Stories of Love and Cake.
Kiss, Kiss! Stories of Love and Cake - is a collection of gay romantic stories exploring love and the pursuit of happiness, featuring some of LE Franks' most beloved characters. From a squirrely shifter to holiday angst, from the poignant search for acceptance and love to the testament of enduring friendship in the face of loss. LE Franks explores the human condition with humor and a touch of snark, while making her men jump through hoops for their happily-ever-afters. This anthology includes selections of shorts and novellas from 2013-2018.
Note: This is an anthology of stories that have been released in some other form over the past 6 years.
Birthday Cake: This is just a delicious short story. I loved every sensuous word of this. These guys really are on the same page – even if one of them doesn’t really understand that at first.
6 Days to Valentine: This story is the introduction of Nick and Fatboy – whose story is not over I hope. Nick is a bartender who has built very high walls around his heart. And he particularly hates Valentine’s day. But this year is worse than ever, because he’s missed his chance with not one but two guys and when he realizes the mistake he’s made, he can’t help but wonder if he will ever escape being alone. With the help of some friends and former lovers, however, maybe his lonely Valentine’s days will come to an end.
After: A flash fiction piece of 300 words, this little gem was beautiful and bittersweet.
Snowglobe: This was the first story I read by this author. I liked it immensely the first time and I found out it held up well over the intervening years.
Death to Christmas Sweaters: I absolutely loved this story. Chess and Benjamin are in a relationship – or are they? Benjamin is in love with Chess, but he doesn’t feel like they are on the same wavelength. Benjamin wants to extract himself from the situation before he completely loses himself and so he plots to miss their Christmas trip to Aspen as a way to ease the separation. But unexpected Christmas guests throw a monkey wrench into the whole holiday. But thankfully with Chess’s nosy, encouraging, meddling family, things seem to get back on track right as it appears they are permanently going off the rails.
Of Nuts and Men: Surprisingly, I didn’t love this story. For some reason, I just didn’t connect with the characters like I wanted too.
How Humanity Survived a Fisting by the Titans: This is a short flash fiction. For me, this one didn’t work nearly as well as After.
The Fourth Act: I liked this story of virginal Michael being thrust into the theater world as an intern. He’s kept his sexuality under wraps as his only living relative is his Russian grandfather and he just can’t bear to lose him. He knows he’s the family’s last remaining heir and as such it will be his duty to keep the line going. However, he’s drawn to the forceful Ford and the enigmatic acrobat Semyon. While he has to watch out for Ivan, Semyon’s “bodyguard” and also Saul, his boss, Michael can’t help the pull he feels towards both men. The surprise is in how both men see him and in the end, only one truly sees him
Last First Kiss: This beautiful, bittersweet story takes place in the aftermath of a friend’s suicide. The misunderstandings, assumptions and survivors’ guilt are palpable. I was deeply moved by the subtle and tender tone of this story that has a brutal and gutting beginning.
I’ve been a fan of this author for years. Snowglobe was my intro and I really loved that story. Her writing is subtle at times, but always full of feeling. Each of these stories will tug on a different heart string, and the notes around the impetus for each of these stories provides additional insight. I encourage everyone to read these beautiful stories.
RATING: Four Hearts