Book Review – This Wish Tonight Anthology

Eve of the Great Frost by Wendy Rathbone:
Remi has prepared for over a year to be the king’s gift at the annual celebration of the Eve of the Great Frost on the planet Niobe. Twelve men, taught under the tutelage of the Pleasure Master, hope to be the one (or one of several) chosen to spend an erotic night with the mysterious alien king who always wears a mask. But when Remi’s turn comes to be presented to His Majesty, everything goes wrong from a costume malfunction to breaking protocol. What happens next is a shock, and a night he will never forget.

Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth
Zeke is a loner his late forties, living in a small cabin in rural Montana. Nathan has been traveling across country on foot since the zombie apocalypse, dealing with his OCD in an empty world.

Zeke just wants someone to love. Nathan just wants to be home again.

Fate brings them together in a winter wonderland, but their own fears and baggage may tear them apart.

Fear of Fire by Gregory L. Norris
Glass Artist Lucius Price works desperately to create a holiday symbol intended to help the town of Villatopia heal from a rash of unsolved hate crimes against gay men. When he is targeted next and his studio set ablaze, handsome firefighter Oscar Ramos rescues Lucius from the flames, creating a different kind of fire during an unforgettable Christmas.

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This anthology from Mischief Corner Books is a collection of three very different stories with the shared theme of Christmas. I love reading anthologies as they’re a great way to find new authors. I’d already read and enjoyed another story by J. Scott Coatsworth—Through the Veil—but the other two authors in this collection are new to me.

Eve of the Great Frost by Wendy Rathbone
This story is SF and I loved the descriptive world building and the exploration of another culture. I enjoyed the way the author used POV to play with perspective. The story is from Remi’s POV rather than Shin’s who is from Earth. It was interesting watching Remi trying to understand Shin’s motivations without the insight he discovers as the story progresses. It gave a nice glimpse of a man behind a mask although Shin had his own mask in a way. I also really liked that the story revisited the characters with an epilogue set much later rather than just finishing once the main part of the story was over.
Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth
This is also SF, but very different from the previous one as it is set on Earth in the not so distant future after a rather nasty plague has decimated the population. Both Nathan and Zeke need to do some serious soul searching and I liked that one of the MCs is dealing with OCD as it gave the story more of a realistic edge. I prefer to read about characters who have an internal struggle as well an external one. The descriptions of the setting were very vivid and it made it easy to imagine the desolation and loneliness of their surroundings. I enjoyed the world building and how the decisions the characters make highlight what it important to life. I also liked Andy as a character—I thought he was well used, and the explanation of who he was left me with hope for the future of not just the characters in this story, but humanity as well.

Fear of Fire by Gregory L. Norris
Although it appears have a few supernatural elements at the beginning, this story is really a contemporary romance, and as such rounds out the anthology nicely. I liked the two main characters—Lucius and Oscar—and thought they complemented each other well. Lucius is a glass artist which was something I wasn’t familiar with, and I enjoyed the descriptions of his work. The supporting characters were a little more stereotypical, but that didn’t detract from the story which left me with a happy fuzzy feeling at the end of it as Lucius and Oscar come together with their community to celebrate the season and hope for the future.

I’d recommend This Wish Tonight to readers who enjoy reading shorter stories with engaging characters and descriptive world building. Although there is a Christmas theme running through these stories, I think they can be enjoyed at any time of the year, especially with the hope they leave the reader with for not just the characters, but humanity itself. 4.5 stars out of 5.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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1 Response to Book Review – This Wish Tonight Anthology

  1. Pingback: Anne Barwell Gives This Wish Tonight 4.5 Stars – J. Scott Coatsworth

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