Title: Because He's Perfect: An Anthology for the Movember Foundation
Authors: Carrie Ann Ryan, Renee Harless, Tracie Delaney, Dani Rene, Jo-Anne Joseph, Danielle Dickson, Maria Macdonald, Samantha Lewis, Murphy Wallace, Anna Edwards, Lexi C. Floss, Ally Vance, Claire Marta, Anna Blakely, Victoria L. James, K.L. Humphreys, Alice La Roux, K A Sands, Lexxie Couper, Morgan Campbell, and Ellie Boon.
Publish Date: April 30, 2019
Page Count: 903 pages
Source: Own Copy
Date Read: 5/25-6/9, 2020
Overall: Few M/M romances, but for the most part very white, very hetero, very typical of indie contemporary romances. Some authors really need to work on their heroines - some of the stories suffered from the heroines' reactions or personality traits. I felt that the M/M romances had more equal footing in terms of characterization. A short story should have a beginning, middle, and end - instead, some authors decided to use this anthology to market their other works or to workshop some ideas about future books. Yeah, I am not your critique partner and I am not a beta reader - give me the product I paid for and let me read.
Foreword by Carrie Ann Ryan
Screw Up by Renee Harless (Speech Impairment) - Sofie is a hotel heiress but working for her college friends' company, Carter is the CEO of his own company. I really liked these two and thought their HFN ending was believable. One reason I tend to shy away from work place romances is the money imbalance between H/h; here there wasn't a problem as both MCs were wealthy in their own right. 3 stars.
Worth the Risk by Tracie Delaney (HIV) - This story was a second chance romance between Jess and Wade. I loved the side character Margaret. I had a apprehensions before reading this story considering the subject matter, but the author executed the storyline beautifully. 4 stars.
Inhibition by Dani Rene (Erectile Dysfunction) - This was a bad story, or the combination of scenes that the author will use in her upcoming book, as there wasn't much to the story to begin with. Adrian has his first appointment with a licensed sex therapist, Scarlett. YEP, the H/h are patient/doctor - I find these types of couplings gross and completely unprofessional. But wait - during their first session, they finger/rub each other to orgasm. Scarlett decides she would rather be his fuck toy than his doctor, so she says she can't see him anymore as a patient. She also discovers his kink is her kink - PAIN, bordering abuse. The sex is very raw to the point that is not sexy in the least. Turns out, Scarlett is the daughter of murdered president of biker gang; Adrian is in a competing biker gang. Scarlett's brother (in the rival gang) kills two of Adrian's "colleagues" and Adrian takes a knife to Scarlett, cutting her but not too deeply it will scar before throwing her out after sexy times. Fuck no to all of this - 0 stars.
The Cure by Jo-Anne Joseph (ADHD) - this was NOT a Romance genre story. This was barely three months of one guy's year in the life. Kace has ADHD for sure, yet it went undiagnosed until late in the story. Kenzie was a twice a night stand, but the author didn't bother to at least hint at a Happy For Now ending. No, instead I was treated to finding Kace finding Kenzie's ex-boyfriend in her apartment while she showered. Kace left and then drove away to sit on the river bank and decide to give therapy and meds a solid try. The abrupt ending and shitty side characters made it a slog to get through. 1 star.
Nap King by Danielle Dickson (Narcolepsy) - a perfect summer time story with great characters. Felicity and Jack were adorable together and their friends were great supports to the story. This was a well done short story. 4 stars.
Suck & Sweet by Maria Macdonald (Male Infertility) - toxic masculinity combined with amateurish writing makes a bad story a slog to get through. Also, having the word fuck come out of the hero's mouth in every sentence of dialog is really trying too hard. Noah needs a therapist and Gracie needs to stop being so damn fidgety and impatient. 1 star.
Diary of a Teenage Queen by Samantha Lewis (Tourette's) - I LOVED Zac! He was such a fun character to read about. Although the story is only told from Zac's POV (via Bob, Zac's diary- yes he named his diary Bob), we could see the romance brewing between Zac and Callum. Both were smart to keep things simple until after their exams, but that meant the ending was all the more sweeter. I could see Zac winning Drag Race in the future via his alter ego, Coco Beaverhousen. 3.5 stars.
Order. Control. Deceit. by Murphy Wallace (OCD) - This story started out a little dark, but the actual romance was sweet. I was digging Kevin and Mia (who also suffers from OCD) until the story abruptly stops with the couple confronted by the stalker/possible killer. Then we get "the end (for now)" and it comes out that this is not a fully fleshed out story but rather the author's loose combination of scenes for a longer work. Look, I am not your beta reader or your street team reviewer - give me the goods I paid for and what you are advertising is a full short story. GRRRRR that is not what an anthology is for - pull this shit into your newsletter or something. So a promising 3-4 star story is now rated as a 1 star.
Don't Sugarcoat It by Anna Edwards (Diabetes) - Alex was a great character; Chiara was a hot mess of a heroine. The fact that she was a biology teacher and studied biology in university yet couldn't fathom a single reason why someone would need to use a needle other than for hard drugs was a little too stupid to be believable. 2 stars.
Chase by Lexi C. Floss (Heavy Scarring) - this was yet another long prologue that introduces the world building and the MCs of the first book in a series and not a fully fleshed out short story. It was fine for what it was and I am kind of interested to read the first book, but once again if you can't write a short story - then don't be included in an anthology of short stories! This is getting really annoying and now I feel like I'm on the losing end of a bait-and-switch scheme. 2.5 stars.
Deep Breaths by Ally Vance (Asthma) - love thy neighbor indeed! This story was charming and beautiful in an understated way. Got to love a low-angst emergency to get MCs together after the meet cute. I loved Will and Drew together and that first kiss was a definite payoff! 4 stars.
Love in the Dark by Claire Marta (Blindness) - this was an erotica version of Beauty and the Beast, except Beauty (Kara) was TSTL and a sniveling little weak sad sack of a character and the Beast (Darius) blackmailed Kara into sex/living with him for six months. On top of the semi-abusive nature of the romance, there was on the page violence toward Kara from members of her family. Seems like tragedy porn turned up to 11. The first sex scene was dub-con - something I am not into at all and where I chose to DNF.
Unexpected Risk by Anna Blakely (Multiple Sclerosis) - this is a little bit of me reading this story at the very wrong time and a whole lot of "geez, this is why I don't read contemporary romance with military/security heroes". Kole (yes, the author went with THAT SPELLING) is a former USAF pararescuemen now working as a medic for a private security team that handles a lot of Homeland stuff. Sarah is a lawyer that works for a law firm that share the office building with Kole's employer. And not one, not two, BUT THREE different characters describe Sarah as "not like other girls" - including Sarah herself. Also, there are a lot of characters thrown into this story that do not need to be involved at all. There is a lot of everyday ho-hum stuff that pads the first 3/4ths of the story, then Kole gets his diagnosis. He needs time to adjust, but Sarah is pushing him to keep his job and go on field missions - she done her "research" and his MS diagnosis isn't really "that bad...and probably won't be for years." I got the feeling Sarah wanted him to keep his Alphahole job because it was a status symbol for her. And of course someone is stalking Sarah because she won't dump Kole for him because she is hot. What-the-fuck-ever. 1 star.
Faith No More by Victoria L. James (PTSD) - after reading this story, I can't believe how talented Boris Johnson is: mayor and then PM all the while having a writing career. Because only BJ could have written this story - and because of the premise of the hero being "flawed" in some way, BJ totally wrote himself into the totally hot, over confident to the point of being obnoxious, sexually aggressive heroine. Because to think someone else could write this makes me sad. The title refers to a little girl on the same carriage the hero was on when the explosion happened; her name was Faith and she died in the blast - so maybe I am being overly sensitive or nit picky, but this is a shit title for the story.
Sonny was hurt in the July 7, 2005 terrorist attack but survived; he isn't dealing with his PTSD at all. There were attempts made by a side character to talk him into seeing a therapist, but at no time was therapy seen as an option by Sonny. Kellie is a gym bunny who has been waiting SIX WHOLE MONTHS for Sonny to notice her and have sex with her. She is done waiting to get a piece of Sonny's ass - so when Sonny has a PTSD panic attack/flashback in the gym corridor, she decides to use that moment to flirt aggressively with Sonny. Then later she calls Sonny demanding that he ask her out on a date already - it's later the same day as Sonny's attack. She is constantly smiling and laughing and dry humping Sonny until he is worn down and makes a meal for her. Turns out Kellie's dad was on a different Tube train that fateful day and she ran to the scene to find him. She did, then she went into superhero mode and started chucking injured people onto ambulances....yeah, I don't even know and by then I had given up on this story. They have sex and Kellie seems to have a magic hoo-ha that heals Sonny so he didn't even need a therapist. Chapter three is five years later and the couple are sickly sweet at the memorial, with Sonny pointed out he is nervous about going inside King Cross station for the service even though he had sex with Kellie just that morning. *SIGH* 1 star.
The Missing Piece by K.L. Humphreys (Amputee) - bore, boring, bored. Lots of inspirational quotes that came out sounding more like clichés then character driven change. Heidi seemed desperate to be in a relationship with Tyler for some unknown reason; Macy (Tyler's sister) was either sobbing her heart out or pushing Tyler to be with Heidi so he can be "healed". I skimmed through the dialog and the last chapter was just a sappy mess. 2 stars because this story may be someone else's good time.
Broken Reflection by Alice La Roux (Body Dysmorphia) - this was a mercifully short look at the beginnings of a romance. The beginning first act with Andrei and the sex worker really didn't connect at all with the ending, seem more like an excuse to throw some BDSM into the story. Andrei and Olivia shared the scars and the reasons why in a funhouse was a good starting off point to a relationship. 2 stars.
Penciled Hearts by K A Sands (Autism) - I think that the author missed the premise of the anthology. Lewis has a son (Olivier) with moderate autism and non-verbal. But the story was supposed to be about one of the heroes with the disability or illness, not adjacent to it. The story was just okay, I thought the romance between Lewis and Jack was fine if needing a little more time to season. I did like the author's choice to have Lewis be bisexual and Jack being gay without the story turning into a "gay for you" situation. Lewis knew he was bi and owned it and Jack wasn't afraid Lewis would dump him for a woman - throwing a healthy dose of water on that stupid and pointless stereotype. 2.5 stars.
Tremble by Lexxie Couper (Parkinson's) - Sami and Ben's coming to terms with his diagnosis was great but it came after too much sex for a less than 30 page story. It was nice to read a story taking place somewhere other than the UK or the USA. 3 stars.
The Heart of the Matter by Morgan Campbell (Heart Defect) - Colin was a great hero but Laurel was definitely one of those heroines that was "how does his condition affect me? how can I make his coma about me? I need to be centered in all things including my boyfriend almost dying". She cried so much and then had a mental breakdown while Colin fought for his life in the hospital - all anyone could do was coddle her. Meanwhile Colin just went through heart transplant surgery...yeah, good luck with Laurel the Bridezilla. 2 stars.
Royally Twisted by Ellie Boon (Breast Cancer/Suicide) - so I'm not one for tattoo romances or biker gang romances, but I liked this story. TW: suicide on the page...in the prologue. The hero, Tymber (seriously what the hell is with these character names), is a breast cancer survivor and a regular at a cancer support meeting; he meets Ivy who is trying to get up the courage to go to a suicide support meeting. Ivy's BFF committed suicide right in front of her and she is not handling it well - on top of the grief is the fact that BFF was the younger brother of the President and VP of the local biker gang and they are faulting her for their brother's death. Tymber is a former military veteran and tattoo artist/owner of the shop the biker gang frequents. I skimmed through the sex scenes (one of the reasons I don't typically read these kinds of stories is that the sex is very crude) but I loved how Tymber and Ivy were open about their past struggles and how they were helping each other. 3 stars.