In this third collection of short stories of love and resistance we have a lovely mix romances. Some of these stories are highly erotic, others gentle and romantic but each of them tackles how love and romance is often a political act, Loving as acts of hope and resistance when things seem darkest.
Make You Mine by Molly O'Keefe: In the last days of her campaign for NY Gov, Maggie and Jay her chief of staff have to make a choice, watch their twenty-plus year friendship implodes under the pressure of not to acknowledging what they feel for each other or have the courage to choose each other. In typical O'Keefe fashion, the sex is searing and the emotions intense as they try to figure out a way forward.
Personal Audition by Ainsley Booth. This is the least overtly political story in the collection, yet it is still intensely political because it is about claim one's authentic self when it easier to go along with the flow. Camilla is a comedian, sleeping on her ex's couch after losing her apartment in a fire (
#rombklove ). She teaches by day and refines her comedy routine, counting the days till she can leave for California. She. When she picks up a separated socialite, she soon finds herself questioning her plans and her ideas about relationships. I wish however we had more background for Lizzie whose story begged for more elaboration.
Brand New Bike by Andie J. Christopher: I was first introduced to Michael Garcia in Christopher's Biker B*tch, where he was a hot mess. He is still a hot mess in this story but one who is actually putting effort into reforming his dating life so he can actually try to develop relationships that don't begin and end in the bedroom. However when a critical podcaster goes after Michael for seemingly selling out on Net Neutrality, their verbal sparring acts as foreplay and leads to lots of conflicted feelings when they don’t hate each other’s guts as they expected. The resolution was bit rushed but a epilogue has been promised.
Cover Me by Olivia Dade: This story was the second story in the ARC I received. Once I read this story in the ARC, I just went ahead and pre-ordered my copy because I wanted to own it. This gentle romantic story starts as a marriage of Convenience between long-time friends for insurance purposes ignites into so much more. . I loved the incandescent scene at a townhall meeting were Elizabeth roasts her congressman & opens James eyes to Elizabeth and to everything she has quietly been shouldering alone. James is such a sweet hero determined to care for his new wife, who has been a caretaker for so long that she struggles to let him take care of her for a change.
The Long Run by Ruby Lang: Lang excels at telling stories about lovers who get off on the wrong foot, and in this gently funny and hopeful story, it is neighbors who meet first scowl at each other across a coop conference table. This story is all about small efforts toward change & community building & how finding hope & joy is essential when things are hard. I Loved Annie’s too-loudness & Monroe’s chill-hiding shyness and how they can't ignore each other even when they try.
Never Again by Stacey Agdern: Interconnected to Adgern's previous Rogue novellas, Agdern brings together two previously introduced characters. Sam is a Jewish superhero-playing actor who is determined to use his fame & wealth and the platform it gives him to make a difference, from funding small donor-choose style projects for teachers to lending his influence to help promote a documentary on Jewish resistance that moved him. Deb, is the filmmaker’s sister & coincidentally the preschool teacher whose school-fund projects Sam’s been funding. The pacing for this story was a bit choppy, as Deb and Sam relationship progress in fits and starts but their flirting was very cute and I loved how Agdern portrayed the role of faith and religious practice in their life.
His Neighbor’s Education by Jane Lee Blair: As the end of summer fast approaches, Sarah’s neighborhood gains a gorgeous & friendly new member, however their interactions soon sours when it turns out that he as rival of sorts, as he is inexperience/undertrained but well-meaning charter school teacher, while Sarah is public school teacher working in an underfunded high needs school, who constantly loses their best and brightest to the charters. I loved how angry/grumpy Sarah is, her love for teaching, and just how much her choices have cost her. Her frustration when she runs into Mark a church was delightful as was her sensual teasing of Mark as they test out the depths of their mutual attraction. As teacher, I particularly enjoyed how Mark’s crisis at realizing good intentions aren’t enough plays out, as there are few easy choices or solutions.
I received an ARC for Rogue Acts but I ended up buying my own copy because I love this project and want to see more of them. Dade, O'Keefe and Lang's stories alone justify $2.99 no-longer discounted price-tag.