Note: This ARC was provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.
'90s Playlist is a new adult (NA) romance anthology and is the first in the Romance Rewind series. There are six short stories from six different authors, each one bringing a different kind of flavor to this entertaining collection. I enjoyed the anthology as a whole and was never really bored, but as is the case with books like this, some stories stood out more than others. The stories also differ in terms of length, though you don't necessarily have to read the whole thing in one sitting and can pick and choose the order in which you want to read the stories. I'm giving 90s Playlist an overall average rating of 4.5 stars and will be posting individual ratings and reviews for every love story that's included in this romance anthology. ♥
My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh - 5 stars
Tia Lanning and Mason Brooks being together would never make sense to anyone. It doesn't matter if they're just having sex several times a week and have been engaging in their secret trysts for some time now. They belong to very different groups--she's a film student who has piercings and absolutely hates pop music and he's the clean-cut fraternity vice president and football player and enjoys his popularity--so in order to maintain the status quo, they don't interact outside of their sexual escapades. Rules were set in place to keep things simple, but when their feelings begin to conflict with what's expected of them, both Tia and Mason will have to decide if it's time to put an end to their secret and exactly how it's going to end.
My Strongest Weakness was the absolute perfect way to start this anthology. It had a story about two college students who don't run in the same circles and wouldn't be caught dead with each other outside of wherever and whenever they happen to be having sex. The story begins in the middle of their non-relationship and at a turning point that neither of them recognize as significant. The great thing about what Brighton Walsh did is we quickly figure out what's going on even without having to see these two meeting for the first time and deciding their little hook-up setup. With a well-paced and well-written romance and two main characters whose chemistry is undeniable, My Strongest Weakness gets five stars. ♥
Worthwhile by Audra North - 4.5 stars
When Jill begged her parents to allow her to spend a semester in Leeds, England, she did it because she couldn't imagine being that far away from her boyfriend for that long of a time. Another thing she couldn't imagine? Her boyfriend dumping her a few days after they arrive, informing her that he wanted to date other people. Yet one more thing she never imagined? Literally falling for campus hottie and graduate student Stuart. Not only is he good-looking, Stuart is considerate, sweet, and makes Jill feel things she never expected to after the end of a lengthy relationship. But is pursuing anything with Stuart really about her having actual feelings for him or could this be just a case of a rebound romance meant to distract her?
Worthwhile was a good read about a girl who follows her boyfriend to England only to have him break up with her within their first week there and then she finds new possibilities with someone else a week later. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be with someone else a couple of weeks after a break, though it does have make you wonder if it is indeed a rebound. I wouldn't consider Jill and Stuart an absolute love match since they are still getting to know each other in the story while acting on their attraction to one another. There was a resolution to Jill's issues with her ex-boyfriend, even if it was a bit idealistic. Worthwhile's ending held a sense of promise for her and Stuart that I appreciated. Four stars. ♥
Creep by Lorelie Brown - 4 stars
Roni loses herself when she's dancing at raves and high on whatever her drug of choice is for the evening, courtesy of her dealer Skittles. When Skittles's older brother requests for her assistance in trying to locate him, Roni is wary about divulging information to a complete stranger, no matter how handsome he may be. Tom insists that it's important he find his brother as soon as possible and he's willing to do it without Roni's help. There's something about the man who exudes power and privilege that draws her to him, and soon she finds herself falling for him. As much as she wants to help Tom reunite with Skittles, Roni knows that once that happens, it will be time for Tom to return to England and leave Roni behind and forget her.
Creep was an interesting story about a twenty-year-old who's led a difficult life, unable to fulfill the dreams she once had for herself and only finds respite from life's challenges when she's high at raves and dancing her heart out. Tom is six years her senior and they do engage in sex in the story, but I didn't quite get the feeling that these two were absolutely in love with one another. Maybe that's where they could be headed, but both their lives are very complicated--Roni's more than Tom's--and by the time their story ends, you can't help but wonder if the resolutions are somewhat lacking or superficial. I did like that Creep was darker than the other stories in the anthology, so it certainly stood out. I'm giving it three stars. ♥
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen - 5 stars
Once upon a time, Rory Stone was a college student in prestigious Pearce College in New York and had dreams of getting her poetry published after graduation. Two years later, Rory is twenty-four and working in a coffee shop that hosts an open mic night and babysits her boss's two children. She's simply trying to get by, having let go of the plans she once made for herself. When twenty-two-year-old college student James Griffith steps up onstage during open mic night, Rory is captivated by his voice and his song choices. They're quite attracted to one another, but the time they spend together shows that it isn't merely a physical connection between them. Will they continue to inspire one another past James's graduation?
Smells Like Teen Spirit is my other favorite short story in the anthology because it was about a female lead character who was trying to find her footing in the real world, especially after the dreams she once had for herself appeared to have no hope of ever coming true. Rory is lost but she's also stuck, meaning that she isn't really going anywhere at this point in her life nor does she seem motivated to do anything about it. Her current state is one that rings true and familiar to many a college graduate and I liked how she was able to re-discover her purpose and find inspiration through James. This was a sweet and hopeful romance and one that had a well-developed main character that readers can relate to or empathize with.
The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins - 4 stars
Shelby Summerfield is a lesbian. Always been one, always will be. But when Carlisle College's most popular lesbian catches her in what looks like a compromising position with a guy, Shelby's sexuality is publicly questioned. As much as Shelby has always wanted Florence Truong, she simply cannot let what she did slide. Now, Shelby has plans to get her revenge and knowing how competitive Florence is, she's going to hit the Big Dyke on Campus where it hurts. Making Florence realize that Shelby isn't the straight girl she accuses her to be is no longer her focus. But as the weeks pass and Shelby successfully gets one on Florence repeatedly, Shelby finds herself becoming protective of the girl she's supposed to be aiming for.
The Belle vs. the BDOC was a pretty good story about a lesbian whose being labeled heterosexual by another lesbian makes her seek vengeance in the most creative and competitive ways possible. This had an original feel to it because Shelby's sexuality is put into question simply because she was with a guy and also because of her very girly choices. It was interesting to note that Florence also takes offense when she thinks that Shelby is only interested in her because she dresses like a man. Their back and forth can be testy at times and Shelby's attraction to Florence felt much stronger than the other way around, but I did appreciate that this was a fresh and original take on an LGBT love story and one that's sweet and steamy.
Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood - 4.5 stars
It was supposed to be one last hurrah before they went their separate ways after graduation but Emily is in for a spring break that will change her life when she realizes just how much her brother's best friend has changed in the time since they last saw one another. Gone is the next door neighbor who was more geeky than gorgeous and the Chase before her has certainly more than grown up. What Emily doesn't know is that Chase has loved her ever since they were teenagers but has kept his distance out of respect for Emily brother. However, being stuck on a cruise ship forces Emily to see Chase in a whole new light and leaves Chase with one last opportunity to tell the girl that he loves exactly how he's felt about her all these years.
Little Red Thong uses the much-loved falling-for-your-best-friend's-sibling and comes up with a sweet love story between two people who have known each other almost all their lives and having them come to certain realizations about their feelings while on a cruise ship. Chase has had a thing for Emily since he was thirteen and what began as an innocent crush has blossomed to much more over the years. The story is familiar but still remains entertaining all throughout. The two supporting characters--Drew and Melissa, Emily's twin brother and Chase's best friend and Emily's best friend, respectively--brought a bit of comic relief as well and they had their own chemistry going on. This story wrapped the anthology up quite nicely. ♥
Release Date: 13 October 2015
Date Read: 13 October 2015
Learn more about Brighton Walsh (here), Audra North (here), Lorelie Brown (here), Rebecca Grace Allen (here), Amy Jo Cousins (here), and Jennifer Blackwood (here).