My better late than never Valentine special.
The BAD VALENTINE series are lighthearted Valentine’s Day shorts by four different authors, each story written with the same opening line: “Nothing good ever came of a Valentine.”
Love Magic – Jesi Lea Ryan
“The day I met Derrick while playing my violin in the park was magical. Unfortunately, magic and love together don’t always mix.”
Oliver met Derrick while busking in the park, and they hit it off from the start. At first, Derrick’s “mysterious magician” vibe was intriguing, but after two botched dates, Oliver was ready to call it quits.
Fearing he lost his chance with Oliver, Derrick makes a last-ditch effort to win Oliver’s heart with a romantic Valentine’s date. But when love and magic collide, things tend to go awry. Will these two guys make it through the date unscathed?
This one’s cute!
I liked the idea of a musician and magician couple and they met in such a delightful way. However, Oliver, the musician, has just about enough of the botched dates but he knew deep down there’s something about Derrick. Derrick, the magician, was endearingly shy and I felt sorry for him, the poor guy is really trying.
While the disasters were not as cringe-inducing and funny as in Hidden Hearts, Love Magic is still charming and sweet. The magical element is a plus and I liked how it was worked into the story.
Overall, a fun, lighthearted rom-com with a touch of paranormal.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Quill Me Now – Jordan Castillo Price
What if the words you wrote came true?
Spellcraft isn’t exactly a respectable business, but it does pay the bills. At least, it should. Unfortunately, Dixon Penn failed his Spellcraft initiation. Instead of working in his family’s shop, he’s stuck delivering takeout orders in his uncle’s beat-up Buick.
Winning a Valentine’s Day contest at the largest greeting card company in the tri-state area would be just the thing to get his life back on track—but something at Precious Greetings just doesn’t add up. And despite numerous warnings to quit pestering them about his contest entry, he just can’t stop himself from coming back again and again.
It doesn’t hurt that the head of security is such a hottie. If Dixon had any common sense, he’d be scared of the big, mysterious, tattooed Russian.
To be fair, no one ever accused him of being too smart….
I have sung praises to Jordan Castillo Price‘s worldbuilding before and Quill Me Now is one of her best ones yet. I was heavily immersed in the world of Scriveners and Seers and I really liked this novel magic system where magic work in two parts.
Quill Me Now follows Dixon’s persistent but very foolish attempt at getting a job at Precious Greetings despite all the red flags and a very explicit warning from Yuri to STAY AWAY. Never in my wildest imagination had it occur to me that a greeting card company could be so sinister. Extra props to JCP for making me see Hallmark in a different light. The story was nicely resolved but of course it left me wanting more. So I was pretty happy to know that this is going to be a series. YES! We haven’t seen the last of Dixon and Yuri yet.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Hidden Hearts – Clare London
Accident-prone Ethan has a dating history that reads like a disaster movie script. Strong and silent Kel can’t seem to master the necessary small-talk on a proper date. When they both get signed up anonymously for a Valentines’s night event—”for those with an adventurous spirit but an open diary”—they never imagined they’d be matched. They never imagined the romantic sparks would fly. To be honest, they never imagined they’d survive the week.
A catalogue of disasters dogs the footsteps of their blossoming romance, including a coffee date with food allergies as an added extra, an intimate dinner that strays too close for comfort to chopped chillies, and a sensual massage with hot wax candles that threatens to alert the local fire brigade.
But if they can hold tight to their sweet, surprising, yet single-minded attraction – they might just survive this Valentine’s Day with something very special to look forward to.
I usually complain about things happening too fast, but here is the perfect example of insta-attraction done right. Clare London deftly laid out the development of Ethan and Kel’s relationship in the course of a couple of days in a very believable and hilarious way. It helps that the MCs were both adorable individually and as a couple.
Ethan is a complete klutz and his dates with Kel were one awkward disaster after another but you know that a guy is really into you when you set his shlong on fire and he still calls you back. I love how Kel is so patient with Ethan despite everything. They really are the perfect match.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Temporary Dad – Dev Bentham
Nick Compton owns a small but mighty fashion magazine. He already has enough on his plate, between work and, well, work. There’s no room for a kid in his life but when his sister drops her seven-year-old daughter for an extended stay, he has to figure it out. Just before his niece arrives, Nick meets a blazing hot firefighter. They get on like a house a fire and the sex—scorching. Too bad the he disappeared in the morning. Like smoke. Now Nick’s stuck with a kid he doesn’t know how to manage and without the man he’d love to get his hands on again.
Dylan Gil wishes like hell he hadn’t taken his roommates advice and lied about who he was. He’s finally met someone he really likes and can’t stop thinking about. But now he’s too embarrassed to confess that he’s just a second-grade teacher, not a manly firefighter. Good thing that work gets distracting, particularly when one of his brightest students goes to stay with her uncle and all hell breaks loose. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.
If the term “dad pants” means anything it’s that taking care of children and fashion aren’t compatible. Does that mean these two doomed? Or is this the beginning of forever?
This was the weakest of the bunch. I actually DNF’ed this because I don’t have the patience to deal with Ruby plus I didn’t warm up to Nick and Dylan.
This is more of a ME problem mainly because parenting stories are not interesting to me. For those into gay couples with children, this might work better for you.
2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book