Saturday, January 18, 2014

Closet Capers Anthology

Title:   Closet Capers
Author:  Multiple
Cover Artist:  Paul Richmond
Genre:  anthology
Length:  282 pages
Formats:  epub, mobi, pdf, zip/html, print


A dash of intrigue keeps any relationship fresh: laughing breathlessly over a little thrill, feeling clingy after a shiver of suspense, mucking through a minor mystery. This anthology offers a dozen light and humorous romantic short stories in which a quickly solved caper may be just the ticket to spice up any romance.

Kitsch Me by Mari Donne
Leveling Up by Jude Dunn
Philip Collyer vs. the Cola Thief by Amy Rae Durreson
A Kiss in the Dark by Eli Easton
Calberg's House Specialty Blend by Skylar Jaye
Small Change by Danni Keane
Lawrence Frightengale Investigates by Aidee Ladnier & Debussy Ladnier
The Whole Kit and Kaboodle by Ari McKay
Le Beau Soleil by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
Joie de Vivre by Pinkie Rae Parker
Made Good Under Pressure by Maja Rose
Tempest for a Teacup by Andrea Speed

Review, with stories in the order presented in the text:

A Kiss in the Dark – Eli Easton

Cute and fluffy: Lane gets kissed by a mysterious person during a power outage at a party, and spends the rest of the story working out who it was, assisted by his hypnotist roommate. Then of course he glomps the mystery man. Not sure I believed the disclaimer about Lane’s sex life before the kiss, but it’s fun watching him flail. A lesson in paying attention. 3.5

Calberg’s House Specialty Blend – Skylar Jaye

Low key, a romance based at first on Jonathan’s craving for coffee as roasted by Derik, and his efforts to track down an uninterested Derik after his coffee place closed. After, we don’t really know why they’re together, that’s all in the missing middle. 2

The Whole Kit and Kaboodle – Ari McKay

A nice exercise in ingenuity. A slow burn with no action exists between researcher Grey and librarian Henry, who is an expert in disguising his more flamboyant side at work. Grey lives to discover things though, and is rewarded with another problem to solve, more fun than the first. Definitely an Aw! ending. 4

Le Beau Soleil – Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Set in 1855 New Orleans, this story opens in a bordello, leading off wonderfully with atmosphere and characterization. Frankie the riverboat owner and gambler has to defend his reputation against accusations of cheating at cards, a very serious accusation. This story packs a lot into a few pages, and I’d like to read more from this author. A few stylistic twinges could be dispensed with, but overall, lovely work. 4.5

Leveling Up – Jude Dunn

Way too much crammed in here, coming off as infodumpy. We get Adam’s entire bio, likes, dislikes, heroes, work history....  And we get about 5% of the story as the relationship. While it’s rather fun to see Adam flail as he’s thrust into a situation he’s not expecting, everything around it is unbalanced. 2

Kitsch Me – Mari Donne

Very cute story of a couple who aren’t totally sure of their solidity. In the course of unraveling a mystery concerning “Jesus toasts”, they learn a great deal about each other. Great external plot and solution, and lovely dithering about the state of their love. 4.5

Made Good Under Pressure – Maja Rose

Third person, present tense, which totally rocks this story for the attitude. Set in 1926 New York, it should totally rock the Jazz Age slang, which it doesn’t, and there’s too many anachronisms (e.g. snarkily, access as a verb) and high-falutin’ words. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen the word “albescent” before.) The bones of the story are good, but the mismatch between language, characters, and setting is hard to get past. 3

Tempest for a Teacup – Andrea Speed

In this charming, tongue-in-cheek sendup of the noir detective story, our modern day private eye and his decent-human-being cop boyfriend have a dognapping case to solve. Beautiful entwining of the romance and the external plot. The detective, Jake, is a hoot, and it’s totally clear why Kyle both left him and then has to come back. 5

Small Change – Danni King

Dom, the shy caretaker of a miniature village tourist attraction, keeps finding his tiny figures doing unplanned and occasionally naughty things. He’s set to find the culprit with the help of the train-driver he’s secretly fond of, and a couple of mysteries get unraveled. Sweetly done. 4.5

Lawrence Frightengale Investigates by Aidee Ladnier and Debussy Ladnier

The star of a horror movie feature and his lover Nicholas, aka Myrna Boy, get caught in the theft of a valuable show artifact when they need to perform flawlessly in order to sidestep the station’s internal politics and not disappoint the fans. A good demonstration about not making assumptions, and a beneficial resolution all around.  Not exactly a romance, more of a Nick and Nora caper, and something about the style I couldn’t quite submerge myself in. 4

Joie de Vivre – Pinkie Rae Parker

Jules returns to his aunt’s house, now his as a bequest, to find dilapidation and his childhood nemesis come to fix the roof. The premise was charming, as was the setting in rural France, but big chunks of exposition made for a somewhat wooden read. Some information set aside as a footnote should have been worked into the text. Given Jules’ relationship with his aunt, his later behavior made him unsympathetic, and Henri wasn't a whole lot better, though possibly he's merely oblivious rather than mean with his rude remarks. 2.5

Philip Collyer vs. the Cola Thief - Amy Rae Durreson

Very cute story about sales manager Phil and IT guy Kester who’s both pursuing Phil and trying to help him find the sneak who’s making off with the cans of soda. A charming look at good intentions and how time changes us, or doesn’t. Sweet and funny, and the best twist ever on why you shouldn’t mess with the brother of a pregnant woman. 5

As with all anthologies, quality will vary. Three of the stories I consider very questionable inclusions, one needed a firmer editorial hand, and the rest are fun. 3.75 marbles

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