Unicorn Favorites: Love is an Open Road Stories: Week One

The M/M Romance Group on Goodreads hosts a Don't Read in the Closet event each year where they invite members to submit a photo with a story prompt.  Interested authors then volunteer to write the requested stories, which are published for free for everyone to read.  It's a fun/exciting/stressful process, and a great opportunity to read stories from favorite authors.  And chances are, you'll also discover some new authors, who hopefully have a backlist of goodies to check out :)

This year's event was named Love is an Open Road and they started releasing the completed stories on June first. Here at BMBR, we've been following along on comment threads, anticipating the stories from our favorite prompts, and now greedily reading the stories as they become available.

As an aside, there are SO many amazing stories being released and while we haven't read all of them yet, we will get there. There will be a few however, that won’t be reviewed here. You see, unicorns are not only badass, they are also mysterious and magically rare. We can't expect their presence to show up in our reviews, the interwebz couldn't handle it. But, just know this, this week, we LOVED fawn by Nash Summers and The Frat Brat by Nico Jaye. That is all.

Other than fawn and The Frat Brat, here are some of our favorites from the first week of the event, June 1-7:

Ann: All About Trust by D.P. Denman

 I saw the pic, I read the prompt and I gotta admit, I got skeered. Seriously, how could this story possibly wrap up with me feeling anything but uber sadness? My curiosity got the better of me though and I started reading. Cue the clock striking at 1:00 a.m., I finished and you know how I felt? Hopeful, full of warm fuzziness and my faith in humanity was restored. Not that parts of the story weren’t incredibly difficult to read, the author didn’t take a Pollyanna view of the brutality Eric suffered. It wasn’t described in a gratuitous way though, there was just enough description given to get your imagination going and there was no question about where Eric’s distrust and hopelessness came from.

Marcus is volunteering at the hospital where Eric is recuperating after being left for dead by Daddy. Marcus is the quintessential good guy. He’s not too-good-to-be-true good, he’s just an honestly decent human being. It really bothers him that Eric is alone with no prospects but a life on the street when he is released from the hospital. They forge a tentative friendship of sorts and the author really captured this time between them so well. It wasn’t easy, but it didn’t have any added unnecessary drama or angst to try and make a point. There was already plenty in Eric’s life and the author let all that speak for itself and let the characters be and grow organically.

I have to mention the absolutely amazing secondary characters. The story wouldn’t be what it is without them. Once you meet Marcus’ parents you can immediately see how Marcus turned out so amazing. They were exactly what Eric needed when he needed it. I appreciated how the author kept the relationship between Eric and Marcus tame. Anything else would have been totally unbelievable and would have cheapened all the trust they achieved throughout the story. This was not the story for the magical peen that comes along and solves ALL the problems. It really was all about trust and how much work both Eric and Marcus put in to get their happy.

Audrey: A Single Step by Vicky Heysham

 Lovely and unconventional short story that features an online romance. Told entirely through blog entries, blog comments, and emails, this story isn't erotic, but it's heartfelt. I personally love the epistolary format, and A Single Step did it very well. Definitely worth a read, and at a shorter length, it's easy to fit in for a lunch break. :)

Breann: All About Trust by D.P. Denman

Honestly, the prompt and picture really did nothing for me. So much that they almost deterred me from reading the story. The author took what was a so-so prompt for me and turned it into an amazing story.

Eric's story was all about his growth and healing from the horrific experiences he endured. I can't begin to think about how much strength someone has to have to learn to trust after abuse like Eric suffered.

But it wasn't all Eric, the humanity and love from Marcus' family was so beautiful. Yes, Marcus' family did take a risk with letting this stranger into their lives, but all it took was some love and humanity to make such a difference for Eric.

It was a lovely, heartbreaking and touching story.

Lorix: Risking the Field by Jean McGray and Lima Oscar Victor Echo and the Truth about Everything by Suki Fleet

Oh wow. *sighs*

This story was written for my prompt - and truly. for the second year running I feel like such a winner. What an amazing story.

Friends-to-lovers is my all time favourite storyline. There is something about the trust and love that already exists in a friendship that just makes the move into more just wonderful. Therefore my prompts tend to be of a friends-to-more variety - and Jean McGray has truly captured everything I was hoping for.

This short story shows us basically one day and night in the lives of these two friends - but it's the day and night when everything changes for them. Jean McGray has captured the moment so perfectly. i swear, the first (proper) kiss had me melt into a gooey puddle. It was so perfect, I'm such a sucker for kisses - I need those kisses more than sex in my books. Pen and Davey's first kiss in most definitely one of the best snogs I've read. It was beautiful.

Although this was set within just a twenty-four hour period (save the epilogue & prologue), I believed in the friendship between Pen and Davey, therefore I believed in teh developing relationship. Jean McGray did a wonderful job. The writing was light and witty and so easy to read. I swear I could read more and more about these two.

In fact, more than just those two, I also loved the secondary characters. Mom 1 and Mom 2 especially. I could feel their pain at having graduating sons! Children grow up WAAAAAY too quickly. It struck a chord.

Thank you so much Jean McGray for this story. It was everything and more than I hoped. <3 I love Davey and Pen. xx

Thank you to everyone involved in making this event happen. You are all fantastic!

 Every single star ever gets thrown at this story. There is a reason Suki Fleet is one of my favourite authors, and that reason is everything about this story.

The characters, the love. That first kiss - OH MY GOD, THAT FIRST KISS! There is not a word out of place in this story. Not one. Friends falling in love, yep, my favourite theme. Friends with a welsh accent (my favourite accent) - could it get any better? Pretty much no. I will read and re-read this story forever. I love Oscar & Jamie. I would adore more from this world. *bats lashes*

Thank you so much for your entry Suki, it's perfect. (Oh & get out from behind that rock!)

Sunny: The Forest Savage by Claire Davis & Al Stewart

Raw, unflinching, and so very sad. With gradual healing, though, we got glimpses of hope and happiness. I alternated between wanting to shake the MCs and wanting to hug them.

Side notes:
I don't know the right words, but I was especially impressed by the strong sense of...place? Setting? Mood? Whatever it was, it permeated the story and made it all so believable.

I loved how well I could see Troy, just through Cal's eyes. Clear, consistent characterization. He got to me, that sweet, mixed up boy.
SheReadsALot: Obsidian by Rory Ni Coilean

 "Once I lived for the touch of the Sun. I dimly remember this. Now, though, I am part of the human world. I need to know why, I need to know what has happened to me. But this male, this beautiful gentle male who rescued me from the forest floor and touches me so sweetly… he is mine.

This, I need no one to tell me.

This I know."

Okay, I'm one of those 'ew, snakes' people - can't stand snakes, scare the hell out of me, etc.
But there is something about snake shifters that change the game for me.

Rory Ni Coilean's Obsidian packs a punch in less than 8K. The prose was touch purple in the beginning. We're talking lilacs and violets. But the world building and race she creates held my attention that I didn't worry about the purple.

It was all about Naqxo, Lamia (snake) shifter and Damis, a human who was betrothed to the female-dominant race. The inner turmoil of Damis, who prefers men and laments having to be given to a woman was done very well. The fact that Naqxo is a snake takes a backseat to the fantasy filled magic that happened on the page.

It was magical, romantic and gives enough without giving anything away. Some authors can be open and others hold their cards to their chest. This one is the latter giving just enough to carry off this short story.

And the first time sex scene was scorching. I'm hissing along with Damis and Naqxo.

*** All stories are available for download at  http://www.mmromancegroup.com/ ***


  1. This has got to be the best year yet for entries! Read about five so far and all were amazing - . Reading a tentacle story now and everyone knows I'm a sucker for tentacles

  2. I agree Lorraine, stories have been fabulous! I've enjoyed every one I've read!

  3. Replies
    1. Much thanks to the MM Romance Group and all the authors, volunteers and readers who help make this event a highlight each year!!!