Candy Hearts: Volume 1 by Lee Blair (Author & Coordinator) Becca Seymour, Beck Grey, Bix Barrow, Chantal Mer, D.K. Sutton, Finn Dixon, Linden Bell, 'Nathan Burgoine, Nic Starr, Rain Carrington, Riley Long, Stella Rainbow, Susan Scott Shelley, Toby Wise, Victoria Gillilan

Just in time for Valentines Day, we have Candy Hearts, an amazing low angst queer romance anthology featuring 16 sweet and short stories that will put you in the right mood for romance... and the best part, the whole thing supports two great charities!

From the blurb:

What's sweeter than a low angst queer romance at Valentine's Day? How about sixteen of them brought together in one anthology to help support a good cause?

Each novella in the Candy Hearts Anthology is overflowing with red-hot romance and all the good feels. And this time around, every story has a secret—a secret admirer.

Candy Hearts will be available for a limited time, and all proceeds will benefit the Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Participating authors in this inaugural volume are:
Becca Seymour
Beck Grey
Bix Barrow
Chantal Mer
D.K. Sutton
Finn Dixon
Lee Blair
Linden Bell
'Nathan Burgoine
Nic Starr
Rain Carrington
Riley Long
Stella Rainbow
Susan Scott Shelley
Toby Wise
Victoria Gillilan

Jacquie's Review:

Review for A Healer's Gift by Toby Wise

Now, if you've seen my reviews before, you'll know I'm a Toby Wise fan.

This is trademark Toby, just without omegaverse or mpreg. So it's sweet with great characters and an enjoyable plot. There's a slow burn with low heat, but I really enjoyed the novella and would love to see more in this world.

Nicole's Review:

This anthology was sugary sweet! Such a fun collection of low angst happy stories. (Reviewing each story as read, so will be adding until complete).

~ Cupcake Crushes by Becca Seymour:
Boyd uses a little devious measures to make sure that he connects with his friend and longtime crush on a dating app. Little does he know that Finnegan is also crushing on a friend. These two have a beautiful connection through humor, and decide its worth taking the risk of their friendship to get their HEA. Phallic cupcakes are my new favorite thing!

~Bee Mine, Valentine by Beck Grey:
I love Beck's Pacific northwest series, so I was very excited for this story. Gus is an adorable bear of a 1st grade teacher. Jeremy is hot as sin and moves in next door/across back yards. Chip is an adorable dog who is determined to help these two get over their nerves and get together! Sweet valentine's crafts and lot's of backyard meetups were the perfect way for these two to connect and I would love to see more of their story after their Valentine's Tea Party shenanigans.

~Voices Harry by Bix Barrow:
This story is set in Bix's Bent Oak Texas world, and we get some cameos from some series favorites which I love, but may be slightly confusing for people not familiar. Harry is a famous audiobook narrator who is private about his appearance online. He get's the chance to meet his social media famous crush and has a minor melt down. Hilarity ensues as he tries to tell Mitchell about who he is. Bumper was adorable and not fooled for a minute.

~When We're Together by Chantal Mer:
This story felt a little different then the others. Robbie has a bit of a traumatic backstory that the others so far don't have, as well as a bi-awakening. Emerson is sweet and confident, but I still think the overall tone was slightly more hurt comfort? I would love to see this as a full book, as there is a lot going on that could be further developed. I also noted quite a few editing issues in this story that I hope are addressed in revision.

~Inconveniently Yours by DK Sutton:
This read differently to me then other DK books I have read. It had much less humor, but both the MCs were still very likeable. Remi is a snarky slightly grumpy undertaker (?) and Jules is a much more outgoing journalist. While both are trying to solve the secret admirer mystery, it is for very different reasons! I had no idea until the end, which was refreshing, but also a little sad for the reasoning.

Angel's review:

Cupcake Crushes by Becca Seymour
Finnegan and Boyd's story is full of sweetness and cupcakes! Oh, pickles and cactus's too! This book was funny, sweet, and full of lots of pining!

Bee Mine, Valentine by Beck Grey
This book is full of comedy, sugary sweetness, lots of kids and a dog that's full of shenanigans! I absolutely adore this story, it's so cute! Even with this being a short story, everything works so well and fits wonderfully! I liked how they took things slow and got to know each other first, they built up their attraction before acting on it. And Chip! He was my favorite character, I absolutely adore him!! He's so cute and just wants Jeremy's attention, and his little gifts were so cute!!

Voices Harry by Bix Barrow:
Mitchell and Harry's story is hilarious and.. unfortunate. I love the concept of Harry being a voice actor, and Mitchell having his own crocheting business. I love his car, and I adored how the cost was such a main focus, I thought that was so cool! Harry's voice changing whenever he's around Mitchell is unfortunate, but definitely adds that humor element to their love story. I'm really glad they were able to work things out.

When We're Together by Chantal Mer,
Whenever Emerson is around Robbie gets nervous, dropping things, tripping over himself, stuttering... Which is unfortunate cause he has a huge crush on the man. Emerson noticed Robbie having trouble, so he sends him gifts to hopefully help Robbie warm up to him... And it worked! This story was adorable, I absolutely adored it! It felt like a full length novel instead of the short story that it is, I don't think it was missing anything. I do wish Robbie's past was talked about a bit more because it was mentioned, but other than that I still found the book to be quite good!

Inconveniently Yours by D.K. Sutton,
Oh how I love secret admirers, and this one was truly a secret! The creativity this author had with this story was so interesting and such a fun concept! I loved going on the journey with Remi and Jules while they were trying to find out who was sending the gifts. The concept of someone else seeing them on Jules's behalf was really cool!

Swim Crush by Finn Dixon,
This story was full of spice and so much steam, along with pesky friends, speedos, and a secret admirer. I thought this story was good, the secret admirer part was done well, I loved the banter that Mike had with his best friends, it was so funny, and added that humor element to the story. I really enjoyed how Mike showed Hayden he knew it was him who was his secret admirer, I thought it was sweet.

Love is in the Ear by Lee Blair,
I love the characters that Lee creates, they are all amazing and add so much to the story. There were a lot of side characters featured in this book and all of them had a reason to be apart of it. Oscar being a baker was really enjoyable for me to read about cause, I too, love baking! It was really cool reading about baking in a book. The romance I thought was done well, it definitely gives you a slow-burn feel.

It's All You by Linden Bell,
I love stories that has the friends to lovers trope, as it's one of my favorites to read. I thought that Linden did a good job with that trope. My only note would be it seemed to be very focused on the steamy parts rather than these men actually talking about their feelings and dates.

Valentine's Dave by Nathan Burgoine,
I loved this story! When it first started out I wasn't sold, but once I read more of it I ended up really enjoying it! I really appreciated how Dave didn't know how he truly felt about a certain person until someone else pointed it out to him. I thought this book was written really well, and had terrific characters. I loved all the puns!

Sweet Serendipity by Nic Starr,
I felt as though this story was rushed a bit, the pacing just felt a bit off to me. I think this story would've benefited from being drawn out a bit more.

The Tip Jar by Rain Carrington,
This book was so cute! I love how the person leaving notes was a complete surprise, Blake's secret admirer was a character that I didn't even expect, which I found really fun. I thought the idea of leaving notes on the tip jar was such a cute idea!

Love Unplugged by Riley Long,
I unfortunately didn't care for this short as much, I feel as though the pacing was off. It felt like it was dragged out to far, and then when they got together... That was kind of it. They didn't really discuss much, and I just felt as though the pacing was slow and the story got dragged out.

Betty's Books and Biscuits by Stella Rainbow,
I absolutely adored this story! I love the worlds Stella creates, and this book takes place in her Mistvale world, which I found very cool! I absolutely loved the idea of Bettino being a shape shifter, I found that really unique. And him owning his own bookshop is so cool! I love Anson and Bettino's relationship, they are so cute together!

Heart Of The Batter by Susan Scott Shelley,
Baking, poly, and escape rooms? In addition to surprise gifts?? This book was packed full of sweetness, and I absolutely adored it! I loved how Max, Toby and Hart's relationship was written, they took things slow, and made sure to keep communicating with each other to make sure it's what everyone wanted. I think this one might just be my favorite so far.

A Healer's Gift by Toby Wise,
Desmond and Colt's story was so unique and unlike Toby's other work, I love being able to see a him write a different type of magical world. The concept of their being monsters that Colt and his team were paid to take care of I found really interesting! That, and Desmond being a mage was cool, and I thought everything was written really well!

Yours Truly by Victoria Gillian,

I love friends to lovers romances and this one was so good! I adored how much Ryan payed attention to Evan, he showered Even in so many thoughtful and meaningful gifts. I love how the reveal was handled, I think it was done really well. I enjoyed the pacing and I thought these characters worked really well together!!

SNik's review:

This review is for the story Voices Harry by Bix Barrow. Dual POV. Heed content warnings. 

Harry is a voice actor that becomes intrigued with Mitchell, a crocheting graphic artist with a depressed cat. The only contact they have is through social media, so when they bump into each other in real life Harry is so surprised he uses a character voice instead of his own when speaking to Mitchell. This is a comedy of interruptions as Harry never gets around to speaking in his true voice while both men are quickly falling for each other. I liked both Harry and Mitchell, as they were so optimistic and open to the chance at something forever. Sweet, with cameos from the author’s Bent Oak Texas series, this was a fun and entertaining read.

Nedra's review:

Cupcake Crush

Such a quick, enjoyable start to the beginning of Candy Hearts! The level of intensity is so great, with just the right amount of steam and humor added in the mix at just the right moments. And the cupcake surprises were a hilarious hit!! I have to admit, Becca does an excellent job of giving just the right balance between a great love story and a super short novella, I absolutely adored Finnegan and Boyd!! (their sexy scenes were hot, too!)

Bee Mine

Another great addition to the Candy Hearts series, we were even able to meet the most adorable and headstrong pup that wasn’t afraid to go after his Valentine. The random gifts turning up in the most oddest of places was quite entertaining, not to mention, super sweet and adorable! And what a tea party!!

Voices Harry

This had to of been about the most sweetest, endearing novella ever! How these two characters conveniently fall into each other’s lives, accidental runins, and Bumper exposing it all!!! Harry’s character took the cake, though! I can only picture the devastation of your voice completely changing over a man 🤣

When We’re Together

Emerson and Robbie were magnificent! The realness of their story is what hooked me right away, and their desires only increase as the story continues. What a fabulous novella!!

Inconveniently Yours

DK knocks this one out of the park with the mystery and suspense included within this sweet story. There were numerous moments where I was questioning who the admirer was, even though I already knew. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time!!

Swim Crush

I absolutely love Finn’s work! He brings just the right amount of steam and sexual energy that can be felt regardless of the device you are using to read. He always makes his stories a tad bit humorous, too, but love is always in the air!

Love is in the Ear

An interesting story of finding your way back home and into the arms of the man you’ve loved for many years. Oscar’s willingness to take time for his fans, and Calvin’s acceptance, made for such an emotional moment!

It’s All You

Now that’s how a best-friends-to-lovers romance should be! Gavin and Beau have been through everything, including marriage, divorce, and bi-awakening! I absolutely loved Gavin’s confidence with his first time, Beau being his best friend definitely made him more comfortable. Loved this addition!

Valentines Dave

Dave was such a lost character, reaching for a glimpse into any future that doesn’t involve catastrophe. And I have to admit, I absolutely loved Asher’s trademark toque and scarf! The descriptions supplied allowed me a vivid picture every time! But, even though I am happy about Dave and Asher finding love with one another, I was a little annoyed that he was so oblivious to what was right in front of him the entire time.
Sweet Serendipity

I have a secret obsession with best friend’s little brother and this one is exactly why! The fire and desires held back for so many years just finally erupts once they realize their feelings are reciprocated. There is so much sexual tension between them, everyone around them can feel the electricity

Tip Jar

What a cute little quirky read!! Mary Sue makes the most of the story, trying to play matchmaker in the process. But, Blake definitely deserves his forever man and Caleb was just right for the job. They just clicked together, like a missing piece of a long lost puzzle. Their relationship grew stronger and stronger with each passing day. What a beautiful romance story!

Love Unplugged

I love a good rock star love story, even better when they’re members of the same band! Leo and Callum were great together, on and off the stage. Their chemistry blazing through the crowd and through their bodies. It’s always so much better when they have mutual pining that they have been trying to hide, but it never seems to work. These are always the best starts for a long future romance!

Betty’s Books and Biscuits

I really did enjoy this fantasy novella, even though it’s not normally my first choice genre. I have never understood why the most striking characters have the worst time approaching their love interests. Either way, Bettino/Betty were quite the entertainment! Anson was just the right choice for Bettino, though. He’s a worker and appreciates everything! Their instant attraction was plausible, and fast paced action was warranted.

Heart of the Batter

Thank you to whoever put this anthology together because a quick, heated throuple is ALWAYS appreciated! These three were so much fun to get to know in such a short period of time. And the escape room was such an incredible touch on the story! Not too pushy, just the right amount of fun and the atmosphere was strategically placed!!

A Healer’s Gift

Want to talk about being thrown for a loop with the revelation of the story! What better way to reveal your true identity than to the man who saved you. Colt’s hesitancy was understandable, and Desmond’s patience was appreciated. Their relationship developed organically in such a short amount of time, but it was like they had been together for thousands.

Yours Truly

A perfect way to end a truly wonderful anthology! These two guys were absolutely adorable together, allowing us to end the series with such a beautiful ending. I am very impressed with the quality of writing put into this story, and the walking in scene was definitely expected but not as smoothly as it was.

Heather's Review:

I adore this anthology!  There's something for everyone here and it's a great way to find new authors and get a feel for their writing.  I've read most of these authors before and knew what I was in for, but a couple were definitely new to me and I'm intrigued to check out their backlists!  I can't play favourites, but there were a couple of stories at the back of the book I read first, because I couldn't wait to see what a few of the authors had to share... and I wasn't disappointed.    Even if you don't love every single story in the book. I know you'll love this book.   I loved it so much that despite having the entire e-book as an ARC, I bought my own copy to support the charity!

Candy Hearts is currently available as an e-book