Series: Love in the Rain #1
Format Read: Kindle ARC
Source: Ruthie Knox in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: June 9, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
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.
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.
I first read about this title in Ruthie Knox's newsletter and thought it sounded interesting. Plus, the charity the anthology benefits is one I believe in so I requested a copy from Ms. Knox. I am a fan of her work and it was a great chance to try the other authors.
Overall, I didn't love the stories. They weren't bad, and some I really liked, but they aren't happy stories. I like happy romances; I get enough grit and realism in my real life. Most of the stories have some hope, none have a definitive happy ending but there were some hopeful happy for now endings.
Redemption by Ruthie Knox ~
Mike and Jessie have been lovers for about a year but they've never been emotionally intimate. When Jessie's dream of her own business dies, she prepares to run, leaving everything behind. It's what she does. Mike has failed dreams of his own, but he's not going anywhere. Mike and Jessie have started to push the boundaries of their relationship and to care about each other. Can they push past their fears and failures? Can they make a relationship work? The story is sad yet hopeful and the ending holds out the possibility of an HEA for the two of them.
The Heart of It by Molly O'Keefe ~
Another sad story with a hopeful ending. Gabe is an author who was sexually abused as a child/teen. Now as an adult, he can only tolerate sex if he's drunk. He's trying to change that and I love that it doesn't happen overnight but it takes time and work. Love does not cure all. Elena is a single mother and a prostitute, technically an escort. I didn't love that the story glossed over the realities of being a prostitute. Their relationship and individual growth occurs over time and felt realistic. It was hard to read at times but I enjoyed it.
Sacrifice by Cecilia Tan ~
I expected to dislike this one honestly. A virgin sacrifice to a fertility god just didn't hit my sweet spot. But I was surprised. The deity has come to regret the deal he made with the locals and the pain he has caused to the women given to him over the years. The woman (I don't think we are ever given either of their names) speaks a different language so communication is a challenge. She doesn't know where she is or why she's there; she was kidnapped, sold, and eventually ended up as the sacrifice. This story examines consent and willingness but leaves open just how much consent the woman was able to give. It's a sweet story nonetheless and the god is careful about not taking advantage.
Real Feelings by Charlotte Stein ~
Now this was also about consent but it just didn't work. The narrator buys a sex robot; an animate sex doll. But she gets obsessed with the idea that he needs to want to have sex with her. Of course, that would mean that he has consciousness and sentience and we never really get that. Oh, the narrator convinces herself of it and that he truly wants to have sex, and not just because he's programmed to do so. I never bought into it. Part of the problem was the length, there wasn't enough room for development, and part of it was the author never showed us that he developed a mind and a will of his own. This one just didn't work for me. The narrator was obsessed and had issues, she needed therapy.
Rainy Season Mary Ann Rivers ~
I couldn't even finish this one. It was just too pretentious.
The Rain in Spain by Amy Jo Cousins ~
An impulsive marriage is having troubles. Part of the problem is they don't communicate. On a belated honeymoon in Spain, Javi and Magda break out of their rut when Magda tosses his careful planning to the skies and then pulls him into a game where they pretend to be strangers and talk and flirt. It reminded a little bit of Knox's novella, "Making It Last". This one had a hopeful ending and I enjoyed it.
Fitting In by Audra North ~
This was one of two stories that made me very glad not to be a teenager in college these days. Stas was unlikable at first but as we got to know him and he loosened up, I liked him a lot. I appreciated that he was able to recognize when he was wrong. Stas loves his dads but as the son of two male parents who were also lower-middle class and immigrants, life has been challenging at times. He is embarrassed by his dads when the story starts and I wanted to smack him. He's much too worried about trying to fit in with the elite in crowd. Leila has never been part of the in crowd, she's different too, but unlike Stas she's okay with it. But, she had an abortion a few years ago and the baby's father spread nasty rumors about her. Now, she has a horrible reputation that she can't shake. Together, Stas and Leila learn how to deal with shame, embarrassment, and the cost of conforming. Leila was delightful and Stas's journey away from shame was heartwarming.
Private Study by Shari Slade ~
This was the second story that made me glad not to be in college. Tess had a rigid upbringing (which really needed a bit more development, it was cardboard) who is now exploring both sex and her sexuality. But she's chosen to do this via video blogging and now she's been recognized by classmates. One boy assumes she's a slut and when she declines his advances, she becomes a bitch. His more enlightened friend Jameson is curious about her motivation - art project? science activity? - and is genuinely curious and interested. They butt heads, argue, and circle around each other.
"Wanting to know you isn't the same as trying to have sex with you. Will you let me know you?"Tess has to learn to live with the notoriety of her actions and decide if she will be ashamed or not. Jameson has dreams and they include Tess but she's skittish. I love the action he took to win back her trust and show her he's sincere and I'm kinda tempted to try the recipe myself. :D
Storm Warning by Alexandra Haughton ~
This story had old flames hooking up again, not one of my favorite tropes, combined with one of my least favorite plot devices, a storm that isolates the two of them into a forced, false intimacy. But it worked. I enjoyed the story. Amy has come home after getting in over her head financially and losing her job. Naturally, she immediately runs into her ex, Tom, now a veterinarian. He belittled her goals and dreams when she left and as a result she cut him out of her life. Now that she's back, he wants to patch things up. He's still attracted to her and cares about her. Amy is prickly and proud and wants to take care of herself; she does not want to be rescued, and she's still angry at Tom. Trapped by the storm, they open up to each other. I empathized with Amy's desire to rebuild and put her life back together, I appreciated Tom's humor and willingness to make amends. They also had heat and it was the perfect story end to the anthology.