Posted in Books

Summer Rain Anthology

Going to review the Summer Rain anthology of wonderful short stories. Ruthie Knox has graciously provided me with a copy, though I would’ve (and will probably still do it) purchase a copy. See, the whole thing was compiled for charity and all proceeds go to RAINN. How awesome are these authors?

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What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

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Redemption by Ruthie Knox

Jessie Bellin’s cheese shop is failing, her house is falling apart, and the mortgage is ninety days overdue. With nothing left to offer, she’ll take what she can get from the handyman who wants nothing but her body. But when Mike Kaminsky suddenly asks for more, Jessie has to figure out exactly what she wants—and if it’s possible for a woman who’s lost everything to learn how to hope again.

Yup. It’s exactly as Ruthie describes it in her synopsis. It’s sad and not very optimistic, and packed with (seemingly) emotionless dialogue. But if you know Ruthie Knox, you know her characters are very carefully written and the one thing that’s never neglected in her words is emotion. Jessie and Mike are full of feelings, but they’re so scared of those feelings- they act numb.

What I found fascinating in this story is that Knox makes things wonderful with actions and not many words. And the end of this short story proves to be a melancholy but optimistic delight.

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The Heart of It by Molly O’Keefe

Gabe seems outwardly successful and content, but inwardly, he struggles to banish the lingering demons of his childhood. Elena is a survivor herself and knows that the smart move is to walk away from Gabe. But his pain and his hope are too compelling to resist.
Are these two wounded people brave enough to find love together?

Sometimes you stumble upon a little story that hits that spot in your heart like a curve ball to the kishka.  The Heart of It is so that. There’s a troubling and burning subject this story is dealing with, the aftermath of an abuse. And then there’s a – sadly – everyday life predicament many people are facing. But the trick is to weave these two situations together and come to a resolution that turns the future to a happy possibility. And Molly O’Keefe achieved that.

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Sacrifice by Cecilia Tan

When a tenth century trader from the Orient sells his daughter to a Macedonian, he doesn’t ask why the man needs a virgin, little knowing she is intended to fulfill an ancient pact with a demigod who can end the crushing drought. But this demigod has sworn off his father’s rapacious ways. With the influence of the ancient pantheon waning, only love can heal them all.

I enjoy a fantasy story like the next gal, but I’m not sure what to think of this one in particular. I enjoyed the writing very much, and the concept of this was lovely. I think something a little more developed would’ve worked better with this plot bunny. 

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Real Feelings by Charlotte Stein

Moira longs for a connection—any kind of connection with anyone—and is beginning to despair she will ever find it. In desperation, she purchases an android, hoping against hope that she can find some solace in a simulation of the real thing. But what she doesn’t expect is Michael—a machine that seems to be more than the sum of his parts.

Charlotte Stein has a way of touching my soul with the simplest words describing the most unique situations. Developing feelings for an android is not something you encounter much when reading, but damn it if I didn’t start feeling a wee bit heartchlenchingly sweet on Michael, myself.

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Rainy Season by Mary Ann Rivers

Lisa Shirek is everyone’s favorite barista. She does more than get her customers’ orders right, she gets her customers. She can see the most painful moments of their lives like stormy weather around their bodies, and she does what she can to soothe that pain with the right smile, the right words, the perfect combination of coffee and foam. Except, then, there’s Mark—he’s a sunbeam, a mystery made of light. He breaks through the storm around her so she can see herself, for herself.

Mary Ann Rivers killed me. And she only needed a bowl to do it. I can’t say much more about this short story because every extra word will be redundant. 

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The Rain in Spain by Amy Jo Cousins

Travel writer Magda and scientist Javi are cranky with the heat—and each other—on the streets of Sevilla. They’ve been married for a year, after a whirlwind courtship, and Magda is questioning whether or not she made a mistake. She’s not sure if her need to explore the world can ever mesh with Javi’s more regimented life.

As they stroll the cobblestone streets of one of Spain’s most romantic cities, Magda tries to show her husband just what it is she loves so much about her job that keeps her far from home for so long. By the time the sun rises, they’ll know if there is a way forward for them together . . . or not.

You never know what you’re going to get when you read an author for the first time. Amy Jo Cousins is a blissful surprise for me. Her short story deals with miscommunication of a married couple and it’s clear from the very beginning they fiercely love each other. I’m sure the romantic setting of Sevilla didn’t hurt when they worked things out in the Spanish rain.

I need to find more of AJ’s words. Mission noted.

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Fitting In by Audra North

Stas Petrovich is sure that being elected president of his college class will grant him the social acceptance he craves. But when rain ruins his campaign event, he’s left in the company of the Weird Girl, the one person guaranteed to jeopardize his chances. But he discovers that Leila dos Santos is fun and genuine and sexy as hell, and he’s forced to reconsider what’s most important to him.

I was so excited to read this one. It was my first story of Audra North ever. And it was just lovely. The unique circumstances of Stas and Leila’s past were perfectly matched by that one extraordinary saying Stas’s father always says. And besides it being true – the emotional buildup was very sweet. 

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Private Study by Shari Slade

Tess Bell’s sex vlog flashes on another student’s tablet screen in the middle of an economics lecture. Worst of all, the guy she’s been secretly eyeing all semester sees it, too, and asks her out for coffee at the local diner. Is he like their awful classmate, convinced he’s owed something because Tess dares to be curious about sex, or does he really want to know her? Only one thing is certain: nothing is private anymore.

So Jameson is all kinds of awesome. A fantastic heroine who’s not afraid to try and learn new things, and makes it into science. A great hero who’s not afraid to stand up to her and gives as good as he gets. And a sweet sweet resolution. I think this was my favorite ending so far. 

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Storm Warning by Alexandra Haughton

When Amy Collier left behind her dreams—and her pride—in L.A., she hoped for a few quiet months to regroup. She never dreamed her hometown’s welcoming committee would take the form of Tom Wilson. Well, he could just keep his I-told-you-so grin and his sexy-cowboy charm; she doesn’t want any part of it. 

Except seeing him again stirs up a storm of emotion, and she must try to reconcile bitter memories of their past with her uncertain future—a future that might be a whole lot brighter with Tom in it.

Ha! Never again will I think tornados are all bad. After all, this one possibly brings good friends back into each other’s lives, building sexual tension on top of fear from the storm. And what better way to deal with one tension than delve right into another, a lot more fun kind of tension? LOL

Very sweet, well written story. I might like to see this one turn into a novel.

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So now that I’m done reading all these short stories, I have to say this: it’s for RAINN, and whatever you consider too much for this anthology, probably isn’t. Fantastic authors, beautiful short stories, most of which are all encompassing in so few words (that’s incredible in my opinion) and proceeds go to charity? Sign me up.

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* Thank you, Ruthie Knox, for the advance copy. ❤

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I read, review, flail and swoon.

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