Title: Falling Hard Author: Dale Cameron Lowry Length: 233 pages/57,000 words Publisher: Terrestrial Press
Genres: short stories, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, erotic romance
Falling Hard features nine of Dale Cameron Lowry’s best short romance stories, available for the first time in one book. Meet a sign language interpreter who finds unexpected love at middle-age, college students in their first relationships, a vampire who would rather be a vegan, and a proudly gay ex-Mormon atheist who sells Bibles for a living. From sweet to erotic, this collection exhibits the quirkiness, fun, and diversity Dale’s writing is known for.
Overall Book: 4.5 Stars
Dale and I know each other through Wayward Ink Publishing. In fact, I even helped him beta one of the short stories in this anthology. When he asked a group on Facebook if we wanted to review Falling Hard, I jumped at the chance.
As a writer of short stories myself, the idea of putting them all in an anthology intrigued me. There could have been several ways to do it—chronologically, by heat level, by theme.
Dale chose a theme and grouped his shorts into three categories—Falling Fast, Falling Fantastically and Falling Deep.
This was a great idea. Start with stories of love sparks, continue with stories in the fantasy vein, and end with stories, although sparking fast perhaps, sometimes love takes some work.
Although a writer, I’m not an expert, but I couldn’t tell which stories were written first and that says a considerable amount about Dale’s writing ability and the great editing of the stories.
The overall flow of the book was satisfying. Some stories fall within more than one of the categories, and that’s okay. Dale’s writing tends to be philosophical in nature and can’t be pressed with only one stamp.
I do have my preferences and my favorites, but each story gave me a little something, a glimpse into what love can be, and actually taught me some things along the way.
Following each blurb will be my review. My favorite will have an little example of Dale’s writing.
Here is a taste of each story in Falling Hard:
— Ex-Mormon Alma Larsen doesn’t know the first thing about alcohol, so he hires bartender Damian Banks to help out at his winter holiday party. They build a friendship that simmers with sexual tension—and possibly something much deeper.
I enjoyed this. I actually read it on its own and was planning to review it anyway. The characters are believable. Even the situation is. Lust can happen at any time and combined with being a good person, it can lead to exactly where this story went.
The writing is crisp. It’s a short, so I sometimes wanted more details than what was presented, but I’m a firm believer in imagination and can use my own.
— Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles—and rekindling their passion for each other in the process.
Since the story involves two men in a six year relationship, I wondered about the placement its placement within Falling Fast. I realized that its placement was due to falling for a destination not a person.
The characters were solid and well developed. The sex scenes helped in solidifying their personalities and demonstrating their commitment to one another.
Reading the Signs
— The only thing twenty-three-year-old Theo De Jong expects when he enrolls in a summer school for linguists in New Mexico is to get more ideas for his master’s thesis in Dutch Sign Language. But then he meets the American sign language expert Alfonso Grossman, and sparks fly.
Not only do we get to experience two great characters but we also get to learn something. Dale’s knowledge of sign languages seems genuine and it shows in the believability of the characters. Both characters fall fast for each other, being thrust in a new environment can do that. There is genuine reluctance on one character’s part, and that strengthens the believability.
Born of Fire
— The fairies on Ireland’s north coast are notorious for kidnapping, and Aodhán of County Donegal has the scars to prove it. When the fairies abduct the handsome youth Cainnech, Aodhán seeks to free him—but risks losing his health and Cainnech in the process.
I really enjoy Dale’s fantasy writing. His imagination and ability to stretch the boundaries of trope and genre expectations is genuinely heart-pumping for me.
Born of Fire is no exception. The characters are written beautifully, the world-building is interesting and the romance is satisfying.
Ghost of a Chance
— When shy Jeremy Anderson meets mysterious and dapper Frank at his spooky old university library, their connection is instant. Their romance waxes with the full moon—but just as quickly, Frank’s interest seems to wane. He insists that he loves spending time with Jeremy, but then why does he keep Jeremy at arm’s length?
This story was charming and sexy. I had a problem with a ghost getting an erection until my hubby asked me “What do I know about the properties of neoplasm in ghosts?” He had a point. I couldn’t answer. I enjoyed the characters and the sentiment that emotions, including and especially love, make a person whole.”
- Far From Home — Rajiv met and fell in love with his husband, Mateo, when they were both members of the scientific team responsible for transforming Mars into a home suitable for humans. But years into their shared mission, Rajiv is ordered back to Earth to restore the barren lands of the American Midwest. With a little help from technology, the two men find innovative ways to nurture their long-distance relationship while they wait to reunite.
This was about a normal couple in a long distance relationship using sexting(or the future equivalent thereof) as a means to enhance and continue their relationship whilst being apart. The world-building was incredible and even plausible. The characters intriguing, the writing beautifully crafted.
Sweeter Than Blood
— Keith was a vegan before a hot encounter with a stranger turned him into a vampire. In the year since, his sire, John, has tried to make up for the mistake by teaching Keith everything he knows about being a non-murderous bloodsucker. But temptation is strong in the form of Andres, a regular customer at the barbershop where Keith works. When Andres finally asks Keith on a date, the real danger begins.
A little disclaimer—I helped beta this one. I still think that I can be objective about it, but take this information as one may.
Some people may not enjoy this one because of the fact that the HEA doesn’t necessarily happen with the character the reader expects it to. A vampire’s life is hard. This story intrigued me from the very beginning and left me a little empty, but for me that’s a good thing. It’s what the story needed. Good read.
— Blake thinks new boyfriend Michael doesn’t like French kissing. Michael thinks Blake doesn’t like rough sex. Neither are virgins, except in the art of conversation. Can they set things straight before the honeymoon’s over?
Communication is the key, and leave it to Dale to make a potentially awkward conversation about sex a very sexy affair indeed. This type of real-life situation, that is sometimes hard to deal with, isn’t what every ready wants or what every writer is capable of doing is a humanistic, humorous and humble way. Dale can and does. This is an exceptional story, especially considering the erotic nature of the story and the expectations of the genre. He deals with more than one real-life topic
Here’s an excerpt:
Caffeine made me talk a mile a minute, so I ordered decaf. My nerves made me speak a mile a minute, anyway. Michael seemed to think this was cute. I’d say one thing and he’d ask me to say more. I told him about growing up as the only out gay kid in my tiny southern Idaho town, where the hottest teen nightspots were the retention pond north of Larsen’s potato farm, evangelical revivals, and dances at the Mormon stake center—none of which were good places to find a boyfriend. I told him about the Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy gay fanfiction I used to write in high school as my only escape. I told him about happily losing my virginity to another guy’s hand at three in the morning on the bus ride from Idaho Falls to Boston when I came out for my first semester of college.
“You might as well have grown up in another universe,” he said. “I’ve never been west of the Mississippi. Plus, I lost my virginity in eleventh grade. And then I discovered my prostate.” He sucked his bottom lip in and rolled his eyes in orgasmic pleasure. “When did you discover yours?”
I blushed, which was ridiculous. It wasn’t like I hadn’t had this conversation before with other guys. But then, Michael wasn’t another guy. “I’m more of a top,” I said. “Touching my prostate makes me feel like I have to pee.”
“To each his own.” He said this lightly, as if this were an interesting bit of trivia and not a sign from God that we were a match made in heaven. I swallowed my disappointment and changed the subject back to our early biographies.
He was from in state, raised in Boston by a Jewish mom and a black dad who also became Jewish, but not until he had a spiritual experience at Michael’s bar mitzvah. I blushingly admitted I’d never even heard of a bar mitzvah until I started college.
He cocked his head like a bird. Another adorable gesture to add to the list. “Not a ton of Jews in Idaho, I take it?”
“No. It’s about fifty-five percent Mormon and fifty-five percent evangelical, at least where I lived.”
“That adds up to more than one-hundred percent.”
“That’s how it felt, like everyone in town was a card-carrying member of the man-wife missionary position society. Our ‘sex ed’ was a five-minute lecture in ninth grade where my biology teacher chewed a piece of gum and then asked the students who wanted to chew it next.”
“What does that have to do with sex?”
“She said our bodies are like pieces of gum, and when we have sex it’s like getting chewed. No one wants to chew someone else’s gum, and no one wants to marry someone who isn’t a virgin.”
His eyes bulged out of their sockets. “You’re kidding me.”
“Uh-uh. Ironic that our school had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. Maybe because the prevailing rumor was that if a girl was on top, she couldn’t get pregnant. Forget about being gay.”
“And my rabbi’s a lesbian who volunteers at Planned Parenthood. Different worlds.”
I wanted to be part of that world. It sounded a lot nicer than the one I was from.
There you have it. For this story only, the book is a must read.
— On Mike’s fortieth birthday, his husband, Ken, takes him on vacation to Vancouver Island in Western Canada to celebrate. While Mike mourns his loss of youth, Ken encourages him to recapture it by bedding a gorgeous twenty-something man they encounter while hiking in Pacific Rim National Park. A night of no-holds-barred passion among the three men reveals a sizzling chemistry, and when Mike and Ken return home they find themselves longing to reconnect with the young Jason. Can what started as a one-night stand transform into a threesome that lasts?
I realize I said the last story was the best one. This is a close second. It deals with what some readers don’t like—polyamorous relationships. Some insist this is cheating. I disagree, although I’m not currently in one. My husband, early on, put the brakes on any outside consensual diddling, much less allowing for a third in our relationship. I’m okay with that.
I’m also okay with others who want some spice in their relationship, and commend those who are brave enough and whose hearts are open enough to allow a third person in their couple, making it a throuple of sorts.
This story was well done, believable, sexy—another must read.
Where to Buy
Falling Hard is currently available through the secure downloading platform PayHip, Amazon, Apple, and other sellers worldwide. You can read a preview and find sales outlets at:
Would you like to get a taste of Dale’s writing before buying? You can download a free audio version of “Far From Home,” narrated by Nobilis Reed, here: dalecameronlowry.com/listen-for-free/
To celebrate the release of Falling Hard, Dale is running a giveaway. The prize is one of Dale’s short romances that is not in the anthology: Love Unmasked, a lighthearted romance about Aaron Loreto, a gay man who’s been unlucky in love because he occasionally turns into a raccoon. For some reason, his ex-boyfriend didn’t like the way he’d spend all night digging through the trash. But somewhere out there is a guy who’s more understanding, and Aaron might just have found him at his favorite coffee shop.
You can enter every day to increase your chances. Enjoy!
If you can’t see the Rafflecopter giveaway here, go to www.dalecameronlowry.com/falling-hard-giveaway/ to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author Bio & Links
Dale Cameron Lowry lives in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats, one of whom enjoys eating dish towels, quilts, and wool socks. It’s up to you to guess whether the fabric eater is one of the cats or the partner. When not busy mending items destroyed by the aforementioned fabric eater, Dale is a writer and editor who enjoys wasting time on Tumblr, listening to podcasts, studying anatomy, getting annoyed at Duolingo, and reading fairy tales. Previous careers include sign language linguist, grocery store clerk, journalist, gardener, and camp counselor.
Dale began writing for fun at the age of eight and has been making up stories ever since, from overly workshopped literary fiction to off-the-cuff fanfic. Queer Mormons have a way of popping up in Dale’s work, whether it’s romance or erotica, sci fi or fairy tales, slice-of-life contemporary fiction or spine-tingling horror. So do immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who live their lives navigating multiple cultures.
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