Pros: Some interesting ideas
Cons: Stories that don’t stand on their own
Rating: 3 out of 5
Review copy provided free by Full Moon Books, LLC via NetGalley.
SEDUCTIVE SUPERNATURALS: 12 Tales of Shapeshifters, Vampires & Sexy Spirits is a collection of novellas all set in romantic paranormal worlds. It’s certainly a good way to find new authors you might like, and since these pieces are much longer than short stories it’ll keep you busy for a while! There are also plenty of sample chapters included so you can start in on the authors’ other works. As the title perhaps indicates, there’s explicit sex in here.
Diablo Springs by Erin Quinn: This one is a ghost story that see-saws back and forth between the 1800s and the modern day. At first they seem to be very disparate parallel stories, but gradually they come together. The main characters have depth and interest, but there were just enough side characters–especially given the time-period back-and-forth–that I had trouble keeping up with some of the modern-day secondary characters. There’s some lovely romance/sex, but I must give you a trigger warning for rape.
Vampire Reborn by Caridad Pineiro: I never really got a handle on this story. There are some fairly standard vampire/slayer dynamics and abilities. The story felt a bit complex to stand alone, and again I had some trouble keeping up with the large cast of characters as well as the politics. I also felt some confusion as to whose thoughts/words I was reading at various times.
Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison: I really enjoyed this one. There’s nice developing chemistry between Annabella and Custo, and the milieu had its own feel rather than mimicking every other paranormal in existence. There’s plenty of tension and excitement, and the story was quite engaging.
Night Angel by Lisa Kessler: Prophetic dreams. Blood drinkers called Night Walkers. Mind-to-mind speech as a way of reaching a deaf woman. Banshees. Whirlwind courtship. I enjoyed the romantic relationship in this one, as well as the use of the supernatural. It differed from many other supernatural romances in the details.
Shadows Till Sunrise by Chris Marie Green: This is a novella in a series, and oh boy did I have trouble catching up on context. Usually novellas or short stories by different authors that are collected together are meant to introduce readers to the authors’ worlds. This requires that each story be able to stand reasonably well on its own–and Shadows Till Sunrise did not. I still can’t wrap my head around the Meratoliages, Lilly’s weird magic boots, and so on. Also way too much space was taken up with Lilly’s obsessive ruminating over what Philippe thinks of her. The fact that Lilly’s memory is wiped when she sleeps could be really interesting, but it mostly confused me as to what she could and couldn’t remember.
A Shadow at Twilight by Mary Leo: An oblivious, stubborn mule of an executive plans to marry someone he doesn’t love, all because of what his father wants. His assistant, Hilly, meticulously sets up all the details of Dillon’s upcoming vacation–the one to which he doesn’t invite his fiancee or his father; it’s entirely for him and his grandmother. Things go topsy-turvy when Dillon ends up in a coma, his grandmother dies, and Hilly’s left trying to pick up all the pieces. She also has some unlikely ghostly help. I had a bit of trouble with the idea of Dillon being so oblivious in his day-to-day life when he seems to be so empathetic in his once-a-year vacation, and one or two other tidbits. Also, I’m not sure why authors who portray ghosts seem to have a fixation on including celebrities in the mix when they don’t really seem to add to anything.
More than Fiends by Maureen Child: Cassidy, who runs a home cleaning service, discovers that she’s inherited speed, strength, and more to enable her to hunt and kill demons. She has a stern teacher, a stubborn teenage daughter, and one new/one old love interest. The snark entirely sets the tone; this is humor with a helping of paranormal rather than the other way around. Overall I enjoyed this tale; the pacing was great, the sex was delightful, and there’s some funny stuff here. However, there were a handful of places where I felt like characters were too oblivious for no better reason than to set up either plot points or jokes.
Immortal Possession by Cassi Carver: This is one of my favorites of the book. The world-building is unusual–spirits of the dead, people with mutation-based abilities, and other odd tidbits. Evelyn has desperately wanted to join Immortal Bounty as an investigator–both because she really wants to work there and because she needs to make money to support her father. They’ve turned her away at every application, until now. Normally her weakness to possession would be too much of a flaw, until IB finds a way to make use of that weakness. The problem is, the folks in charge intend to use her once and then fire her. Her partner has other plans. There’s some lovely chemistry between Evelyn and her partner.
Forever Rose by Janet Wellington: A plot that includes time travel, Wyatt Earp, a house of ill-repute (accompanied by the madame with a heart of gold, of course), psychic readings and seances, dead people talking in people’s heads, murder plots, and true love. It’s rather fantastical and relies on heavy suspension of disbelief as it hand-waves certain questions away. The ghostly nudges and hints are stereotypically vague for no apparent reason. The tale was nicely atmospheric, conveying the setting well, but it fell apart a bit for me around the edges of the plot itself.
Welcome Home, Vampire by Theresa Meyers: Cole has been turned into a ‘living vampire’ by a military experiment. But when he goes home to see his dead friend’s widow, Kayla, he and she realize they still have a thing for each other. Only problem is, Cole is so strong he’s afraid he’d hurt her if he slept with her. An unsent ‘last words’ letter gets delivered to Kayla; her husband basically said ‘good-bye and by the way, I think it would be great if you got it on with Cole’. It’s really weird that he sends her a final love-you letter in which he spends more time talking about how amazing Cole is than anything else. Too convenient in the context of the story. Anyway, weird stuff about vampires and how they work keeps coming up, along with stuff about other not-quite-vampires. It all gets sort of dumped haphazardly into what is otherwise a brief love story. It has a matter-of-fact feel to it. The ‘living vampires’ are supermen with no discernible limits. (They need sunglasses to avoid migraines during daylight, and they need to drink blood now and then. There’s no atmosphere to this, no creepiness.) It’s just another ‘enhanced soldiers’ story with excess vampire window-dressing.
One of the tricks with anthologies is that there’s going to be a wide enough array of stories that you can almost guarantee that you’ll like something–and dislike something else. Not helping the case is the fact that some of these stories really don’t stand alone. Forever Rose was good, and Immortal Possession presented a fresh milieu and interesting characters. Night Angel and Shadow Fall were enjoyable and interesting. Most of the rest felt a bit hurried to me. They sacrificed atmosphere to the need to rush through plot points, or they sacrificed believability in order to give you a peek into too-much-stuff for the space the authors had. If you’re a total paranormal/romance junkie, then it might be worth picking this up just to discover a few new authors. Certainly at the current price ($0.99 as of November 2014) it’s a steal.