100 Stories 100 Days

Quick Review: Be My Valentine Bobby Bryson by Geoffrey Knight

Be My Valentine Bobby Bryson by Geoffrey Knight

Kate is a single mom who’s doing the best she can after the loss of her husband. When her seven-year-old Mikey makes a Valentine at school and addresses it to a boy, certain people in her life act as if the world is coming to an end.

Everyone keeps telling Mikey he’s wrong, but he doesn’t understand what the big deal is. Kate helps Mikey make a special cupcake for his valentine and he presents it to Bobby, the handyman who’d been fixing things around the house.

In the newly repaired backyard treehouse, Bobby thanks Mikey for the card and, as they share the cupcake, makes sure the little boy understands that when people love you just the way you are, those are the one’s worth loving back.

This sweet story about a kid and his childhood crush touches on themes of love, kindness, and acceptance. It manages to be cute, without being saccharine, while at the same time deftly addressing heavier topics like homophobia and toxic masculinity.

It’s an endearing and heartfelt look at a mother who learns to stand up for her son. Love is Love.

Be My Valentine Bobby Bryson is available in both ebook and paperback.

Quick Review: Red Envelope by Atom Yang

Red Envelope by Atom Yang

Clint’s cousin Maggie has a friend named Weaver, who had a difficult home life growing up, so he spent most of his time with their large extended family. Weaver was always invited to join them for their big Lunar New Year celebration.

Clint has been attracted to Weaver since… well, forever. One year they finally act on their attraction, and it’s amazing. But then Weaver promptly leaves to work/study in China.

When New Year rolls around again, rumor has it that Weaver is back in town. Clint can’t decide if he’s angry over being ghosted for so long, or if he’s excited to see his long-time crush. After all the red envelopes have been handed out and the relatives have gone home, they’re finally able to discuss the repercussions of their one night together. They’ve been in love for such a long time. That hasn’t changed. It’s now up to them how they choose to move forward, hand in hand, together.

I freely admit, the above description is kinda awful. It doesn’t even come close to conveying just how wonderful Red Envelope is. How exactly am I supposed to describe how the author expertly blends elements of food, family, tradition, and celebration into such an engaging gay love story? Trust me, Atom Yang manages to do all that and more in this wonderfully romantic story set over the course of several Chinese New Year holidays – though I’d encourage you to read it no matter the time of year.

Quick Review: Video Store Valentine by Geoffrey Knight

Video Store Valentine by Geoffrey Knight

All film school student Dex wants to do for Valentine’s Day is head to his local video store, grab a DVD and a few snacks (okay, maybe more than a few) and settle in for a quiet night at home… alone.

Working the rental counter that night is Taylor, the too good-looking to be real clerk who leaves Dex awkwardly tongue-tied. When a robbery finds the two of them locked in the back storage room together, they find a way to pass the time through their shared love of movies and mutual attraction.

Once freed, they make plans for a real romantic Valentine’s date. A little VHS and chill maybe?

Geoffrey Knight’s Video Store Valentine is a broadly comedic short filled with movie references and sweet romance. The cute, flirty banter between movie nerd Dex and struggling actor Taylor is goofy and charming. They’re a match made in rom-com heaven.

A movie nerd myself, is it weird to say that after reading this, I kind of miss the good old days of local mom and pop video stores?

Quick Review: Bridesmates by Sydney Smyth

Bridesmates by Sydney Smyth

Accused of being commitment phobic, Cooper is dumped by his boyfriend just before leaving for a weekend wedding. Nevertheless, Cooper heads to Montana where he’ll serve as maid of honor (or Bridesmate) for his best friend Lisa, who is marrying her long-time beau Travis.

After arriving in Big Sky county, he is pulled over by the local sheriff’s deputy, who just so happens to be former high school star quarterback and small-town golden boy Will – the guy Coop shared a very sexy kiss with ten years ago, after a Friday night football game.

Cooper is having trouble handling his rental car (it’s a stick shift), so Will drives him into town. On the short ride there he learns that Will is now out of the closet and he will also be Travis’ best man, so they’ll be seeing whole lot more of each other over the next few days.

In a conversation with Lisa involving copious amounts of wine, she asks Cooper that since he and Will are both single, why not have some fun? On their drive, Will didn’t mention The Kiss. That means Will either doesn’t remember it, or it meant nothing to him. A heartbreaking thought since it meant so much to Cooper.

At the wedding rehearsal, Coop and Will are asked to wrangle the ringbearer, Lisa and Travis’ Great Dane, Fred. Once that’s handled, and after rehearsal dinner is over, they share a few tequila shots and a rousing karaoke duet of ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’. It’s then that Cooper decides to take his shot and kisses Will. He shoots. He scores. Will invites Cooper back to his place.

After a passionate night together (and a sexy morning follow up), Coop realizes that his commitment issues might be due to the fact he’s been in love with someone for the past ten years. Hint: that someone is Will.

It isn’t until the ceremony that they’re able to talk about what happened the night before. Cooper’s insecurity about that long-ago kiss, and Will’s inability to acknowledge whatever it is that they have, leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The ceremony is beautiful and at the reception, Cooper concludes his bridesmate’s duties with a heartfelt toast about the bride and groom and the joy of ‘finding your person’.

Sick over his missed opportunity with Will, Coop leaves the reception early.

The next morning, driving his rental car to the airport, he gets pulled over again. It’s Will, sleepless and still in his tux from the day before. He explains that Coop left before he could give his toast in which he agreed with everything Cooper said in his speech, and that he ‘found his person before he truly even found himself’. And by ‘his person’, he of course means Coop.

On the side of the road, they share the cutest, rom-comy admission of love. Six months later, we get a brief glimpse of their life together in Montana, and the wonderful things their future holds.

I love a good small-town contemporary romance and Bridesmates delivered everything I could have wanted, and so much more. I also have a soft spot for nice-guy heroes. Cooper and Will are likeable and endearing – a pair of guys that are easy to root for. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, who in their own ways were all working hard to make sure our guys achieved their happily ever after.

This novella has got so much heart and humor. A feel-good read if ever there was one.

Sydney Smyth has crafted a charming small-town, second chance romance and Teddy Hamilton does a wonderful job giving voice to the characters and bringing the story to life.

Bridesmates is an audible original and is available through the audible app and amazon. As of this writing, it is not available in either ebook or paperback formats.



Quick Review: Behind Our Eyes by Geoffrey Knight

Behind Our Eyes by Geoffrey Knight

Tobias and his adopted brother Thomas have been in love with each other for years. Now that Thomas is out of the Navy, they plan to move in together and open a café in New York.

The brothers, along with other members of the Whitmore family, gather at the family beach house on Montauk to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. Things go well at first, but eventually several long-held secrets are revealed – including their forbidden relationship. Some family members take the news better than others, but after a heart-to-heart talk and some birthday cake, true love wins the day.

Behind Our Eyes was originally released during the step-sibling trend that swept through the erotic romance sub-genre a few years ago (Tobias and Thomas aren’t ‘steps’, but close enough). For a ‘taboo’ story, this short obviously has some heat, but I also felt it had a surprising amount of heart. There’s a lot of depth and genuine emotion in the relationship between the brothers, as well as the way they interact with the other family members featured in the story. I’m glad Tobias and Thomas were able to find their HEA together.

Thank you, Geoffrey Knight, for a compelling read filled with secrets and revelations, family drama, and lots of love.

Quick Review: Love – Limited Edition by Elle Keaton

Love: Limited Edition by Elle Keaton

Rory is visiting his parents in Hollyridge, a small town in the heart of Oregon’s wine country. While strolling down Main Street, he notices a new bookshop. Inside Lazy Dog Books he is charmed by Brett, the handsome owner, and his black lab Lucille, the aforementioned lazy dog. They take her for an evening walk at the park and later Bret asks Rory to join him for a drink at one of the many wine tasting rooms that make Hollyridge so popular with tourists.

The next day, Rory has gone back to his life in Seattle and Brett is kicking himself for not getting his number. Through Rory’s parents, Bret gets his contact info and heads to the big city, showing up at the coffee shop where Rory works. They go out on a real date and spend the night exploring their undeniable sexual chemistry. They’ve got something special and make plans for a new life together back in Hollyridge.

I really enjoyed Love: Limited Edition. Not only does it feature an engaging romance between two nice guy/cinnamon roll heroes, but it also has some wonderful secondary plotlines – like how Rory’s improved relationship with his parents leads to them joining PFLAG, proving it’s never too late to become an ally. And there’s also Jeff, Rory’s roommate from Seattle, who has a rough time coming out, so he joins our heroes in their move to Hollyridge to start fresh.

This is a sexy/sweet contemporary romance novella is filled with lots of heart. It’s got small town charm, books, dogs, and romance… what more can you ask for?

Love – Limited Edition is available in both ebook and audiobook formats.