The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance: 24 New Short Stories from the Hottest Names (Anglais) Broché – 12 février 2009
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Out of this bunch, far and above the rest, the story by Holly Lisle was a stand out, I've never read anything she's written before, but with the emotional depth she brought to her short, I am going to have to check out what she can do in a full length novel. My other favorites were by Eve Silver, Ilona Andrews, Maria Synder, MelJean Brook, Jean Johnson and Allyson James - a few of whom are old favorite authors and others are new to me. There were very few stories here that seemed to be connected to the authors' existing series, only Caine's relied on the reader knowing her characters and the Weather Warden world, the rest all worked as standalones.
Here's a quick summary to give you an idea of what to expect.....
*** The Temptation of Robin Green - Carrie Vaughn - A zookeeper to the paranormal, diligently follows the rules until she finds herself entranced by her newest charge. (3 stars - This one just kind of meandered and wasn't very romantic, I liked the vampire supporting character the best of all and he only had a bit part)
***Succubus Seduction - Cheyenne McCray - Succubus Lillin is assigned to seduce Archer and steal his soul, but there is just something different about the powerful muscular Archer that thrills Lillin like no other, and Archer is no easy prey. (4 stars - I enjoyed this one almost as much as her incubus short in the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, leaving out the heavy sensuality of her regular novels, this short romance really works)
***Paranormal Romance Blues - Kelley Armstrong - A night out clubbing at a cheezy vamp bar, ends a dry streak for a sassy half demon. (3.5 stars - not really a romance, just the promise of one, but the sassy heroine left me with a smile)
John Doe - Anna Windsor - A `John Doe' with the body of a warrior, `changes everything' for a lonely Psych Doctor. ( 3 stars - this one was okay, but if you like your heroes with wings ... )
***Taking Hold - Anya Bast - A human nurse searches for a lost shifter child and makes a forbidden connection with her lone wolf search partner. (4 stars - I liked this one and the forbidden relationship)
***How to Date a Super Hero - Jean Johnson - A lonely super heroine with the power of foresight, is offered a steamy glimpse at her future. ( 4 stars - this was amusing and the glimpses of the future connection between the hero/heroine, made the romance work in the short space)
***Daniel - C.T Adams & Cathy Clamp - Under a death threat, a woman takes her friendship with a vamp to the next - forbidden - level. (3.5 stars - I liked the heroine and her ability to outsmart the deadly immortal)
***Light Through Fog - Holly Lisle - Tragedy separates soul mates, but love transcends boundaries in a magical place - (5+ stars - Wonderful and poignant, a complete and moving story, I am amazed how much Lisle fit into her contribution.)
***The Tuesday Encounters - Mary Jo Putney - It's love at first sight when the mage meets the enchantress. ( 3.5 stars - this is supposed to be a `Guardian' short, )
***Trinity Blue - Eve Silver - An immortal demon hunter, fears his love will again be rejected, when his dark secret is discovered. (4.0 stars - The hero just really appealed to me, this work fine as a short but I liked the leads enough that I'd have liked more)
***The Grace of Small Magics - Ilona Andrews - A powerful mage stakes his life on a woman with small magic but a large indomitable spirit. (4.0 stars - I really like the Andrews' writing style, and I enjoyed this one a lot - loved Grace who didn't meekly accept her fate. If you enjoyed this one check out the authors' website they have more short stories there)
***Once a Demon - Dina James - An ancient immortal shares the tale of his loss, a perfect love that changed his destiny. (3.5 stars - Not really a romance, James delves into the characters she introduced in her story in Mammoth Book of Vampire romance, and again left me wanting more of the enigmatic Kyle, this one only whet my appetite)
***Night Vision - Maria V. Snyder - A woman with an affinity for the dark, lives in solitude and fear until a midnight ride, a handsome stranger in peril, and a brush with death inspires her to step into the light. (4.5 stars - this one wasn't really a romance either, but I really liked it. I liked the heroine's transition and the ending that promised more for the starring pair)
***Pele's Tears' - Catherine Mulvany - Pele's tears and a sacrifice, brings thwarted lovers together and gives them a second chance at happiness. (3 stars )
***Pack - Jeaniene Frost - A lost hiker's encounter with the supernatural may cost her life, either literally or figuratively - (4 stars - Another strong heroine, I would like to see more of Frost's shifter pack.)
***When Gargoyles Fly - Lori Devoti- A woman's magic touch releases a gargoyle from his stone prison. ( 3 stars - the set up for this one was good, but the resolution and the `love' was just too rushed to work as a romance)
***The Lighthouse Keeper and His Wife - Sara Mackensie - A Lightkeeper is freed from purgatory in order to right a wrong and win a second chance at love. (3 stars - I felt the love, but the ending just made me ask why bring back the Lightkeeper at all?)
***Blood Song - Lynda Hilburn - Music has the power to soothe the savage .. vampire.(3.0 stars - There were some interesting ideas here, but this. one just needed to be longer)
***The Princess and the Peas - Alyssa Day - The elvish lord meets the lovely Lucy and desperately wants her as his .... friend? ( 3 stars - not at all a romance, but I found the back and forth between the elf and the possessive warrior at the end a bit amusing)
***At Second Bite - Michelle Rowen - A vampire tells a woman she's his reincarnated soul mate, but she just doesn't `feel the love'. (3.5 stars - a bit of Rowen's trademark humor, you just gotta love a vampire named Henry)
***Blue Crush -Rachel Caine - A little sun, a little sand, a little surf - and a whole lot of trouble - Joanne and David go to the beach. (3.5 stars - I am a fan of Caine's series, and this is a nice little adventure and hook up for the pair, but nothing earth shattering)
***The Wager - Sherrilyn Kenyon - " It's been a long cold Millennium" for Thomas - (2.5stars -This one just did not work for me at, it's a rambling discourse and not a romance - it's supposed to be a Lords of Avalon short so maybe you've been waiting for Thomas' story.)
***In Sheep's Clothing - Meljean Brook - A werewolf goes home, and back to the man she left behind, and runs into a serial killer. ( 4.0 stars - I like the friends who have always wanted more finally taking it to the next level, and I am a shifter nut, so this one worked for me)
***The Dream Catcher - Allyson James - In a society where passion is shunned, woman longs for love, if only in her dreams. - (4 stars - James does a good job with the world building and her heroine, though this one worked fine in the space I would have liked more, I'd have liked to get know the hero as well as we got to know the heroine.)
On the whole I enjoyed the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance and if you are at all a fan of short stories, the 24 stories here will keep you out of mischief for a good long time. And if you're like me you just may discover a new favorite author.
[THE TEMPTATION OF ROBIN GREEN] by Carrie Vaughan, Lieutenant Robin Green's work at the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology introduces her to some strange and interesting creatures of myth and legend, one of which may steal her heart. -- This was classic Vaughan and fans of her Kitty Norville series will recognize a familiar face at the center. 4/5 stars
[SUCCUBUS SEDUCTION] by Cheyenne McCray, Lilin, a succubus, has been charged by the queen of the Unseelie Court to seduce Archer Dane and bring her his soul... but Archer won't be won so easily. -- Definitely more erotic than romantic this was an okay story but not really my thing. 3/5 stars
[PARANORMAL ROMANCE BLUES] by Kelley Armstrong, Half-demons looking for love in all the wrong places. -- I'm known for not caring for Armstrong's writing style and unfortunately this one didn't help win my fandom. 1/5 stars
[JOHN DOE] by Anna Windsor, Celebrating her 30th birthday working the late shift at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital would be really boring for Dutch Brennan if it weren't for the interesting new arrival. -- An interesting mythology and okay premise, fans of her Dark Crescent Sisterhood should like this one. 3/5 stars
[TAKING HOLD] by Anya Bast, Human nurse, Lily, has volunteered to help in the search for a lost young werewolf with Mac, the wolf she's got a jones for. -- One of the most well executed plots in the collection, this actually felt like a complete story, nicely done. 4/5 stars
[HOW TO DATE A SUPERHERO] by Jean Johnson, Partnered superheroes struggle to find a way to balance their conflicted feelings toward each other without endangering the team. -- Love a good superhero story but this one felt reeeeeally cheesy and more about sexual attraction than romance. 2/5 stars
[DANIEL] by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, When a process server gets tangled up with a sexy vampire and his master things could get nasty. -- This one felt like a reject from the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, not much story or romance. 1/5 stars
[LIGHT THROUGH FOG] by Holly Lisle, When Sarah's husband Sam died all that was left to connect them was their tree and a mysterious magic in the fog. -- By far the stand-out story of the bunch, vividly imagined, extremely romantic and touching, doesn't quite make up for the less-than-stellar rest of the collection but a must-read! 5/5 stars
[THE TUESDAY ENCHANTRESS] by Mary Jo Putney, It's not everyday Charlie meets a gorgeous fellow Guardian but this might be his lucky day... or a really, really unlucky one when the two are put in a hostage situation. -- Haven't read the series this ties into but I think I want to now, this story was really clever, the characters very real and likable, loved it! 5/5 stars
[TRINITY BLUE] by Eve Silver, Jen's love-life heats up when she hires a mysterious drifter to help with some painting around her grandmother's house, but could he have something to do with an equally mysterious murder? -- This one ties into Silver's Compact of Sorcerer's series (I think?) and therefore was a little confusing but wasn't too bad. 3/5 stars
[GRACE OF SMALL MAGICS] by Ilona Andrews, When warring mage clans clash Grace not only discovers that her family is essentially owned by one of them or that she must now fight beside her new master but that there's a lot more to herself and her master than meets the eye. -- Not sure if this one ties into one of Andrews' series but was a very interesting concept and an okay story. 4/5 stars
[ONCE A DEMON] by Dina James, Kyle prefers his solitude but when a friend offers a chance to speak of the love he lost it may lead to his salvation. -- Loved the ending but the pace was really slow and tedious overall. 4/5 stars
[NIGHT VISION] by Maria V. Snyder, Most of her life Sophia has hidden from those who would use her unusual gifts but perhaps putting them to use in the right ways could be a good thing. -- Another interesting concept delivered in an okay package but didn't really wow me. 3/5 stars
[PELE'S TEARS] by Catherine Mulvany, Dillon Makua never forgot his first love and when she comes crashing back into his life to solve the mystery of her grandmother's suicide maybe Neolani hasn't forgotten him either. -- I'm a sucker for Hawaiian mythology being used in fiction and I love first love reunion stories so this one was a favorite. 5/5 stars
[PACK] by Jeaniene Frost, Getting lost in the woods alone has definitely gotten Marlee in over her head when she gets attacked and rescued by two very different wolves. -- My first taste of Frost's writing and I like it, am guessing her fans will too. 4/5 stars
[WHEN GARGOYLES FLY] by Lori Devoti, When Mord the gargoyle is awakened by Kami after a hundred years of slumber the world of humans could be in mortal danger. -- Ugh, a too-stupid-to-live heroine and a really one-dimensional hero killed what could have been a cool gargoyle story. 1/5 stars
[THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER AND HIS WIFE] by Sara Mackenzie, Sent back from purgatory to right a past wrong, Zek strikes a bargain to see his wife in her reincarnation one more time. -- An okay romance and a slightly confusing mythos make for an okay story. 3/5 stars
[BLOOD SONG] by Lynda Hilburn, Ethan is a vampire who gets stuck on clean-up duty when he meets the enigmatic sound-healer Grace and what their meeting brings is simply magic. -- Liked the characters and I thought the sound healing was pretty cool but some will find it hokey or even cheesy, def not for every reader. 4/5 stars
[THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS] by Alyssa Day, A princess, 'peas' made of iron and a gathering of fae are all it takes for trouble and romance in this tale. -- Humorous and original if pushing into silly territory. 4/5 stars
[AT SECOND BITE] by Michelle Rowen, Evan Frost is convinced that Julia is his soulmate reincarnated and when his brother Henry tries to kill her things get even more confusing. -- I tried to like this one but the romance felt very contrived and the concept just didn't work for me. 2/5 stars
[BLUE CRUSH] by Rachel Caine, Joanne and David from the Weather Warden series spend a day at the beach saving lives, kicking booty and getting a little frisky. -- I've only read the first book in the series so not sure where this tale should fall but I think this is definitely for fans of the series only. 3/5 stars
[THE WAGER] by Sherrilyn Kenyon, A strangely narrated Lords of Avalon tale of loving and pissing-off the wrong woman. -- This might have been okay but the narration was sooo badly done (and I normally like Kenyon). 1/5 stars
[IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING] by Meljean Brook, Five years ago Emma left Oregon and Nathan behind but when she comes home and faces off with a murderer she and Nathan will need one another to bring the bad guy down. -- I actually really liked this one, it was believable and not too predictable. 5/5 stars
[THE DREAM CATCHER] by Allyson James, Set in an unusual world where high society humans no longer have sexual relations a creature meant to fulfill fantasies of all kinds will awaken Natalia to the pleasure and joy of her secret desires. -- Unique, intriguing and a nice cap to the end of this collection... I dunno why this felt a little steampunk to me but it did. 4/5 stars
As a whole I felt that this collection had a few strong tales but was mostly a very random selection of stories with paranormal elements. There was definitely a lot of variety in concepts (fae, gargoyles, selkies) but a sad lack of quality storytelling. I think most fans of the paranormal romance genre won't find this to their taste. There are a few vampire stories, a couple of shapeshifter ones and lots of magic users but it was missing the really juicy sensuality and deeply heart-felt romance most of them (us!) want to find in something like this.
In this book you have the opportunity to "test drive" the writings of 24 authors. Identify the ones you really enjoyed, then come back to Amazon and get the rest of the books from that author.
Even though I knew I would enjoy the authors more in this collection then the other, I was still hesitant to think I would enjoy the collection more. I read a lot of paranormal--for fun and review--and I've been disappointed before in far shorter anthologies. I'm happy to say that I was not at all disappointed this with this book as a whole. Individual parts perhaps, but not as a whole.
Kelley Armstrong ("Paranormal Romance Blues"), Jean Johnson ("How To Date a Superhero") and Ilona Andrews ("Grace of Small Magics") were my favorites. Armstrong's story was a fun balance of paranormal issues and dating issues--two things that have perhaps more in common then most people think. Johnson's is just a fun superhero love story and the foibles of being able to see the future (note to authors and publishers: we need more superhero romances! A.J. Menden is doing a fine job with the Elite Hands of Justice but come on folks!). And Andrews is the fun of underestimating the small guy (or girl in this case). They always surprise you in the end.
I enjoyed Cheyenne McCray's "Taking Hold" as well. It was a werewolf story, but it was really less about that (romance wise at least) and more about two outsiders coming together. Mac is a funny mix of strong silent type and 'Did I say that wrong?' under-confidence. I wanted it to be longer however--I liked Mac a lot and wanted to know more about him.
The other authors and stories I enjoyed reading, but they didn't spark my interest as the others did. The collection surprised me with just how many different paranormals you could fit into one anthology. There's angels, demons, succubi, inccubi, werewolves, vampires, selkies, mermaids, superheroes, Gods, immortals...it was astounding and so much fun. Some of them don't get enough love, others are so overdone we are all screaming for something different, but each author presents them in a different light.
The only story I didn't quite gel with as well as I would have originally thought was the selkie story by Vaughn ("The Temptation of Robin Green"). Vaughn does a good job of everything but Robin Green. We're told she's very committed to her work, very proper and strait-laced, but we're not shown that really. It was perhaps the short nature of the story that ultimately made this happen--if the story had been longer there would have been more time to build up to Robin and the selkie's encounters.
This was a fun, entertaining anthology however and sure to please many fans of the varied authors present. In fact it might make fans of several other authors as well.
Now at 528 pages divided by 24 authors...ummm, OK you do the math. None of the stories are long <duh>, but each is just enough to give you a quickie taste of your favorite, or give you an idea of whether or not you'd like the author. Since I'd read at least one book by all the authors with the exception of Dina James, this was more of a 'quickie read before bed' book than a 'sit down and power read book'. Some of the stories are set in worlds I already knew from other books by that author with familiar characters. Others were something new and different. All but a couple left me wanting more and hoping that respective author would expand in a full-length novel soon.
Since there are so many stories, it would be difficult for any paranormal reader NOT to find some gems. The heroes and heroines run the gamut from human to vampire to gargoyle to shifters to witches and on and on. "The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance" will stay on my keeper shelf.