Ellora’s Cave, $9.99, ISBN 1-84360-927-4
Mixed Genre Erotica, 2004
I have reservations about getting this book as it costs $9.99 and I don’t have money growing from the trees in my backyard. But ooh, is that Angela Knight’s name I see on the cover?
Just like the previous volume in this series, Ellora’s Cavemen: Tales from the Temple II has heavy paranormal elements in its stories because apparently it ain’t knocking until the fur/fangs are showing. I will be happy when romantic erotica gets pass its fang-fur stage and introduces some hard-hitting stories with ordinary people because this genre is in need of some variety.
In By Moon Rise by Tielle St Clare, our PA heroine Caitlin is infatuated with her employer Luc even if he’s a werewolf. Poor Cait may never have a chance because Luc already has a mate decided for him. If you are expecting a scenario where Cait is trapped in the same room with Luc when the moon is rising and he turns into an uncontrollable horny beast, you are either psychic or you have read enough werewolf romantic erotica stories to recognize a cliché when you come across one. As clichés tend to be, this one is entirely forgettable because I have read stories like this one before and I’m pretty confident that I will do so again and again in the future.
Patrice Michelle presents a pleasant change of mood from werewolves with Dream Walker, where Erin, our scientist heroine, is on the run from bad guys who want her time-travel device to do Very Bad Things. She finds an ally in Kian, a humanoid from another dimension who shares her interest in keeping the time-travel device out of wrong hands. The heroine can depend a little too much on Kian for me to consider her a strong character, but I really like this story because it has a decent plot that isn’t some silly excuse for the characters to get naked, the characters have enough depths to at least be more than just throbbing genitals waiting to do the nasty, and oh, did I mention that it has no vampires and werewolves?
JC Wilder’s One Night Stand has our heroine Rachel deciding to have a shag with Lucius, our hero who happens to be a vampire, on Halloween’s night. I like that Rachel actually does the hunting, which makes her stand out compared to heroines who just happen to have sex with some powerful mythical creature due to her being in the right circumstance, but everything else about this story is familiar vampire erotic romance territory. It’s a pleasant read and that’s about it.
I really enjoy R Casteel’s Tail of the Tiger. This is what an erotic science-fiction Island Of Dr Moreau story should be. Cedric Deverone, Jr learns that his late father has been conducting genetic researches and there is an island out there where his father experimented and created a hybrid creature. He decides to seek out this creature only to realize that Kat, the creature in question, is human enough to arouse his fancy in ways he’d never suspect.
Why are you going “Eeeuw”? I really enjoy this unusual story with its often amusing, sometimes really spicy, and often, um, entertaining sex scenes.
Dragon’s Law: Mace by Alicia Sparks is fun. Eleanora is the virginal sacrifice to a dragon in this fantasy story but she’s not going to stand there and wait for death like some silly dingbat. But something goes wrong in her escape attempt and she awakes next to an injured man, Mace. She nurses him back to health, thinking that he has helped her escape, and bedside sex results. See? If she has done this earlier she won’t even be qualified to be a sacrifice and all this nonsense may not happen. This story isn’t as far out as R Casteel’s story but it does have plenty of fun – if rather mundane – sex. The twist can be seen coming a mile away, but the fun of this story is in getting there, actually.
Angela Knight’s Taming Jack is a satisfying read. Jack Ramsey, a cop, wants to avenge his sister’s rape murder by tracking down and killing that creature responsible. He even offers his body as a host to an alien if this means that he will be bestowed the powers he need to kill that creature. Our heroine Lark has to make the same sacrifice when Jack goes increasingly out-of-control as he goes on his vigilante rampage if she wants to save the man she loves. Ms Knight can write interesting science-fiction and paranormal plots like the best of them but I find the fundamental premise of this story (vigilante hunter getting saved by a heroine’s love) too similar to the author’s past stories, and I can’t help wishing that Ms Knight has demonstrated her flexibility by creating a different premise for her tales of yummy characters and steamy sex. Still, this story is one of the three stories that stick in my mind after I’m done with this anthology. Like Patrice Michelle’s story, this one actually has a plot that doesn’t exist merely as a set-up for sex scenes. Ms Knight sweetens the deal with characters that have enough depths to give their romance some hard-hitting poignancy.
My complain with the first volume is that there is not enough variety in the stories. In Ellora’s Cavemen: Tales from the Temple II, I feel that it could still use some variety but R Casteel’s story comes close to nearly making up for this lack of variety. He doesn’t just give me a different kind of story, he gives me unusual and makes it work very well for me. Angela Knight isn’t stretching too much with her contribution but her story and Patrice Michelle’s are enjoyable stories with enough substance to please readers that crave a little more than sex scenes alone. In that respect, this anthology is an improvement over the first. Now, how about a non-paranormal anthology?