Book Review – Rising Heat Anthology

Publisher: Canterbury Romance Writers
Pages: 275
Characters: various
POV: various
Genre: Contemporary, romance

Dreaming of summer lovin’?

Take your mind on a summer vacation with seven standalone, contemporary romance, short stories from these new authors.
Sweets come first (like every good meal!) and the hottest are saved for last.

There’s a little something for everyone with MF, MM and MMF pairings – and guides at the start of each story to let you know what’s coming.

No cliff hangers and an HEA every time

HAPPY TRAILS – by Laura Wolf
What’s in a name?

Divorced. Jobless. Homeless. Katherine’s at a crossroads, with a name she hasn’t worn since she was nineteen. Her solution? To follow the advice of her long-deceased mother to ‘find herself in the wilderness’. But when Katherine, an under prepared wannabe explorer comes across the attractive and much more experienced hiker Grayson, the wilderness gives her more than she bargained for.

STARLIT SHORES – by Emmy-Lou James
Abbie Gregory has a secret, and it’s one she’s kept for more than ten years. Now that secret is compromised, with the very person she least expected quite literally crashing into her life. Matteo Romano hates secrets. But, the memory of a passionate summer romance brings him back to the place and the woman to whom he lost his heart. Once he discovers Abbie’s secret, will he be able to forgive? Or will their relationship be doomed for a second time? The starlit shores of the South coast of England offer the perfect place for romance…

HAIR & NOW – by Stephanie Ruth
Cherry Armstrong’s on a mission to reinvent her life. Sure, her husband’s moved on with a younger, slimline version, but that’s no cause for major alarm. It’s high time Cherry spent more time on herself, and the things she wants to do. But travelling abroad can be a bit freaky on her own, and the modern world’s expectations for single women seems to include spray tans, washboard abs, and severe bikini line waxes. Cherry’s no coward, but can she really lay herself bare to all that?

ONE CHANCE – by Molly Matheson
When friends become lovers, hearts are inevitably broken. Two years after her brother’s death, Ashley has adapted her life, her way. Until Stefan turns up unannounced, disrupting her comfort zone. Luckily, she only has to protect her heart for the weekend, until he leaves her again. Stefan thought sleeping with his best friend’s sister was his worst mistake, until he let grief and guilt keep him away for far too long. Now he is back, for good. He just has to convince Ashley to let him back into her life.

SUMMER RAIN – by Amy Blythe
Off to Amsterdam for a long weekend, Kate aims to leave her baggage behind. She’s travelling light: naughty knickers and no expectations. Well, almost. Johannes can fix any bike, but he can’t find the tools to get his life back in gear. Moving home feels like a mistake, but then Kate shows up…

BARRIER BNB – by Grace Lawler
Alex Vandermeer has a week to save his carefully curated life as an in-demand muso based out of Hell’s Kitchen, NY. He flees New York’s winter for artistic isolation on New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island. It’s his first Air BNB and it’s definitely not what he expected. Tane Morrigan is mourning the loss of his father, ‘The Boss’, and beginning to understand the freedoms and responsibilities of being the head of his family business. The last thing he needs, when he heads to the family Bach (holiday home) is a brash, demanding, sensitive artist… or is it?

I DO, I DO, I DO – by Jillian Barnes
Emily Jones is about to walk down the aisle to marry the loves of her life. That’s right, two of them. Harry and Jack are waiting for her at the altar, ready to commit to her and each other, for as long as they all shall live. It’s not legal, but it’s very real, and as family and friends gather to witness the ceremony all Emily wants is her mother’s blessing, and not to self-combust before their wedding night.

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I enjoyed this anthology, and loved that all the stories are different from each other, whether it be style, pairings, and heat level, yet all work together very well. The symbols at the beginning of each story are a genius idea, and work perfectly with the anthology title.

I loved the New Zealand settings in some of the stories. The characters and stories were all well written, and a satisfying read yet left me wanting to meet the characters again. I was very happy that several of the stories are the beginning of planned series, and I look forward to reading them.

Happy Trails is a sweet, feel good story. I loved the characters, and the way they connect. A bonus was the setting against a backdrop of gorgeous New Zealand scenery.

The characters drew me in to Starlit Shores. I liked the way the author used the misunderstanding to further the story, and I loved that Abbie is a romance writer. I thought her mother, instead of coming across as a two dimensional meddler, became a character in her own right, with her motivations for her actions justified in her mind by her past experiences. Matteo’s grandmother is wonderful, and I would love to learn more about her.

Hair & Now is a very cute short story, and I liked how it flipped expectations of how others expected the main characters to act.

I loved the setting of One Chance. The descriptions of Auckland’s Mata Bay are wonderful, with its vibrant colours. I liked not only the main characters, but the supporting cast too, and the story had a small town feel about it, which is one of my favourite tropes. I was very happy to find out that this one is going to be a series, and am looking forward to meeting the characters again.

I loved the descriptions of both setting and characters in Summer Rain. I liked the Amsterdam setting, and the emotional connection, and chemistry between Kate and Johannes felt very real. I loved the cat boat, and the idea of an animal sanctuary on a boat.

Opposites attract in Barrier BnB and I loved Alex and Tane’s reluctant attraction, which grows into friendship, and more. They’re both interesting characters, and I was amused by the fact their plans almost get derailed by the rain—it is typically New Zealand weather after all. I love reading about musicians, and love descriptions of the music in this story too.

I loved the blended family in I Do, I Do, I Do. It’s obvious that Emily, Harry, and Jack are in love, and want each other. I thought their wedding night was well written. The characters came across as very three dimensional, as did their emotions, especially for the shortness of the story. I was very happy to learn it’s the prequel to a murder mystery, and want to read that one, as these characters have hooked me in already.

I enjoy anthologies as they often introduce me to authors I haven’t read before, and give a bite sized story that hits the reading spot nicely. 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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