Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: Hope and Love Anthology

Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing are proud to present the debut of their YA/NA collection of LGBTQ short stories, a multi-author anthology featuring best-selling authors in the genre. The Hope & Love Anthology, a LGBTQ Charity Collection, will be available September 26, 2014 at!

Hope and Love is a donation anthology to benefit the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center from various authors around the world that want to see them, and other centers like theirs, prosper and grow! That starts with hope. It’s what LGBTQ Centers all over the world give us, the hope, the community, the care and education we need in a world that is often hate filled, fearful of the unknown, and downright scary. When first introduced to community many of us rejoice as it’s often the first time we’re able to be out and be our true selves without fear or shame. This anthology is for the benefit of one such center, one that touches many, many lives, and like others, needs help and nourishment as well. Centers like the MKE LGBT Community Center depend on the love and support of others so that they may help and support us. Within this collection of stories, you will find hope, family, love, and community. Take a chance on a new author or one of your beloved… read, enjoy, and know that you are helping children, adults, teens, and elderly alike in our greater LGBTQ community!
*100% of the income from this volume goes directly to The MKE LGBT Community Center in Milwaukee, WI USA*

Aine Massie: Dinner for the Dead
As the wheel turns, Mistress Anya and her loves, Nicholas and Declán, join with their family to enjoy their first real Samhain together. As they come together for the traditional 'silent supper' what family truly means is found. It's not just the ancestors you have or the blood relatives, but it's even more so the family you build. For Anya and her House, it's a joyous evening filled with love, family, and more.

Piper Kay: Joey’s Choice
Seventeen year old, Joey wakes every morning dreading what the day ahead may have in store for him. High School sucks and so does the jerk and his pack of bullies who live to torture him. When Joey feels there is no hope left and no chance at having peace, there’s only one choice left. He’s sure the people he cares about would be better off without him anyway. Things happen for a reason, and when Luc steps in, Joey’s faced with two decisions. What will Joey’s choice be?

Elaine White: My Book Boyfriend
When Regan wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, he doesn't expect to come face to face with his ultimate book boyfriend, Falcon Roman. He believes he's falling into a strange dream. Until someone calling himself 'the author' shows up and tells him otherwise. Regan has 24 hours to fulfil three tasks. If he succeeds he can return to Falcon's ranch in his novel any time he falls asleep, if he chooses to. If he fails then he will never come back and he will never see those smoldering green eyes or those rock hard muscles again. But what happens when his ideal book boyfriend, Falcon, sends all the right signals of attraction his way? Is it possible that his fictional book boyfriend has fallen for him? And what will Regan do if that's the case?

Vickie Kinnard: Five Down Three to Go
There is nothing normal about Eren and Corbijn's relationship, but then there is nothing normal about being turned into a vampire at 17, discovering you were the best spellcaster in recent memory and leading the secret society that hates you in a battle against the vampire coven that threatened to destroy them. "Five Down, Three to Go" is a new short story featuring characters Eren and Corbijn from The Red Sun Rises Series and finds the nominees for the Young Adult and Teen Readers Best Couple award enjoying a rare quiet moment in Paris. As a protest against gay marriage takes place nearby, Eren and Corbijn reflect on their relationship, their love for each other and getting married one day.

Milla V: Something to Hold on To
The story of two friends. It is the story of acceptance and unconditional love between two teenage women who are discovering their sexualities.

Adan DePiaz: A Change of Heart
The first time Brandt and Max met it was dislike at first sight. When Brandt is forced to perform community service at the LGBT center run by Max's two moms, Max discovers there is more to the football player than he first thought. Though Max is straight, he can't seem to keep Brandt out of his thoughts.

Aaron Silver: One Last Kiss
On the worst day of her life, Sarah was almost ready to give up. Take the easy way out. Two symmetrical lights, an approaching train. One step and all would have been over. Now, she started to get control of her life back and it is because of one girl, Jen, who saved her that night. One kiss that gave her back the strength she needed, gave her hope and love and made her want to be in control again. One kiss that saved her. In a letter to Jen, she tries to explain how important that moment was to her.

Hope Ryan: Blue Eyes
Hope is a dangerous thing for anyone living on the streets, but to a teen like Andy, it's even worse. Andy can't afford to hope, he can't afford to consider something better than what he has, because the disappointment when he's wrong would crush him. So when hunger prods him into a new soup kitchen for a meal, he meets a gorgeous teen with amazing blue eyes named Will. But Will reminds him too much of himself and when he tells Andy things can get better, Andy bolts. But he can't seem to forget Will's words, no matter how hard he tries to stay away. With Will’s assurances of what the shelter is like ringing in his ears, he finds himself at the door again. Despite the draw of those beautiful blue eyes, Andy isn't sure he can risk taking a chance. If Will is wrong, Andy doesn't know how he'll survive it.

Tempest O’Riley: Micah’s Medicine
When Micah Sands runs into his best friend, and secret crush, Perry (Pericles Mann) near the skate park, he’s torn between joy and fear. Micah knows he’s different and is terrified of both his family and his friend finding out about his sexuality. But when Perry asks for his help, he finds more than he bargained.

B. David Spicer: The Queen Dethroned
A story about two high school girls, Ashley and Monica, who are in love. When they are caught kissing in the parking lot, the schools 'Queen Bee', a girl named Celine, resolves to 'out' them and make their lives miserable. When Celine tries to bully Ashley, she does something unexpected and "Queen Celine" finds herself dethroned.

Jocelyn Sanchez: Sanctuary
At the age of eighteen, Luke found out just how cruel life can be when his mother kicked him out of the house because of his sexuality. He was on the street for a few months before a friend helped him get back on his feet. Wanting to make a difference, he opens up, Sanctuary Art Studio. A place where you can express yourself, without the fear of judgment or ridicule. He thought he had everything...until he met Carter. Carter life is a mess. After finding the love of his life cheating on him with his cousin, Carter vows to never to love again. After all, everyone in his life have disappointed him in one way or another. But when his therapist and only friend, William, threatens to change his therapist due to him not changing and lack of improvement, he agrees to take classes at Sanctuary Art Studio. Carter vowed to never love a man again. But then again, he never met Luke. Can Carter and Luke both learn to love again?

M. Leanne Phoenix: Breath of Life
Christian Zobal is somewhat of a jack of all trades: college student, sometimes model, a barista, and accidental lead singer of a band… all in sunny Southern California. The night before a show, he meets enigmatic Jasper Gunnarson. After the performance, and some fantastic news, Christian is viciously attacked in the parking lot... and beautiful Jasper finds him. Christian is unconscious for two days, but when he wakes, his dads help him to understand that they're okay with whomever it is he wants to be. Christian struggles to find his purchase on life, to come to terms with what happened to him... and Jasper helps Christian remember how to breathe, how to live…

Kameron Mitchell: All The Wrong Numbers
To the naked eye, it would seem that Ivan Sheckherd will make the perfect son; finish school with honors, get his degree, find a wife, and have two-point-five kids. And if his father had his way, that’s exactly what would happen. The plan doesn't seem as sweet once Ivan calls the suicide hotline, hoping for a little conversation, but instead finds something he didn't know he was looking for: himself.

Marcus Maichle: Forte’
Follow a young man learning to overcome his fears and trust in his strengths. He finds himself 'unlucky in love' until his fierce devotion to his friends causes his true potential to shine.

Donovan Alekzander Crane: Camp Kennevan
When Scott and Shane meet at Camp Kennevan as counselors, sparks fly, but neither man is sure of the other. As the weeks pass though, they find their hearts opening and love taking root. But will their affair end when camp does, or do they have what it takes to make a camp romance, last a lifetime?

A Change of Heart: 5 stars
I loved this well written and heartwarming story about coming of age and self discovery.

All The Wrong Numbers: 5 stars
A mixture of serious situations and fairy tale like romance, this one pulled at my heartstrings and I loved it!

Blue Eyes: 5 stars
When rock bottom meets second chances, this is another example of how devastating coming out can be, I loved the serious reality of this story and how it was intertwined with a strong message of hope.

Breath of Life: 4 stars
A contemporary tale with hints of the paranormal, this one has a complex story line that is loosely based on the author's current series. I loved the message of love withstanding the test of time, but be prepared to read it with a box of puffs!

Camp Kennevan: 4 stars
This one was a bit of a hit and miss. I liked the way the two built their relationship in the beginning, but struggled with the choices they made in the middle and was left feeling rushed by the end.

Dinner for the Dead and Five Down, Three to Go are both mid-series novellas that both feature characters from series that I have not read so I am not reviewing these stories.

Forte'3.5 stars
This one left me with an overall feeling of negativity. The conflict between Mark and Reed, along with the dark scenes overshadowed the positive ending and was a hard story to enjoy reading.

Joey's Choice: 5 stars
A shockingly written story reminiscent of 'A Christmas Carol' Joey's choice shook me to the core and depicted the stark reality of the impact of suicide on those left behind. With a positive message and unexpected ending, I loved this one!

Letter from Sarah: 4 stars
A short narrative; I loved the premise but would have liked to see more plot development.

Micah's Medicine: 5 stars
This was a fun one to read. I enjoyed the playful aspects of Micah and Perry's interactions and was fully entertained by this well written romantic comedy of errors.

My Book Boyfriend: 5 stars
Written with unique characters and an unexpected yet entertaining plot line, My Book Boyfriend gets points for development, quality and depth!

Sanctuary: 4 stars
This one really caught me by surprise. I was initially disappointing by the dark and deceptive story line but ended up loving the unique and surprising twists by the end.

Something to Hold on to: 5 stars
This was a fun and heartwarming tale about learning to let down your walls and open yourself to love. One of the few F/F stories in the anthology, I was impressed by the tender emotions and well developed story line.

The Queen Dethroned
Mean Girls meets the Three Musketeers in this tale of love and friendship that was awesomely written and entertaining from start to finish!
Áine P Massie is originally from Florida, she now lives in Wisconsin where she works on her House Millar series full time while raising four children (the term herding cats comes to mind). Her major in College was Childhood Education (specializing in ages zero to five) with a minor study in Deaf Culture/ASL. She is also a Wiccan priestess dedicated to the gods, family, and love. Áine is a proud member of the Rom-Critters, the Romance Writers of America®, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Áine has always had a particular fascination with vampires, mythology, and the unusual. When she can escape from her children and books, she enjoys . . . oh yes, reading, playing, ritual, a good cappuccino, and working with her healing stones. Her first published work came in high school where she was part of a writing and drama group. However, she’s been reading the likes of Shakespeare and Poe since late elementary school and enjoys most forms of fiction. Website

Piper Kay is a homegrown country girl straight from the outskirts of Houston, Texas, USA. She is a #1 International Best Selling author of LGBT Erotica, and an International Bestselling author of LGBT Erotica romance, gay romance, specifically in the male/male (m/m) erotica genre, and LGBT drama. Piper is a recent genre jumper, and has a new YA/NA story also. She is bringing her passion of storytelling straight to the pages, most times served with a super-sized sprinkle of sexy, a slice of sarcasm and a carafe of crazy. Website

Elaine White grew up in a small town on the east coast of Scotland. She is an author of paranormal romance, crime and MM romance. Fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, while living comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle. A self-professed geek, Elaine has fallen in love with the research linked with her novels. The more obscure the better. She has recently delved into reading and writing MM romance/erotica and is now a happy addict of the genre. Website

Victoria Kinnaird is 26 years old and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 2009 with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Journalism, Creative Writing and English Lit. Victoria has been writing since she was 15 years old. She loves rock music, and 11 of her tattoos are related to bands that she loves! Victoria's debut novel "The Red Sun Rises" was released in September 2013 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. The groundbreaking novel, which was praised for featuring an all-male teen love triangle, became an Amazon international bestseller on release day. The couple at the heart of the story, Eren and Corbijn, were nominated for the Young Adult and Teen Reader's Book Couple of the Year award in 2013 and were the only gay couple to be featured. "The Red Sun Rises" was the first book in The Red Sun Rises Trilogy. The second book in the series, "The Red Sun Rises: Fire and Ash" was released in March 2014. The last book in the series, "The Red Sun Rises: Seven Letters" will be released by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing on January 6th, 2014. It will be followed by "Fake It", a YA rock and roll romance and the first book in Victoria's new series "The Keswick Chronicles". Website

Milla V lives in North Scotland with her daughters and two cats. She writes stories for teens and new adult, often exploring gender identity and sexuality. She studied creative writing with the Open University and has released adult books exploring similar themes under the name Carmilla Voiez. She is a feminist and LGBTQ rights campaigner. Website

Adan DePiaz lives in Illinois and loves to read books about love, human perseverance, and loves a happy ending for the main characters. Writing wasn't Adan's dream but after dabbling in fan-fiction, is working on an m/m romance novel. Adan loves variety puzzles, playing cards, and guilty pleasure reality shows like Dancing With The Stars and The Voice.

Aaron Silver is a gay student, living in Munich, Germany. When not studying to become a screenwriter, he runs an LGBT Review blog, several LGBT groups and is finishing his first M/M story. 'One Last Kiss' is his first foray into YA LGBT fiction and considering how much he loves to read in the M/M genre, it came as a surprise to him that his first published story would be lesbian fiction. However, he firmly believes that there is incredible beauty in every kind of love and that love it all of its forms should be cherished and celebrated.

Hope Ryan is an out and proud bisexual, wife of a loving guy and mother to three, including an amazingly brave gender fluid son. She loves to write about the tough stuff, but also wants to see her characters happy in the end. She feels strongly about showing there is hope for everyone, no matter where you come from, how you identify your gender or who you love. Hope likes to play board and card games and can often be found playing God with her Sims or running around, fighting monsters in a virtual version of Middle Earth. Her TV and movie preferences lean towards anime, sci fi and fantasy, though she'll never turn down a good happily ever after love story, either. As long as there are explosions or action, she's happy. She loves to read books of all kinds, though prefers stories about love in its many forms.

Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what she couldn’t–defy the hate and come out. He has been her hero ever since. Though new to writing M/M, she has done many things in her life, though writing has always drawn her back–no matter what else life has thrown her way. She counts her friends, family, and Muse as her greatest blessings in life. She lives in Wisconsin with her children, reading, writing, and enjoying life. Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Website

B. David Spicer lives in Ohio, where he earned a BA in English from Ohio University. He has always been an avid reader and one day woke up and started writing fiction of his own. He writes crime fiction, science fiction and horror fiction and writes scripts for independent comic book publishers. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals throughout the country and overseas. In his meagre spare time he enjoys reading, hiking and playing board games. He owns more books than any sane person should own. Website

Jocelyn Sanchez is 18 years old and lives in New York. She's been writing since she was 16, when she discovered the magic that comes with writing. She has finished writing her first book, Chasing Fate, a paranormal novel that she is now editing before looking for a publisher. When not writing, Jocelyn loves practicing ASL, which she’s teaching herself, and reading/reviewing books. She also is obsessed with the Broadway play, The Phantom of the Opera, and the anime called, Black Butler. Jocelyn hopes to one day be a bestselling author. Bringing joy to readers through the words she writes and the worlds she creates. Facebook Profile

M. LeAnne Phoenix would tell you that the worst time of her life was the two years that she attempted to take off from writing. If you asked her to explain exactly why she did such a thing, you would most likely get the mad attempt to arch an eyebrow like her dad and then a shake of the head as she told you it was unlucky to speak of such things. Suffice it to say, it will never happen again! Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas in the mid-1970’s, Ms. Phoenix was young and wild (and even free!) during the crazy wondrous decade known as the 1980’s and the even crazier but now grungy decade of the 1990’s. Music is second only to the muses that live and breathe to fill her mind with beautiful men, and music always helps them to tell their stories. She is never without her iPod or her computer no matter where she goes, although, she does like to hike and take pictures of the sky and the moon, and even the occasional shot of the sun through the branches of a tree. An avid cat lover, Ms. Phoenix has been owned by many throughout her life, though her current owner is one Lily-Rose, who really would like for her to step away from the keyboard and pay her some attention! After all, hasn’t she earned it? Website - Facebook Profile

Kameron Mitchell lives the humble life of a broke teenager in rural Nevada. He cries a little too much during Supernatural reruns, drives a beat-up Jeep, and works as a professional banker in a financial institution located in his small hometown. He is surviving by his loving parents and his 19-going-on-9 roommates. His contribution to the Hope and Love Anthology, All The Wrong Numbers, is his first published story. Goodreads Profile

Marcus Maichle is a volunteer at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and sang with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus for 4 years. He enjoys sci-fi and fantasy role playing games, especially writing and running his own adventure modules. Goodreads Profile

Donovan Crane grew up all over, his father being a rolling stone of sorts. A self-professed geek, Donovan loves role playing games, thinking games, reading, writing, and his family. He's recently delved into writing M/m romance and is happily addicted to all genres he can get his hands on. He loves nothing better than a good book, a cool evening in which to enjoy it, and a nice rain storm to accent it all. Goodreads Profile


  1. Thanks for the review, Carly!!! You're the best!!! <3 I will post this link in the group!!! :D

  2. Hi Carly (said that in the tone of the TV series HA) Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review the anthology, so grateful and very much appreciated. You also did a gorgeous layout on your blog-what a beautiful site. You rock!