Title: Three Fates
Author: Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes & Amy Lane
Length: 103,075 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Author Backlist Project, Mythology
Rating: Pretty Good
For time immemorial, the goddesses of fate have decided which human threads will shine and which will be cut short. But even the fates have off days.
Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey: Finding love shouldn’t be that difficult for a diplomat’s son, except Cheyenne is part of a grand tradition of werewolves, and a werewolf with a skin condition needs more help than most mortals. When Chay meets the prince of his dreams, it takes Clotho’s intervention to keep him from letting go.
Jump by Mary Calmes: When two lovers die, their threads of life are collected instead of scattered, as one of them was the brother of a god. Can the fates reunite two lovers whose threads should have twined together for eternity? Or will Cassidy allow Raza’s interest to pass his pale, mortal self by?
Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane: The gods’ meddling isn’t always welcome. It’s given Leif good luck but poor fortune, and Hacon a family curse he’s lived in fear of all his life. But when Leif’s good luck saves Hake’s life, Hake has to reevaluate everything he’s ever believed about luck, life, and love.
I was interested in this quasi-anthology (?? — collection?) from the get-go and bought it mostly because of two of my favorite authors — Mary Calmes and Amy Lane — were in it. But, now that I’m reading a book by both of these authors a week, or at least trying, for my Author Backlist Project, I knew it was time to get this one out and see what to make of it. While I mostly liked it, the three stories within are all very different, so I’ll refrain from talking too much in this general part of the review and save it all for the individual stories.
However, all three stories do deal with the mythology of the Three Fates/Sisters/Morai. Known in Greek mythology as Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, there are many things you might associate or remember about them from different sources — the one eye they share, how one allots the yarn or string, one weaves them and the other cuts them. These three different authors dealt with this mythology in different and interesting ways. Andrew Grey didn’t associate them with any of our known mythologies, but made them rather independent and changed their tools from fiber to wheels (though this might be from another cultural myth, I’m not sure). Mary Calmes gives us a the classical Greek definition with a bit of ancient Egyptian flair. Amy Lane, however, took the cake with her representation of the sisters, I think. Much more heavily involved in the lives of the characters of her story than the other author’s stories, her sisters were firmly entrenched in Norse mythology along with some other famous gods you might recognize, Loki and Thor. I found the interludes where they watched and discussed the lives of Leif and Hacon to be some of the best parts of the story and I loved that she inserted a bit of her own fiber knowledge (spit-slicing!) in there for comic relief. Of all the representations of the gods throughout these three stories, I have to say that not only were they the most enjoyable to watch, but they acted the most like the gods from mythology, at turns flighty and careless of their human charges, while at the same time playing favorites and taking a very firm hand in the mortal realm.
Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Wolf Shifters, Germany, Royalty, Mate Bonding
Coming in at around 20% of the overall length of the book, Andrew Grey’s story is the paranormal tale of a wolf shifter named Cheyenne, an American in Bavaria with his family. Chay is the youngest of three boys in their diplomat family, his father a powerful Alpha. Cheyenne is a rather weak wolf himself and not at all like his brothers, the oldest just like their father in strength and personality and the middle cruel and callous. What Chay wants more than anything is so find a mate he can love, but he knows that won’t ever happen. He’s afflicted with a mysterious skin condition, but when he’s a wolf and a human that covers his skin in large and red flaky patches that drive him crazy with discomfort and pain. He’s a bit of an embarrassment to his family really — who wants to sit next to the boy constantly starching himself at a state dinner?
So Chay might be the most surprised of all of them when he finally gets a whiff of his mate at a ball. And not only is it a man like he expected (and his father feared), but it’s Arthur, a prince. Chay is doomed. Not only is his mate entirely out of his league, but he’s human. The intervention of a mysterious and divine woman will change all of that.
I suppose that I was just a little bit disappointed by this story. I mean, it isn’t bad, but it really isn’t great either. It’s cute, but we never really get to know Arthur that well. It was frustrating to see the climax of the story hinge on the stupidity of the characters rather than a more original plot twist and the behavior of all of the characters was a little annoying. It doesn’t quite read “Big Mis” standards, because the miscommunication doesn’t last all that long, but I was hoping for a more interesting turn of events. In many respects it’s a werewolf Cinderfella (Cindercubba?) story, with the rich prince falling in love with the skin-afflicted commoner (no matter how rich he is), but I found the tone of the story to be more in line with a typical paranormal story rather than a fairy tale.
In all, this was my least favorite story in the collection. However, it takes a really ingenious, original and interesting shifter story to really get my attention and I know that many readers will like this story. It’s cute, a bit fluffy and an easy read. It just wasn’t what I was looking for.
Jump by Mary Calmes (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Cops/Agents, Crime, The Mafia, Psychics, Mythology, Reincarnation
Taking up about a third of the overall length of the book, Jump is the story of Cassidy, a short-term psychic matchmaker who is urged by his gift to interrupt the pattern of Raza’s life, in order to safe him from death. Raza is a mysterious figure, surrounded by guards, but Cassidy can immediately see that for as dangerous as he looks he has a big heart and a sweet disposition. Cassidy, who is rather self-effacing and seems desperate to remain lonely and guarded from his lovers, and the two immediately take to one another.
What they don’t know is how their lives are fated to continually cross after their death in a past life in ancient Egypt. It isn’t just Cass’ gift that shows they have an extra-strong connection to one another, but also interference from the gods. Because this divine intervention from the gods is set up in the prologue, I didn’t really mind too much that Raza and Cass fall immediately in love. If they were fated and felt like they knew each other upon meeting because of their past-life history, then I can suspend disbelief for that. I actually found Cass to be an interesting Calmes character, because though he has the token magnetism that she always seems to give her characters, where everyone is drawn to them as if they’re sent down from Heaven, Cass was actually rather nerdy and had quite a strong streak of low self-esteem.
This was definitely an enjoyable read, something that I’m used to getting with Mary Calmes’ stories. I still had a few problems with it, though. I felt it was rather short for the plot. I’m used to quite a fast pace from this author, where the scenes bleed into one another and seem to go directions I hadn’t expected, but I felt like since the mystery behind the men who want to kill Raza isn’t the primary focus of the story then we could maybe have gotten some more time for the romance to develop. I’m not even saying to make it not insta-love, but they only know one another for one day before their jumping into an HEA (and they really jump into it!), but a couple extra days together wouldn’t have hurt anything and I would have liked to have a little more time to settle into the relationship and see the characters getting to know each other better.
Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Norse Mythology, Fiber Arts, Family Issues, Mystery
The last story in this collection takes the remaining half of the book, coming in at a much longer story than the others and around 50k. It’s certainly a much larger story, with more characters and more time for the characters to develop a relationship. I already talked about one of my favorite aspects of this story, the heavy intervention on the part of the gods at just about every turn. The thing that made this story so absolutely charming, though, is Leif, who is lucky. Leif’s luck is a tangible thing, a little piece of string he sees in his mind which makes his decisions for him and keeps him out of trouble. It’s hardly scientific and sometimes it leads him into trouble only for him to learn that with that trouble is an even luckier payoff at the end. It also doesn’t mean that Leif has lived a charmed life. The luck/string goes hand in hand with his personality, however. It has shown Leif to look on the bright side of every situation, which leads him to have the sunniest disposition of any person or character I’ve ever seen. Some might even think him naive, but he’s a completely unique and utterly enthralling character, and so absolutely charming that you’ll be cheering for him to have his happily ever after.
There is quite a bit more that I could talk about with this story, there are (funnily enough) multiple strands running throughout that all give greater meaning in reflection of one another. But, I’ll let you find out all about this one on your own. Sure, I liked the other stories — I liked Mary Calmes’ story a lot — but this story is worth buying the whole book for. Even if you don’t read the others, get this book to read this story. Leif charmed me so much that I want to say he’s one of my all time favorite Amy Lane characters, which is saying something considering I finish every book of her’s and think, ‘WOW… those are my new favorite characters!’
Posted by Cole in 101-125k, 3 So So, 4 Pretty Good, 5 Really Like It, Authors A-C, Authors G-I, Authors J-L, Contemporary, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Amy Lane, Andrew Grey, Anthology, Author Backlist Project - Amy Lane, Author Backlist Project - Mary Calmes, Cops/Crime, Dreamspinner Press, Family Issues, Fiber Arts, Germany, Greek, Mafia, Mary Calmes, Mate Bonding, Mystery, Mythology, Norse, Psychic, Reincarnation, Royalty, Short Story, Wolf Shifters
Title: Shared Revelations
Author: Andrew Grey
Length: 15,473 words
Genre: m/m Recent Historical Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, 1960s, Physical Disabilities (Deaf), Sports (Football), HEA
Rating: Really Liked It
It’s the sixties, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be different. Eddie Baronski spent his high school years looking out for his partially deaf friend, Jack Emmons. Now that they’ve graduated, they spend their free time at Green Bay’s newly renamed Lambeau Field, taking in the practices.
When Eddie’s crush, Johnny Grant, a new Packers team member, offers him a ride home, Eddie thinks it’s the start of a grand romance. But Johnny and Eddie may not be on the same page, and love—true love—sometimes comes from an unexpected quarter.
It is 1966 and Eddie is secretly gay. Not too far out of high school, he has a job at a paper mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin and spends his time with his four friends from school watching the Packers’ pre-season practices at Lambeau Field. They all love football and are die-hard fans of the team but don’t have the money to afford tickets during the season, and are lucky if they ever find the money to make it to one game a year. So they use their connection to the team to watch as they gear up for the coming season. Eddie’s best friend among the group is Jack — their strong friendship forged among the schoolyard bullies that taunted Jack for his hearing disability.
Eddie’s secret takes fruition in his desires for the new player Johnny Grant, older and the embodiment of masculinity. When Eddie’s bike has a flat and Johnny offers to give him a ride home, they become friends, all with Jack watching on — and waiting.
Anyone who knows me and sees my weekly reviews at Brief Encounters knows that I absolutely love short stories. However, if there is one major complaint I have about the majority of them in this genre it is that they aren’t true shorts — the pacing is all off and there’s usually way too much story, a novel in less than 20k words. So I get nervous before I start each short I read, hoping that that isn’t going to be the case. I mention this because that is really the strongpoint of this story; the length was perfect for the story. It came to it’s natural conclusion without feeling forced into a specific format.
This was really a delight to read. Not only did it surprise me (from the blurb I expected something different, and I loved how it played out) but I found the detail to be very well done. I suppose when you write a story or novel there is always going to be someone out there who is familiar with your setting or subject. In this case, I happen to be very familiar with Green Bay. Though I’ve never lived there I’ve visited extensively over the past 15 years. I suppose you could say that things have changed since the sixties, but in this case I don’t think so. There is mention of the area around Lambeau Field and Kroll’s. Even more than that, however, it really felt like a small world when I read that Eddie worked at a paper mill making toilet paper. Both my father and I have actually worked for the place I know he’s talking about, visited that mill (though it has changed over the years with mergers and the like). It is strange when you come across details like that.
This is sweet and cute and definitely a story that I recommend. Even though I like this author, in the past I seem to have either loved or hated his books. This one was a delight to read.
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, Authors G-I, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Historical, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: 1960s, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Friends to Lovers, HEA, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Short Story, Sports