Note: This ebook was provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Just like in other places around the world, the town of Bluewater Bay is very much aware that it's Valentine's Day. Some may be looking forward to it and already making secret plans to surprise their partners. Others may be wishing that their partners were in town with them instead of being somewhere else when the holiday hits. Then, of course, there are those who don't really care much for the commercialization surrounding this particular day. But no matter who they are and how they view the holiday, this Valentine's Day is going to be one a handful of couples are never going to forget.
Just Another Day by L.A. Witt
Wolf's Landing's leading actors, Levi Pritchard and Carter Samuels, have been together for six months. They're very committed to each other and their relationship, now living under one roof with their cats, Link and Zelda. Life couldn't get any better. But even though they love one another and share a lot in common, one thing they view differently is Valentine's Day. Levi see it as an overly commercialized holiday that forces couples to buy things for one another simply because they don't want their partner to feel bad. However, Carter has made plans, especially since this is the first Valentine's together.
Levi's lack of enthusiasm, for the holiday, not for Carter's efforts, creates friction between the two. Levi knows he messed things up and even though he isn't a fan of the holiday, he finally realizes that it meant something to Carter. He may not be an advocate for Valentine's but he loves Carter and recognizes that he should have made more of an effort to setting aside his own prejudices. Now, Levi needs to make up for screwing up Carter's plans and does it in a way that Carter never expects, making this Valentine's Day even more meaningful and one that signals another new chapter in their lives as a couple.
I've loved Levi and Carter ever since I first met them in the book that launched the series, Star Struck. It was great being able to see what was going on with their relationship and how comfortable and domesticated they were. Their difference in opinion with as far as Valentine's Day is concerned is one that many other couple have in common with them. This was a great mix of romance, light humor, and a dash of drama. Just Another Day by author L.A. Witt was a simple story that was sweet but definitely not sappy and was a good start to this particular Bluewater Bay Valentine's Day anthology.
Nascha by Amy Lane
Nascha George is no longer the young grifter who worked with his two closest friends, husband and wife Kitten and Rawlins Wolf Eyes. They were more than just his friends; they were his lovers and his family. When he's informed by the authorities that his sister has died in an accident and that he's now become guardian to his niece Beth, Nascha's life is changed instantly. Beth becomes his top priority and he needs to become more responsible, leaving little time for engaging in anything else with Kitten and Rawlins. He wants to do right by Beth and sacrifices his own needs and wants for his niece.
As the years pass, Kitten and Rawlins insist upon Nascha that he and Beth are part of their family. But when tragedy strikes and Nascha sees that pain and bereavement may not just cause him to loss his home but one of the very few people he truly loves and cares for. Binds that once seemed unbreakable are not just frayed but are cut off completely, leaving Nascha to realize that he's never really had a place to call his own. Will it take the loss of more people and his own sense of mortality to wake him up and embrace the family that's always been his but has never had the courage to claim for himself?
There's something about Amy Lane's writing that doesn't just tug at your heartstrings but evokes emotions that signal how much a story affects you. Nascha's story is one about love, a love that surpasses the frivolous or romantic kind. His sense of family is remarkable, setting aside his own happiness in order to be the best possible parent for his niece. Even in his current condition, his love for his great-nephews has him making a decision he should have made years ago. Nascha by author Amy Lane may be short in length but is not lacking in everything else that makes a story and characters stand out.
No Easy Way by S.E. Jakes
Cary Teijan hasn't loved anyone as much as he did, and still does, Dylan James. Cary was only fifteen to Dylan's nineteen when they first met but what he felt wasn't mere puppy love. He was willing to risk everything to be with Dylan but then Dylan disappears without a word of goodbye and signs up for the military. Cary's heart is broken and even though it's been six years and he's seeing someone else, no one quite compares to Dylan. He makes himself believe he's moved on, but with the unexpected return of the person who left him behind, Cary's torn between hitting and hugging Dylan.
Dylan had his reasons for leaving town six years ago but he's never forgotten Cary. Now that he's back, he wants to show Cary everything that's in his heart, but he's still unsure if he should confess what (or who) really drove him away in the first place. Using the very stories that Cary wrote to show him that they're meant to be together, Dylan refuses to let anyone or anything stand in his way this time around. Cary isn't sure if he's willing to put his faith in Dylan, especially since he's afraid Dylan will leave yet again and there's the little issue regarding the fact that Cary happens to have a boyfriend.
This is the first S.E. Jakes-penned story that I've ever read and if I had to base my decision on whether I'd want to read more of her work solely on this, I'd say the chances were really, really, REALLY good. The second chance romance is one of my go-to story lines and this one was written quite well, providing necessary tension between Cary and Dylan. The use of Cary's books as Dylan's means to fulfill both their fantasies was a nice touch. I'm curious to see if there'll be a full-length novel waiting in the Bluewater Bay series for these two. For now, No Easy Way by S.E. Jakes has left me satisfied.
Helping Hand by Anne Tenino
Lucas Wilder isn't entirely sure if he is or isn't gay. He's not into girls but he's never been with any guys either. His constant date is his best friend and while there are many who think that she's his girlfriend, some aren't easily fooled. Lucas may not be one hundred percent positive about his sexuality but there's no denying his crush on his brother's best friend. There's something about big and burly lumberjack Gabe Savage that's caught his attention and he can't help but fantasize about him, even if he knows nothing's ever going to come of it, because there's no way Gabe could even be into guys.
Lucas really wants to get out of Bluewater Bay and his acceptance to art school may be his ticket. Paying for that education though is going to be a problem, especially since he knows his parents can't afford the tuition and his father isn't keen on him going to art school. He loves his family but nothing is really keeping him from leaving town...until the one guy who he's been crushing turns his way. Lucas has always planned on going to an art school away from Bluewater Bay but can the possibility of something more with Gabe be the one thing that will wreak havoc on his carefully crafted plans?
This particular story was different from the others because one of the main characters was still in high school and was still experiencing moments of doubt regarding his sexuality. The ending also left the door open for, possibly, a full-length novel, one that I hope will still feature both Lucas and Gabe and provide them an ending they deserve. The resolution of the family drama did feel a bit rushed, making it seem a tad unrealistic. Still, Helping Hand by Anne Tenino was a good read and it was good to see that Lucas' artistic talent was something that wasn't so out of place after all.
I'll Be There by Z.A. Maxfield
Nash Holly isn't going to let a little snow stand in his way to get to Spencer Kepler. Unfortunately, it isn't just a little snow that he's facing; it's a terrible snowstorm. Nash turns to his brother Healey and Healey's genius friends to help him find some way to get to Spencer because his boyfriend needs him by his side. Spencer has never been comfortable in large group settings but because this is something he's doing for a fan diagnosed with his cancer, his anxiety has multiplied. He thinks he's missing whatever gene is supposed to make him feel empathy towards people.
Healey and his friends go above and beyond to help Nash out while Nash is faced with his own life and death situation. Spencer and his family have always seen him as brave but it takes one bad situation on an icy road that makes him fear that he will never see them again. Spencer is also forced to look back on the time he wasn't able to return home to be at his mother's side as she lay dying. With nothing to do but to muse and think, both Spencer and Nash come to their own realizations but never forgetting that they're both there for one another, ready to provide love and support.
Spencer and Nash's love story was a memorable and it was nice to see them yet again in this short story. This provided more dimension to both characters and the fact that Nash was willing to do anything and everything just to get to Spencer had me smiling. It really was rather sweet. I was also glad to see that Healey had his time in the spotlight as well, especially since he's such an interesting character. I certainly wouldn't mind if he had his own book in the future. Hint, hint. I'll Be There by Z.A. Maxfield was a great way to wrap up this Valentine's Day anthology.
Overall, Lights, Camera, Cupid was an enjoyable anthology to read. It was great having characters that I was already familiar with and welcomed new ones to the Bluewater Bay universe. The anthology itself isn't overly long, so readers won't feel as if they have to pick and choose which stories they should read. Each one is a worthy read and I certainly encourage my fellow bookaholics to go through each one. If you're an M/M fan like myself, this is one Valentine's Day anthology that you won't regret reading. I highly recommend Lights, Camera, Cupid and give it 4.5 stars. ♥
Date read: 14 February 2015
Learn more about the authors:
L.A. Witt - here
Amy Lane - here
S.E. Jakes - here
Anne Tenino - here
Z.A. Maxfield - here
Grab a copy of Lights, Camera, Cupid on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.