So I have been getting a chance to read some, mostly in the evening after we crash back at the hotel. To be honest we haven't even turned a TV on yet, or not in days since we both have computers we are on-line in the hotels. I stayed up way too late reading last night but I HAD to finish. Damn long books. :-)
We the Bus People by GR Richards (27 pages)
Nikos is a macho guy whose car, Dean, is in the shop and he's forced to take the bus. He sees one of their clients Manny, on whom he has a crush, but is so embarrassed to be using the bus he hides at the back and falls asleep. When he wakes up Manny is beside him and the bus is full of aliens going to space. He's totally freaked at first, but Manny explains there are lots of aliens on earth and his planet is nearly dead because of over-pollution but he visits his Mom who refuses to leave. After talking for a while Manny tells him bus etiquette means they can have some "private time" at the back and everyone will ignore them. When Manny reaches his stop they agree to see each other when he gets back to earth. It was quite interesting with lots of Star Trek type aliens on the bus and Nikos pretty freaked out at first, I found the ending turned preachy though with Manny suddenly speachifying in his head how he was going to help save our planet from the same fate as Manny's. Save the ending which felt a bit like a lecture I quite enjoyed it and seeing a tough macho guy thrown off by his crush was cute.
Making Promises by Amy Lane (358 pages)
This is a follow-on of sorts to Keeping Promise Rock. This is local cop Shane's story and starts a few months before the other one ends. Shane agrees to meet his sister at a Ren Faire where she is dancing. He hasn't seen her in years but she introduces him to Russian, Mikhail who is filling in for her injured boyfriend. Mikhail latches onto Shane who is attracted, but doesn't do one-nighters. You find out more about why Shane left the LA police and went to a small town and about his childhood and relationship with his sister. Mikhail also has an ugly past of drugs and prostitution in Russia and his mother is now dying of cancer. Mikhail is sure he's not good enough for Shane, Shane is sure he's too weird (although he and Mikhail mesh) and Shane can see the big picture of Mikhail pushing him away and doesn't give in despite some ugliness. I loved how Shane always seemed to be one step ahead of Mikhail and headed off his attempts to derail their relationship. He just didn't give in and I loved how Mikhail seemed small but he was a fierce defender of Shane to one and all. The whole theme of the importance of family, and that being who you choose for family, not only those related by blood was very strong as well as the sense of the importance of living up to promises made. An excellent follow-up, you got to see most everyone and learn more about Jeff whose story I'm looking forward to as well. Oh and I was up until 1:30 to finish this, then got up this morning, packed up the hotel room and came to Philly. Sigh. Bad me, bad me.
Cherry on Top by Kiernan Kelly, Lee Benoit, GS Wiley, GR Richards, Tracy Rowan, Syd McGinley, BG Thomas, Misa Izanaki and Sean Michael (197 pages)
This is a follow-up of sorts to the Cherry anthology that I really enjoyed. It's not a follow-up in the sense of following the same characters, but the same concept, firsts, but not only sexual firsts, any kind of first really, but often sexual. I liked some more than others with most anthologies, I'll just mention the ones that stood out for me.
Going Home Again by Kiernan Kelly - Starting in 1969, 9 year old Daniel is stuck in Atlantic City with his family, but can't have fun in the water since he has a broken arm. One day he meets Tony who is staying with his grandparents and they hang out for Daniel's time there. He confesses that his Dad broke his arm and even though he ends up in foster care, Tony keeps in touch until he's 16. 16 years later, after a bad break-up Daniel decides to go back to Atlantic City and see if he can track down Tony. I really felt for Daniel and how Tony helped him make it through the foster system until they lost track and he never sought him out as a lover, just as a friend, although .... :-)
A Better Fate than Wisdom by Lee Benoit - Set in 1978, preppy Alex is sent by his gay magazine editor to interview some guys in the leather scene. He goes to a bar where he stands out, but he approaches one guy who blows him off but assigns his boy the job of talking to him. Bruno is pissed as he's trying to win the Daddy's affections but reluctantly goes home with Alex who is flirting up a storm. When they get there, Alex comes on to him and wants Bruno to top. He's never done that, he's always been the "boy" and "taken it". He doesn't get "liking it" as Alex claims to, but he gives it a go and has a revelation, maybe being in the leather scene and getting himself a Daddy isn't all it's cracked up to be. A cute story with Bruno being forced to think about what being gay is all about for each person. Alex was a stereotypical twink which was fun to watch Bruno stumble around with out of his element.
The Bad Boyfriend Club and How I Left It by Tracy Rowan - Eddy has had shitty luck with boyfriends since 11th grade when he finally got Timmy into bed and someone knocked on the door and the guy freaked and ended up married and cruising the gay bars. One disaster after another, but he's a real estate agent and his Mom asks him to help this total geek he knew in high school find a place. He's sure the guy is still a loser but when he meets him he's turned into Hottie McHotterson. They start dating and months later when Don asks him to move in, he totally freaks and sabotages the relationship. It was a nice story about confronting your past and not living a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The other stories were good, there was an historical about an artist and one of his rich customers, a co-workers to lovers story, best friends to lovers, teaching your shape shifting fox lover to cook, and a story set in the Hammer universe which I enjoyed but probably would have meant more if I understood the whole background.
The only one I didn't enjoy, and to be honest I didn't finish, was a master/slave story I think set in the Dr. Fell world, maybe, not sure. But I just don't "get it". When someone is made to have sex with someone else, they don't want to, but don't feel they can stand up for what they want because they have too much to lose, it makes me very uncomfortable. Like an abused spouse who can't leave because they'd be on the streets or the kids would have no food, so they put up with it because leaving would be worse in their minds. That's not sexy to me. But I know this is a VERY personal thing for me and it's not everyone's feelings on the situation or the story. So others will enjoy it.
On the whole a good little anthology with a mix of stories with different themes.