***I was given a copy of this anthology by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.***
Story of a Kiss by Taylor Sullivan, Kelly Lincoln, Kathryn L. James, Sha Renee, Leslie Kung, Emma Marie Leigh, Louisa Blackwood, Polly J. Brown, Jaye Cox, Brandy Ayers, Kate DeHart, Jody Pardo, and Cherry Shepard
Published: February 1st, 2016
Genres: Adult, new adult, romance, contemporary
Trigger Warnings: some sexual content
Pages: 394 pgs.
There will be a thousand kisses in a lifetime but only a handful trapped forever in your heart. This Valentine’s day, join The Story of a Kiss anthology as we take you into the lives of thirteen couples. From a very first kiss of a high-school prom queen, to a kiss that travels the width of time. Kisses of redemption, heartache, discovery, and so much more.
Thirteen kisses you’ll never forget.
Taylor Sullivan- Never Regret
At twenty-four, Margaret Andrews is still a virgin and sick of it. After a year on the top dating site in America, and a late night episode of HUNG on HBO, she’s decided to take matters into her own hands and hires a professional.
Kelly Lincoln- Maybe Now
Maybe now I should kiss her.
The thought haunts fourteen-year-old Hunter whenever he is with his best friend, Ava. The second he makes his move, their moment is destroyed and Ava leaves town. Ten years later, she’s back, and so is the maybe now that Hunter thought was buried.
Kathryn L. James- Crazy Beautiful Kiss
Two years after Calista DeLuca and Colin Williams shared a sizzling kiss…the one she couldn’t forget and the one he didn’t remember, their paths cross again. Secrets unfold. Tears fall. Hearts open. He’s the only one who can fade her pain into non-existence, but is it enough?
Sha Renée- Forbidden Kisses
Layla is enlisted in the Navy. Ethan is an officer. According to rules, personal relationships between officers and enlisted personnel are prohibited, but their desire is so strong, they can’t stand to be apart. Can military regulations separate lovers who are destined to be together?
Leslie Kung- At Long Last
Janny and Tom grew up together, but right before their friendship could turn into a budding romance, life and gravity pulled them apart. When the friends reconnected, their chemistry was undeniable–but tragedy put distance between them again. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to finally fall in love.
Emma Marie Leigh- Wrong Time
Jo Stevens is an archaeology graduate student on the opportunity of a lifetime- an excavation in Pompeii. When her group discovers a basement, everything Jo knows is rocked. Rules are broken. Lines are crossed. Jo unearths everything she’s ever wanted. She’s just in the wrong time.
Louisa Blackwood- Can’t Let Go
Josephine “Joe” Burke has been running from the past since the night her mother died, choosing solitude over dreams. She’s suddenly forced to return to her Tennessee hometown and to her old flame, Colton James. Joe can feel her defenses crumbling under his irritating charm, but with the past still haunting her future, can she open her heart to happiness again?
Polly J. Brown- Ever Be
Evangeline’s life revolved around the water until she nearly drowned. Now, she’s returned to the beach to confront her fears, and Gregory Owen, the super-bro who saved her life. Greg wants to help, but can she trust his intentions? Or worse, her own?
Jaye Cox- Love in Photographs
When her heart remembers but her head doesn’t, will one photograph change everything? Claire didn’t need her memories when everything within her knew she loved him.
Brandy Ayers- Fighting Faith
At nineteen, Faith spent one perfect, passion-filled summer in San Sebastian. But just when she thought she might have her happy ending, Jasper, the love of her life, shattered her heart. Now, ten years later, they’re forced together once more. Can she hold onto the last few remaining pieces of her heart?
Kate DeHart- Missed Kisses
Struggling with the recent death of her mother, Jess finds solace in her best friend Ben. Everything about them says they shouldn’t click. He’s the trendy guy with the damaged family; she’s the bookish introvert with a lonely heart. Years of sweet memories cause their feelings to grow, until he does the one thing that could tear them apart.
Jody Pardo- Left Swipe Chronicles
Roommates Liz and Michelle venture into the world of online dating. After a series of bad first dates, how many swipes will it take to find her Man of Steel?
Cherry Shephard- Precious
18 year old Precious Montgomery is a nobody, she’s never even had her first kiss . . . but that’s about to change. When her best friend nominates her for prom queen, Precious has just one week to make over her image and beat the queen bee – Amber Delancey. Amber has everything Precious doesn’t: Confidence, sophistication and popularity. But a chance meeting with Amber’s boyfriend changes everything.
Now, Precious has to decide what’s more important; what she’s always wanted . . . or what she’s always had.
Can a crown . . . or a kiss, really dictate your self-worth?
Take it from an expert: being in a long-distance relationship is rough, especially when it comes to be around Valentine’s Day. That’s why, sometimes, little anthologies like these can really be a godsend when it comes to keeping the swooning going in between visits with my partner. Just like with any anthology, Story of a Kiss is filled with some incredibly adorable stories that make me insert myself and my partner in the main roles, but there definitely are a handful of misses within its pages. Overall, the love isn’t truly lost despite the missteps.
Story of a Kiss features thirteen short stories from up and coming romance writers ranging from sweet, to passionate, to romantic, to overly-dramatic moods. The common thread stringing all of these stories together is the one kiss that changes the course of the main characters’ relationships — often for the better. The majority of these short stories definitely fall within the contemporary side of things, although there are a few that flashback a few decades (or, in the case of one, millennia). No matter what your favorite flavor of romance, there’s bound to be something in this anthology that satisfies your sweet tooth.
The highs of this anthology were actually brilliantly-written and well-rounded. The romance in these particular stories, like in Taylor Sullivan’s Never Regret and Leslie Kung’s At Long Last, develops naturally, never shoehorned in. In some of these stories, I really felt connected to the characters despite knowing I’d only get to experience them for roughly 20 pages. One of the more touching pieces of the anthology, Love in Photographs by Jaye Cox, had me aching for more musically-inspired vignettes within Claire’s life after she recovered from her memory loss. Even stories like Sha Renee’s Forbidden Kisses had me gripped, despite my severe disinterest in almost anything pertaining to the military; it can all be credited to the author’s skill in creating well-rounded characters that make me want to see their happily ever after. Other highlights of this anthology include Wrong Time by Emma Marie Leigh, Brandy Ayers’ Fighting Faith, and Kate DeHart’s Missed Kisses.
However, some of the lows were incredibly low. Thankfully, they found themselves at the end of the anthology, so they can be easily avoided when casually flipping through stories. Jody Pardo’s Left Swipe Chronicles reads like a rejected screenplay for a third Sex and the City movie: vapid, shallow characters; a lack of a real plot line; and a missing emotional spark that makes readers care about the blossoming romance. The same could be said for Cherry Shephard’s Precious, except taking place in a high school setting rather than a corporate office. My eyes perpetually rolled while reading through these two pieces for the pure cheese factor alone. The latter story is less about romance and more about a petty high school rivalry and playing “I have the cute boy now, bitch!” Come on, y’all, how played out is this trope?
Overall, the Story of a Kiss anthology is truly a cute little delight for anyone looking to curl up with a fluffy romance this Valentine’s Day — even if you’re single, taken, long distance, whatever. Definitely do yourself a favor and check out the better pieces of the bunch if you’re looking to feel warmth and coziness melt the ice cold surrounding you in the dead of winter. Maybe they’ll make your heart grow three sizes that day. The beauty of anthology, though, is that you can pick and choose what you want to read as to not kill that fluffy buzz.
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