Author: Josephine Myles
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Buy Link: Blooming Marvellous and collected stories,
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance/Paranormal
Length: Short stories
Rating: 5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A delightful anthology of collected short stories that offers a little something for everyone from the modern day love story to the slightly kinky role play and back again to the deliciously fun paranormal.
Blurb: What do a graffiti artist, a nerdy virgin, a lunar cop, a handsome devil, a sexy boater, a disgraced aristocrat and a misbehaving valet all have in common? Bestselling gay romance author Josephine Myles, of course! In this collection of nine short stories you’ll find all these characters coming together (quite literally sometimes).
The collection mingles contemporary erotica with a hint of a happy future with historical, paranormal and futuristic kinky romance. There are even a couple of stories that are sweet romance. One thing you can be sure of, though: the blokes in these stories will always get their man!
Buckle up for Jo’s British sense of humour and fun, and don’t be surprised if there’s sex in the potting shed, because with Jo, anything can happen.
Review: Blooming Marvellous is an eclectic collection of short stories by author Josephine Myles. While some could be considered in the paranormal realm: Demon du Jour, The Devil Went Down To Swindon, Passive Resistance (more of a futuristic science fiction), there were also modern day romances: Frog Prince, Blooming Marvelous, River Rat, and Three Wishes, along with one coming of age or first love: Dragon Dance and a historical romance as well in Tea For Two. Here was a collection that really did offer a little something for everything. In fact there was even a slight bent toward a light BDSM theme in both Tea For Two and a mere hint in River Rat.
However what spoke out in all these stories was the delightful voice of the narrator. From the rich colloquialisms and varied settings that Britain has to offer I felt fully immersed in the culture of the UK both present and past. Two stories, in particular, stood out for me both the title one, Blooming Marvellous and one of the longer stories, Frog Prince. Before I get to those I’d like to briefly mention the highlights in the other stories for each was a complete tale and a worthy entry in the anthology.
The paranormal stories Demon du Jour, The Devil Went Down To Swinton and the sci-fi entry Passive Resistance all dealt with similar themes of a lead character who was struggling with their own self worth. Whether it be humorously as in “Demon” where the poor bloke had yet to lose his virginity and was told his rather substantial “equipment” was scary to behold or in the more serious stories like “The Devil” and Passive Resistance that dealt with young men who just wanted to be important to someone and feel less like a hopeless nobody, these stories were a compassionate view of the underdog who finally wins the day. Each was a glimpse into the heart of a person who just wanted to be loved and valued and, in turn, tugged just a bit at your heart.
While totally different in their styles, the two more kinky and erotic stories, Tea For Two and River Rat both dealt with secret longings and desires. In these stories, the main characters had sexual proclivities that was deemed outside the more staid societal norms of the day and, if discovered, would have been frowned upon or worse. There was a furtive and desperate feel to these two stories that made them slightly more intense and drew you in immediately into the idea that here loving another could have a dangerous element to it.
Lastly in Three Wishes and Dragon Dance we have two vastly different stories with a similar theme of finally discovering love right on your doorstep. In Three Wishes it’s the case of letting go of a past failed love to see the friend who has loved you all along. While in Dragon Dance it was the sweet coming of age and first love along with coming out for the first time in a small community where support and love were the key.
My favorites though had to be Frog Prince and Blooming Marvellous. There was something about these characters that made me ache for a more in-depth view, a longer story. Frog Prince, the story of a lonely bookseller, Simon, who is dragged along by his best friend to help the conservation movement capture and relocate frogs during their mating season was both poignantly sweet and funny. Simon is crushing over the head conservationist, Jasper Fitzroy whom he thinks is straight only to find out that Jasper is gay and hiding a dark secret that has left him both wounded and reluctant to fall in love again. This story was, I think, the sweetest dance in the anthology. Their slow blooming romance was written so compassionately and lovingly–I really enjoyed this story and would definitely want to read more about these two men.
Finally, the title story Blooming Marvellous was the story of two vastly different men, one a young black man who was arrested for being a street graffiti artist and the other an older business man who, during a drunken moment, mistook a real police officer for a male stripper. Both are serving time doing community service–with each other. I loved the cocky yet fragile assurance of Ky, a man who had grown up under crippling poverty to develop the soul of an artist. He is the catalyst for James to finally step outside the safety of his comfy middle class existence and really live. You could not dream up two less likely lovers than these men. But the depth of spirit that was written into these characters, particularly Ky, was simply lovely.
I want to leave you with a quote from this story. While it might seem an odd quote to give you, for me it really speaks about this anthology–about the way in which each character chose to break free from the ties that bound them away from loving another person. In this little snippet, Ky is explaining why he paints tulips wherever he feels a “corner needs brightening up”.
“It’s about nature finding a way, breaking out through the tyranny of concrete and tarmac, innit?”
Blooming Marvellous And Collected Stories by Josephine Myles is about breaking free from whatever holds us and finding love. It is a wonderful collection and a five star read.