Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters
I absolutely adore reading short story collections. So, when I saw that there was going to be one all about fresh takes on romantic tales and traits we all know and love, I had to give it a go. I loved it. Some stories stood out more than others but I still really enjoyed it all. I wanted to give a quick story by story review breakdown as I feel that is the best way to share my thoughts on this one. I will definitely be coming back to some of the stories in the future.
Silver and Gold by Natasha Ngan / ‘Snowed in Together’ / 4 Stars
This was my first time reading anything by Natasha Ngan and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing. She really showed that you can care about characters, their relationship and their world in less than 20 pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I feel it is something I would love to see potentially in full story form in the future.
Five Stars by Amy Spalding / ‘ Mistaken Identity’ / 4 Stars
I loved this one. I’ve had mixed reactions to Amy Spadling’s work so wasn’t expecting to love this one as much as I did. It was cute, I found myself caring about the characters and it really did make me laugh at points. This was just a fun concept and I loved the way that it all played out.
Unfortunately, Blobs Do No Eat Snacks by Rebecca Kim Wells / ‘Kissing Under the Influence’ / 2 Stars
I did not enjoy this one all that much. I felt like I could not get a grasp of the world it was meant to be set in. I did not manage to connect with the characters which is always a massive need for me. I can see a lot of people enjoying this one though but it just was not for me.
Edge by Ashley Herring Blake / ‘Grumpy and Sunshine’ / 3 Stars
This story has the grumpy/sunshine trope which I tend to always be a fan of. I enjoyed the characters in this one but did feel that it actually needed a full-length story to get to know them and to get behind their relationship. I did enjoy it as a short story but think it would have suited longer. Still the trope plays out nicely and it has cute moments.
What Makes Us Heroes by Julian Winters / ‘Hero Vs. Villain’ / 3 Stars
I absolutely adore Julian Winters and always seem to enjoy his stories. Although this wasn’t my favourite of his, it was a lot of fun. We have fake dating superheroes who are doing so not to be humiliated in front of each other’s exes. The concept was fun and although I feel it wasn’t played out to its full potential, I still enjoyed the characters and how the story panned out.
And by Hannah Moskowitz / ‘Love Triangle’ / 3 Stars
I wish this story had been longer. It explores polyamory which I would have loved to see more than 20 pages on. I’ve never seen polyamory representation in YA before so I really would have loved to see more of this and have the story expanded. This is the shortest story in the collection overall but should have been the longest. I loved the characters and I wanted to see a lot more on how their relationship came to be.
My Best Friend’s Girl by Sara Farizan / ‘Best Friend’s Girlfriend’ / 4 Stars
What an adorable short story! I immediately want to read more by this author. It is a story about a girl how has to cover for her best friend with his girlfriend, who she happens to be in love with herself. It was cute, the relationships in it were incredibly sweet and I loved how the story ended up!
(Fairy) Like Attracts Like by Claire Kann / ‘Mutal Pining’ / 2 Stars
I can’t really say much about this one other than I really did not mix well with the writing. I couldn’t tell you much of what it was about but I know I just did not enjoy reading this one. It was a mix between contemporary and fantasy but didn’t really know itself what it was. I think others may enjoy this one, just not me.
These Strings by Lilliam Rivera / ‘Sibling’s Best Friend’ / 2 Star
This one was its own play the sibling’s best friend trope which although I’m not a fan of I usually don’t mind. In this case I was not a fan at all. It was not a fun story to read and I would have passed on it normally.
The Passover Date by Laura Silverman / ‘Fake Dating’ / 4 stars
I loved this one. It is just an incredible sweet tale with fake dating at its centre. I fell in love with these two characters, their personalities and how they acted together is such a small amount of time. I would have loved to see these two characters in a full story because I want more of them!
Bloom by Rebecca Barrow / ‘Love Transcends Space Time’ / 5 Stars
Personally, I think this is the best short story in the entire book. It is packed full of beautiful writing, pining, themes of love, revenge and grief. It has the most beautiful romance between a girl and the daughter of the man who murdered her mother. It is a difficult one to describe but I would highly recommend this collection purely for this story alone. It is one of those stories that stays with you and I’m sure I will think about it a lot.
Teed Up by Gloria Chao / ‘Oblivious to Lovers’ / 4 Stars
Don’t ask me why but I have a thing for golfing stories and this is one of those I loved. I may not completely understand the terms used in golfing but it still has be intrigued. Also, Gloria Chao had me caring a whole bunch for Liam and Sunny and honestly I’d read a full story about their and their golf escapades.
Boys Noise by Mason Deaver / ‘Only One Bed at the Inn’ / 3 Stars
This was is a cute bandmates / friends to lovers story which I enjoyed. It has trans rep and is the only story in the anthology to have that so I’m glad the representation was there but there should have been more. I would have loved more about these characters and to see their story expanded. Coincidently, I happened to be reading If This Gets Out at the same time as this and that has a very similar storyline and satisfied the urge to have this short story in long form.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Malinda Lo / ‘Secret Royalty’ / 3 Stars
I enjoy a good secret royalty story and this one was a lot of fun to read. Although in essence not much happens it is fun to see how someone who is secretly royalty may go about their lives. It definitely intrigued me into wanting to read more books by Malindo Lo!
Disaster by Rebecca Podos / ‘Second Chance Romance’ / 4 Stars
I’m so glad that this story was the end of the anthology as it finishes the book of perfectly. It is a second chance romance at the end of the world! You immediately root for the characters and see their panic, desperation and so much more in such a short space of time. I’d love more stories like this please!
Overall, this was a fun anthology with so many interesting stories that have fresh takes on tropes we know and love. It is packed full of representation and is just a whole bunch of fun to read. I would highly recommend this to anyone and hopefully it will help you find a new author or two!