This very eclectic collection of m/m short stories is a blend of sensual, shocking and sweet stories. I was unsatisfied by some of the stories which seemed to end all too abruptly and a bit disturbed by the subject matter in others as they were a bit out of my comfort zone. This is not a collection of all uplifting stories, but they are certainly thought-provoking and give a selection of different writing styles from a variety of authors. Somehow, I wouldn’t categorize all of these stories as romances even though there are quite a few which do result in wonderful pairings but I wasn’t thrilled with those that involved either physical or emotional pain that often seemed to reflect an inequality in the relationship. Obviously, I am a bit ambivalent about the collection but I definitely did think that there were quite a few lovely stories included, I just think that there may need to be more warning labels associated with some of the other stories.
“Best Gay Romance 2013” is an anthology of seventeen m/m stories edited by Richard Labonte. It is not quite apparent what criteria was used for inclusion as there are a few sweet stories with happy for now or happy ever after endings but many of the others are a bit edgy and may elicit a bit of discomfort, particularly in those who are disturbed by the idea of an incestuous relationship or the trauma of rape. Among the stories are “The Baker” by Neil Plakcy is a lovely story about a serendipitous treat that changes an unemployed man’s life, “What We Leave Behind” by Shanna Germain tells the bittersweet tale of a legacy that provides a hospice for terminal pets which gives a bereaved survivor a way to heal, “Total Package” by Michael Bracken presents a very special delivery and J.M. Snyder’s “Henry and Jim” gives a glimpse of the love and devotion that develop over years of a relationship.
Best Gay Romance 2013 has both heat and sweet. These stories of meet-cutes, first times and long time loves are tales well told with relatable characters you root for from beginning to end. Cream-of-the-crop editor Richard Labonté gathers the very best in gay romance each year for a collection that runs the gamut from hearts and flowers to down and dirty. In Best Gay Romance, the chocolate you may give to your lover will likely be used in many other creative ways! What Labonté does best is represent gay men of every age and every walk of life experiencing every kind of love. These heady, head-over-heels, heart-pounding stories of gay romance make for inspiring bedtime reading!