Review: Random Acts of Kindness by Various
Publish Date: February 16, 2015
Reviewed by: Heller
How I got this book: E-Arc from Publisher
It’s often said there’s not enough kindness in the world. The men in this collection want to change that by reaching out a helping hand to a stranger or friend in need. They prove that an act of compassion—no matter how big or how small—can make a difference. From sharing a table in a crowded cafe, to giving of their time and food or letting someone in on a difficult turn, these men prove that kind-heartedness goes a long way. Their good deeds open the doors to many possibilities: lasting friendship, meaningful connections, the chance for love, and much more. Join them on their journeys to make someone’s life a little bit brighter and maybe find romance in the process. It all starts with a random act of kindness.
I do love anthologies and I’ve always enjoyed RL stories that focus on random acts of kindness so reading this was a given when I saw the title. This was a pretty fabulous collection that provided me with some pretty unexpected emotional ups and downs and quite a few sweet and sexy moments throughout.
I’m giving this anthology a B+
The Favor of Kings by Rebecca Long
Eli thinks he’s just being nice when he finds a notebook and returns it. But the notebook’s owner, James, insists on repaying him, and soon a favor war wages between them as a friendship forms. Over Thanksgiving break, James just wants one more favor—for Eli to pretend to be his boyfriend. Eli agrees, but it might change their friendship forever.
This was a lovely slow build to a friendship that turned from something rich to something richer. Great twist of angst as well.
I’m giving The Favor of Kings an A-
A Table For Two by Emma Wilson
Stressed-out grad student Joey is already having a bad day when he finds his favorite coffee shop crowded. He really needs a place to sit, and fortunately Paul offers to share his table. The two men make a ritual of meeting for coffee and get closer, but the cute, shy librarian across from him is distracting Joey from the thesis he desperately needs to finish.
This was sweet. Kind of a prelude to something more. The men barely speak but there’s a definite connection between them and the ending is the beginning. Great little story.
I’m giving A Table For Two a B+
The Cambion’s Servant by Fil Preis
Cast out from the hermitage where he was raised, the young orphan Tomas agrees to work as a ruffian’s servant, only to discover that his master expects far more than Tomas is willing to give. Even the heroic paladins turn their backs on a servant boy, but in the nick of time, Tomas is rescued by an unexpected savior. Discovering that his rescuer is a cambion, a half demon outsider, Tomas fears he’s gone from the frying pan into the fire. Yet Tomas struggles with a different kind of heat entirely—the kind he’s beginning to feel for his new master.
I could read many more adventures with Tomas and Gavin. This had a lovely innocence to it with intriguing world building.
I’m giving The Cambion’s Servant an A-
The Jackson by Rob Rosen
Ben is successful and just got a raise, while Matt is homeless and in desperate need of the Jackson—the twenty—Ben offers him. Fate conspires with karma and the two men cross paths again. Matt invites Ben to see where his money went, and they get a room in a cheap motel, where Matt thanks Ben with a kiss that might mark the start of much more.
There’s a generosity of spirit here but I kinda felt a bit uncomfortable with the circumstances. Would Ben have offered what he did if he and Matt hadn’t slept together? If sex hadn’t been in the mix I would have liked the story more I think.
I’m giving The Jackson a C-
Never Waste A Good Left Turn by Tray Ellis
Just about every morning, the friendly hatchback let Leif take a difficult left hand turn on his way to a stressful, uptight IT job. Leif appreciates the mystery man’s kindness, but doesn’t think much about it until he finds the hatchback in a ditch and Jason trapped behind the wheel. Now Leif has an opportunity to repay all those left hand turns, if he can figure out how to deal with a free spirit in his home.
Kind of a pay it forward story with Leif returning a kindness to Jason that turns into something more.
I’m giving Never Waste a Good left Turn a B+
One Cold Night in Prague by Hannah Kollef
John-Jacob Jingleheimer left Iraq with a limp and a head full of bad memories. Virginia, filled with pity and smothering comfort, was almost as bad. Deciding to banish the desert heat with snow and a new career, he heads for beautiful Prague to start a quiet, solitary life as an English teacher. But when his wallet is stolen, a charming Czech man with legs to infinity and a sly smile reminds him that sometimes, heat is a very good thing.
Win for character name! Or lose maybe since I was singing John-Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt for quite a while after I finished this one. Singing it right now actually. Two men talking all night and getting to know each other over beers after one of them rescues a stolen wallet. Very much the promise of something more.
I’m giving One Cold Night in Prague a B+
Pleased As Punch by Liz Makar
Carter Phillips’s momma taught him to have good manners, but it’s hard to remember them around obnoxious computer lab aid Liam Hidalgo. Liam is the bane of Carter’s existence whenever he uses the college computer lab, so Carter hates having to ask Liam for a ride one day. Surprisingly, as they get to know each other, Carter discovers Liam’s teasing might mean something very different than he assumed.
Sort of an enemies-to-lovers read. Or maybe pining on one side. Cute. So very cute.
I’m giving Pleased As Punch a B+
Spin Cycle by Nina Francis
When graduate student Will Clarke arrives too late to the launarette (again) he resigns himself to looking rumpled for the rest of the week, if not the rest of his college career. Fortunately Jeremy, an ex-Marine returning to school, is able to help Will out. Will is relieved and grateful, but he doesn’t think much of the good deed—until he gets an opportunity to return the favor.
Two guys connecting over folded laundry and mathematics. A nice start to a relationship.
I’m giving Spin Cyle a B+
The Blue Umbrella by Lane Swift
Andy Haynes is terminally ill. During a final tour of Britain, he meets Vik, a friendly stranger who shares his bench and his umbrella. Vik then offers to fulfill Andy’s dying wish: to make love without leaving immediately afterward. But it’s not out of pity. Andy discovers Vik is trying to come to terms with his homosexuality, and that together, they might both find what they need to move forward.
Well, I’m not sure what to say except that a few paragraphs into this I started crying and didn’t stop until the end. Damn you story. Had a wonderful unexpected twist as well.
I’m giving The Blue Umbrella an A
Two for Joy by Indra Vaughn
Matthias arrives at the University of Lincoln to find his promised dorm room has been overbooked. Despite his foreign student status as a Belgian, Matt is left to fend for himself. A very tall and very British young man steps in and offers him a place to stay. Matt goes home with Samuel, where he is confronted with milky tea, a gorgeous blond sister, and a slightly batty granny who sees no qualms in demanding to know why he only has one leg. What choice does Matt have but to keep calm and carry on?
Samuel opens his family’s house to an unexpectedly homeless exchange student and in turn learns something about himself. Nice little family story.
I’m giving Two for Joy an A-
The Healer and the Thief by Jessica Chase
Tobias is a healer in a small village, busy trying to keep those who live there safe from harm. One day he discovers that his house has been broken into. Inside, he finds Joshua, badly injured and attempting to hide a bag of stolen jewellery. He shelters Joshua from the King’s Guard and looks after him as he heals. Once Joshua has recovered, he leaves to return to adventuring. Tobias has his hands full with villagers falling into comas, but Joshua might find a way to repay the kindness Tobias showed him.
This was a nice story about a healer giving an injured thief a helping hand and having that given back to him.
I’m giving The Healer and the Thief a C+
Of Clockwork Marvels by Althea Claire Duffy
Awkward, solitary clockmaker Lorred gave up on love after a string of failed relationships with men who didn’t accept his need to pursue his intellectual passions as well as his romantic ones. But when a beautifully designed pocket watch he finds on the street turns out to belong to renowned clockwork engineer Tivian Ellimar—who’s gorgeous, charming, and surprisingly interested in Lorred—he can’t resist temptation, despite his fear that he’ll only break another heart.
Sweet steampunk story but didn’t quite work for me.
I’m giving Of Clockwork Marvels a C
The Blue Arrow by Reni Keiffer
Lawyer Alec lives in Boston with his cat Monday and has always had a soft spot for the less fortunate. When he meets Steve, a man from Australia who’s been homeless for over a year, Alec wants to help. But to Alec’s horror, Steve believes Alec has ulterior motives for his generosity. Steve must move past his shame, take a chance trusting Alec with his story, and find faith in the kindness of another.
An interesting story but I found the style odd to read to the point where I’m a bit conflicted on how I want to rate it.
I’m giving The Blue Arrow a C
Humming A Different Tune by Amy Rae Durreson
When Neil’s twin sister announces she’s getting married in two weeks so their terminally ill father can attend, Neil assumes Lucy is cancelling her plan for a big, elaborate wedding. Then Monty, an eccentric online friend, reaches out to him with an extraordinary offer: with Neil’s cooperation and a little help from their friends, he can make Lucy’s dream wedding happen.
My favourite story of the anthology. A bit sad, a bit hopeful with some great heat. Emotional story that I would have loved to see as a longer one.
I’m giving Humming A Different Tune an A