Riptide Rentboys: The 2012 Collection
by Anne Brooke, Cat Grant, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Published by Riptide Publishing
Available on Amazon.com
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
3 / 5 cupcakes
If this is THE collection of 2012 for Riptide Rentboys, I'd hate to read what was left on the cutting room floor.
This trio of stories is kind of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: one is unfathomably bad, one kind of meh, and the third is cute.
Let's start with the one most likely to result in a WTF? reaction.
"Cruce de Caminos," by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane (the authors' names sound like romance novel heroines, don't they?) seems to be one of those paranormal, "this is what the underbelly of society is really like" kind of tales, but really it's just an awful short story. Sean, who is Irish but apparently looks Hispanic (don't ask - seriously, do yourself a favor and DO NOT ASK), has a girlfriend with whom he fights and rocks the headboard. An industrial, entrepeneurish kind of guy, Sean decides to make bank by selling his services. But good old Sean either has appallingly inferior gut instincts or he is just plain stupid. He winds up in the clutches of one of New Orleans' famed netherworld practitioners, with whom he shares quite the night, as the two service a wealthy businessman. It isn't so much that the story is convoluted and ridiculous (and it is), but rather that the sex scene is so unfulfilling. Evidently, the best part happened after Sean passed out, so we don't even find out about it except in a rather cursory way. This short story is a Fail.
What "Cruces de Caminos" lacks in depth and compelling characters, "Priceless", by Cat Grant, makes up for, almost too much for a short story. Connor is a college professor whose bestie decides to fix him up with young Wes, a hot student. The socially repressed and stifled Connor turns Wes down, however, but the two later are reunited most fortuitously. And then reunited again. A lot of time is spent discussing Connor's isolation and Wes's financial desperation. A whole lot. Still, though, you can't help but like Connor, even if Wes is a bit too annoying and helpless for me. The sex scenes are hot, although there aren't enough of them for this type of story. It's a cute tale, if too long.
Thank goodness, then, for Anne Brooke's "Where You Hurt the Most," which is the jewel of the collection. Adrian is an escort for hire whose boss fixes him up with his cousin Dan, whose face was horribly disfigured in a car wreck. Dan hides his face in a hoodie, and Adrian is sensitive to Dan's fears and vulnerabilities. The two share a HOT night together, and then Dan disappears. Of the three, this is the most romantic tale, not to mention the hottest.
So this collection is hit or miss. I can't hep but wonder how much better it would have been if "Cruces de Caminos" had been replaced by something better written and certainly something hotter.