Legal Briefs by Blaine D. Arden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Overall: Two amazing stories in the form of Honest Lawyers and His Best Defense, two good stories (24 Hours and Study Buddy) and two stories I didn’t much care for (Double Cross and Against The Law). This is a very mixed anthology, so there’s something for everyone. Different stories in this book will speak to different people, but few will love every story in it. Legal Briefs is cheap and proceeds benefit Lambda Legal, so I recommend it even if you find not all the stories are in genres you like. Kudos goes to Storm Moon Press for putting together an anthology that spans a range of genres and the whole LGBT spectrum.
Honest Lawyers by Kelly Rand – Court reporter Luna is flattered by law student Craig’s attentions, but the fear of rejection makes her nervous about opening up to him about her status as a trans woman. – 5 stars. Loved this story. Luna was easy to empathize with as she fell for Craig, and the conversation they have about Luna’s status as a trans* woman was so filled with acceptance and loving that I had tears in my eyes. Luna and Craig were lovely people and I wanted them to succeed with their relationship. This story left me with a wonderful warm feeling inside and I would heartily recommend the anthology on the strength of this alone.
24 Hours by Cari Z – 3.5 stars. Evan defends himself in a bar-room brawl and 24 hours later has to defend himself again, this time to his drunken attacker’s lawyer, who fortunately has as little patience for his client as Evan did. A somewhat unbelievable and forgettable story, but fun and charming regardless.
Study Buddy by Stella Harris – 4 stars. Lawyer Melanie is starting to come to terms with her attraction to women, something her new Study Buddy April is happy to help with. A good coming-to-terms with sexuality story. I could relate to Melanie’s nerves as she went to the strip club and the sex scene was hot. A good f/f story.
His Best Defense by Blaine D. Arden – 5 stars. Master Illan is a powerhouse in the Surim court, but it’s newcomer Daru who proves to be His Best Defense against threats both without and within. Loved this story! Second only to Honest Lawyers in this anthology. Arden builds a fascinating fantasy/sci-fi world and the plot is full of twists. I really felt the romance in this one and its a story I would definitely read again. I’d love to see the author write something else in this world.
Double Cross by Salome Wilde – DNF. The moment Candy LeBon walks into Detective Calvin Guy’s life, he suspects a double-cross, but even he’s unprepared for the extent of twisted path she’ll lead him down. This one didn’t click with me at all. If you’re into the hard-boiled detective genre this will be a treat for you as it’s really well-written language-wise, but I just found my attention drifting as the narrator talked about “dolls” and “babes” while smoking and drinking profusely. It might work for you but to me it seemed like all the tropes and trappings of the genre distracted from the actual story being told.
Against The Law by Gryvon – 2 stars. In Henry’s country, his attraction to Abel is against the law, but his secret is kept safe by another who harbors same-sex attractions—Henry’s wife. I was never quite sure if this one was fantasy or historical, because I didn’t find myself drawn into its world. Everything happened very quickly and I didn’t really feel a whole lot about Henry, Abel or their relationship.