Jenre's Reviews > Cherry

Cherry by M. Rode
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's review
Sep 02, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: m-m, contemporary, romance, anthologies
Read in August, 2009

This anthology of ten stories by different authors first attracted me for two reasons. Firstly, I liked the premise and wanted to see what could be done with the idea of a character experiencing things for the first time and secondly, I especially wanted to read the story by JL Merrow as I'd really enjoyed her stories in the Sindustry anthologies released by DSP.

The anthology turned out to be a mixed bag as you might expect. I enjoyed many of them a great deal and some were just OK. However, I still feel that the anthology as a whole is worth reading.

My favourite story turned out to be the one for which I'd bought the anthology: Different Strengths by JL Merrow. It concerned 1st person narrator Michael who is dragged along to a strip club by one of his clients. Whilst he's sitting there pretending to be interested in watching the girls, his attention is caught by the hunky bartender. After a while Michael needs to escape for a while and is taking a breather in the alley outside the club when the bartender, Kyle, approaches him. Michael thinks he looks vaguely familiar but can't place where he's seen him before. It's only after he's back at Kyle's place with half his clothes off that Michael remembers where he knows him from and it's not a good memory.

One thing I've noticed about JL Merrow is that she likes to inject a certain amount of darkness into her stories. This appeals to me as I like my heroes to work a little for their happy endings. In this case Michael has a lot of forgiving to do and his internal confusion is realistically done. I felt quite a lot of sympathy for Kyle, especially his frustrations at having to hide his sexuality throughout his life. I finished the story feeling that both men had come to a realisation that you can't be controlled by the past as they make a conscious effort to move on with a tentative HFN which fitted in entirely with the story.

There were a couple of TQ 'big names' with Sean Michael and BA Tortuga both contributing great stories. Graduation Cherry by Sean Michael was a cute 'second chance' story about ex-roomies who come together at graduation which was the perfect lighthearted way to end the anthology. File Gumbo by BA Tortuga was a Roughstock story which will appeal to both fans of that series and those who have never read BA's stories before. This time it's the turn of Sam and Beau to realise that cowboys can be rough in and out of the bedroom.

Nice Girls Do by Mallory Path was an intensely sweet story of two young men who have been brought up together in the same house. Alan has no experience with girls so Taz offers to let Alan practice on him at first with kisses then with more. It sounds contrived but it wasn't at all. I liked Alan's calm, serious nature as he attempts to get things right and Taz was a delight as he tries so desperately to pretend that he is just doing Alan a favour. His attempts to keep his voice from getting too strained and the way he tries to pretend almost up the last minute that he's just a substitute for a girl was quite charming.

There were other highlights as well: Particularly Alpha Male, Beta Male by Taylor Lochland, where vet Aaron is seduced by the much younger Nathan and, surprisingly for me, Just Like Him by Dallas Coleman, which was a well written twincest story where the door is firmly closed on anything other than a kiss. This might not be to everyone's taste and was in fact the first twincest story I've read, but I felt that the characterisation and story was so realistically done that I had a great deal of sympathy for the brothers.

Overall I enjoyed reading these stories and I would recommend Cherry to those who like anthologies and also those who are fans of some of the authors who have contributed.
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review! I just not a fan of multiple-author anthologies. I always feel like I don't get enough time with the characters I like.

Jenre Thanks, Eyre.
I think anthologies only really appeal to people who like short stories. I like to mix and match between longer and shorter stories and anthologies are perfect for that.

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