Seven tales of romance ranging from historical to contemporary to futuristic to supernatural. The pairings are equally wide-ranging and can be any combination. Overall I would give the collection a 3.7 out of 5.
"Sophie's Christmas Gargoyle" by Katherine Kingston
(m/f) Abuse survivor Sophie and the mysterious Mark Devane meet up to protect Ellie from her abusive husband. After Ellie is driven to safety, Mark insists on staying around, afraid the angry man will retaliate. Gargoyles have always been favorites of mine, both in real life and in literature. I found the story very enjoyable. Although I did wonder what Sophie wrote on the slip of paper that she gave to the husband. I laughed when Mark got indignant about everyone immediately assuming that all shapeshifters are werewolves. Sophie's response was perfect. "Apparently werewolves have the best PR." 4 out of 5.
"Winter Interlude" by Regina Kammer
(m/m, m/f/m; m/f discussed) An American Revolutionary novelette. Captain Sam Taylor and First Lieutenant Patrick Hamilton had discovered that they had more in common than just fighting for the cause of freedom. Now, a year later, they discuss what happens in the future. Both men appear to be bisexual. Sam is with Clara, who Patrick had an affair with. Patrick is engaged to a former working girl who is currently pregnant. I'm more a fan of "one man/one woman" or "one man/one man" stories, so this was not my cup of tea. Erotic, with a touch of kink. While the writing is good, this is not my kind of story. 3 out of 5.
"Your One and Only" by Nicole Austin
(m/f) Hybrid Mates. Aspiring artist Harper is on her way to a very important interview when her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Out of cell range, she starts walking. The hot Texas sun and lack of water soon forces her to seek shade under a nearby stand of trees. When a black lion appears, she is certain that she is hallucinating. She passes out, only to wake in Zander's bed. I really have come to love Austin's Hybrid Mates series, but this is the first time we've been given a non-shifter mate. The relationship develops quickly, as is usual for shifters. Harper's doubts are realistic for a human, but are well addressed by Zander. A lot of heart and heat in this one. 4.5 out of 5.
"Take a Chance" by Alexa Silver
(m/f) It had been a miracle landing, with only minor injuries instead of the multiple deaths expected. Every year after, the passengers and crew would meet to celebrate, to remember, and for a type of group therapy with the other other people who could understand. This year is harder for former First Officer Hunter Zane due to the death of his good friend and Captain of the flight. Passenger Lani Kolbiaw might just be what he needs to get past the pain and back to the love. There's a sweet awkwardness between Hunter and Lani in this tale of loss and discovery. It has a slow and steady pace that allows the passion time to build. There was an amusing and unexpected scene at the end that, while not needed, was still a wonderful coda. 3.5 out of 5.
"The Moon Maiden's Mate" by Suz deMello
(m/f) Previously published as "First and Last". At 24, Shayna Goldstein has run out of time to find a mate. If she fails, she must leave the Jewish outpost of New Brooklyn on Luna and move to Earth. She reluctantly agrees to an arranged marriage, but is shocked when told her love and future life will be in Farside, an outpost populated by more than just Jews. Could she find someone as wonderful as her first crush, Gideon Landers? A most unusual story with a tragic backstory about why there is a Jewish outpost on Luna. A Jewish heroine and hero is very rare in romances, much needed to represent all the readers out there. I'm pleased to see deMello give us this diversity. Shayna has a lot of growing up to do, even at 24, but her development is well shown, even in a story as short as this one. Lots of sex in this one. Lots. But there is still a good strong plot to go with it. 3.5 out of 5.
"Perfectly Presented" by Berengaria Brown
(m/m) Blake Kendrick's dinner date takes an unexpected turn when Xavier Kurnow discovers that there are six tags still remaining on the "Adopt a Child" tree, six children who would face Christmas without a present. Christmas is changing the relationship between Blake and Xavier, deepening the friendship and casual sex into so much more. There is quite a bit of insecurity by both men regarding their future. Lots of sex, some kink. I liked the characters, but I think the constant sex scenes hurt both the story as well as the feeling of love. It distracted me from the romance, almost becoming "how many different ways can they get off". 2.8 out of 5.
"The Nightwind's Gamble" by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
(m/f) Ardian Cree had been playing Quint, a card game he isn't familiar with, when he draws the Oblesik card. It can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how it is drawn, but Ardy doesn't remember. The others inform him that it means a visit from the Nightwind Prime, Syntian Cree. If the Prime comes to punish Ardian for ignoring his summons, he could demand what Ardian loves most, his life-mate Margeaux. If I hadn't read all the previous stories in this Universe, I would've been overwhelmed with all the characters. Loved the story, loved checking up on Ardy and Margeaux, previously seen in "The Nightwind's Visit" from the Naughty List collection. 4 out of 5.