Review: A Crazy Little Spring Called Love by various authors

Reviewed by Ronelle

A collection of fantasy and paranormal romance shorts all revolving around the theme of spring. The heat level varies, as do the settings and time periods. Also, I’m presenting these in the order I read them, as my ARC didn’t actually auto-start at the first story for some reason. I’ll also stress that this was an advance copy, so hopefully some of my complaints will have been addressed in the final publication.

The Girl with a Broken Wing by Sheri Queen: One damaged fairy. One half-human. One destiny.

This story was a cute little fluff piece with fade-to-black romance scenes. While I don’t expect much character development in a story this short, the about-face Pennora did in her attitude and personality was jarring and didn’t quite seem in sync with the timing of events. Edward was fairly consistent, though, and his actions/attitude made more sense. Their relationship was on fast-forward from the jump, but enough fleshing-out of their time together was done to allow me to suspend my disbelief. The ‘twist’ regarding Edward’s parentage was unexpected and added a nice surprise to an otherwise predictable story. Ms. Queen wrapped things up with a nice HEA and overall, it was a pleasant read.

Sadly, there were enough typos to be noticeable and distracting, though they weren’t prevalent as in some of the other stories. Still, I find this number of editorial errors in such a short story to be disappointing and frustrating. If Ms. Queen ever releases this story on its own, I hope she’ll invest the time in an editor.

Rating: B-

Seaweed and Silk by L.J. Longo: A mermaid: hundreds of miles from her home on the ice, on a ship with a troll, a goblin wizard, and a pack of wolves. What else can go wrong? Oh, right. A flippin’ sea monster.

This was a hard one to rate, because the plot was unique, creative, and fun, and I loved the characters… but the editing was so, so awful. Like, a-major-typo-every-few-paragraphs awful. I’m not sure Ms. Longo even bothered to run the spell check, to be honest, and that is a huge pet peeve of mine.

However, I did enjoy the actual story.

Svilnda (or Seaweed to the crew) was awesome; strong, spunky, and not taking shit from anyone. Her attitude was the result of a hard life under the ice and Ms. Longo provided just enough of that backstory to give Svilnda depth and complexity. Tan, despite his sort of fearsome description, was sweet and steady—almost the opposite of the others—and it was obvious he cared for Seaweed. Even with the short length, there was plenty of action and tension, and the romantic encounter between Tan and Svilnda was delicious. Just enough background was sketched in to give the world color and interest and I’d love to read more stories set there. The twist at the end was totally unexpected, though looking back, there was pretty clear foreshadowing. Despite the numerous typos, “Seaweed and Silk” was one my favorite story in this collection.

Rating: B-

Welded by Elsa Carruthers: Welding Witch, Rena, is on the run. She’s not looking for love, but all the magic in the world couldn’t keep the sparks from flying when her rivals, Nate and Duke, find her.

I DNF’d this story about halfway through because it was so confusing, and there were so many typos that I occasionally couldn’t figure out what the author was trying to say. The cast of characters was way, way too big, and I got the feeling we were supposed to know them, their backgrounds, and preceding events from something else. Rena’s reactions to Duke and Nick turned on a dime and I didn’t know why; there wasn’t enough backstory or context given for anything that was happening, at least not in what I read. Overall, this was unpleasant and confusing.

Rating: DNF

Love at Dawn by Cara McKinnon: Sometimes mortals need a little push from a god and goddess to fall in love…

I LOVED this story! The world was fascinating; the characters were sympathetic, multidimensional, and showed growth; and the romance was both sweet and hot. Leora and Reed were wonderful both individually and together, and the reason behind their initial tension was quite believable, as was their move past it. Ms. McKinnon was sparing with the details on the world, religion, and society, yet she provided just enough to set a seamless and coherent scene without bogging down the pace. Though I know this was probably a one-shot, I think there’s enough here to spur a full-length novel—a novel I’d read in a heartbeat. Also, there wasn’t a single typo, which made me beyond thrilled.

“Love at Dawn” was an excellent beginning to this little collection, and if Ms. McKinnon’s other work is even half this good, I will definitely be reading more! I highly recommend this story.

Rating: A+

A Hunt for Love by M.T. DeSantis: Can a djinn and a clueless guy beat the clock, avoid the curse, and maybe even find true love?

“A Hunt for Love” was sweet, silly, and clean. Janessa and Adam were cute together on their scavenger hunt, and there was enough humor and snark to make it fun. They were pretty simple, as characters go, though I think that fit the piece perfectly. Even with the looming deadline, it was obvious how the story would end, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it, The end was actually rather touching, more so if you consider the broader aspects of the choice Adam made. Aladdin, this was not, though that story is humorously referenced a couple of times. Also, there were a few more typos than seemed acceptable for this short a story, which was disappointing.

This was a nice little palate-cleanser in the middle of the collection.

Rating: B+

Spring Fling by Mary Rogers: A druid’s bargain gives Carson revenge against his former lover Carrie–at the price of her memories of them together. But did she truly steal his magic all those years ago? Or was the real theft his heart?

Um, so this one sucked. It wasn’t a romance and it wasn’t really about love, either. It didn’t even make all that much sense! It started with normal college kids (the guy is an utter prick) and then suddenly…MAGIC IS A THING, without being introduced, prefaced, or explained. It didn’t fit and neither did the rest of the story. There wasn’t any reason for Carson to want revenge against Carrie, other than that he was a selfish, irredeemable asshole whom she was lucky to get away from the first time. What he did to her was unforgivable and made me hate a character I hadn’t liked from the start.

“Spring Fling” never did come together cohesively. In all honesty, it felt like the author took a bunch of odds and ends that didn’t fit into anything else she’d written and rammed them together before saying “Ta Da!” Either that, or she was both drunk and high when she wrote it. Also, it was painfully unedited, with the most obnoxious transgression being a random lack of quotes around dialogue.

Rating: F-

A Siren’s Song of Spring by A.E. Hayes: She is sworn to sing men to their deaths. Until one sails into her heart.

I was looking forward to this one after the complete train wreck that preceded it, but there was a note at the very beginning of the story saying it wasn’t complete at the time of the ARC release. I wasn’t going to bother starting a story I couldn’t finish and don’t really understand why an unfinished novella was allowed into the collection in the first place. Honestly doesn’t give me a real favorable impression of A.E. Hayes.

Rating: N/A

When Hermes Met Eos by Traci Douglass: One night. Two star-crossed immortals. Will their vibrant connection survive beyond sunrise?

This was by far the most explicit of the stories in A Crazy Little Spring Called Love and Ms. Douglass crafted the tension and buildup very well. I loved her portrayal of Hermes and Eos, and the two had immediate chemistry. I’m not usually into the insta-love thing, but here, it worked…though I’m not even sure that’s what it was; there was strong, immediate attraction, but the affection took the length of the story to grow. In addition to the intense physical pull between Eos and Hermes, there was time for a few more serious scenes where they revealed a surprising amount about themselves in rather few words. Few authors can so effortless provide that balance while still wrapping everything up with a satisfying HEA, but Traci Douglass is one of them. If I ever come back around to this collection, “When Hermes Met Eos” is definitely one of the stories I’ll reread!

With the exception of one or two missing words, “When Hermes Met Eos” was very well edited. I will definitely be checking out more of Ms. Douglass’s work in the future!

Rating: A

***

One note on the anthology as a whole: except for “Love at Dawn” and “When Hermes Met Eos”, the editing was ATROCIOUS. I don’t know if each author was responsible for cleaning up their own manuscript (I suspect this was the case) or if there was one editor for all, but either way, there were way too many typos. Everything from extra or missing words, incorrect word choice (complement vs. compliment, too vs. to), and missing punctuation (usually the starting or ending quotation mark in dialogue) plagued the pages of this collection. At times it was so bad that it nearly ruined an otherwise lovely story (“Seaweed and Silk” is a prime example) and at others, it made a story almost incoherent (“Spring Fling” and “Welded”).

Bottom line: While I didn’t love and can’t recommend all the stories in A Crazy Little Spring Called Love, it was a nice collection with varying levels of heat. I recommend it to anyone who loves variety in their romance and is looking for something quick that won’t loop you into reading a series.

Overall rating: C

Click to purchase: Amazon

Crazy Little Spring Called Love
by Traci Douglass, Cara McKinnon, Sheri Queen, M.T. DeSantis,
Mary Rogers, Elsa Carruthers, A.E. Hayes, and L.J. Longo
Release Date: May 3, 2017
Publisher: Stars and Stone Books

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