cover image Stranded Hearts

Stranded Hearts

Kris Bryant, Amanda Radley, and Emily Smith. Bold Strokes, $17.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-63679-182-1

Close quarters lead to love in this uneven anthology of lesbian romance novellas. Bryant’s opener, “EF5,” is by far the weakest entry. Missouri wedding photographer Alyssa has just been pulled over for speeding by sexy sheriff Katy when a tornado hits and the pair seek shelter in a closed-down diner. Bryant devotes excruciating detail to the logistics of every minor beat as the heroines weather the storm and help survivors, and the pair’s mutual attraction feels out of place in the crisis. In contrast, Radley’s “Trapped Tycoon” fires on all cylinders, stranding 26-year-old trainee investor Clara Foster in a stopped elevator with her “boss’s boss’s boss,” 53-year-old Francesca Burford, Clara’s former idol and sexual awakening—who happens to have just fired her. Their ensuing conversation is so replete with humor, genuine emotion, and palpable connection that readers will have no trouble rooting for their romance. Smith’s “Wings over Boston” is the only offering to turn up the heat, reuniting flight medic Ryland Matthews with her former flame, helicopter pilot Tess Goodwin, on the job. Inevitably, a minor mechanical failure leaves them stranded overnight in Martha’s Vineyard—where they have no choice but to share a hotel room. It’s a bumpy ride, but fans of the forced proximity trope should take a look. (July)