This is one of those rare anthologies in which all the stories are good. Some were more my jam than others, but rest assured that you’ll find something that’s your jam here as well. It’s a safe 1-click, folks.
For me, the standouts were the stories that I specially bought the book for: Cross by Adriana Locke, One Good Man by Emma Scott, Full Court Press by Kennedy Ryan, and End Zone by LJ Shen.
Cross is short and sweet and takes place prior to Crank, which is also an awesome read. (Highly recommend. Seriously.) Second chance romances are a weakness of mine, and this one was particularly satisfying. Despite being short, I never felt the story was rushed in any way, and the characters were engaging and super relatable.
One Good Man was probably the most unique story of the bunch. It was set in Vietnam-war-era France, which is a setting I’m pretty sure I’ve never read about in a romance novel. I liked Janey, the plucky journalist heroine, but for me, the real star of the story was Adrian, the football-playing, wannabe med student hero. The way he struggled with doing what he wanted to do versus what was expected of him was just as compelling as his love affair with Janey, in all honesty. (Not to downplay the romance in the story, which was sweet and all-kinds-of-hot at the same time. But I would’ve read an entire book from Adrian’s perspective, with or without Janey. He was that compelling.)
The chemistry between main characters Avery and Deck was the star of Full Court Press. It was instantaneous and positively smokin’. There’s also a surprising amount of emotional depth in the story. Avery’s background is heart-breaking, and watching her learn to trust and love again was inspiring.
As for End Zone...sigh. What can I say? Everything LJ Shen writes is magic. Her ability to make me fall in love with heroes who are complete a-holes is legendary. I have no idea how she does it. And the way her stories flow is nothing short of poetic.
Long-story-short, all the stories are good, but the ones I’ve mentioned above are more than worth the price of admission for this anthology.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
Crushes it! No rehab needed. This one is clean and sober.
Other reading suggestions
Check out the backlists for Adriana Locke, Emma Scott, Kennedy Ryan, and LJ Shen. Come see me again when you’re done with all of those and I’ll have more recommendations for you.