Review: Designated Bottoms Anthology

Some men are bottoms by birth, others by choice. Whatever the reason, a designated bottom is someone who's happy to surrender, to submit, or just catch instead of pitch!

In Czech Me Out, by BA Tortuga, Korde discovers what it's like to fall for someone when food truck owner Josh takes on the cowboy virgin.

Katey Hawthorne's gamer grad student Paul doesn't date. He keeps things strictly physical. So why is Sammy so important to him in The Mistell?

Kitty shifter and stripper Aleks doesn't mix business with pleasure, but he thinks Rafe might just be the master for him in Julia Talbot's Faster Bobcat.

Sean Michael's Peter isn't sure about the club his friend takes him to, especially when Doms start hitting on him. Experienced Dom Rupert is happy to help, explaining about that Little Square of Cloth.

In Sgt. Hardass, by Shannon West, recent ex-Army man Jake meets up with a man he has history with, and Chad isn't sure he can explain himself and defuse Jake's anger.

In the Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly, Prince Liam and longtime friend Deacon have to go back to Deacon's Appalachian home, much to the prince's dismay.

And in Switching It Up by KC Wells, Jay knows he looks like a twink, but only hunky Dean understands that looks can be seriously deceptive.

When this anthology with the intriguing title arrived in our inbox, several reviewers got a little...excited. Instead of fighting it out, we agreed to share and pool our reviews together for a group review :)

Czech Me Out by BA Tortuga- average 3.15 hearts

Ann: 3.5 Hearts -
Insta lust that works for new-to-town cowboy Korde and Austin native food truck operator Josh. Just enough angst for just the right reasons and the resolution and Korde’s realizations were really pretty sweet. Josh is a hot, dirty talking sexpert to Korde’s virginal ways and their “joinings” are steamy as hell. I’m a sucker for a bottom boy who has no idea how much he loves it until he tries it and Korde is totally my boy here.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts - Holy needy virgin bottom boy! Whew.

*chugs cold glass of water*

*pours water over self*

Sex. Lots of sex. Controlling, hot and needy sex. Mmmmm.

That's pretty much what this hot little number consisted of.

That being said, Korde and Josh were talking about their future pretty quick considering all they had was a sexy tumble together. I'm rating this for what it was, PWP. Definitely enjoyable. But I would have preferred it was kept at PWP with a little less than a HFN. There wasn't enough interaction (besides the sex) for me to believe in their 'relationship'.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 3 Hearts - Funny and very Texan.

Ms. Tortuga got Austin to a T. Not gonna lie, I like it. I laughed at: “Barbeque, the redneck aphrodisiac.” She seems to have taken a page out of the SM school of romance-one part instalove, one part feel good to a truckload of smutastic.

A quick read plus duck kolaches… *quelts*

SheReadsALot: 2.75 Hearts -
I like BA Tortuga. She can rock a sex scene. This 2.75 hearts for me. Why? The sex saved the story. Was is it spectacular? Nah, all the "honey" and "baby" endearments threw me out of enjoying. Also...a virgin gives his butt cherry to basically the first guy he meets, a food truck guy? It wasn't PWP really, definitely insta-dick. Maybe if it was a novella, I'd buy the fantasy. Not bad though. Made me hungry.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - Needy virgin meets dirty-talking top, steamy goodness ensues.  A little silly, but also sweet and sexy. 
This was his fantasy-- a strong man bent over his bed, muscles straining, maybe fighting him a little and wanting it all the while.

The Mistell by Katey Hawthorne - average 4.35 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts -
Hella cute and I loved it. Pete’s voice absolutely cracked me up and I loved reading about him reforming his slutty ways for the oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-right Samir. Pete has some great friends who thankfully call him on his bullshit and they help guide him in Dating 101. Something Pete just doesn’t do. I love when his roommate Dave told him, “Dude, for someone who fucks anyone who doesn’t actively run away, you’re a fucking idiot about dating.” Heh heh. We know throughout that Pete LOVES to bottom, but we don’t get the scene, but the story is just so good it’s almost forgivable that it isn’t there. I get it might have been gratuitous for this story, but I’m down with gratuitous and would love to read more about these two.

Breann: 4.5 Hearts - I so enjoyed this story!

Cutest meet-cute of all time! Gaming buddies? Gah. Loved it.

There was great chemistry between the guys and most of the story took place in their 'get to know you' stage. And, lemme tell ya, getting to know them was fun.

This is an anthology all about the bottom boy. We definitely had our bottom, but I would have loved a sex scene. Just one pounding into the mattress would have sufficed.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 4.5 Hearts - Truly delightful.

The Mistell is a lovely little nugget of a story that’s fresh, emotive and engaging. I like this author’s voice with her sprinkles of dry humor… actually, she uses an awful lot of phrases/terminology that I do so maybe I’m projecting. Whatevs.

A protag that describes himself as a “tattooed pierced Art Historian” is always going to garner my attention. I’ll admit a lot of the gaming stuff went over my head, but I like the interaction between all the characters and that Pete thought Samir was a “Cheetos dust covered nerd living in a Mountain Dew bottle fort” prior to laying eyes on him. Not a Mountain Dew dwelling troll. However, it’s a little known fact that Cheetos and Mountain Dew is the breakfast of champions. Clearly this author has experienced it for herself.

The Mistell is a slow burn that felt a little abruptly ended to me. She’s piqued my interest with this and I’ll definitely read more from this author in the future.

SheReadsALot: 4.25 Hearts - Any story that hits you with a "boi-pussy" mention (of it's ridiculousness and offense) is always worth a gander. I was pleasantly surprised with the crisp writing about a art history TS/grand student gamer, Pete who is a bottom who loves sex...and is a hot boy at that. So he undervalues himself just a smidge yet doesn't self-depreciate to the point of annoyance. He meets a fellow gamer in real life, the mega fuckhot Eygytian American, Samir.
"I've never been with someone--like you."
"No." He gave me a dirty look that faded into a grin instantly. "Just. Popular."
How cute is that quote? The story is not explicit. The MC's don't even have anal. That's how slow they're taking it...but it's a good slow, you know? No insta-dick here. This story has substance. A believable ending and believable characters. A gem in this anthology.

Sunny: 4 Hearts - Delightful story about online gamers who meet up. I loved Pete's voice...
I admit, I suggested we go out to the bar just so I could change. I’m vain that way sometimes; I regret nothing. 
My heart sped up. That, like, weird adolescent dizzysick feeling when your crush smiles at you in the hall. Such an idiot, oh god. “Nope,” I said. Oh yeah, totally cool. 
And Samir was a cutie-patootie. Another sweet and sexy story with lots of laughs thrown in. My favorite of the collection.

Faster Bobcat by Julia Talbot - average 3.25 hearts

Ann: 3.5 Hearts -
I think I like reading shifter stories in short story format a lot. There isn’t a lot of rigamarole about shifter rules and territories and nonsense. I mean they all seem to follow some pretty basic rules so I really don’t need to read about them again. So, I liked that aspect in this story. These dudes are shifters, they sniffed each other out and they both like what they sniffed. Good enough for me. My only issue was the BDSM element and the use of the title “Master”. I wasn’t really feeling that in their relationship so didn’t get why it was a big deal. Neither one seemed like they wanted to play that hard, that way. They both just seemed to like it more for a role-playing thing. That was my impression anyway, so the angst over that didn’t seem necessary.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts - Wining & dining. Sexy shifters. Hot D/s action.


While I certainly appreciated the BDSM, it was all a little fast to me. Especially because Rafe was so apprehensive in the beginning. Still, the story left me wanting more, which is always a good thing.
SheReadsALot: 3.5 Hearts -
Russian Stripper. Cat Shifters -Lynx & Jaguar to be exact. Interracial instalove...mate/bonding. Pretty much a recipe with my name on it. And light D/s. Oh yes. Aleksy is a submissive Lynx stripper who has a secret desire to be dominated and Rafe, a patron of the Las Vegas strip club, Faster Bobcat. The story is good. I'd have preferred Aleksy to not be naive at points. I tend to question a submissive if they seem too unsure of making simple questions...can they actually handle D/s? The crux of the story is in the importance of Sir/Master. I think a little more length giving more explanation on the words importance to the two. Overall, it was decent.

Sunny: 2.5 Hearts - This story started off strong, with Aleksy, the hot little stripper who happens to be a lynx shifter, and Rafe, the jaguar shifter who wants to dominate him. Aleksy was cute,
  “Hi. I mean, thanks. Yeah. Um, this place smells good. Like fish. Can we sit down so I don’t hump you?” 
 but his awkwardness was overdone at times and he came across as too naive. Rafe came on a little strong and sometimes he put me off. Add in some odd dialogue, over the top reactions, and a little melodrama, and my enjoyment started to slide.

Little Square of Cloth by Sean Michael - average 3.375 hearts

Ann: 4 Hearts -
D’awwwww, I liked this one muchly. Pete is adorable and I loved how he felt safe enough with Rupert to say “fuck it” and just roll with living out every one of his fantasies with his walking wet dream. Rupert was so good with him too and I really got that he was into Pete for more than just one night and for more than just the lifestyle. These two turned each other’s cranks perfectly.

Breann: 4 Hearts - What a fun bit o' BDSM fluffiness.

Pete was adorable. I just wanna hold him and pinch him. Even though this was Pete's first rodeo, he really went for it with his new master. He had some hot chemistry with Rupert. Ah, Rupert. You perfect Dom, you. His rescuing of Pete was cute and I liked how their relationship developed from there. He knew just how to push his new boy.

Perfect sub + Perfect Dom = easy BDSM fluff.

I like.

SheReadsALot: 2 Hearts -
"Oh fuck a doodle doo." Typical Sean Michael quotes...absurdity at it's Sean Michael-est. Guh.

At this point, I let the quotes do the reviewing for me.

""I...I'm obviously out of my league, like whoa." Like super whoa, if he was honest."

There's a Dom who can look at a guy and tell he's a bottom. A MC who has a gay twin that's a drag queen. I'm waiting for the pink aliens to make a drop by because it's Sean Michael warped world. I have abstained from this author for months...and it didn't work with unseeing his standard formula. 2 hearts because of "fuck a doodle doo". I need my brain checked. Oh I also gave up on reading this fully. *facepalms*

Sunny: 3.5 Hearts - Another D/s scene, this time with an in the closet virgin and an experienced Dom. Rupert knew exactly what to say and do with Peter and Peter loved all of it. Dirty talk, hands free coming...I loved all of it, too. I did have a few niggles. Rupert's voice sometimes threw me off, at times he sounded older, more mature, and other times he sounded like a college student ("No way!" "cool"). And Peter sometimes came across as too wide eyed and innocent, even for a virgin.  Just a little too "dorky". Some over the top dialogue, too, but the sexy times made up for that. Peter's initiation to sex was...*fans self*...such a needy sub, such a good boy :)

Sergeant Hardass by Shannon West - average 2.17 hearts

Ann: 2 Hearts -
I would have liked this one a lot more if the majority of the story hadn’t been spent with the two MC’s either fighting or apart. So, I got how they loved each other, but since most of the story wasn’t in their “present” I had to be told it and the seeing came just from reading about how their split was so devastating. By the time the happy rolled around it was over. I also get how Jake was SUPER pissed, but I really didn’t like how he was talking to Chad when they met up again and instead of feeling sympathy for him I just felt like he was an asshole and no one, not even Chad, for all his perceived wrongdoing deserved to be treated and spoken to like that.

Breann: 2.5 Hearts - I liked that this was a second chance romance. It's one of my favorite tropes, but I would have preferred to spend more time in the present with the couple than in the past. I get that we needed some background to get a feel for their relationship, but so much time was spent there that I think the whole 'second chance' part was rushed. Plus, overreact much? Sheesh.

Sunny: 2 Hearts - A lot of time was spent on the back story, told in a flashback, and with too much telling, not enough showing. Add in some questionable decisions and overreactions, Jake turning into a complete ass, and some melodrama, and I ended up not caring what happened :(

Prince of Paupers by Kiernan Kelly- average 3.67 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts -
Ok, I TOTALLY LOVED this one. Never mind that “Prince Murray” sounds a little weird, who cares? Liam was made of awesome. I loved him to pieces and Deacon was the dreamiest country boy ever. It read like a charming summer rom com. Besties-to-lovers MC’s who are hunky polar opposites, pampered prince goes to the country to save the day, a super evil bad guy and heroic deeds that give an HEA. It moved fast but it was full of some great lines and Liam never took his own pampered ass too seriously. I definitely had fun reading this one and an expanded version would be great. Or a movie, either one.

Breann: 3.5 Hearts -
At first I was really worried I wouldn't like this because Liam was damn annoying. But he quickly won me over with his insistence at going with and helping Deacon. And then I LOLed that he brought the butler. (Who, by the way, totally reminds me of Summerset! <- if you don't know who that is, rectify immediately)

They're friends-to-lovers and 'why haven't we done this sooner' relationship was way cute and I enjoyed them immensely.

The end went way fast. Like, WHOA! what they heck just happened. There was way too much going on in all of two pages.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - This story was so over the top silly. A crown prince with no responsibilities? A villain of a minister stealing money? The super rich royal family giving all that money without verifying how it was spent? *smh* It made me smile, though, at all the ridiculousness, and I think (hope) that was the point.

Switching It Up by KC Wells - average 3.625 hearts

Ann: 4.5 Hearts - Extra ½ heart for the theme I was dying to read and hadn’t found yet. Poor Jay’s birthday wasn’t going as planned. He had a smidge of a confusing issue with his work bestie (which makes sense later on, but threw me for a loop at first – who’s going to really be MC #2, what was up with Brenden???) and is left alone at the bar. He meets Dean whos night isn’t going as he planned either and it turns out both are tired of the assumptions men automatically make about them based on their physical appearance. They figure out they push each other’s buttons JUST right and Jay is a dirty talking machine and I LOVED it! A very sweet ending (which was also dirty) and it left me all kinds of happy.

Breann: 4 Hearts -
I love this theme! Since I love a bigger bottom story, I especially love the sexytimes. Mmmmhmmm, they were good. But I would have loved more from Jay and Dean. Especially since there was some light BDSM, more of that would have been perfection. In fact, I could have read an entire story of just them and their dirty talk.

The secondary love-story was a great addition (although a bit predictable) and I would definitely read more about these guys.

Optimist ♰King's Wench♰: 3 Hearts - 
Two guys meet at a bar named G-A-Y… *pause* Seriously? The owners of that bar really went out on a limb bar naming wise, huh?

Anyhoo, I'm a huge fan of size difference and this started off with a bang and a chest full of kinky so, I for realz thought this was going to be a win. Then it took a turn into domestic bliss and sputtered for me.

The sex was pretty hot, though.

Sunny: 3 Hearts - I love stories where the bigger guy bottoms. Love them. So I was excited to read this story about the construction foreman who bottoms for the smaller guy. And I wasn't the sex scenes, that is. Although there weren't enough of them! The rest of the story wasn't quite my thing, though. The morning after and the week after were irritating, the next meet up too easy, and the parts with Brendan were a little off. The sexy times were very good, though :)

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  1. Must admit that this Anthology caught my eye, but due to knowing only two of the authors (Shannon West and K C Wells) and the price (I thought it overpriced) didn't bother and glad after reading your reviews. I did though buy Sgt. Hardass as a stand alone, as I am an ardent fan of Shannon West. Have to agree on your comments and ratings, I was so disappointed! So much so, that I didn't leave a review, as I felt bad about only giving a 2* rating and didn't want to embarrass the author! Keep the reviews coming, I've found some great new authors and books!

  2. Anthologies can be tricky, but they can also be a great way to find new to you authors. In this group review setting, I like seeing how we each react to the different stories, too. I'm glad you are finding new authors and books!