Make Me Beg by Aaron Michaels

Daniel and Jeremy have been lovers for a couple of months, and Daniel is very happy with the older man.  Neither of them have said the “l” word, though.  Will Mortimer, the stray cat Daniel has been feeding, help to change that?

Make Me Beg is a sweet, hot story.  Younger, slightly insecure Daniel and older, hesitant but caring Jeremy are very likeable characters.  Their feelings for each other really shine through in this story. 

 

Brahmas and Pitbulls by BA Tortuga

Dean’s up on the barn roof, fixing it, when his lover Will finds yet another stray puppy.  Despite the fact that they’ve already adopted quite a few homeless animals over the years, they keep the little dog.  Working together to bathe the puppy is messy work, though…

Brahmas and Pitbulls is a typical BA Tortuga tale, with sexy cowboys, realistic dialogue, and hot sex.  Dean and Will’s relationship is clearly solid and loving, and the story was quick and fun.

 

Hound, A Bay Horse, and a Turtledove by Elazarus Wills

Osmer Gale has come to New Mexico to finish his book about Henry David Thoreau, but once there he finds himself distracted by many things, including feeding starving elk, a strange old black bear, and sexy game warden December Mercado.  Will being among the animals help Osmer understand Thoreau and himself better?

Hound, A Bay Horse, and a Turtledove is a strange, slow-paced, yet oddly enjoyable story.  Events just sort of flow into each other, and the relationship between Osmer and December progresses quickly, with a lot of things seeming to occur offstage.  Still, I liked philosophical Osmer and determined yet sensitive December.  While this story is definitely off the beaten path, it held my interest.

 

White Mountain by Sarah Black

Photographer Bobby has returned to the White Mountain Apache Reservation to take pictures of a wild jaguar that supposedly lives there.  To his shock, his old love Clayton is the one who is supposed to lead him to the jaguar’s den.  Will Bobby and Clayton be able to heal the wounds of a decade ago?

White Mountain is a great story.  Bobby and Clayton never got over each other, and both have regretted their ten-year separation.  The tale of why they separated slowly unfolds as they come nearer to the jaguar’s den.  There’s a lot of emotion as the two men think about the past and consider the possibility of a future, and there is even some suspense involving the jaguar.  Sarah Black’s tale is fast-paced, emotional, and enthralling!

 

Cold Iron by KC Warwick

While fleeing desperately from the People of the Hills, Talin’s horse loses a shoe and becomes lame.  He’s forced to stop at the blacksmith’s, where smith Bran fixes the shoe.  Talin asks the smith to shelter his horse while he continues to flee, but Bran refuses to let him go, knowing he’ll never escape on foot.  Will Bran be able to save Talin from a terrible fate?

Cold Iron is a very cool fantasy story.  It’s tense and action-packed from the very first word!   Though Talin and Bran have little time to get to know each other, their instant connection feels real.  Bran’s willingness to do whatever it takes to protect Talin made him a truly swoon-worthy hero in my mind.  With romance, action, and even a bit of humor, KC Warwick’s story doesn’t disappoint.

 

Gerbil Falls in Love by Dianne Fox

Finn Spencer wants to get a new hamster to keep his current hamster, Gerbil, company, so he takes his pet to the vet’s office for a checkup first.  There he meets veterinarian Truman Decker, who gives Finn his card and tells Finn to call him if there are any problems with the new hamster.  Finn is still hurting over the loss of his last lover to cancer, though.  Will two hamsters help bring these two men together?

I absolutely loved Gerbil Falls in Love.  Finn’s lingering sadness over the death of his lover and his obvious caring for his pet made him a very sympathetic character.  I really liked the way Finn and Decker’s relationship developed slowly and naturally, unlike in many short stories I’ve read.  The sexual tension built along with Finn and Decker’s friendship, and when the love scene finally came it was explosive!  Dianne Fox did a wonderful job of creating multilayered characters within an emotional, hot story that adds a great deal to this anthology.

 

Chasing Samson by Kiernan Kelly

Keene Gray is tired of all the attention he gets from women due to his good looks.  On top of that, his seventy-two-year-old employee, Ruby, keeps bugging him about being alone too much.  When Ruby invites Keene over to dinner, he ends up having to look for her missing cat.  He meets a very attractive police officer, Richard.  Just as he and Richard are trying to make a date, however, something terrible happens.  Will Keene and Richard ever get together?

Chasing Samson is yet another example of Kiernan Kelly’s skill with characterization.  Keene’s appearance is nearly perfect, but inside he’s awkward and unsure.  When he first meets Richard, his nervousness leads to some very funny moments.  Richard, on the other hand, is more self-assured.  Richard’s a police officer (uniform, yum!) and is also willing to be there for Keene when Keene really needs someone.  With humor, emotion, and a very hot love scene, Chasing Samson is an excellent read.

 

Bungalow Bill by Ansley Vaughan

Although he prefers men, circumstances have led Theo to be the “assistant” (aka gigolo) of rich widow Norma Widgeon.  Norma loves elephants, so she drags Theo and her daughter Loretta to an elephant camp where they will get to meet elephants and Theo and Loretta will learn how to ride and direct trained elephants.  Theo and the director of the camp, Bill Brabazon, have an instant dislike for each other, and Theo doesn’t want to be there.  Will Theo have a change of heart after he works with the elephants?

Bungalow Bill was a very different story.  I loved the exotic setting and the elephants.  Ansley Vaughan really seemed knowledgeable about trained elephants, their handlers, and the Thai language.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find the characters as appealing as the setting and the animals.  Theo came across and petulant, spoiled, and whiny for much of the story.  Bill started out needlessly antagonistic.  Their relationship went from hate to love a bit too quickly to be believable.  Even so, the unusual aspects of this story made it an interesting read.

 

Canine Connection by Neil Plakcy

Richie loves his golden retriever, Jackson, but he is lonely for some human company.  When he meets an attractive new guy in town, Scott, he decides to ask him for a date.  Scott’s bratty little dog Max seems to hate Richie and Jackson, though.  Can Richie and Scott form a relationship despite Scott’s dog?

Canine Connection is an amusing little tale.  Romantic, quick-to-fall Richie and picky Scott were neat characters, and I loved the dogs.  For a while it seemed like the story wouldn’t have a happy ending, but Neil Plakcy pulled off an ending that was both sweet and realistic.

 

Indigenous by J.L. Jensen

Jacob Redhawk is walking across the campus where he’s just begun veterinary school when a bald eagle smashes into him and knocks him down.  Kai Maakotka, a Finnish student who is working on his Ph.D., comes to untangle Jacob and the eagle.  After Kai leaves, Jacob has dreams of an eagle and Kai, but he can’t find Kai anywhere.  Has Jacob lost his chance with the man who seems to be his destiny?

Indigenous is not only a cute romance tale, but also full of fascinating information about indigenous cultures.  Dreams and eagles play a large role in the story, as do drums.  Jacob and Kai are great characters, both because they honor their cultures and because they are kind and caring toward each other.  I enjoyed watching them come together, and learning more about their cultures was just the icing on the cake!

 

Birds of a Feather by CB Potts

When ophthalmologist Doctor Bayner is awakened in the middle of the night by his beeper, he’s expecting a human patient.  The patient awaiting him in the ER, however, is an owl who’s been shot in the eye.  He agrees to do surgery because Ranger Daniel Shad asks him to.  Will an owl lead the doctor to the love he’s been missing?

Birds of a Feather is one of the two first-person stories in this anthology.  Due to the point of view, the doctor’s name is never revealed.  Dan and the nurses call him “Doc” or “Doctor.”  His thoughts about Dan are almost poetic in nature, and Even the love scenes were poetically described.  Ranger Dan is a very kind person, willing to watch over an injured owl for as long as necessary and sweetly caring toward the doctor.  CB Potts’s lovely writing and slow pace suited the subject matter very well, making this story very enjoyable to read.

 

Horseplay by Sean Michael

Micah Orion has been trying to get the attention of Dr. Byron Hamilton, a psychiatrist who brings some of his young patients to Micah’s horse farm to ride, for a year.  Today he’s determined to ask Dr. Hamilton out at last. 

As always, Sean Michael has penned a hot, enjoyable story with Horseplay.  Micah is determined and self-assured.  Once he gets over his initial reticence, Byron is uninhibited and amusing.  Watching these two men get together was a lot of fun.

 

Puppy Tax by J. Rocci

Sky Bower owns a doggie day care and grooming facility, but he also volunteers at the local hospital, bringing one of his dogs to visit the patients.  There he meets Dr. Tony Morasutti and is instantly attracted.  Dr. Morasutti asks him for coffee.  Will their coffee date lead to much more?

Puppy Tax is a cute story with adorable dogs, a sexy doctor, and lots of fun.  I liked the slow development of Sky and Tony’s relationship.  They seemed perfect for each other, and I was happy to see them come together at last.

 

What We Leave Behind by Shanna Germain

When he was dying of cancer, the narrator’s partner, Thom, signed them up for a hospice program for dogs.  Their job was to take care of a dying dog and try to make its last days as pleasant as possible.  Months after Thom’s death, Pawspice volunteer Seth brings Annie to his home.  Although he tries to send the dog back, Seth insists.  Can Annie and Seth bring the narrator back into life again?

What We Leave Behind is a story that is both sweet and sad.  The first-person narration really drew me into the never-named narrator’s sadness over the loss of his partner, and his reluctance to care again.  Although he was surprised that he found Seth attractive, he allowed himself to feel without beating himself up too much.  I really wanted him to find love again.  Seth is a caring man, and a revelation he makes at the end of the story makes What We Leave Behind even more poignant.  Be warned: there is sadness in this story, since the narrator lost his partner and is caring for a dying dog.  Still, it’s a very sweet story and the narrator’s journey back into love and life is lovely to read.

 

Animal Attraction is a great anthology!  I especially liked Gerbil Falls in Love and Chasing Samson, but there isn’t a bad story in the book.  Some of Torquere Press’s best authors are here, and I got to try some authors I hadn’t read before as well.  There’s a lot of variety in the stories, which I really enjoyed.  If you like animals and men falling in love, pick up Animal Attraction today! 

     

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