Blake authors/illustrates, but Deke doesn’t believe Blake really wants him. Apparently, geeks don’t get the guy. Go figure. Blake explains they met in high school. It takes a while, but Deke (whose real name is Eric) finally remembers Blake. There is more comedy and sweetness. They fall in love (ok, there’s a little crossover with the ‘insta love’) and the sweet is enough to put on several pounds just from reading. I’m still giving this story 4 stars. I liked the sweet, even if my thighs don’t.
‘Rough Awakening’ by Devon Rhodes – Of the contemporary stories, this is the most real. I absolutely loved it! Since the guys have met but never dated, I’m calling this one ‘insta love.’ Mario plays on a men’s league basketball team that has a big tournament/competition coming up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a room, since his former boyfriend forgot to book him his own room. Mario isn’t jealous of his ex’s new relationship, but he is jealous because he’s alone. After some desperate chat room posting, Mario is contacted by Jordan. Jordan doesn’t mean to offer Mario a place to stay, but hey, why not? Mario and Jordan remember each other from a previous tournament, and strike up a more than friendly communication. Once they meet, the guys don’t go straight to the sex, which was interesting. There is some miscommunication, and a whole lot of angst on Mario’s part, definitely not a romantic comedy. Sadly, this is one of the stories without an epilogue, but that’s okay, I can give them an HEA. Can I give more than 5 stars? If so, this story gets all the stars! My favorite of the anthology.