The best anthology I have ever read.
- Review by Kazza K
by Kayla Jameth , C.C. Williams , Tilly Hunter , Julian Siminski , Stevie Woods , Jeff Mann , Kenzie Mathews, James Thorpby, more…K. Vale, Michael Roberts, Salome Wilde, Steve Rudd, Barry Brennessel, Richard May, Landon Dixon, Rob Rosen
1) 1000 BC, C.C. Williams
A M/M retelling of the story of David and Goliath. Some good fictional storytelling amongst some period/era facts are here. Not bad at all the way the author pulled it all together based around the biblical story. Jonathon, King Saul's son, falls hard for the young shepherd turned hero, David. David turns from a shy, unsure youth into a secure, confident partner for Jonathon. Interestingly, Jonathon and David were friends and Jonathon was considerably older, in the biblical accounts. Just another fact, Jonathon never sort the kingship and was never jealous of David. So 1000 BC was very interesting.
2) 496 AD, Kayla Jameth see review link here - http://bookreviewsandtherapy.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/496bc-apollos-men-15-kayla-jameth.html
3) 27AD, Tilly Hunter
Well. Wasn't this one kinky little number! I do like some kinky, rough sex. And while this is a short it delivers a quick fix. Lucius is a Roman Centurion whose legion has just been defeated by lesser trained but feisty "barbarians." Lucius is taken prisoner, roped and marched along behind Finian, his captor. He is tied to a pole, and despite his discomfort, he is turned on. He has never admitted his desire for such treatment before -
"Please fuck me, my liege." I moaned despite my vow not to plead. "Please," I begged.
"You should learn I don't give into pleas," he said. the more desperately you beg, the longer I will make you wait, and perhaps, even then I will fuck you with the hilt of your sword rather than favor you with my cock."
Good use of a sword, in multiple ways. I liked it!
4) 130 AD, Julian Siminski
An interesting account of the actual love between King Hadrian and his young lover Antinous. Antinous was of Greek origin and not a lot is known about Antinous, outside of the fact that Hadrian wept openly when Antinous drowned in the Nile, and he was deified by Rome, something that was pretty much unheard of for non patricians and foreigners. In 103 AD the author tells the story from Antinous' POV. He is a young man turning twenty worried about the outcome of no longer being boyish enough to stay with Hadrian. Greece was very much into pederasty and Roman culture very much imitated aspects of Greek culture at the time. Antinous is worried that Hadrian will no longer desire him, love him and that the senate will make Hadrian banish him from his bed, from his household. It also looks at the relationship between Hadrian, his wife, Sabine, and his lover Antinous. To add to the overall drama of the piece it has been foretold twice that something dark is coming for Antinous, and he is concerned. Historically it was never clearly determined exactly what happened to Antinous in the Nile but here history is given a human face.
5) 794 AD Stevie Woods
Norseman are about to raid a local priory and the local Baron calls his vassal's to arms against the marauders. Amongst the vassals are neighbours, Aland and Garrick. They are worried about the outcome of the fight, they have never been in one before, even more so because they are lovers and in love with one another. This little story didn't really make me feel like I was transported to another time but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I liked the message of the difficulties of loving another man when there are social requirements to take a wife, still happens now. But then, in this time, you needed children to help on the farm, to grow food and survive. There was some sweet dialogue between the lovers -
Garrick brushed his lips over Aland's forehead. "I know things are going to be different soon. You will take a wife. I understand that, but I want you to appreciate nothing will change for me. I will never take a wife, for my love will always belong to you."
"I can't expect that of you," Aland declared. "You must take a wife."
6) 1066 AD Jeff Mann *very slight spoiler alert*
This short runs the full emotional gamut. Thorir is a Viking waiting on his lover, Eirik, in his lover's cabin, when an armed "Orcadian" enters from behind him. Thorir is blindfolded, bound, and gagged for the "Orcadian's" pleasure. You know where it is going, The Orcadian is in fact his lover Eirik, and they are role playing. Oh. Yeah! Mighty bloody sexy I might add -
"I'm going to have you, my well trussed warrior. I'm going to ride you. On your side. On your belly. On your back. Deep within you, you will take my man-seed."
There is a great love between these two warriors, Thorir is uptight about being same-sex attracted whereas Eirik is philosophical about it. He believes love is how you feel about someone, not their gender. He also believes they need to live in the here and now because life is too short. Especially given their line of work. The bondage allows Thorir to feel more comfortable about their lovemaking as well and I liked the way Thorir was introduced as this big bear of a Viking but smelling a flower and thinking of his lover. Both of these men are bears who have this strong, raw, yet gentle love. I liked the names they had for one another that were quaintly era- complimentary. Also a nice tie into Lindisfarne by the way.
I don't want to say any more because it will spoil this short. It packs a lot into a few pages. It showcases a lot of emotions and meaning. I know one thing, I'm off looking for more Jeff Mann books very shortly. A tissue warning is also in place.
7) 1576 AD Kenzie Mathews
Another interesting read. This time set in Venice, which I don't often read much about. This story is set during the 1576 plague where fearful, superstitious people had to blame someone for the body count, whether they be vampire, witch or Jew -
Papa might have trusted the Jews, but the rest of Italia most definitely did not.
8) 1822 AD James Thorpby
King George's personal physician, Charles McCloud, is somewhat over treating the King's ailments, constipation indeed! McCloud is happy that the King will be heading off to Windsor and he will be staying at Brighton. Part of that is also the sweet-meat he has on the side in the rather lovely young servant, Mosby.Who he rendezvous with when he can at night.
This was sexy, sexy, sexy reading and had me laughing out loud at the description of McCloud's HUGE cock, and balls -
Mosby winced as the older man's horsecock ploughed deep inside him.
McCloud slowed his strokes eager to to make his selfish pleasure last longer. Yet it was futile, for deep inside McCloud's plum-sized balls, millions of angry sperm were preparing to shoot outwards.
9) 1865 AD more…K. Vale
"Tomorrow could be our last day on earth," Ammon began. "If I fall on the battlefield, I want to know I've loved you completely - that I gave you my heart as well as my body, Ben." The words sliced through Ben like a bayonet. Every day he lived in fear of losing Ammon, of one or the other of them being cut down.
This is one of the most romantic shorts in this anthology. Set during the time of the Civil War, Ben dreams of his times spent with Ammon, his best friend and lover. Ben has been sent home after losing his right hand/fingers in battle, but Ammon still fights for the Union. I really loved how the author made you strongly feel the sentiments about the difficulties facing young men in battle. Having to keep love a secret was definitely an encompassing theme. This was short but beautiful. Another author I've not heard of who needs to write more. Definitely have a tissue ready.
10) 1881 AD Michael Roberts
Eric has developed a time machine that has allowed him to go back and forth through time. It just so happens that he has grabbed Billy the Kid mid,er, bonk and transported him back with him to current day. Billy learns that Eric is of the same-sex persuasion and is giving him some stick about it.
He left the room for a moment, and when he returned, the towel was gone, and he had put on the briefs. he moved gingerly, as if there might be pansy germs in the garment that would bite him and transform him into a limp-wristed, lip-smacking ass-fucker.
Eric wants to learn more about Billy from an intellectual standpoint. Was Billy as pragmatic as Eric thought when it came to sex with men as well as "wimmen?" A time travel tale that doesn't take itself too seriously and is just a bit random. And, ah, no thanks on Billy the Kid and his odorous cock.
11) 1889 AD Salome Wilde
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."
Karl Marx the Communist Manifesto
A young Jewish immigrant fleeing Czarist Russia meets a charismatic man on his voyage via Amsterdam to the USA. J. speaks of "comrades" and has a Marxist outlook, initially making our narrator nervous then showing him kindness in the face of the great loss of his family. Salome Wilde did a terrific job of bringing the trip alive and the characters in such a short word count. There is some beautiful writing in this short -
I arch and buck into what I have before this togetherness known as wrong, unholy, savage. No, that is untrue: had I known men could lie together so, I would have judged it as monstrous. But when J. nurtures me to such bliss, to uncontrolled eruption? There is no truth but our truth, no sin but in denying the perfect beauty of our youthful sameness, shared fully and without reservation.
The two men, whilst loving one another, have different paths. J. as a man believing in a growing political ideal and J. believing in the traditions of a devout Jew, including beliefs of having family so his family's name can live on, living a new life in this new land.
12) 1890 AD Steve Rudd
Shem Locheart sees a poster for jobs with Buffalo Bill's Wild West and he saw it as a chance to get out of his town. Didn't matter that he wasn't much of a cook he could read and write which put him ahead of the game.
The west it was shrinking from what it once was, but in that camp of ours, well now, it was just as wild as it ever was.
I enjoyed this short. I'd have to say it's pretty much PWP, which I do enjoy. They all had big cocks - no objections. Originally there was sex between two men, Shem and Wayne, then Wayne brought in a third for a nice interracial menage It was pretty raw and sweaty sex with some nice dirty talk. Oh, yeah. I liked it
Then he looked up at me with a curious grin. "Um, you ever ride a man like a bull rides a cow?" he asked.....
"Yeah, partner," he moaned softly. "Break that hole in."
13) 1909 AD Barry Brennessel
A really sweet coming-of-age short about eighteen year old Jesse Ostermann reconnecting with a best friend, Newton 'Fig' Brabinger. Fig moved away to Philadelphia two years ago and is now visiting his grandmother. He sees Jesse stuck on the side of the road in the snow just outside his family home in Jesse's dad's maroon Buick Model F, and comes over to give him a hand with the crank.
Jesse has just dropped his parents off at the railway station and he later finds out they are staying the night in Washington. This gives Jesse and Fig time alone to reconnect and re-establish something they weren't sure about just before Fig left. The story is sweet, charming, and warm. Once again a longer story would have been ever better. There was much going on - Jesse's older brother, Wes, the night spent in the ghost house, Jesse wanting to go into the theatre....Another great story to add to the mix for this anthology
"I can't get enough of kissing you," Fig whispered.
14) 1916 AD Richard May
All I can say is this is the most beautiful storytelling. I'm giving a whole tissue box warning for this short gem.
Captain Jack Simmons is from the British upper class. He is the commanding officer of his regiment, has known more loss of life than any young man should - he has had five NCO's in two years. He has also lost his friend and lover, Alex, elsewhere in the war that was going to be over by Christmas -
We were assigned to different units on distant parts of the line. It came down to a letter from his sister to tell me he was dead, killed at Marne.
Two years on I still dreamt of us and wondered if Woffeths heard me moan at night, if so, what he thought the moans were for.
Another private is bought into his regiment, Higgins. New, wet behind the ears and leaving Jack to ponder how long he will last given all he has seen and experienced since volunteering in 1914. Life expectancy in the trenches was not often long, particularly at this stage of the war.
On leave Jack and Higgins cross paths and discover more about one another than commanding officer and private -
I must have been staring, because I became conscious that he was too. I saw the interest and hunger in his eyes. I should have turned away for many reasons: class, the fact that I was his commanding officer, but he didn't and I didn't and there we were: on the other side of the looking glass with no way back.
Another short but terrific read. Richard May hit this short for a six!
15) 1957 AD Landon Dixon
I found this short really humorous. once again it's mainly a PWP but no complaints from me. I like some short and sexy with some interesting dialogue and vernacular.
A PI gets down on his knees for Solly who, um, uses his services in more ways than one. Said PI has the chance to go inside a game show to see if it is rigged, as is suspected by another stations executive. PI gets more than he expected from the game show and its very obliging host. I laughed out loud at some of the writing, not in a bad way, it was very entertaining -
My real passion was thespian not gumshoe, but I hadn't gotten the breaks.
"Acting!?" Solly snorted a laugh all over my dreams. "Do a soliloquy on my dick; that's your acting gig.
"Good glory! I gasped. staring down at the telegenic man with the tonsil-buried cock - my cock.
A lot of fun with some vernacular of the time and some action from all quarters - yes, the casting
couch was very much alive
16) 1969 AD Rob Rosen
It is sad to say that I understood the music, the times and actually had the triple vinyl LP of Woodstock. Can remember the music like it was yesterday. *Memories*
This was a nice short that captured the free nature and spirit of the concert, Yasgur's Farm, and the times. Glenn and Steven meet when one is looking for weed and the other thinks the guy looking for weed is worth looking for. They hook up, start to play around, sure there were lots of people around them but, meh, it was sixties and Woodstock. They take it to a more secluded spot and have sex against a tree where they leave their mark...in more than one way. They are supposed to meet up later but never do. Forty years on and Glenn travels back to find their tree still standing and a phone number carved into the tree under their original carving. Naturally he calls. Nice, sexy, sweet, transports you back in time if only for a short while. Peace, man. Groovy.
Well. I've finished this anthology and I'm sad it's over. I could have kept going. This is the best anthology I have ever read. It is well edited, in every sense of the word, the stories all well written. They may have been short but not one missed the mark. Out of 16 shorts 15 would have been given 4 or 5 stars from me and one would have received 3.5 stars, that is pretty darn good. I have found some new authors I am just dying to read more of although, sadly, some don't appear to have anything else out. If I'm wrong please correct me. If some authors are using pseudonyms please let me know the other names they/you write under because I'm keen on reading more. I highly recommend this anthology to those people who like a stroll through time. You don't have to be a history loving M/M reader as these stories all touch on a point of love is love, no matter who, no matter where, no matter when and I promise you you will find something you really like in this collection.