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Gifts for the Season: Winter & Christmas MM Charity Anthology

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Gifts for the Season: Winter & Christmas MM Charity Anthology (2020)

Gifts for the SeasonThis is an anthology of short stories, which are always to have some stories that don’t work for me. The issue with this anthology is that there were short stories–most of which were quite good–and there were tales that could not stand alone outside of the stories from which they were obviously pulled. Which for someone who loves short stories was aggravating, and I ended up skimming the worst offenders.

A.E. Via – An Unworthy Gift
Lane Hayes – Out for the Holidays
RJ Scott – Single Dad Christmas
Eli Easton – Twelve Days of UPS
Annabeth Albert – Must Be Santa
Joanna Chambers – The First Snow of Winter
Clare London – Five Gold Blings
Posy Roberts – Sojourn for Christmas
Suki Fleet – Sometimes, Always
Garrett Leigh – No Place Like Home
Felice Stevens – The Gift of Forever
VL Locey – Dressed in Holiday Style
Annabelle Jacobs – Driving Home For Christmas
Amber Kell – A Santa for Trin
Alex Jane – Homestead for the Holidays

The series opened with A.E. Via’s story An Unworthy Gift. This was an actual short story that stood alone, and I liked most of it. Spenser goes to the mall with his friend a co-worker, and while there spends a few minutes drooling over a literary bracelet he loves. When one of the men working in the store offers him the jewelry for a deep discount, Stewart assumes he is being bought and turns down the office. But when the manager shows up at Stewart’s work, sparks fly.

What I loved about this story were the sensual details of the food and drink and cigars and how those details affected the two men. What I didn’t care for was the boinking that felt tacked onto the end, seemingly just so there would be boinking.

Out for the Holidays by Lane Hayes was an actual short story, despite following characters from another book. Derek has decided to follow his dreams and open a bistro. The story follows Derek and Gabe from finding the location to the soft opening. The conflict comes from Derek’s mother, and his decision to open the restaurant despite her thinking he should be doing more with his life.

It was an ok story. Not a favorite, but it was a stand-alone short story.

RJ Scott’s Single Dad Christmas was another actual short story that stood on its own.

Austin has fallen in love with his nanny, but doesn’t know how to tell him, and time is running out because Paul’s two years of being a nanny are almost finished, and then he’s supposed to be off touring the world.

This wasn’t a bad story, but I really did have to wonder about a LOT of Paul’s life choices. What person decides to raise triplets as a single parent with only a single nanny? That seems INSANE.

Eli Easton’s Twelve Days of UPS may have been my favorite story in the anthology. It’s set in actual 2020 with the pandemic as the backdrop.

In this strange new world, a man who took such care about germs out of concern for others was suddenly… sexy? It showed a maturity and thoughtfulness.

Someone is sending Paul random Christmas presents, and he doesn’t know who or why, but the conversations with the UPS guy are definitely the highlight of his day. It’s a very sweet story, and surprisingly I liked the pandemic insert and how masks and distancing were worked into the story.

Annabeth Albert’s Must Be Santa was the other contender for my favorite story. Teddy and Nick first have to decide if they are ready to become parents, and then navigate working the foster children into their lives.

This was another sweet story that took the time to work in the process of being foster parents, and how it takes time to slowly integrate the kids, and just how much of a struggle everything is for the kids. The sex scene here actually worked exceedingly well–not the boinking itself, but how sudden parenthood changes their sex lives.

The First Snow of Winter by Joanna Chambers was another good short story.

It’s an historical, second-chance story. Sam has returned from the Army missing an arm and still trying to figure out what his new normal is. When his mother tells him the Huxley family are coming for their Christmas visit, Sam wants to run away–because before he left for the army he had an embarrassing kiss with Jasper Huxley and doesn’t know how to apologize.

It’s a sweet story and it was not just Sam and Jasper patching things up, but also Sam continuing to come to terms with his injury and loss.

Clare London’s Five Gold Blings was another story based upon the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was rather ridiculous and a bit silly, but it was a full-fledged story that stood on it’s own, like I said, it was still.

Sojourn for Christmas by Posy Roberts was less a short story and more of a teaser for a book to come.

Someone outed Sawyer, so he is told not to come home for Christmas. When he mentioned his dilemma to the man whose dog he walks, he is invited to stay with Gregg for the holidays.

This story has a major age difference, and doesn’t actually end on an HEA or HFN.

Suki Fleet’s Sometimes, Always was one of the stories that fell into the category of, “I have no idea who these characters are, why these characters are, and what on earth is happening here.”

Garrett Leigh’s No Place Like Home was another story that was not able to stand on its own. One guy was injured and the other was going to work and… there were other people including a baby. That’s pretty much all I got.

The Gift of Forever by Felice Stevens mostly stood on its own as a short story–until it became clear it was really just a teaser for a book to come.

VL Locey’s Dressed in Holiday Style was a story I initially thought I was not going to like, but once I got the explanation of why Jakob went so off the rails (and saw how much his co-worker worried about him) I settled in and did enjoy the story.

This was a full-fledged short story that stood on it’s own and I would also like to know that Jakob got his life in order.

Driving Home For Christmas by Annabelle Jacobs was a second-chance story that stood on its own. Two best friends haven’t spoken for months after a drunken kiss. But being stuck in a car for a drive home gives them the time they need to work things out. It was another sweet story AND it had a snowball fight.

Amber Kell’s A Santa for Trin had random boinking for no reason, between characters I knew nothing about, and really had no interest in learning more about after the little I saw of them.

Alex Jane’s story Homestead for the Holidays did at least finish off the anthology on a positive note. Jace as been in love with his roommate since he first laid eyes on him, but thinks this friendship is too important to risk saying anything about how he feels.

This anthology had a couple of good stories, but also had some that actually mad me mad a wasted time even skimming them. But then anthology is for a good cause (The Trevor Project) so get it and just skip the stories that don’t stand on their own.

Publisher : Love Lane Books Ltd
Rating: 6/10


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