Heart2Heart: A Charity Anthology ~ Volume 5
I really enjoy reading short stories and I love discovering new to me authors. I really enjoy the idea of this anthology, which is all about characters doing something that they have never done before. I enjoyed a lot of stories in this anthology and I had a really good time discovering some new authors that I really want to read more books from and I had a lot of fun reading new stories from authors that I love.
Never Have I Ever … Fallen in Love by Lucy Lennox
Rating: 2.5 stars
Themes of the story: Traveling, falling in love
Blurb: Jonah is traveling to Alaska for work and he has to do something he has never done before. When taking a small plane to get there, he meets Pete, the pilot. And they end up falling in love.
I absolutely loved the ambiance of this one. I live in a remote small town, really far from any city, so I always love when books happen in places like that. And it was the case of this story and I loved reading about it, so much. This story really nailed the remote small town ambiance, it felt like I was really living in that town.
This story was incredibly sweet but sadly it just wasn’t for me. I had a hard time connecting to the characters and to the story. And the story was a little too dramatic for me, which is just not my preference when it comes to books.
I really enjoy reading short stories and I love discovering new to me authors, and I really enjoy the idea of this anthology, which is all about characters doing something that they have never done before. I enjoyed a lot of stories in this anthology and I had a really good time discovering some new authors that I really want to read more books from and I had a lot of fun reading new stories from authors that I love.
Never Have I Ever … Cold Called A Stranger’s Phone Number by A.M. Arthur
Rating: 3.5 stars
Themes of the story: Friends to lovers, idiots in love who don’t know how to tell each other their feelings
Blurb: Charlie keeps being told by his roommate Jasper that he is boring. One day, he is in the library and he finds a bookmark in a fantasy says that says for a good time call a certain number, so he calls the number to prove to Jasper that he isn’t boring.
This is a friends to lovers with two guys that have always been into each other, but don’t know how to tell each other. I love reading about lovable idiots that just want to date each other but don’t know how to approach each other so this one really worked for me. This short story was so damn hilarious. Also I really like awkward little moments in stories and this one had a lot of them and I really enjoyed it. I also really liked how this story handled the trope it took on, it was a nice take on the trope and I appreciated it. Also damn was this story sweet, I had a really good time reading it.
I wish that these people were a little better at communication because I often got a little annoyed at the fact that they just didn’t really talk to each other about the important things.
Never Have I Ever … Ridden A Bike by Alice Winters
Rating: 2 stars
Themes of the story: Friends to lovers, being at the wrong place at the wrong moment
Blurb: Owen has been in love with his roomate Lance for ages but he doesn’t know how to tell him. There is mixed packages involved and they end up being threatened by a random dude with a knife that wants to kill them and their cat. But don’t worry, they have each other through it all.
This style of story just isn’t my preferred style. I don’t like high drama and over the top plots in books and that's exactly what this story was. This story read exactly as an episode of Days of our Lives and that's just not my preferred thing to read about.
Never Have I Ever … Dyed My Hair Flaming Red
by Daryl Banner
Rating: 3.5 stars
Themes of the story: Falling in love, living out your dreams
Blurb: Zakary is the stagehand in a theatre company, he doesn’t like to stand out in a crowd, which is why he never acted in any plays, even if it’s his dream to do so. While working on a play, Zakary falls for the director of the play, Jonathon.
I loved how much of the story was about the play that they were putting on, that was so much fun to read about. And I loved reading about how Zakary longed to be in the play himself, that was wonderful to read about. I loved the clear messaging of needing to believe in yourself and in your dreams that this story had, it was lovely to read about. This story was super sweet and I really enjoyed reading it.
This story felt exactly like a rom-com, which are just not my favourites type of stories, but it nailed that kind of vibe perfectly.
Never Have I Ever … Worn That For Halloween
by E.M. Lindsey
Rating: 5 stars
Themes of the story: Best friends to lovers
Blurb: Dom has been pinning for his best friend Siloh since they were kids, they have been friends for 20 years. They finally realize that they both have been pining for each other for all this time and they get together.
This might be a short story, but it packed one hell of an emotional punch. I was full on ugly crying while reading most of this story. This short story had me on the edge of my seat not so patiently waiting what would happen next, the way everything was build up really worked for me and I loved following these characters on their journey.
I love pining in books and the pining in this book was absolutely exceptional. They both had been pining for each other for ages and I just loved reading about that so much. What I love in best friends to lovers books is when the two characters know each other and sound like they have been friends for a long time and Siloh and Dom knew everything about each other and I loved it, I just loved how realistic their friendship felt. Also this was really hot. It had all of the flavours I love in a short story and did everything perfectly. I absolutely adored this short story and I would love a longer book of this story because I just want more of this story, it was absolutely perfect to me.
Never Have I Ever … Sung in Public by Jodi Payne
Rating: 3 stars
Themes of the story: High school crushes meeting up again after a while, facing your fears
Blurb: Nathaniel writes on a blog post about how he never sung in public. Ethan sees him and reconizes him from high school. Turns out that Nathaniel had a crush on Ethan in high school but he never did anything about it. But now they reunite and get together, including some singing in public from Nathaniel.
This story was so damn sweet. I’m a really big fan of the premise where someone has had a crush on someone before and they meet later on in life and they fall in love and the way it was done in this story was so sweet. I loved seeing Nathaniel do what always scared him and I loved how eager Ethan was to help him.
I wish we got a couple more scenes of Ethan and Nathaniel being a couple, that's all that this short story was missing for me. But it was a sweet story with a really nice set up and it was a lot of fun to read.
Never Have I Ever … Gotten Lost by K. Webster
Rating: 4 stars
Themes of the story: First meetings, falling in love
Blurb: Hunter is browsing the Heart2Heart forum when he finds a thread about never having gotten lost, and he is fascinated by the idea. He meets Andrew, another guy who has never gotten lost and they decide to get lost together.
I enjoyed this one so much. It set a really magical atmosphere and it was just the perfect balance of sweet, heart warming and tear jerking. This short story got tears out of me because I was so invested in the characters and how their lives would go.
I absolutely loved the characters in this, Andrew is on the autism spectrum and he’s always been told that he’s too much. While Hunter has always been told that he’s not enough because he is too serious, boring and doesn’t have much emotions. But they both didn’t see that about the other and thought that they were perfect just like they are. And I loved that so much. And the romance, it was so damn sweet. I loved how they adored each other and how they worshiped the ground that the other walks on. Also their banter was just the best. These characters had such a good connection and it
showed through their every action.
Never Have I Ever … Taken a Vacation by Kate Hawthorne
Themes of the story: Open relationships, people in an established relationship that meet someone new, MMM
Blurb: Milo is a travel blogger who has a travel blog where he talks about the food and the people he has sex with when he travels somewhere. While on a flight to New Orleans, Milo meets Jermaine, a flight attendant. Also, Jermaine is in an open relationship with his best friend Gage and they all end up having an interest in each other.
I decided to not rate this story because while it was really hot and I enjoyed those scenes, I just don’t like reading about people in open relationships. There is nothing wrong with the story, it’s just not a topic for me or one that I enjoy reading about, to be honest it’s kind of a triggering topic for me. This story just wasn’t for me, but Kate Hawthorne has written what probably will be my favourite book that I have read this year, so I already know her other books work for me, this story was just an exception to that rule.
Never Have I Ever … Spent The Night With Blanche
by Louisa Masters
Rating: 2 stars
Themes of the story: First meetings, watching the Golden Girls
Blurb: Fin has never seen an episode of the Golden Girls and he says that on the Heart2Heart forum and Clay decides to work with a local place so that they organize a Golden Girls marathon. Fin and Clay meet there and they fall in love.
This was super sweet and I really wish that I could have gotten into the story. But alas, I’m just not the target audience for this one. I have seen a grand total of zero episodes of the Golden Girls and I have no desire to change that number any time soon, so a lot of the references and details about the show were lost on me. I’m sure this story would be lovely and a hit on any fan of the show because there is a lot of talk about the show and references to the show, it’s just not for me.
Never Have I Ever … Had a Makeover by Mia Monroe
Rating: 2.5 stars
Themes of the story: First meetings, falling in love, opposites attract
Blurb: Constantine just went through a break up where his ex called him boring and his friend makes him get a makeover. That's where he meets the stylist, Deacon. They end up falling into bed together and then they fall in love.
If there is one thing I love in books, it's a good subversion of tropes. Which this story is and I really loved that part of the story. This story is about a very well known trope, the twink and the bear, but I liked how it took a twist on the typical way this trope is done.
This one was so damn sweet and it was the exact type of story I love to read about but I didn't really like the style in which this story was written. The writing was a little too dramatic and over the top for me, I prefer subtle characters and plots rather than over the top ones and this story was a little too on the over the top side for me. But I think it would be perfect for anyone who loves this kind of writing style in books.
Never Have I Ever … Flown In An Airplane by Neve Wilder
Rating: 4 stars
Themes of the story: Conquering your fears, first meetings, falling in love
Blurb: Beau is scared of flying in a plane and he is taking a trip to Italy. While at the airport’s bar, he meets a flight attendant, Jack. Turns out that they are sitting beside each other in the plane and Jack helps Beau while he is panicking on the plane.
Beau was so scared of taking a plane and I loved reading about all of his thoughts as he flew for the first time, as someone who was scared of planes before I took one for the first time, it was very relatable to read about and I really enjoyed it. This is so sweet, it was so heartwarmingly sweet and I loved it so much. I loved all of the little movies, tv shows and music references in this one, it was so much fun to read them all. Plus there was a really hot sex scene in this one. This short story had everything I could ever want in a short story and I loved it so much. This was just one of the sweetest short story I have ever read and I absolutely loved it, so much.
Never Have I Ever … Gone Skinny Dipping by Riley Hart
Rating: 4.25 stars
Themes of the story: Second chance at love, falling in love
Blurb: Mickey met a guy online when he was a teen and they had plans to go skinny dipping the first time they met up but Mickey got too scared to go and he never heard of the guy again. It’s been 8 years since then and Mickey is a romance novel writer and he always goes to the same coffee shop to write his books, because he has a crush on the owner, Ronan. Mickey decides to ask Ronan on a date and they live out Mickey’s dreams and fantasies.
This was so sweet. This story melted my entire heart and left me with the biggest smile on my face. I love shy and awkward narrators, the ones who don’t really know how to interact with people and Mickey was exactly that and it made the chapters in his point of view really delightful to read for me. I love pining in books and there was a lot pining in this one, so I really loved reading about that. I also loved how even it it’s a short story there was a lot of page time dedicated to Mickey and Ronan talking to each other and bounding. I really enjoyed how a lot of the story was just them getting to know each other, it was really fun to read about. Also the sex scenes were really good and very damn hot.
I just wish that the story was a little more developed, I know that it’s a short story but it brought up some plot points that I felt like they weren’t developed enough and I just wanted a to learn a little more about those.
Never Have I Ever … Watched The Godfather
by S.E. Harmon
Rating: 4.5 stars
Themes of the story: Second chance, falling in love while watching classic movies
Blurb: Ashton told his friend how he hasn't seen the Godfather and his friend could not believe it so Ashton writes a message on a message board about how he's looking for a date to watch movies with at the local movies in the park event. He finds a date in Levi. Turns out that they have an history together and that they spend the summer reconnecting while watching movies together and they fall in love.
This short story had my heart just because of the premise of it. Two characters who go to movie dates to see classic movies is one of my favourite thing to read about and I love every movie mentioned in this story, so reading about the characters watching them was an absolute blast for me. And I also adored the romance in this one, it was so damn sweet and so romantic and I loved it so much. I loved everything about this story: their banter was so so good, the sex scenes were lovely, the relationship between Ashton and Levi was so sweet, how much they cared about each other and also complimented each other and made each other feel good was just the sweetest thing, the fact that they wanted each other and told each as much and fought to be together really worked for me.
I really enjoyed the characters in this story, but I must admit that Ashton lost me as a fan the second he said that Rear Window is boring and that he hadn't seen Citizen Kane, I’m just not sure I can forgive him for such statements, they really hurt my poor soul. But I think we can say that I enjoyed a main character when the only thing I disagreed with is his taste in movies.
Never Have I Ever … Kissed Someone on the Lips
by Spencer Spears
Rating: 4 stars
Themes of the story: First meetings, first times, sexual exploration
Blurb: West is looking out of the window when he sees a thief stealing diamonds from his neighbours house. The thief sees him and goes to visit him. They start talking and West has never been kissed so he blackmails the thief into giving him his first kiss in exchange of him not ratting out the thief.
I enjoyed this story so damn much. The set up was absolutely hilarious in the best way possible and it lead to some really good banter between the main characters and some really sweet and some really hot scenes. This one was the perfect balance of everything I enjoy in a short story and I had such a fun time reading this story. This was pretty much the perfect short story for me and I would take at least 20 books exactly like this, I love the idea so much and I just want more. This is a new to me author and this short story really sold me on checking out more of this author’s books.
I must admit that I had a hard time understanding how West, who has anxiety, was having his first time with a total stranger and didn’t seem very anxious about the situation, but that was my only thing I enjoyed less in this story, I enjoyed everything else about it.
Never Have I Ever … Been On A Date by Tal Bauer
Rating: 4.5 stars
Themes of the story: Long term crushes, love declaration, polar horror
Blurb: This story is set in Antartica, where there are a lot of scientists exploring and trying to learn more about it. In the lot, there is Cletus, a pilot and Damien, a palaeontologist. They are sent on a rescue mission to find a scientist who disappeared and Cletus and Damien have been pining for each other and they finally tell each other how they feel.
I have every Tal Bauer book on my TBR but I haven’t read any of them yet, but damn did this short story made me want to read all of his books. This short story was exactly my speed and I loved it. The ambiance in this story was absolutely wonderful. The way everything was described was so fascinating and I loved it so much. And I loved all of the descriptions of Antarctica, they were so vivid that it really made me feel like I was exploring the place with the main characters.
And the romance in this story was so damn sweet it just melted my heart. It was absolutely lovely and I just adored Cletus and Damien together, they made a wonderful pair. And I loved how much pining there was in this story. And I loved how both characters were super well developed and fleshed out.
Don't forget the Heart2Heart Anthology is only available on Amazon for 90 days (from 31 January 2022) with all proceeds going to LGBTIQA+ charities. It is available in ebook and paperback