The great thing about a short story is that it doesn’t have to trawl through someone’s whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side. – Emma Donoghue
Each of these stories has been published in other anthologies or posted as free reads on Josephine’s website, so some, or all of them, may be familiar to you. But even though I’d already read a couple of them, I have to say they were well worth revisiting along with experiencing the new ones for the first time.
The anthology’s namesake, Blooming Marvelous, is a May/December story starring Ky, a tagger who’s performing community service for sharing his particular brand of art on public property. James is the new man on duty—And I won’t tell you the reason, because it’s such a good one!—who couldn’t really be more different from Ky if he tried, which is what makes this such a great opposites attract story, not to mention Ky himself, who makes the reading if this sexy morsel more than deserving of the lead-off spot in the collection.
Next up is Demon du Jour, a paranormal romp in which the spectacularly well endowed Gavin practices a little sex magic and ends up getting something he didn’t bargain for—namely a male succubus—when he was actually aiming for a demon with particularly different bits and pieces. Gavin comes to discover—pun fully intended—that sometimes accidentally ordering off the menu isn’t such a bad thing, when Xander proves that variety is indeed the spice of life.
I fully admit that I was excited to read River Rat, being a particular fan of both Barging In and Boats in the Night. Revisiting the river life with Ryan, the art student, who’s completely caught up in Kev, the boater, was a study in frustration at times for Ryan, believing that he was never going to get his shot with the gypsy man of his dreams.
It all comes together too right in the end, of course, in a very steamy way, and with the promise of a knotty little kink in their future.
Three Wishes is the story in the collection that contains not a hint of sex, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in any way at all. In fact, this particular story is the one I was most touched by. It’s a can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees story, for lack of a better way of describing it, in which Eddie receives a very special gift from his friend Tyler and learns that making wishes simply means making your own luck. It’s a story in which Eddie has been missing something that’s been right in front of him all along, and when Eddie finally wakes up to the realization that Tyler is the true gift, it’s a sweet promise that left me wanting more.
If you’ve ever wondered where the Devil went, look no further. He’s in Swindon getting busy with Darren Lock, who plays the young Faustian character to Nick’s Dark Angel, in The Devil Went Down to Swindon.
Hoping to further his music career, Darren makes a deal with the Devil—he’ll sell Nick his soul, or at least his body, if Nick will help make Darren a star. Well, you all know the old saying “the devil is in the details?” There’s some truth to that in this twisty little tale, because when the details are revealed, it turns out the Devil isn’t all he’s made himself out to be.
There’s not a trace of hellfire and brimstone in The Devil Went Down to Swindon, but that doesn’t mean this story isn’t hot. It is, and it ends with the promise of an unlikely romance.
Passive Resistance is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy in which Gerryn will use a pair of Mithrianni Circlets to capture the heart of Sarkan, a sometimes friend-with-benefits, although the benefits part is somewhat dubious for poor Gerr.
Their arrangement works a bit like this: Gerr is Sarkan’s beck-and-call boy because for better or for worse, Gerr loves him. Sarkan uses Gerr whenever he’s between men because he knows that Gerr will never say no. But things are about to change, and Gerr’s determined to take control of this situation before he’s forced to make some drastic changes in his life.
The play’s the thing in this story. Not the kind with actors and scripts but the kind that includes lots of bodily exploration, boldly going where these two men have never gone before, and discovering that they don’t want to go anywhere with anyone else.
The seventh story in the collection isn’t at all like the fairy tale The Frog Prince, though there are plenty of frogs to be found in it.
Jasper Fitzroy is interested in a couple of things: 1.) organizing the Frog Patrol to help the little hoppers cross the road and get them safely to the other side, and 2.) making sure that Simon Goodchild will be there to help do it.
Of course Simon has every intention of being there since he has a crush on the very possibly straight Jasper, but it’s not until after they have the frogs safely transported and everyone’s gone home that things really heat up. There’s no kissing any frogs in this tale, but there’s a lot of kissing, among other things, to keep the story interesting.
Jasper has a little family dirty laundry and, as they say, confession is good for the soul, especially when your confessor isn’t there to judge, but offers absolution just the same.
If a little role playing fantasy is your cup of tea, then you’re going to love Tea for Two, the story of Richard Weston and his servant Oscar, a boy who loves very much to be dominated by his Master.
It’s a little D/s and a little bit of rough in this who’s who that offered up not only an erotic scene but a bit of a surprising twist at the end that I don’t mind saying I never saw coming.
Rounding out the anthology is the second of the nine stories that I’d read and loved revisiting. Dragon Dance is a friends-to-boyfriends story set against the backdrop of the Chinese New Year and stars eighteen year olds, Archie, a Caucasian boy being raised by his Asian mom, and Gan, whose ancestry is fully Chinese.
It’s a time of discovery and more than a little anxiety for Archie, as he’s not only sure he’s gay but he’s also sure he’s in love with his straight best friend. So, what’s a boy to do when he spends so much time with the boy he can’t touch? Well, in Archie’s case, he waits until Gan finds the courage to tell Archie exactly what he’s been waiting to hear.
Josephine Myles’ characters always come to life in full blooming color on the page, sometimes cheeky, ever endearing, and always clever and sexy; if you love short stories, and most especially if you’re a Josephine Myles fan, I highly recommend giving this book a read.
Reviewed by: Lisa