Title: Plaid Nights Anthology
Author Name & Publisher:
Rob Rosen, Megan McFerren, Julia Talbot, Elizabeth Coldwell, Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae, Angelique Voisen, Missouri Dalton, Logan Zachary, Lila Mathews, Anna Mansel, and McKay (Torquere Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 15, 2015 – 65,000 Words
In Plaid Nights, men in kilts are as varied as they are hot. Whether they’re caber tossers, rugby players, Highland warriors, country dancers, or time-traveling vampires, they’re up for surprises and sexy good times.
Rob Rosen starts us off with humor in “Tossing It.” Contemporary men discover love in unexpected places in “Whiskey and Want” by Megan McFerren, “Some Like It Scot” by Julia Talbot, “Perfect Working Order” by Elizabeth Coldwell, and “Off-Kilter” by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae. We get a taste of the paranormal in “Sir WW” by Angelique Voisen, “Feumaidh Mi Ruith (I Have to Run)” by Missouri Dalton, and “Kilt in the Closet” by Logan Zachary. And we’re treated to forbidden love in historicals “Hunting for a Highlander” by Lila Mathews, “A Time to Heal” by Anna Mansel, and “As Fair Art Thou, My Bonny Lad” by McKay.
In these stories, some tartan-clad men wear their kilts in the “traditional manner,” while others are less daring. But all find love, and of course, a happy ending—especially at night, when the plaid comes off.
I’m seriously not complaining, but who knew that Americans celebrate Scottish holidays in kilts? My favourite stories in this collections were the contemporary nods to Scottish culture and heritage. My least favourite were the attempts at accurate Highlander historical romance.
I wasn’t very keen on any of the more earnest stories – m/m short stories lend themselves better to humorous erotic hook-ups than HEAs.
My absolute favourite story was the first one, Rob Rosen’s irreverent Tossing It where two college students get to blow an enormous Scotsman during an American Highland Games. Any Scotsman would approve of the raunchy tongue-in-cheek innuendos and good natured filth.
Megan McFerran’s Whiskey and Want (though the Scots spell it Whisky) was also great. Less humour but another free-spirited hook-up, this time outside a Texas bar hosting a bachelor party with kilt clad guests. Hot men, hot sex, but a little too much talk for my liking.
Elizabeth Coldwell’s Perfect Working Order offered our only contemporary Scot. Miles is a Scottish rugby supporter who walks into Gary’s bar. He was the one who got away at Uni and the pair are quickly off for some pretty steamy sex.
Julia Talbot gives us another American Scottish celebration in Some Like it Scot. Riley is an American but he still has an accent – and a kilt. This isn’t a hook-up story, but one of attraction attraction and a sweet fumble towards a relationship. The characters are well-written and the premise is great.
Some of the historical writing was inaccurate and far too soppy to be believable. Watching a few episodes of Outlander doesn’t make anyone an expert on Highlander life, but in this anthology, more than a couple of authors make fumbling attempts at melodramatic historic romances.
The one historic story I did warm to was Sir WW by Angelique Voisen. The premise is bizarre – a time-travelling vampire establishes a relationship with William Wallace. But it actually makes for compelling reading. The relationship isn’t too serious, the history isn’t butchered and the author maintains a sense of humour through steamy sex and light BDSM.
There are eleven short stories in this anthology and I would recommend about half of them. But for three quid the anthology is still really good value. I don’t like having to give an overall star rating. I’d rather rate each story individually. As I’ve mentioned, there are a few excellent stories – but also a few I struggled to finish.
From “Tossing It” by Rob Rosen:
He took a spoonful of stew into his mouth, green eyes sparkling in the daylight. He was cute in a lanky, pale, freckled sort of way. He sighed contentedly as he set the spoon back down. “Just like mom used to make.”
“Back in the old country?”
He laughed. “Back in New Jersey. Though Newark is sort of old.”
We continued eating together, side by side. His leg brushed mine. It stayed brushed. I didn’t move mine away; he didn’t move his either. This was an odd turn of events. Was he gay? Not a clue. Still, most guys would’ve moved their legs away. Maybe he was simply oblivious. Straight guys sometimes had a habit of that. You just never knew. Then again, you could test the theory if you were so inclined. Me, I was always so inclined.
I pointed to a throng of kilted behemoths off to the side. “What’s with the skirted mountain men?”
He chuckled. “Caber tossers.”
“That some sort of Scottish slang for rednecks?”
He turned my way, eyes locking with mine. It was like staring into a field of emeralds. Guess I’d been too busy staring at his crotch before to notice. Shame on me. “Caber tossers. They toss logs. Poles. Big ones.” Well, he’d certainly know about big poles, I figured. “They’re up to twenty feet tall and almost two hundred pounds.”
“And they toss them? Why?”
I ate a couple more bites of my fish. It was perfectly cooked, greasy and flaky. My stomach settled down. “Sport?
Like tiddlywinks for giants?”
He nodded as he continued eating his stew. His eyes rarely left mine. I was all too glad to return the favor. I stared at his freckles, connecting the dots, constellations hidden in the patterns. “Something like that.”