So many stories, so many pages! Mistletoe Madness: Dreamspinner Press 2009 Advent Calendar brought me 32 short stories in as many days. It would’ve been 1,700 pages had it been a printed, bound book. This collection, however, was one of the deciding points to purchase a Kindle for us this past Christmas.
It took well past the 32 days to read everything, but it was worth the time. So many of these stories were outstanding in one way or another. Here’s a quick look at all the stories in the collection (in alphabetical order by title) and what I thought of them. The bold titles are the ones that were my absolute favorites!
- A Time for Charity by A. Willingham: Mitch doesn’t much like the holidays, but that starts to change when he meets Sam. This was an enjoyable story that left you with a good feeling as Mitch started to warm up to the holiday season.
- All I Want For Christmas by Linda Reilly: Here we meet David who is spending Christmas with friends in New York. David’s denied that he’s gay for years, but when he meets Nicholai Markoff he has to admit he’s gay… and that he’s fallen in love. This story was awesome and took the unexpected turn that Nicholai was a vampire (okay, it’s actually in the description on the Dreamspinner site, but I didn’t read that before I read the story). A fantastic love story that made me really happy.
- An Australian Christmas in New York by Sean Kennedy: Aussie Vince has lived with his boyfriend in NYC for four years, but this year he is extremely homesick. It’s impressive what Chuck does to give Vince an Australian Christmas in the city. Living in NYC, I can imagine what Chuck had to do to pull this off and I loved the story becuase it shows what you’ll do to give your boyfriend what he needs.
- Biting the Christmas Biscuit by Dawn Kimberly Johnson: This was such a sweet story. Alec and Eli travel from England to the U.S. to accept an invitation from the family of Eli’s dead lover. It sounds strange, but it is a great story as Eli is able to make peace with the past and Alec finds out what an amazing man he’s got.
- Cabin Fever Over the Holidays by Jay Starre: Christmas and New Year’s in a cabin with your friends means some wild times. This story fell flat for me, however. It was too much sex and not enough plot.
- Charity Starts at Home by Zahra Owens: Quinn runs a homeless shelter and Haden, who once worked there for community service, returns to lend more of a hand. As these two discover feelings for each other, Quinn isn’t sure he should be falling for the rich Haden. Fabulous story watching these two men work through the issues and difficult times to find each other.
- Christmas Perfection by Bethany Brown: Everyone can relate to this story. Sky and Derek are having their families over to their new house for Christmas and there’s a certain amount of stress with that. This comedic story was a delight as these two do everything they can to be the perfect hosts.
- Collingsworth by Andy Eisenberg: Michael goes to boarding school as a day student. He’s got a huge crush on another boy and when the girl’s school pulls out of the masked ball, Michael gets to dance with him. At the same time, Michael’s life changes because he finds out a significant inheritance was left to him. This story was quite touching as you get to watch Michael grow from a timid boy into the gentleman he didn’t think he’d become.
- Dresden Weihnachten by Edward von Behrer: Daniel’s been transferred to Germany for work and when he meets one of the locals he gets a magical Christmas and a new boyfriend. Such a great story, especially with all the detail around Dresden’s celebrations.
- Earth and Sun, Cedar and Sage by Tedy Ward & Margaret Mills: Gideon is a cowboy and performer and his partner is Indian Jed. They are traveling to New Orleans hoping to find a safe place they can have a live together. But a winter storm strands them in Kingman, Arizona. Here they find out that there is acceptance and help even in a world where Indians and gay men are often not treated well. This was a great read watching these two take care of each other in a time where much of the world was against them. I’d love to see these two in further stories.
- Four Grooms and a Queen by John Simpson: This story had such a great concept–two new detectives, who’ve been partners for years on the job, ask their boyfriends to marry them. The four make plans for a double wedding and a honeymoon. The problem is that it all whirls by so fast. I wish this story was told in a longer form to give these characters time to really shine.
- Got Mistletoe? by Andi Anderson: A very cute story about retail worker Ryan discovering true love in the gift wrap aisle. My only problem is that sometimes the story felt redundant, but it was still adorable.
- Holiday History by Heidi Champa: Kevin is a house painter, even though he should still be a college student. He’s painting Gary’s house right before the holidays. These two feel an instant connection, which only grows deeper as their love of history is revealed. Another sweet story of two people who just happened to find each other making the connection.
- Home for Christmas by Nicki Bennett: This was so sweet it had me smiling the whole time I read it. Connell and Spence met in Savannah, Georgia, and were drawn together quickly. They kept up their relationship when Connell had to go home to England. When Connell comes back to Savannah for Christmas the two decide to never part again.
- If I Must by Amy Lane: A forgetful professor and a doting accountant become roommates, and eventually boyfriends. Everything about this story was perfect. I loved how Lane paced the book, having these two draw together very slowly even while you think their differences should be driving them apart.
- Mitchell’s Presence by D.W. Marchwell: Arthur is jaded, and that might be putting it mildly. When he sets out to win Mitchell’s heart he’s got to change his ways. Watching Arthur sort through what he needs to do was a fun read.
- New Year, New Love, New Challenge by S. Blaise: Couples often have to figure out how to deal with each other’s work dilemmas. For Andy and Trent, after a year together, they have to decide what to do when one of them gets the chance to work in Kenya. This story is a good case study on how couples should work through things. Just a wonderful read watching it all work out.
- Northern Exposure by Marguerite Labbe & Fae Sutherland: Angel and Sebastian have been together for a while, but it’s time for them to decide if they are in it for the long haul. During a holiday trip, their relationship will either solidify or fall apart. This was a frustrating story becuase I wanted to scream at the characters for not opening up to each other, of course that kind of investment means the story also works very well. There are more stories available with these characters and I will seek them out.
- One Night Stand by Clare London: A hook up at the office Christmas party is either completely the wrong thing to do or the best thing that’s ever happened. I was mixed on this story. The internal dialogue from Teddy was a little much sometimes and almost made me put the story down because I got tired of hearing him beat himself up.
- Pleasures with Rough Strife by JL Merrow: It’s a few days before Christmas, 1922, and Danny gets hurt climbing a tree to get mistletoe for his mom. He ends up healing in the big manor house. Fearing the master of the house will turn him and his family off the property, Danny is surprised to find the Phillip falling for him. It was great watching Phillip come out of his shell and open up to Danny. I’d love to see a sequel to find out what happens to these two.
- Season’s Greetings by Chrissy Munder: Office romance in a greeting card company where they are working on Easter during Christmas. A very cute story that had me enthralled with the lengths that Ian would go to in order to win Russ’ heart.
- Silent Night by Rowena Sudbury: Jonah and Max are pro wrestlers who are stuck in the Detroit airport thanks to a snowstorm. Max has lusted after Jonah for years and as the two men talk they discover a lot in common. Watching the discussion unfold and take many turns made this a very enjoyable story.
- Silver and Gold by Devon Rhodes: This story took a lot of great twists to get where it was going and I loved that. Geoff is having a midlife crisis, which includes his first love getting back in contact with him. Abe has been interested in Geoff for a while and sees a chance to grab him. But is Geoff interested in Abe, or just the man that got away? A very good story that made me quite happy in the end.
- Simple Gifts by Andrew Grey: Eli and Geoff have been together for years, but each Christmas is difficult because Eli stays distant from his Amish family becuase he doesn’t want them shunned for the way he lives. Geoff gives Eli a great present by sending him home for Christmas. This story was so sweet and so moving. It was truly a simple gift Geoff gave, but it meant so much. A wonderful, heartwarming tale.
- Snow Follies by Chelle Dugan: Eric moves to Flagstaff and one of the first people he meets is police officer Cameron. Watching these two show interest in each other and try to work out what the other might be thinking was delightful. From tentative steps to full out passion, these two were a lot of fun to read about.
- Spam! It’s What’s for Christmas by Lenore Black: Maybe Santa does exist? Ben is out of work, out of a boyfriend and basically down on his luck. But a gruff street corner Santa may just fulfill a wish to give Ben exactly what he needs. This story took some unexpected turns. I liked the influence of the Santa a lot along with how Ben evolved in the story .
- The Mistletoe Phenomenon by Serena Yates: This story melted my heart. Magnus has become guardian to his nephew and they’ve moved to Mistletoe, Wyoming, to raise the boy. Here he meets Jakob, whose recently out of a relationship with a man who stole all his money. These two make tentative steps towards each other while dealing with relatives who want to take the boy away as well as Jakob’s difficulty getting into another relationship. Truly a wonderful story of a family coming together.
- The Santa Mug by Patric Michael: Darren has been anti-Christmas since his boyfriend Marlon died in a car accident on Christmas Eve. His friend Max has been trying to get him out of the funk, and bringing him home for Thanksgiving to his loving family starts to break him out of his shell. When Max finally has the courage to give Darren Marlon’s last gift, a new relationship is born. This story of loss and new love was tremendously good and left me with a nice, warm feeling.
- The Star Man by Jan Irving: This might be my most favorite story in the collection (it’s right up there with All I Want for Christmas and Earth and Sun, Cedar and Sage for top honors). In a freak accident, Matthew ends up face to face with his guardian angel, who is really an alien that’s been watching over him for years. Matthew has to get the alien home or he will die. It’s E.T., a love story and so much more.
- The White Stag by Jamie Freeman: Joshua is Christian and Jude is pagan (or something close to it). Joshua has a hard time reconciling his religion and his desire to be with Jude. At a Christmas/Solstice party thrown at his parents home, Jude shows Joshua the true wonder of the season. This story’s magical quality completely worked for me and left me full holiday magic.
- Two Christmases by Anne Brooke: This story was difficult because the characters were so frustrating. Relationships strained, broken and try to put it all back together again. I liked the story well enough, but I really wanted to slap the characters around.
- Vintage Toys for Lucky Boys by G.R. Richards: A terrific and unexpected story. Randy wants to get a great gift for his mom for Christmas and bring a box of vintage toys into Max’s store. Max is more than happy to pay top dollar for the toys, but the hitch is that Randy’s driver’s license still has the name Jennifer Ann on it. That might kill the deal, and a potential new relationship. Richards crafted a wonderful story, from Randy’s tension at having to reveal himself to Max’s compassion and understanding. I really didn’t want this story to end.
Thanks babe! I’m glad you enjoyed mine, it was a fun story to write. I ordered the Advent Calendar too, and still working my way through all the stories. Thanks for the rundowns! Glad to have found your blog. Devon
Thanks for the comments about “The White Stag.” I’m glad you enjoyed the magical elements — there’s more Jude and his magical animals on the way.
Thank you for reading the many fine stories in the Advent Calendar. I was delighted to see that you enjoyed The Santa Mug, as well as so many of the others included in the package. Several if the titles you ‘bolded’ were my favorites also!
Best regards to Will, and thank you both for the time and effort you put into your blog. I am glad to have found it!
I loved it too — I was sad on 1/2/10 when I had no more stories coming every day. I think DSP should do this every month! LOL