by Kathryn Anne Dubois, Angela Knight, Jade Lawless, and Julia Welles; romantic erotica (2001)
Red Sage Publishing, $12.99, ISBN 0-9648942-7-0
Secrets Volume 7 has three stories that range from subpar to okay but Angela Knight's short story is one of those stories that make me want to check and see if my hair isn't on fire because baby, is it getting hot in here or what? I can imagine why Angela Knight earns a strong cult following from her novellas because Kissing The Hunter makes my toes curl.
Julia Welles kicks off the show with Amelia's Innocence, a rather straightforward historical tale about Captain Quentin Hawke of the Soul-Catcher winning Amelia Fletcher's maidenhead in a game. He doesn't want to claim the bet, but when Amelia reveals that her father is a violent drunkard who would no doubt rape her one of these days, he decides that he has to take her in for her own good. She won't be actually having sex with him, he says, but it's easier said than done, of course. What do you expect? Men will always be men, pfffft. On the bright side, Amelia is no martyr and Hawke is a nice gentleman with some mild baggages. Still, this story is quite predictable and a little on the forgettable side.
Jade Lawless tells the tale of two reincarnated lovers in The Woman Of His Dreams but the heroine Joanna is so humorless, cold, and pessimistic that I'm surprised that the hero Graywolf Avonaco doesn't cash in his chips and move on to a less sullen woman. This story seems to go on forever, with plenty of mystic mumbo-jumbo and flashback love scenes, but I can't really get into it as the heroine is just too brittle to come alive as a passionate person. Because Joanna is so gloomy, even the story's most explicit love scene comes off like a chore to be endured.
Kathryn Anne Dubois' Surrender has a hellion eighteen-year old medieval dingbat Lady Johanna screaming and fighting and railing at her husband Nicholas Kentridge. The only time they stop acting like noxious children is when they are having sex. Those are barbaric times, right? So maybe we can tie up Johanna in a bag, weigh the bag down with some heavy stones, and throw the bag into a river just like they do to unwanted kittens and puppies, can we? The only time my head stop ringing is when I finally turn the page to get to the next short story.
Angela Knight's Kiss Of The Hunter has our Navy SEAL hero Logan McLean on a vengeance bent as he is on a vigilante killing spree on vampires to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of a villainous bloodsucker. His target Virginia Hart is a vampire but she doesn't kill her victims - she just takes a pint of their blood in between giving them great oral favors and more. Logan will need some convincing as to her benign nature and even more work to fall in love with a vampire after what happened to his wife, but the sexual tension is really too hot for words. The opening scene of Logan watching Victoria servicing her latest blood donor is splendidly pornographic kind of yummy. Even better, Victoria doesn't fall into that "poor misunderstood noble heroine" act - she takes no prisoners, people - while Logan is nicely drawn tortured hero. The characterization is very good given the short length of the story. Great sex, memorable characters, nice balance of angst and humor - all that's missing in this wonderful story is a cigar one can enjoy after the fun is done.
While three out of four stories being of the so-so variety will usually qualify this anthology as a dud, Angela Knight's short story makes Secrets Volume 7 worth at least the effort of smooching up to a friend that one can borrow this book from.
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