A Guest Review by Cryselle
Review Summary: A Brit-flavored antho with something for everyone.
We Brits love our sauce, whether it’s what we lash on our food, read on our seaside postcards, or write in our stories. Come and enjoy a buffet of tasty LGBTQ treats!
From marriages to reunions, via practical jokes and football matches, to weresloths and possibly the oddest Tarts and Vicars party in the world, join us as we celebrate the UK Meet in the best way we know: telling the story.
As a follow-up to the critically acclaimed British Flash and Tea and Crumpet anthologies, our talented writers bring you sixteen stories about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer characters enjoying what Britain and mainland Europe have to offer, with their wonderfully diverse range of cultures and landscapes and some incredibly colourful and quirky people.
This anthology is a souvenir of the 2012 UK Meet, an occasion for GLBTQ supporters to get together in a relaxed setting to celebrate and chat about the fiction community they love. Funds from the sale of this anthology will go towards future UK Meets, to which all are welcome.
With sixteen authors, ranging from my most auto-buy of auto-buys to completely new to me, I read this anthology with a happy smile on my face. Covering a wide range of LGBT and without the constraints of **heat! Give us more heat!**, the UK MAT authors have provided a stunning display of talent.
A mini review of each story will make this post huge, so take it as given that I enjoyed each story, and the ones I mention here had something special, even considering the standard set by Jordan Castillo Price in the lead-off story, “Post Mortem”, where a humorless bureaucrat finds his sexy side under the attentions of a delivery man. I found this story to be one of the weaker offerings (weaker being relative in this collection) and worried a bit about what was to follow. A needless worry, because the very next piece, “Dressing Down” from Clare London, explores the allure of cross-dressing, something I haven’t read much of, and makes it both naughty and very appealing.
JL Merrow—how I love thee! Getting a couple of genres tucked in here, and some HEA’s in several directions, she made me laugh all the way through “Et Tu, Fishies?” Don’t talk to the weirdo upstairs, she says… Best thing Marty ever did. Charlie Cochrane also provided chuckles with a shifter story the likes of which I never did see, from an occasionally slow-moving and upside-down POV.
A few stories are *trans. One from Elyan Smith, a new to me author, is m to f, and both charming and painful. One small normal interaction with another person becomes important in a way most of us cannot begin to imagine. Zahra Owens takes a longer timeline for a complete transition from f to m, detailing a relationship that spans the POV character’s adult life. Difficult, but happy, and with some bittersweet moments that tell us humans have a ways to go yet.
BDSM is not one of my usual preferences, but Anne Brook’s “School for Doms” was one hot number. Told from the POV of a sub teaching a class for newbie doms, it focused on the more psychological and sexy elements, and promised an HFN with some staying power. Rawr.
Not every story here has explicit sex in it, and the “sweet” ones would be forced and contrived if they had sex shoehorned in. The table of contents codes the stories for heat, but I found the stories with the emphasis on the love rather than the sex to be completely enjoyable, and missing nothing for closing the door in the reader’s face. Josephine Myles’ story “Dragon Dance” was one such, and given the youth of the MCs, I was glad for it. (They were still of age, but barely.) The two young men have to find a way to be together that meshes with their Chinese but living in England families.
The few ff stories here are of the fade to black variety. One, Emily Moreton’s “Social Whirl,” let us watch the slow disintegration of a relationship, counterpointed with the spark of interest from another woman whom the narrator keeps tripping over at the various functions she attends.
In the way of anthologies, the stories vary, but here they vary within a small, high range. Not all of the authors are UK based, but all are skilled storytellers, and all have offered something not easily found elsewhere. If I haven’t mentioned a story, it’s for room and not for enjoyment, because this collection was a pleasure from start to finish. 4.5 stars