Friday, August 19, 2011
Tea and Crumpet, edited by Josephine Myles
Tea and Crumpet ed. Josephine Myles
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Genre: Anthology, Contemporary, Erotica, Historical, GLBT
Length: 193 pages
Raise your rainbow umbrellas high and celebrate!
Enjoy this enchanting, entertaining and thought-provoking collection, a heartfelt expression of what it means to be queer in Britain, past and present. All these stories reflect the iconic sights and national character of the British Isles: a taste of our idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, but also an unashamed representation of the love, loyalty and laughter of our people.
Including a wide range of style and subject, this is the perfect way to sample different authors and to find both existing and new favourites. Follow the British way of life from historic villages to modern cities, from the countryside to the sea, through history and with a fantasy twist, in gardens, churches, campus and the familiar, much-loved local pub.
The stories cover universal themes of romance, desire, remembrance and reconciliation. The authors range from multi-published to up-and-coming, and they all share a passion for their characters, whether through great drama, erotic excitement, humour -- or a combination of all three!
Contributors include: Alex Beecroft, Jennie Caldwell, Stevie Carroll, Charlie Cochrane, Lucy Felthouse, Elin Gregory, Mara Ismine, Clare London, Anna Marie May, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Zahra Owens, Jay Rookwood, Chris Smith, Stevie Woods, Lisa Worrall, and Serena Yates. Edited by: UK MAT (UK Meet Acquisitions Team).
This anthology is a souvenir of the 2011 UK Meet, an occasion for GLBTQ supporters to get together in a relaxed setting to celebrate and chat about the fiction community they love. Funds from the sale of this anthology will go towards future UK Meets, to which all are welcome.
Oh, my, this is what happens when the constraints of American publishers, American-speak, and standard romance conventions are released. Tea and Crumpet is a charming collection of short stories from British authors in all their native glory.
More than half of the authors here are new to me, with a wide variety of style and voice. There are eighteen stories that span most of the social spectrum, though if I wasn't quite sure what a "chav" is, I could glean a lot from context. And from Google – who wouldn't want to know more about something called "Insanely Bad Elf"*? Most are m/m, a few f/f – and while the f/f stories did not stand out as distinctly in voice, the diversity was welcome.
With this many stories, I'm not going to go into each in detail or we'll be here for 100 pages, so I'll mention a few of the standouts, though please understand, the entire collection is worth the read, particularly if you yearn for a gay story that doesn't adhere completely to the HEA/HFN model.
JL Merrow provides another one of her humorous shorts with Good Breeding. Giles finds himself confronting all his snobbery when he discovers that his own antecedents aren't as posh as he could wish when he tracks down his birth mother. Between his even snobbier boyfriend Hugh and his level-headed roommate Oz, Giles gets an attitude adjustment and a lesson in priorities. Funny, with a little sting.
The Utterly True History of Guy Alien and the Rise and Fall of His Band, X-Wing is one of the non-standard-romance stories, though Stevie Carroll reveals the relationships and the caring. Part is a magazine exposé, part the reactions of the readers, it lets the identities of the readers unveil slowly, and by the end, you'll be utterly content with the lovers.
A follow-up to another story I now feel compelled to track down, We’ll Always Have Brighton #2 from Zahra Owens stands alone, both as narrative and in voice. Told from "I" to "you", you being the other member of the couple, this is a structure I've seen only once before. It works well in this tale of recovery from a terrible incident. Names are neither given nor needed; the whole universe is this couple and a place that means a great deal to them.
Not to slight any of the other fine authors who have contributed to this anthology, but after these three I'm going to suggest that you get the collection and read for yourself. 4.5 marbles
*Insanely Bad Elf is an imperial red ale with an ethanol content designed to remove paint. But I will not tell you how it fits into the story.