His For The Holidays Anthology
Blurb: Too long! See goodreads if you want the blurbs.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
His for the Holidays is a four story anthology from Carina Press. I’m going to review each story more in depth on their individual pages and review the anthology as a whole here. As an entire anthology to be read in one sitting, I found the stories unequal. I didn’t enjoy all of them and the longest story was actually my least favorite. All four are amusing and interesting enough to read, there were no DNFs in the bunch, and each one is well written. There are a few editing mistakes but far fewer than most books I read these days so effort has been put in on some level. That sounds like faint praise but I do appreciate that the stories are mostly clean. Overall this anthology as a whole is not one that I think will appeal to most readers unless three or more authors are readers’ favorites. Instead they’re likely better off getting the individual stories of their favorite author.
The anthology starts off with LB Gregg’s humorous offering. This is a good story with excellent pacing and just the right length. It’s one of the shorter novellas and zips along from the initial setup to happy ending. It has a lot of coincidences and obvious set ups, which sometime frustrated me, but overall there is a lot to recommend the story. There is a crisp feel of the winter, holiday season with just enough tension and angst that make you wonder how things will turn out. Not much though and the great wit and humor of the author – one of her best strengths – is definitely on display. This isn’t a story I’d read again but it starts the anthology off very nicely.
The next story is Harper Fox’s offering and the longest of the collection. The setting is littered with details and clues to try to steep the readers in the Edinburgh culture. I wouldn’t know if this is authentic personally though I’ve read some criticisms that says the details are very off. Again I wouldn’t know and I think the average reader won’t be put off by the mistakes, although those in the know likely will be annoyed. Unfortunately, Fox is not my favorite author and I tend to struggle with her overly verbose and awkward prose. This is her writing voice and for me it creates a slow, somewhat plodding pace to the stories. The characters are definitely different and the story stands out with much more tension and brooding than the other stories. At the same time I didn’t particularly connect to the characters and this is my least favorite of the collection. It definitely takes the collection in a different direction after the light, humorous start.
From Fox’s police themed story, ZA Maxfield offers up a very festive holiday romance. This takes the collection to a lighter tone again, making Fox’s offering even more jarring and out of place. This is one of the longer novellas and the pace moves along even though nothing really happens. There is supposed to be a santa connection that I never quite got and the men seem decent. They get together, have an instant attraction, and decide to uproot their lives to be together. Or at least one of them does. It’s a romantic, very holiday themed story with good details and some interesting secondary characters. It’s a fun read and moves along swiftly, if slightly too long without a definite focus.
The final offering is the shortest from Josh Lanyon and plays on the thief/cop dynamic. This is a very quick, lightening fast novella that speeds from beginning to end. The characters have a history and a developed, complex relationship to start the story so the action starts immediately. The two characters have the expected back and forth banter and hot sex that is likely to please a lot of fans. The dynamic between the two men offers just enough tension and hidden information to keep you interested and wanting to know more. If anything this is one of the better stories that could have easily been longer.
Overall the collection is decent to read and obviously chosen for the authors than the cohesion to the stories. Since each of these stories is offered separately as well I’d recommend you choose the individual stories from your favorite author. Unless you’re interested in all four authors, you don’t really save much buying the anthology and the uneven pace and temperament to the stories isn’t likely to appeal to all fans. As individual stories, some really shine and other’s are reader preference.