Review of “Valentine Kisses” by Abigail Drake, Bridie Hall, Lisa Hahn, Kim Briggs, Shilpa Mudiganti, and Sarah Vance-Tompkins

Drake, Abigail, et. al. Valentine Kisses. Pinckney, MI: Inkspell Publishing, 2017. 

Paperback | $16.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1542411653 | 480 pages | Contemporary Romance

I received this book in a giveaway from Sarah Vance-Tompkins. All opinions are my own.

Despite having diversified my reading a lot over the past year, contemporary romance remains a subgenre I don’t seek out often. But this anthology contains a great group of contemporary stories which, while varying in quality and personal enjoyment, as anthologies often do, ended up being a solid read overall.

“Lola Flannigan” by Abigail Drake

4 stars

This story is unique, in that it also has paranormal elements, which I found myself also enjoying. I loved the sweet romance between Lola and Morgan, and how that developed in such a high-stakes situation that Lola was thrust into. I did feel like the novella left a lot of room for growth of this world, however, and I found myself wishing there was more about the paranormal elements included.

“Hearts Must Be Broken” by Bridie Hall”

3 stars

This story had a great concept, with a great existential question, but I found the way it was executed largely forgettable. I also felt it leaned a little too heavy on the dark side, and while I don’t mind dark stories, I did feel like this one stuck out in comparison to the others.

“Not Today” by Lisa Hahn

5 stars

This was one of my favorites from the collection, largely due to the connection between two lovers of literature. Both Emily and Ezra aren’t prospering in their lives in different ways, and it’s wonderful to read about how they support each other to eventually grow through the challenges they’re facing.

“Avalanche” by Kim Briggs

2 stars

This was another story that felt a little on the blander side, again feeling a bit more intense than my liking. I also felt like the pacing was a bit weird, with a bit too much time spent on the mechanics of being a ski instructor, and the ending coming about a bit too quickly.

“Lost and Found” by Shilpa Mudiganti

5 stars

I tend to really like “second chance at love” stories, especially if tragedy is involved, and I was not disappointed. I love how Liam cares for Aisha, and how right they are for each other. It’s a beautiful story that shows how Aisha moves on and finds love again, instead of continuing to wallow in grief.

“What’s Better Than a Book Boyfriend?” by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

5 stars

My other favorite, also due to the presence of books, as well as the inside jokes about libraries and librarians. I loved Charlie and her friends’ discussions of the great literary boyfriends they’ve had, but how it builds up to Charlie finding someone who actually is better than a book boyfriend. And while she and Hank initially have some awkward interactions, I love how they come to see that they are both on the same wavelength concerning a love of literature and scholarship.

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