Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering, “Why is A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, a romance anthology, being reviewed on MySF Reviews?” The short answer: there are four good speculative fiction stories in this collection. The long answer: what’s more speculative than love? Hmm…that was actually shorter than the short answer. Let’s move on!
The theme of A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, edited by Virginia Smith, is pretty straight forward: every story must contain a loving kiss. If you like romance stories, this is a great anthology with a solid core of strong stories. I have been known to enjoy a good romantic comedy or drama on occasion, much to the amusement of my female relatives (including my wife). But since this is a science fiction and fantasy review site, let’s cover those stories in more detail.
The first story is brought to us by Amy Barkman. “A Kiss in Time” was the weakest of the four speculative fiction tales, though it was still enjoyable. Our protagonist keeps hearing voices, and she thinks they are from her future self. I thought the premise of the story was fun, and I enjoyed the “visions-a-la-A-Christmas-Carol-but-without-the-ghosts”, but the execution of the plot didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
In “Factor X”, Jan Davis Warren takes us to a possible future where a woman is waking from what seems to her to be an amnesia. A possibly-cautionary tale about the unknown side effects of drug treatments—and how great sacrifices are sometimes made in the name of love—I am still unsure how much I liked the ending. I did like how the ending was done, and I thought the method of revealing the story was well executed.
My favorite story in A Kiss Is Still a Kiss is “Within Limits”, by Scott R. Parkin. Unusually for a romance (at least in my experience), the main character was a man, and he was not a Fabio clone with deep pools for eyes or an aloof-yet-vulnerable demeanor. He was an overweight guy addicted to trashy romance novels. The female character was the strong character, and while the main character did rescue her in the end, it’s not in the way you’d expect. And I loved the cameo appearance of the Fisbanians. And the heaving breasts (no, really…but not how you expect).
The final fantasy story is about a dragon and a pixie, but not your normal dragon or your normal pixie. “Opposites Attract” unfolds in interesting ways (and in more than one way) as we learn about Sienna and how hard she tries not to fry the bullies at school that pick on her. When someone stands up for her, she finds he’s not what he seems. I found the magical mechanics of the world in which the story is set to be interesting. It reminded me of an anime series—Dragon Half—a little bit, with a few of the story elements. The ending of the story felt a little rushed, but it was still a great story.
The rest of the anthology was mostly solid. Only one story went below three-and-a-half stars for me, and most of the stories were four or more stars. I recommend A Kiss Is Still a Kiss just for the speculative fiction stories, and if you like romances, you’ll likely enjoy the rest of it, too.
Release Date: October 12, 2015 (USA)
ISBNs: 1937671259 (9781937671259)
Publisher: Next Step Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional social drinking)
Sexuality: 1 (very minor innuendo)
Violence: 1 (very occasional, nothing really graphic)