There are so many things I love about the theme of friendships crossing the line and toppling over into romance—the built in anxiety of the risks involved, the doubts and fears, the hesitancy to upset the balance of a relationship…the heartache of loving someone for so long and then finally finding the courage to let that person know how you feel.
The payoff when, in a single moment, a first kiss strikes the perfect chord in an extraordinary new harmony.
Sedonia Guillone and D.H. Starr have struck that chord in their new anthology Friends to Lovers, a three-story compilation that is, by turns, the perfect blend of anxiety and heartache and hope, delivered in three very different tales.
Setting the mood perfectly, right from the outset, is D.H. Starr’s It Was Always You, a contemporary romance starring Caleb Richards, a man whose endurance has been tested time and time again over the years by his best friend Kevin O’Brien, whose multitude of sexual conquests are the stuff of poor Caleb’s tortured heart.
Caleb loves Kevin with everything he is but has never found the ideal time, the right words, or the courage, for that matter, to express his feelings. It all comes down to the very valid question for which the answer is terrifying: What if?
What if Caleb pours out his heart and soul and Kevin doesn’t feel the same way. What if, in Caleb’s desire to be something more to Kevin, he causes irreparable damage to their friendship? There are too many emotional and psychological barriers in the way, and now it appears there’s another very real obstacle to overcome—an obstacle named Jason. Then the question becomes, what if I’ve waited too long?
D.H. strikes the perfect balance in this story, between anticipation and denial and longing, and then ties it all up perfectly in the end. – *5 Stars*
Blind Love by Sedonia Guillone is, simply put, gorgeous. Where It Was Always You is a twist to the gut, Blind Love is a historical drama that clinches everything into a tighter knot of anxiety, in the story of Hirata and Sho, two boys who were bound by love and friendship, but who were separated at the age of ten by destiny and circumstance.
Theirs is a story of promise and heartbreak, the legendary story of a shogun and the man he has vowed to spend his life searching for. It is a story of blindness not only of the eyes but of the heart as well, the story of an undying and unconditional love. It is a story of denial and desire and evolution and the way in which a sightless man comes to understand that the bonds of promise and conviction can’t escape the blind optimism of the one who loves him without limits.
It’s not often I would consider describing a short story as epic, but if I did, Blind Love would be the one. – *5 Stars*
Wrapping up the collection is D.H. Starr’s Skating for Gold, a story written nearly two years ago and lovingly dedicated to the late but never forgotten author William Neale, who passed away unexpectedly in March of this year.
This is the story of Olympic Figure Skating hopeful, Devon Hayes, and the trials he faces not only in his journey to make the U.S. Figure Skating team but to choreograph his way through a love affair with his coach, Lance Dawson, and to navigate his way toward the realization that directing a portion of all the love he has to give, inward—to love himself just a little bit more—is the key that will unlock his quest for success in all things.
This story was just the right endcap for the anthology, filled with dramatic elements but at the same time sweet and romantic, and as much a story of acceptance and unconditional love between a father and son as it is a story of transformation for Devon and Lance. – *4 Stars*
Find out how you can enter to win Friends to Lovers HERE.