Title: It Was Always You Anthology
Author: Cardeno C., Ella Frank, Riley Hart, Lane Hayes, Christina Lee, Felice Stevens, N.R. Walker
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
What do you do when everything you’ve ever wanted was right there all along?
Join these bestselling M/M authors as they bring you tales of love, lust, and laughter… between friends.
Featuring seven brand new novellas, each answering the question—what happens when the one meant for you was right there all along?
The book will be available for a LIMITED TIME only!
All money and proceeds for this anthology will be donated to the charity One.n.Ten.
~All money and proceeds for this anthology will be donated to the charity One.n.Ten.~
Best friends, former enemies, or just long lost acquaintances…whatever the case, what do you do when your soulmate turns out to be the one who was right there all along? This is the theme of this anthology, and before reviewing each story separately, I’m telling you that I highly recommend it. It’s fun, well written, and there’s something in here for every taste.
Rough Edges by Cardeno C ~4.5 stars
ENEMIES-to-lovers and opposites attract. Yes, enemies in all caps. Because Kyle and Brent are at each other’s throats from the word go. You see, Kyle was very poor, and has worked his ass off to crawl out of the trailer park he grew up, while Brent has been living off his trust fund.
I’m sure most readers will be put off by Kyle’s attitude at first especially compared to Brent’s, who had the patient of a saint. I was too, until it became clear that this was his defense mechanism.
“You’re one of the pretty, shiny, ‘get everything they want at the snap of a finger’ people.”
“That’s probably true. But I’m also real.”
“In somebody’s world, you are. But people like me? We only play dress-up in that space.”
“Are you wearing a costume right now?” Brent asked.
“Nope.” …“I’m sitting here buck naked.”
“Me too,” Brent whispered and looked him in the eyes. “Do you want to see me?”
Unexpected Turn by Ella Frank ~3 stars
Friends-to-lovers story. Connor and Tyler are best friends. Connor is “straight” but he started developing feelings for his gay best friend.
This story was just ok for me. I liked the tension and the slow burn, and in the end they were beautiful together. BUT: Connor’s sudden lust for his friend was too sudden for me to buy (it literally happened in the blink of an eye), for the majority of the story the MCs are with other people, these other people too much (Ty’s boyfriend was too evil, while Connor’s girlfriend was the epitome of understanding), and the way the MCs finally admitted their feelings is not my jam.
Regardless, I did enjoy this story, and the ending was beauiful.
Dare You To by Riley Hart ~ 4.5 stars
Friends-to-lovers and opposites attract. I really liked this one. It’s the story of Dare, an outgoing bar owner and adrenaline junkie, and Austin, a youth counselor at an LGBT center.
I really liked the way that both MCs saw each other here despite their differences. Dare is an adorable goofball, but he carries demons, and Austin can see behind the facade. And Austin thinks he’s conservative and boring, but in Dare’s mind …“He was steady, and steady took a confidence not everyone possessed.
The progression from friends to lovers felt very real and natural. Three big pluses: ginger MC, jealous-angry sex, and an epilogue!
Leaning Into Love by Lane Hayes ~ 3.5 stars
Friends-to-lovers. I was very pleased to see that this is a sneak peek into Lane Hayes’s new series that will revolve around a group of men in San Francisco. All of them are introduced in this story, but the focus here is on Eric and Zane.
I loved the slow burn and the chemistry between the MCs, and the epilogue was cute. I also adored the banter among the group of friends (I suspect Josh will be my favorite). What didn’t work all that well for me was the drama with Eric’s ex. It kept driving the plot, and paired with Eric’s martyr behaviour in the end, it rubbed me the wrong way.
The Sweetest Goodbye by Christina Lee ~5 stars
Friends-to-lovers, and my personal favorite. This is a spin-off story from The Deepest Blue, but it stands perfectly alone. It also made me tear up.
Billie has been waiting forever for Leo, the one that got away, to come back to him. That’s how he missed what was in front of him the whole time: his best friend, Dylan. Dylan is such an amazing character. Fierce and unapologetic, strong but with a gentle heart.
There is a lot of steam, dirty dancing sessions, the mother of dirty talks, and the most amazing Labrador ever. I really loved this story.
Please Don’t Go by Felice Stevens ~2.5 stars
Old friends who get a second chance. I’m afraid I had some issues with this one. The bones of the story were great and the opening scene was really good. But A)it felt weird that Danny kept such a grudge after all these years (they were only 14 years old back then), and B) it all happened too fast, and the “I love you” came too soon.
Perfect Catch by N.R.Walker ~4.5 stars
Best friends to lovers. This was pretty awesome. Cal and Troy have been best friends since they were teenagers, but they secretly have feelings for each other. All it takes is a fishing trip and a thunderstorm.
When they finally get together, they ‘re all in! For Walker standards this was pretty steamy. The ending is a HEA in my book. Also, rain sex y’all! Nuff said.
Like I said, I highly recommend this. And of course, the cause is amazing.