Source: e-arc provided by Amy Jo Cousins in exchange for an honest review
Each story has a song from the era that it was inspired by - I'll do a quick run down for each one...
My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. No one would find out; no one would have to know. And then once turned into twice, and twice turned into several times a week, and now pierced, punk-loving, rebellious Tia Lanning is banging Mason Brooks, the big man on campus and Mr. All American. But banging him isn’t the problem. Falling for him is. Especially when he’s content to let her remain his dirty little secret.
Quick thoughts: This was my favorite of the anthology. I loved watching both Tia and Mason move from opposites attract/hate sex to love. This story packed an emotional punch and was hands down the sexiest of the 6.
Worthwhile by Audra North
Jill didn’t expect her semester in Leeds to start with getting dumped by her boyfriend. Especially since she only came to England to be with him. Two weeks in, all she wants to do is go home. Finding love with someone new is definitely not an option. But when she literally stumbles into grad student Stuart’s arms, her experience abroad becomes a lot more worthwhile.
Quick thoughts: Meh – not bad but not a stand out either. There was a good message about finding you own way without relying on a guy to make you happy – event though there was a romance. It didn’t feel like a 90’s set story which was a bummer.
Creep by Lorelie Brown
Roni lives for the raves in Oakland’s warehouse district. Dancing till dawn in white gloves under black lights breathes life into her soul. Nothing will get her kicked out of her underground world faster than turning over Skittles, her dealer. She refuses to provide info about the underage runaway to his big brother Tom. But Tom is going to find Skittles with or without Roni’s cooperation. But Tom is special. He’s rich, handsome and bold. Roni wishes she was special. And like the rave scene she loves, nothing lasts forever.
Quick thoughts: This was the darkest of the group and the romance was a bit too fast considering the circumstances but his was a good one. Bleak but hopeful and would have loved to read a full length story with all these characters. A lot of good references to the 90’s.
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen
Rory Stone's days of grunge and poetry are behind her, her reality now in bags of Arabian brew, and counting the change in the tip jar. Can indie singer James Griffith rock her muse back into the present?
Quick thoughts: This was a sweet story that didn’t go exactly where I thought it was going. Very nice characters and romance but Rory’s story arc was kind of odd – her hippie parents abandoned her so she dropped out of school and swore off guys. It seemed extreme. But still a worthwhile read.
The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Shelby Summerfield is a gold star lesbian, even if she doesn’t look like one. Florence Truong is the only other dyke at Carlisle College in 1993 not wearing plaid flannel, and Shelby sets her sights on seduction. But instead of a delightful tumble in the sheets, Florence calls her out for being a straight girl. With seduction off the table, Shelby settles for revenge for her humiliation. But if all she wants is to show up her campus rival, how come Shelby can't stop herself from saving Florence instead of annihilating her?
Quick thoughts: I wish Florence was developed a little more in the beginning so that I could have seen what Shelby saw in her. Florence is a snobbish jerk. Once they start making a connection the story was more fun. Shelby is a hoot. She’s a way over the top southern girly girl – not the type of character I usually like but you couldn’t help but get pulled into her orbit – just like Florence did.
Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood
Emily Jones is ready to embark on the most epic spring break trip of her college career with her bestie, twin brother, and her brother’s best friend, Chase. Chase has been in love with Emily since the eighth grade when she kicked his ass in laser tag. He’s not going to piss away his last chance to tell her how he feels. When the group decides to play a game of Spring Break BINGO that involves body shots, a red thong, and secret hookups, this is the perfect catalyst to get him out of the friend zone. But as things get heated, they have to decide if twenty years of friendship is worth putting in jeopardy because of a game, and what will happen when they hit dry land.
Quick thoughts: This story was way too short and the romance too fast. At least they knew each other previously so that helped a bit but the author brings up so many issues that can’t possibly be addressed and it feels like you’re left hanging. And I hated Emily’s brother. Apparently it’s ok to sleep with Emily’s BF and have relationship free sex but it’s not good enough for Em.
Overall this was a pretty good anthology. I think a few of the stories could have played up the 90’s aspect a little more but still a lot of fun to read.