Review: If the Fates Allow (An LGBTQ Romance Anthology)

Reviewed by Joanna

This anthology features Christmas shorts from a number of LGBTQ+ authors. All festive, romantic and in most cases super sweet.

Gracious Living Magazine Says It Must Be a Real Tree by Killian B. Brewer

Marcus works in a small-town diner. He loves his job, his boyfriend Hank, who’s the local mechanic, and he adores his deceased grandmother’s interfering friends. As Marcus never knew a traditional Christmas, he’s determined to make this year perfect. Suspecting Hank is going to propose, Marcus freaks out, and his grandmother’s friends only make it worse by giving him too much advice on exactly how to perfect his proposal scenario.

This was a cute tale, and I liked both Marcus and Hank. The interfering old folk mostly merged into one, but the set up worked, it was light-hearted, and the story as a whole satisfied.

Rated: C

True North by Pene Henson

Shay is a basketball player in the WMBA, and also for a Russian team. She’s invited home to Montana for Christmas, and takes her best friend Devon with her as armor. See, last time she visited she felt like she didn’t fit, being all famous and highly paid, and she behaved like a brat. Already being black in a very white town sets her out, but being six-three and a lesbian seals the deal. Shay doesn’t feel comfortable there anymore.

Her supportive mother mistakes the two women’s friendship and introduces them as a couple, much to Shay’s chagrin, as Milla, her teenage crush, is there too.

Ah, first love. Well, for this pair, it never went away. Despite Milla hearing Shay is part of a couple, she fortunately doesn’t believe it. A sweet romance unfolds as Shay makes recompense with her family and friends for her last visit.

I liked this story in that it didn’t suffer from small town wise person porn – you know, where one person who the heroine has known all her life gives her great advice and everything is okay. In fact Shay fixed her own problems, and she got the girl. However, I couldn’t envisage an easy relationship for them in the future, and I thought this could’ve been better settled.

Rated: C

Last Call at the Casa Blanca Bar and Grille by Erin Finnegan

Jack is assistant to the mayor, and a somewhat cynical politico. He used to go to the Casa Blanca bar with an ex-boyfriend, and winds up there on Christmas Day feeling morose and confused (I would be too. The place charges $60 for a shot of Tequila). The cameras off him, he finds himself opening up to the cute barman, Javi, about what happened with Joey, his ex.

Through his conversation with mysterious Javi, he attempts to come to terms with what happened with Joey the previous Christmas, all while finding a way forward to living again.

I liked the heat of LA at Christmas, and the ending to the story was a twist which was a pleasant surprise. This wasn’t a romance, though it centred around his previous love.

Overall I liked Jack but skimmed some of his story. Though atmospheric, it was a little slow.

Rated: C

Halfway Home by Lilah Suzanne

This tale is of the cold-hearted lady who needed to learn how to feel. And it features a hella ugly dog for extra feel-good measure. Written in the less-usual third person present tense, Avery doesn’t blame the HR lady… or Avery inches along the commute, this took me a little while to get into because of the style shift from the other shorts. I don’t generally prefer third person anyway so this made me struggle.

Avery is having a bad day. She gets fired, then her car gets rear ended and to top it off, her girlfriend walks out on her. Weirdly, Avery is not bothered by any of these things that much. See, she’s dead inside. At least she considers the possibility. But the next day, after she picks up a stray dog/gremlin from outside in the pouring rain, she knows that not to be true. As the manager of the dogs’ home—Grace—gives her all the feels.

This was a lighter story, and I enjoyed it once I got over the style. Rudy, the dog, and all the homeless pooches at the pound enabled a bond to form between our H&H as Avery went back to help out.

But then came the oh-so-cute clincher which annoyed the heck out of me. Avery, who has got a temporary Christmas job working with Santa at a mall, had this great idea of combining the two services. Get Santa to help adopt out all the dogs to shoppers in time for Christmas.

What could possibly go wrong with that? Amazingly, irresponsible Grace goes along with this poor idea and a lovely time is had by all with unplanned, unchecked and likely short term homes found for the animals. It’s like no one ever heard of the expression ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’.

And after that, I didn’t care so much what happened between Avery and Grace.

Rated: D

Shelved by Lynne Charles

Karina is a student, working in a library over the holidays to make ends meet. She befriends a man, Wes, who comes in every day to use the free WiFi, and helps him out with job applications since he’s unemployed. See, Karina is a helpful person / meddler, and she soon goes on to try to set up Wes with her uncle Tony. Last Christmas Uncle Tony split from her aunt, and is a little curmudgeonly about the season.

Karina drags him out to buy a Christmas tree, and finds herself enraptured with the lovely Hailey, the lumberjack there. We now have two couples in the frame for this story. Of all the shorts, this was my favourite. Karina had a mean father who made her feel bad about herself, but she had two good friends in Wes and Uncle Tony. If I had a complaint, it was that the two guys were made out to be almost elderly, while they are in their forties. This didn’t quite scan, but the rest of the story was cute, library-and-book centred, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Rated: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

If the Fates Allow
by Killian B Brewer, Pene Henson,
Erin Finnegan, Lilah Suzanne, and Lynne Charles
Release Date: December 1, 2017
Publisher: Interlude Press

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