Review: Hot Off the Press by Various
Publish Date: November 10, 2014
Reviewed by: Heller
How I got this book: E-Arc from Publisher
“Words hold the power to hurt as well as heal, and choosing them is a complicated and delicate process. No one knows this better than the men who work with them every day. Authors, reporters, reviewers, and publishers struggle to balance truth, art, long hours, and stressful jobs. Whether they’re trying to write a novel or advance a career, it can leave little time for love. The men in this anthology are seeking romance on and off the job, in print and online, against backdrops of fact, fiction, and even fantasy. Their tales are different but have one thing in common—there’s a happy ending waiting on the last page. ”
I’ll usually purchase an anthology for one of two reasons. One, there’s a story in it from one of my favourite authors so that’s always an auto-buy, or two, it has stories by authors I’ve never read before…which is a good way for me to find a new favourite. This collection falls into the new authors category and I have to say I was quite impressed with a lot the stories here. Some I loved and some didn’t work for me but regardless of my personal taste all of them were well written and there was a surprisingly diverse representation of the theme.
I’ve rated each story individually but I’m giving the anthology as a whole a B+
Java Rocks by Julia Talbot A
Jerrod writes thrillers and mysteries, and is doing research at Finn’s coffeeshop for his newest book—even though Jerrod hates coffee. Thankfully, his attraction to the coffeeshop owner is stronger than his dislike of coffee, and the two hit it off. Nothing is easy for them, though, and they begin to despair that a real connection will ever happen. Luckily they’re both stubborn enough to keep trying for a love beyond coffee or tea.
This was an awesome start to the collection. Reading Jerrod and Finn getting to know each other was sweet and sexy with more than a hint of awkward. So much fun.
On the Shelf by Eliza Maszar A
For the past several years, bookstore owner Dan Hutchens has used his business to fill the gap left by his nonexistent romantic life, but he can’t stop thinking about one of his regular customers. Chris’s sweet smile keeps Dan optimistic even though Chris doesn’t respond to Dan’s attempts at conversation. With some unexpected help from his cat, Dan discovers Chris is deaf and wary of a relationship with a hearing guy. But Dan isn’t giving up on finding a way to connect with Chris.
Chris doesn’t want to date someone who’s not deaf but Dan is more than willing to try make things work. Great pairing and definitely the beginning of a wonderful romance.
Love in the Time of Magics by Fil Preis B+
Justin is a shy, geeky university student who spends his spare time writing and reading fanfiction based on his favorite animated TV show. When he meets a fellow fanfic writer online, they go from sharing comments on one another’s stories to steamy roleplaying sessions. Soon Justin develops a crush on his new friend’s character… and the person playing him. Fantasy collides with reality when Justin’s online friend invites him to visit, and Justin must find the courage to take his dreams from fiction to fact.
Cute NA about geeks, the show they love and the fanfiction they write that brought them together. Great feel for both the age and experience of both boys as well as an authentic fandom feel to it.
Author’s Note by Kim Dias D+
English professor John has always wanted to write a novel, but so far success has eluded him. This summer, he’s determined to finish his book at any cost. But his boyfriend, tattoo artist and hopeless romantic Zach, worries John is working himself to death. John isn’t eating or sleeping, and Zach misses him desperately. Longing turns to frustration, which leads to John growing annoyed with Zach. For their relationship to survive, they’ll have to find a balance between work and play.
I did not like John. I felt that Zach deserved so much better. I get that John recognizes what an ass he’s being but I spent most of the story not liking him. So it was hard for me to get past that even when the epic grovel started.
Late Edition by Jamie Sullivan B+
When a late-running basketball game leaves sports editor Brenden Turner stranded at the office, he thinks he’s going to have to sleep at his desk. But Forrest Tanaka, the impossibly handsome night editor, offers him a ride home. An instant connection leaves Brenden hoping for more, but he’s been disappointed in love before, when his crazy hours and devotion to his job have driven boyfriends away.
Brenden and Forrest meet at work one night and the chemistry is there but is the possibility of it being more than that there as well? I definitely think so.
A Perfect Ending by Anne Robins A+
Nicolas Fresh is struggling to write the last book in the series that made him famous. Too bad he’s so easily distracted by Jace Cast, a barista at the coffee shop where Nick writes. When Nick’s editor demands that he take some time off, Nick is convinced he will never give his series the perfect ending it deserves. But the forced vacation has unexpected benefits when Nick notices the man behind Jace’s flirtatious smiles and realizes Jace isn’t as innocent as he seems.
I loved this story. Jace was all sorts of awesome and Nick’s striptease was priceless. Sweet but also a few moments of heavy emotional reveals. My favourite of the collection.
Imp by Emily Moreton B+
Merec and Astria run a tiny printers, barely keeping afloat with a large anthology job for a difficult publisher. One day, Lief, a printer’s imp (notoriously rare and mysterious) appears in the shop, completes a day’s work in minutes, and then disappears—but only as far as Merec’s apartment, where he befriends Merec’s cat, hangs out naked, and refuses to say why he’s there. When Astria is injured, Merec needs Lief more than ever. What he doesn’t realize is Lief needs him just as desperately.
Interesting world building. I liked the story quite a bit and the ending was great.
Compulsion by Emma Jane D+
Edwin Peach is a kleptomaniac, and his compulsion leads him to steal one of crime novelist’s Kieron Carmichael’s books at a signing. Later, Edwin feels guilty and contacts Kieron via e-mail, offering to pay for the book. When they meet at a local pub, the two men discover they have more in common than they could have imagined, and that their flaws might bring them closer together.
Not for me. Writing was great but I didn’t like the story or the characters.
Secret of the Specter by S.S. Skye D+
Cayden may be among the city’s super-powered crime fighters, but it’s easier to face down the barrel of a gun than to risk losing his best friend, superhero gossip columnist Kateb Bashar, by revealing his feelings. A single press conference, however, may end up forcing his hand. If only he could keep his mouth shut….
For all my love of superheroes I just couldn’t get into this one. Interesting world building though.
McAvoy Made by Dawn Kimberley Johnson A-
At his uncle’s company, Duvall Cline’s reputation as the love ’em and leave ’em type is inescapable, so it’s a good thing he’s not trying to escape it. Preston McAvoy uses all his free time honoring his baby sister with a collection of handmade books. In fact, he hasn’t looked beyond that or his work as an accountant for nearly a year, but the day Duvall breaks his concentration, Preston’s focus shifts, and his world expands in the most delightful way.
Duvall is a player but then he meets Preston and he experiences a paradigm shift. Loved the message.
Jester Hinkel and the Thrust of Destiny by Madeleine Ribbon C+
Jester Hinkel, a book reviewer who specializes in romances, no longer believes in love because of his crappy luck. His roommate sends him a picture of a hot guy to cheer him up, but the man in the picture—Santiago—has been cursed by a witch to live in pixel form until he stops thinking of himself every time he does something good for someone else. Santiago might help Jester enjoy reading about love again—if he can convince Jester he isn’t a virus.
Ghost in the machine and some fun bantering dialogue.
The Fully Lit Review by Elle Katie Lune D-
Most of the reviews for Kevin Zhou’s first novel have been glowing, but one nasty review really gets under his skin, and he decides to confront prestigious editor and blogger Sam Calcutt. Angry barbs and snarky comments between the two build to an inescapable sexual tension, and the rivalry and physical passion lasts for months. Then Sam comes to Kevin with a book he’d like Kevin to read—one that might explain everything he can’t say out loud.
I didn’t like the concept here with the author tracking down the reviewer and the snark on romance novels. I’d check out something else by the author because I liked the writing but this story got my hackles up.
Perfect Bound by Jack Byrne A-
Michael Eldridge is a hard-working author trying to support his community by printing his books locally. He meets Daniel Saunders, the manager of the local print shop, and the attraction is immediate. But although they both look successful from the outside, the inside story is very different. Michael is struggling to make a living, and Daniel’s business is teetering on a knife-edge financially. The pressure might be more than their growing relationship can bear.
I liked these men and I liked their story. Fantastic chemistry. Great secondary characters as well.
Pagan Moon by Nikki West C-
Mark Larsson’s new urban fantasy novel just hit the bookstores and it’s hugely popular. His life ought to be complete, but without his partner Jerome, who is on a longterm overseas assignment, their apartment feels empty. Throwing himself into his research for his next novel, he does what the Internet warns you not to do: speaks the words of an ancient prayer aloud. But the supernatural being who answers is more known for causing chaos than answering prayers.
This one just didn’t hold my attention. The paranormal aspect wasn’t working for me and while I did like what I saw of the Mark and Jerome relationship Mark seemed like he may not be in it for the long haul. Time will tell for these guys.
Role Model by Becky Black A-
A late-night call brings reporter Paul Bradley out to cover the scene of an accident, where he witnesses heroic paramedic Drew MacGregor save a young girl’s life. Paul knows it will make a great story. The fact Drew is openly gay adds another dimension to Paul’s story, and he presents Drew as a role model for other gay people. It doesn’t hurt that Drew’s attractive, but he won’t date closeted men, and Paul made the choice long ago to keep his sexuality secret in favor of his career.
I really liked the story here. Drew was wonderful and Paul, less so, but I liked how he’s taking steps to change. I thought this had an interesting flip on why one character was closeted and the other out. I was expect the reverse so I liked the surprise there.
The Geometry of the Circle by Rhidian Brenig Jones A
Zach Chandler is a successful businessman who worries men only want him for his money. Lately he’s had his eye on the handsome man scribbling away at the coffee shop Zach owns, but he doesn’t imagine Rowan Geldenhuis is interested in other men, and he’s reluctant to disturb a customer. When they connect over a stack of old books and decide to get to know each other, both men discover the true power of words—both written and spoken.
More please. Off the hook hot with such interesting characters. Not a lot happening but I was riveted. Love the man meets man stories where this could be the start of something or it could be a one off. I hope it’s the beginning for them, I loved the conversations and the chemistry.