Title: Anyplace Else (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug)
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 1st December, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Page Count: novella length
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Grant Beaudoin should be thrilled to escape Minneapolis at Christmastime and grateful to lounge on a Hawaiian beach. Instead he is mired in self-pity and drowning in too much tequila. His twin is marrying the perfect man, while Grant is stuck in middle management with no love life in sight. A walk into the rain forest leads to a meeting with a doomed man who has a story about a holiday that predates Christmas. Grant comes to realize that difficult endings can lead to new beginnings—and perhaps a brighter future.
I usually love Kim Fielding’s stories. Brute, Good Bones, Guarded, and The Downs are all superb fantasy tales with a beautiful romance. Unfortunately Anyplace Else, although well written as always, didn’t grab me.
The story’s fantasy revolves around mythology and magic connected to the Solstice in our current world, so there’s no AU world-building as such.
Grant—the main character—fulfils the submission brief in that he is grumpy despite spending time with his family in Hawaii. He’s lonely and a little jealous of his twin brother, who is getting married to his gorgeous man. Grant’s in a dead-end job and sees no hope of ever finding the love of his life or a happy future. Thus he feels out of sorts and wants to be alone for much of the time.
The romance creeps up on him in a way and he thinks the strange events that occur in the rainforest under a magical oak tree are hallucinations caused by the special drink concocted by his sexy waiter at the hotel.
This is an unusual holiday story and the romance as such doesn’t really feature much in the story. Yes, Grant does fall for his mysterious man, who apparently is a god, so there is sort of a HFN ending when they meet again the following year.
The events in the story take place around the holiday season, but it’s not your typical Christmas celebration story. We have gods and myths that pre-date Christian times. I would have liked more time for our guys to spend together and get to know each other. The declaration of love didn’t quite work for me as there was a friendship rather than a loving relationship by this point.