Friday, September 29, 2017

Anthology Summer Rain

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. 

Comment: As everyone knows, when it comes to anthologies it's always a game of chance to find anthologies where all stories included are interesting. I liked this anthology as a whole and most stories were like introductions to ideas/plots I'd be interesting in reading more about, meaning, I'd read full length stories about these plots, not exactly series on them.

This anthology was edited with stories with a specific purpose and 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. Since I bought an used copy at a retailer I'm not sure if I contributed or not...
What all stories then have in common is the presence of rain, often used as a cleansing metaphor. When I was deciding if I wanted to read the book this was a factor that caught my eye and made me wonder how it would be inserted in each story. As usual, in some cases it went better than in others.
Now I'll just leave some simple comments about each story.

Redemption by Ruthie Knox - 6/10 
I thought this story was too sad. Basically it focuses on two people who are down on their luck, one of them as a dead end job and the other just lost a business. I can see why it's call redemption because at the end there's hope they will be able to do something together, there's already a connection between them but there were little details about their personalities and I don't think those and the hope weren't enough to balance the more negative aspects.

The Heart of It by Molly O’Keefe - 8/10 
I thought this was a cute story about a male writer and a female escort. This had very interesting emotional layers, especially when it came to the male's past. There were some quick jumps in the plot's time so I'd love a full length story. But the details used were well placed, well dealt with. I was really invested in these character's possible future and interactions. My second favorite story.

Sacrifice by Cecilia Tan - 8/10 
This is a fantasy story about two very different people, the male protagonist is a demigod (sort of like the Greek myth of Hercules) and a girl who is a sacrifice to appease the gods. This had enough details to be an unique story, especially because the girl was kidnapped from China and they couldn't understand each other at first. Things progressed very quickly but the rich details compensated (from my POV at least).

Real Feelings by Charlotte Stein - 8/10 
This was different. It featured a relationship between a woman and her brand new human sized robot, who suddenly gains feelings. I'm not sure if this can be seen as IA since he is programmed to act and react and not make spontaneous moves. Although I can't fully accept how easily the robot "changed", it still offered some interesting notions and I was looking for to see how the human woman would react as well.

Rainy Season by Mary Ann Rivers - 8/10 
Surprisingly good story, when I think about my past experience with the author's work. I consider this to be still quite analytical but it was easier to go through than some of her full length novels so maybe she's an author whose work needs to be taken in small doses. I liked the main female character, she's a barista that can sort of guess people's needs and problems. There's a math teacher that comes often to the shop and they start talking one day. Quite sweet, actually.

The Rain in Spain by Amy Jo Cousins - 5/10 
Too sad for me. A couple is trying to reconnect again, to regain the love and the same feelings they had when they begun their marriage. Real life and their jobs make it difficult to be in the same page. I thin this was rather depressing, to be honest, even if it ends hopeful and in a positive vibe. Apparently based on the author's own experience, I felt it wasn't "magical" enough to convince me those two made the right choice in being married.

Fitting In by Audra North - 8/10 
My favorite, I liked the character's past being the detail that separated them from the mainstream but at the same time bringing them together. There are interesting social themes, interesting notions about shame and acceptance and self esteem and peer pressure, I'd love a full length story because there is a lot of potential in several details of this short story!

Private Study by Shari Slade - 7/10 
The couple seems sweet together but I felt there's a lack of details, which could have helped make the plot stronger. For obvious reasons, there wasn't enough space but the characters did impress me as being solid and well characterized. I just think the lack of pages was more obvious here than in the other stories of the anthology but it was appealing enough to read about two different students and how they could try to connect to one another.

Storm Warning by Alexandra Haughton - 5/10 
My least favorite. This seems to be a second chance story type of plot and I dislike those in general. A woman who didn't succeed int he big city comes back home to regain strength at her parent's house and before a storm hits she meets her old boyfriend who didn't believe in her dream. Now they talk about what happened and maybe their future can be bright again. Interesting details but I didn't connect with the characters, didn't like the idea of them having been an item, it's just a trope that often leaves me not caring.

💜 Overall 7 grade because it's the combination of all the individual grades.
I loved the little note each author included before their stories, to give us some context and in some cases, it helped understanding the idea behind the plots. 
As far as anthologies go, this was not a bad one. 
Grade: 7/10

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