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Reviews for the product - Summer Bigger Than Others [ebook] (Back to product)
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Review by Lucy

- 07/21/2015

Anthologies are a great way to find new-to-me authors and I enjoy that I can get a myriad of different stories within one theme. In this anthology, the theme is summer. Since I read this one on vacation, it was even more fitting.
Aligning North - K.C. Faelan Rated 3 hearts.
Blake Manning spends his summers in his favorite national park, Yosemite. He runs an outdoor adventure company with three friends. This year he and his BFF/business partner, Ali, will serve as guides for a hike over the Grand Traverse Trail. Blake will find it's not nature or the wildlife that are most hazardous, but traversing the uncharted waters of a potential relationship with one of the hikers, Zac North, who doesn't appear all that happy about being the object of Blake's attention.

Stormy weather and stormier tempers keep all the hikers on their toes as Yosemite tests them, bringing some closer together...and breaking others apart.
Review: I liked the concept of this one, Zac heading out on a camping expedition where he meets Blake, one of the guides. It was interesting but for me it went on a bit too long. This ends on with a definite HFN with possibilities.

Aloha? Oy! By Jonathan Penn Rated 4.5 hearts.
Paul and Asher have been together for fifteen years. They're still in love, but each is beginning to have doubts about what their future holds. Paul comes up with the brilliant idea that a week in Hawaii is the sure-fire way to reignite their dwindling spark. He's mapped out every last detail of their romantic tropical getaway. Now, if only the universe would stop screwing with his plans...
Review: One of my favorites of the anthology, this involves an established couple, Paul and Ash, who take a vacation as both feel they are drifting apart after 15 years together. Paul is a frequent flier, Ash hates to fly but they are headed to Hawaii, where Paul has all kinds of wonderful plans to show Ash how much he loves him. Of course, as is wont to do when you pin so much on plans, everything just seems to go wrong, from a rash to hemerroids, a bad show to a hated treehouse. It just doesn’t pan out and it’s funny (well, for us to read!) but in the end it’s a sweet and ultimately romantic reconnection.

Anything or Nothing - Terry Kerr Rated 3 hearts.
Every life has its turning point - that moment when a big choice has to be made - and for Michael Richards that time is now. His life could change irrevocably, and he's scared.

When he meets a stranger in a café - an older man who is familiar somehow, and seems to have appeared from nowhere - Michael is forced to make a decision.

Truth, or dead?
Review: Mike is a Catholic boy who isn’t suicidal, no because that’s a sin, but who would be glad if someone killed him. Anything to alleviate the guilt he feels about wanting to kiss Tony. He can’t be gay, can’t be. It takes a visit from an oddly familiar stranger to make him realize that the mistake he is on the verge of making is fixable and life changing.

Dazzle Me - Ofelia Gränd Rated 4.5 hearts.
Tom has been planning for months, but in those plans he never once found himself on a spa table in Bangkok on his and Santino's one year anniversary. He doesn't do aeroplanes, doesn't like the tropical climate, and he does not do spas.

Yet there he is, without a stitch of clothing, and with a man he's never met before. He'll do his best to enjoy his day and then he'll give Santino the best anniversary imaginable, even if it means he has to be covered in chopped-up veggies on him for an entire day...

...if only it were veggies.
Review: Another absolute favorite, this story is sweet and the day so imperfect that it’s perfect. Tom has so many plans for his and Santino’s one year anniversary and all of it was ruined when Santino has to fly off to Thailand right after he gets a promotion. Since Tom absolutely does not fly, they won’t even be together for their anniversary and he just had everything so perfect. You want to hug him and tell him everything will be okay. Except love conquers all, including fear of flying, right? So off to Thailand they go, with all those lovely, romantic plans turned to ash.
Despite the hatred of flying, on the plane Tom goes and proves just how much he loves his Santino. The mantra through this story is – he loves his Santino and it shows. When Tom gets nervous, when he’s frustrated, when he does what it takes to make his man happy, the love shows. There are mishaps throughout, lost luggage, a non-hotel room, the works. Santino gets him a spa day to relax and seriously, it is epic to read and I laughed for poor Tom. The spa day from hell and he does it to make his guy happy. And Pejazzle too. Romantic and oh so awesome.

Fang and Fortune - L.L. Bucknor Rated 4 hearts
Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Such is the life of twenty-four year old loner, Micah Salvo. Forced to take a vacation from his two jobs but not having enough money to escape, he visits a local summer fair. He only went to ride the rides and watch the people. What he didn't expect was someone to watch back and possibly give him a chance to change life as he knew it.
Review: Omar is working the psychic booth at the local fair when Micah shows up to have a bit of an outing. Micah works two jobs and he has little money to vacation, so this is it. He has a creepy landlord who keeps trying to touch him and he wants to stay out at least until the man’s wife gets home. Meeting Omar is a little surreal and things get heated when the two see the fair together, especially the ferris wheel. The story is a beginning for the two of them, a HFN perhaps, a little melancholy and hopeful.

Finally - Amelia Mann rated 3 hearts
Not everyone spends their summers on sandy beaches or in luxurious resorts. World-famous opera singer Philip Jameson has arrived in Munich to perform at the Opera Summer Festival after making the biggest mistake of his life. For years he has been secretly in love with his best friend Andrew and believes the shield he has built is bulletproof: Andrew was never to know. But at a boisterous party in London following the most successful live TV broadcast of his career, whatever walls Philip has built crumble and he can't resist the urge to kiss Andrew in the middle of the dance floor. Painfully he realizes what he did was so very wrong.

Andrew Greene has traveled more times than he can count during the last four years. To every city in the world where Philip sings, he flies to spend all his spare time with his best friend. At the breakneck speed in which Philips career is developing, he is the constant. When Philip reveals he intimately cares for Andrew, it is finally time for Andrew to change his life completely - in favor of love.
Review: I had difficulty deciding what to say about this one. On the one hand, I felt for Philip, who’s point of view is given in the story. He is a very successful opera singer and he is struggling because of a spur-of-the-moment kiss he planted on his best friend, Andrew. Since then, he hasn’t heard from Andrew and now his performance is suffering. He can’t make it better – Andrew isn’t returning his calls. I think what I needed here was to know exactly what Andrew was thinking, because I have to say – I didn’t like him much by the end. The ambivalence, the absolute selfishness (blocking a phone number instead of just answering and saying, I need time, for example) and then the utter nerve it takes to insist Philip never run again!! Philip may have panicked at that kiss (which is told in flashback mid-way through the story) and run for a minute, but Andrew ran for a month. I loved Philip and adored Jonah, so that made for a lovely read anyway.

Home is Where the Hard is - Caraway Carter I didn’t read this one, as it was tagged open relationship, which I don’t enjoy. I greatly appreciated that the stories were tagged so well.

Offline - L.M. Steel Rated 4 hearts.
For the past decade, Bernice has spent her life online, but that's all about to change. When she is made redundant from her internet-marketing job, she heads for the Cornish Coast to try her hand at a different kind of surfing. With the Wi-fi off, she discovers what the real wide world has to offer and finds a much more intimate connection with local girl, Kerra.
Review: When Bernice is laid off, she spontaneously buys an RV and heads for the coast. She is going to try surfing and hanging out and maybe getting to know the lovely woman she meets there. I especially loved how she was reported missing by her parents when they realized she had not been on social media, texted or called. This was such a commentary on how wired we all are – Bernice is not the only one who spends the majority of time living life through the touch screen instead of fully experiencing it. I loved that Bernice is a veg, too! And the “I’m wet” moment was freaking adorable and made me laugh. This is a cute one.

Ribbons and Frills - Claire Davis and Al Stewart Rated 4.25 hearts
Ribbons and Frills costume sewing factory has always been about creating dreams, but when the owner asks his very upper-class son to take over, sparks fly, and not just from the sewing machines. The last time manager Gary Shaw saw Ashley Turner-Hoff was a year ago, when he left Gary standing on the beach with a broken heart and sand in his underwear.

Ashley Turner-Hoff has a plan to save the factory which involves one famous mannequin and a fashion show in London.

Can Gary forgive Ashley and give him a second chance? Can Ribbons and Frills really compete against top fashion designers, and do Gary's dreams of being on stage finally come true?
Find out in this summer story of sequins, sand, and surprises!
Review: When Ashley, the factory owners son, returns to take over Ribbons and Frills, the manager, Gary, is in a bind. He wants the factory to be successful (it’s beginning to fail) but Ashley left him heartbroken the last time they were together. Now Ashley’s father is leaving him in charge of rejuvenating the factory, so there is no choice but to work together. When they hear what Ashley’s plan is, no one is really convinced. They band together to give it a try, though, and in the process Ashley and Gary try to become friends again. Ashley just doesn’t think about what he says sometimes – he already comes across as arrogant a bit, so when he says things such as “What are you still doing in a place like this? You’re not like the others. You could be doing so much better”, it’s no wonder Gary takes offense. For his life and for his friends. I loved Gary, his secret dream lived out at home with his sewing machine, wearing a “Tarzan loin cloth under his suit for strength”. He’s so wonderful and he’s so loyal. When he has to step up after a problem, throwing up and still doing it, I loved him. This is an awesome story about long held and suppressed dreams that sometimes get to come true.

Roller Coaster - J P Walker Rated 4 Hearts
Quinn is successful in business but never in romance. Always scared of rejection or abandonment, she keeps her love life simple and detached.

But during a summer work assignment, she meets the beautiful, fiery and charismatic Sarah in line for a roller coaster, and within a few days her life is turned upside down.

Quinn has to face her fears of rejection when she can't deny the chemistry they share, but will she see it through or run before she can be hurt?
Review: This story is pretty straight forward, not a lot of angst, but two lovely characters. I enjoyed Quinn’s inner monologue about work – been there! There is insta-love here but we do have a separation that reinforces what they are feeling. Romantic and sweet.

The Strawberry Farm - Victoria Milne Rated 2.5 hearts
Charlie's furious when a burger truck begins trading in the country lane outside his strawberry farm and encroaches upon his business. What makes it worse is that the infuriating owner refuses to move, claiming he's found the perfect spot on the English coast to spend his summer.

But when Charlie's friends from the city show up and are convinced that Tai, the bold American chef, and Charlie should be attracted to one another, the farmer is left with no option than to grudgingly go along with his friends' plans to set them up.

His world is rapidly turned into bedlam when disaster strikes, forcing the reticent farmer to make a decision that will affect both his and Tai's summer, and will either bring them together or permanently drive them apart.
Review: This one had a lot of potential that I kept waiting for but I felt the whole “outsider” problem was solved way too fast! The focus is more on the disaster that happens (which was a little odd) more than Charlie’s upset about Tai setting up a burger truck. The problem with the truck seemed like a throw in. I guess I needed more on Rick and why Tai is there. And I wanted to know – what’s he going to do if everything was tied into the truck?

Ultimate Summer - Alexis Woods Rated 3 hearts
When Brett gets tagged by a flying disc, launched from the hands of ultimate frisbee player Sean, he doesn't expect the mutual attraction to hit just as hard and fast. Sometimes all it takes is a single day to jumpstart an ultimate summer.
Review: Very cute story of Sean and Brett, the former smacking the latter with a Frisbee as their initial meeting. I did appreciate the idea of Sean being a Frisbee player, that was something different and so very summer. This is part of the Southern Jersey Shore series but works as a stand alone. The story really is just a beginning, as the guys only know each other a day, so it’s more of a maybe HFN. It ends a bit abruptly and I definitely wanted to know the whole story behind the scars.

Waking Up in Vegas - Hunter Frost Rated 3.5 Hearts
Officer Reed Weston has come to expect the unexpected during the graveyard shift in the City of Sin. But this time, it's Reed's partner who throws him for a loop, using him as bait to get a drunk Midwesterner safely back to his hotel. Reed goes along with his partner's plan only because he's too tired to argue, not because the attractive lawbreaker is easy on his weary eyes.

After waking up hung-over and ashamed of his behavior (the little that he remembers), Grant Carroll wants to make amends. Partying until he literally drops just to forget his no-good ex is not who he is at all. Treating the gruff officer that escorted him home to an apology lunch, Grant soon realizes Reed has everything his ex doesn't - compassion, intelligence, and gigantic biceps.

Gambling has never been either of their strong suits, but taking a risk on each other may come with the best payoff yet.
Review: This short story introduces us to Officer Reed, a cop in Vegas, who is escorting the very wasted tourist, Grant, back to his hotel. Grant, drinking to forget what a jerk his ex is, is mortified by his behavior and offers Reed a lunch, which turns into an extra. The sex is hot and both men have some relationship demons to overcome but there is a solid hopeful here.

Will…You Have Me(?) - Shayla Mist Rated 4 hearts
Will is hot. Will is damn hot. But he's also Tommy's future brother. And that's... not very hot. At least that's what Tommy is trying to convince himself. Though Will might have a different idea.

Review: First off let’s say – these two are not blood related, so no brocest happening here (despite Dan’s adorable wish!) Tommy and his best friend, Dan, are together with Will to celebrate the wedding of Tommy’s mom and Will’s dad. The fact that Tommy has a crush on Will is just making things awkward. Dan’s reactions are priceless, too. “He’s gone, Tommy. Can you open the door now, or have you cut your wrists already?” I’d have loved this story just for Dan. I also loved that no matter how much Tommy is crushing on Will, no one judges his bestie. “Will is freaking hot, but not even my crush on him can cloud my judgement when it comes to my best friend.” Just as it should be, Tommy!! Will needs work sometimes, that’s for sure. He blurts out things and hurts Tommy’s feelings. These guys are in their early twenties but both of them seem much younger at times. It’s a cute story with a HFN ending. And there’s Dan!
As always, I had definite favorites and some that weren’t for me, but I had a blast with this anthology! Recommended for anyone who wants a little dose of summer.

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