I spent my weekend reading a few more of the short stories and novellas from Dreamspinner's Advent Calendar Set 2010. Which turned out to be very enjoyable!
Better With Sprinkles is an entertaining little story which is more focused on the relationship between the two roommates and friends Tom and Derek, than it’s on the romance between Tom and Isaac. Tom is studying hard and all serious, with not much of a love life. Derek knows Tom has a crush on his former TA, Isaac, and helps Tom to reconnect with Isaac by luring him in to baking cookies for the LGBTA centre. The baking has a central place in this story which takes place in the centre together with lots of other people. And then Isaac joins them. It's obvious that the men like each other, but it's been told not shown. We don't even get a kiss scene (let alone a sex scene) to make us feel the attraction. Not one touch, nothing. There is a HEA but again it's only told. The last pages aren't for Tom and Isaac but for Tom and Derek.
So, it's not really a romantic story - and forget about the erotic part at all - although it does convey a strong message about safe sex (the baking is for the centre's annual fund raising for more awareness for HIV). Nice gesture: The recipe for Tom's grandmother's famous cookies is included at the end of the story. :)
Tom bit his tongue when Isaac’s polite smile turned sly and just a little bit wicked, and he immediately saved the mental image to his fantasy-Isaac collection for later use.
Another book with a free recipe is Christmas Bells, a wonderful Christmas spirited story about a caring family, the Bells. Oldest brother Jon is the main character and narrator of this story. His brother Erik brings a college friend home with him for the holidays. Kim is gay, like Jon, but his family kicked him out when he told them. There's an instant attraction between the two men, but Jon's brother asked him to not make a pass at Kim... And thus a nice building of admiration and friendship starts. For such a short story the characters were amazingly well pictured, not only the leading men but also the other family members. The warmth and love in the Bells family was great. That made this a very enjoyable read and a sweet romance (at least the start of one). There's one wonderful sexy scene, under the lights of the Christmas tree. Hot. Overall, this was an engaging short story.
“Come on, Jon,” Eric huffed. “I saw you pinging him with your gaydar from across the room.”
Christmas With Danny Fit
This novella has a likeable and original love couple. Kit is a thirty-year old virgin, who recently moved out of his mother's home and is for the first time in his life falling in lust and love. Danny Fit is the object of his lust, he's a fitness guru who made work-out DVD’s and Kit is lusting after his image on the television screen. In real life his new assistant at the office, Jesse, is catching his attention and as the story unfolds Jesse becomes the object of his love. Jesse's hurtful youth makes him yearn for a reliable person in his life. Kit's kind awkwardness is a magnet for him. A cute love story develops between the two of them.
I enjoyed the novelty of the personalities in this story the most. It's an interesting read because of the unusual choice of heroes. Plot wise it's not spectacular, no ups and downs, no angst or hurt, just a steady development of the relationship between the two men. Christmas With Danny Fit is a sweet novella that I can recommend.
Kit encircled Jesse’s shoulders, feeling the urge to protect him. He’d been hurt by life, Kit realized, and Kit was afraid enough of life to want to keep him safe—and to think he was incredibly brave.
The First is a beautiful story about a first time. The main characters are two fairly young guys who are for the first time in love and never had gay sex before. Especially Jimmy, from whose point of view we're hearing their story (in third person), is scared for their first time – for getting more intimate than just sharing hot kisses. His boyfriend Adam gets frustrated of waiting (for four months now) and gets drunk at a Christmas party, which causes a fight between the boyfriends, and worse.
Through Jimmy's thoughts and conversation in his head with Adam we learn all about their relationship, break-up and the hurt. I really liked this choice of narration, of following Jimmy on the day of New Year's Eve, doing some shopping, running into Adam's sister, while having all the flashbacks to his and Adam's first meeting, first kiss, first 'I love you's', first fight, etc.
And then New Year's Eve comes: Jimmy and Adam are both set up by Adam's sister and finally meet again after the big break-up. And, boy oh boy, do they get steamy! First there's a steamy fight and then there's an even more steamy making-up. They make up for all the lost time and the four month long built-up passion is freed at last. Very sexy and hot, but also so darn sweet because it's all new to them, it’s just one big journey of discovery. I loved this well-written story and wouldn't mind seeing more of this couple in a sequel!
“Not to sound like too much of a girl, but what are you thinking?”
Jimmy’s brain was too fried for shyness. When he opened his mouth, the truth spilled out. “I’m thinking that I’m a complete fucking idiot to have waited four whole months to get you into my bed.”