Title: Animal Magnetism
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Animal Magnetism
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 344 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: An interesting and engaging set of stories about animals with a great variety of subjects and something for everyone.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Whether it’s a dog, cat, or something more exotic, the animals in this collection of romantic m/m stories serve as the catalyst for bringing lovers together. No matter how the encounter begins, by the end of each story, with a little help from their finned, furred, or feathered friends, our heroes have discovered some animal magnetism of their own.
I’m rather fond of these DSP anthologies and the theme of this one was appealing. It’s based around the theme of animals with each story having an animal or animals as a way of either getting the heroes to meet or facilitating the romance in some way. I’m a great animal lover myself and I was looking forward to seeing what animals the authors were going to write about. I was hoping there would be some variety and that all the stories wouldn’t be about dogs. Fortunately this turned out to be the case and I was pleased at the different types of animals that featured in the story.
My favourite story from the anthology was Show and Tell by Liz Makar which tells of first grade teacher, Damian who has the worst luck with the class pets. Every time he gets a new one they inexplicably die on him, much to the disappointment of his little first graders. After the death of Freddy the turtle he returns to the pet shop for yet another animal to find that the pet shop has a new owner, Sam. There’s an instant attraction between them and Sam vows to help Damian choose just the right pet for his class. I really liked the humour in the story as well as the sparky romance between the two guys. The author manages to perfectly capture the differing personalities of the kids in Damian’s class without allowing them to overtake the story. It left me with a smile on my face as well as providing a satisfying romance.
Another story which I enjoyed a great deal was New Tides by Avery Vanderlyle. This story tells of marine biologist and slight anal retentive Steve who in moving to his dream job has sacrificed a relationship. He’s lonely but determined to put his ex in the past and get on with life. At work he meets Jan who is studying intelligence in octopi, or rather in Cleo the octopus. When Steve’s pencil goes walkabout, Jan helps him to discover who the thief is. I really liked the mix of heartbreak and new romance in this story. Steve’s loneliness comes across strongly at the beginning but he finds it difficult to make friends or meet new people. Watching the two men put tentative feelers out to each other was delightful and I was cheering Steve on all the way.
There were many of the other stories I liked too and the anthology caters to all tastes. Some, like Wild Horses by Kate Pavelle or On an Eagle’s Wings by A.J. Marcus were quite serious in theme dealing with homelessness and poaching, whereas others like Butterbean and the Pretty Princess Make a Home by R. Cooper or Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Skylar Jaye were more lighthearted and sweet. In many of the stories such as Stripped Bare by Lily Velden, which has a potty mouthed parrot or Jonno by Emily Gould, which features a bad tempered squirrel, the animals were used to provide some light or comic relief and in others like Cuddling Up by Chris T. Kat or Tears for a Broken Sun by Minerva Wisting the animals have a more serious role in the story.
All the stories are worth reading, and whilst there was a mixture of styles and quality of writing, I was never bored or wanted to skip a story. The variety in the animals was a definite plus point with birds such as eagles featuring alongside horses, snakes and spiders.
If you’re an animal lover then this anthology should appeal to you and I can recommend it as a set of interesting, amusing, emotional and, most of all, romantic stories.