Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13696-4
Fantasy Romance, 2004
Christine Feehan kicks off the spooky stud revue with Dark Hunger. One of these days she will run out words to put after Dark. But there’s no worry of her running out of stories anytime soon because she’s not even coming up with anything other than that One Same Story. The author’s fans know the drill. The author attempts to blend her wereleopard world with her Carpathian world so we have Juliette “I’m So Fruity” Sangria as a wereleopard and Riordan Bodan, Bodan Bo Bodan, Banana Fana Fo-fodan, Fee Fy Mo Modan – okay I’ll shut up now – as a Carpathian. Fruitcake Juliette’s mission is to rescue animals from labs everywhere so she charges into a secret lab in the middle of the lush jungles of Brazil and releases Fofana Monana Riordana. She’s his lifemate! She’s too independent to say yes! Say yes, Fruitcake. Yes! Yes! Feel my Banana Fana Fofana! My powerful italics will open the locks in your loins and set you free Yes, she says yes! YES! YESSS!
By the way, I didn’t know that they have mad scientist labs in the middle of Club Med Brazillia now. Wait, is the author saying that all those strategically located hot springs and comfy mossy banks for sangria-stirring are supposed to part of the virgin jungles?
Maggie Shayne is next with Awaiting Moonrise. It’s a werewolf story. Jenny Rose is a cryptozoologist. There are still cryptozoologists around? I must find out how Jenny gets her funding. The last time I tried to bring up a research excursion to Loch Ness to hunt for Nessie, I got shot down faster than Michael Moore streaking in Ann Coulter’s lawn. She thinks that she’s found the missing link between humans and werewolves. She gets injured while tangling with this beastie and that’s not bad enough compared to how her doctor, Samuel LeRoque, fiddles with her headlights during the medical examination. She likes it though because he’s sexy and wolfish. His pet wolf is cool too. Memo to heroines everywhere: men with names like LeRoque are all weirdos, werewolves, vampires, wereleopards, whatever. Stick to Herman and Donald if you want human boyfriends. Otherwise, oh just get on with the shagging already and spare me the tedious “is he or isn’t he” wide-eyed antics.
I could have prostrated myself before Emma Holly in gratitude because her The Night Owl, while still a shapeshifting vampire romance, is free from the usual wide-eyed “a big hairy monster is molesting me – and I like it!” antics of typical romance stories of this sort. It’s such a refreshing change to have a heroine, Mariann O’Faolin, as a pastry chef with a big appetite for life (including sex, of course), whose biggest grumble about her post-divorce life is her not getting as much as she used to back then. Our upyr hero is Bastien Luce and he and his fellow upyr Emil recently purchased a B&B next door to Mariann’s bakery. He realizes that she’s his mate but dang it, he’s shy and doesn’t know how to approach her. They have no problems connecting on any level in dreams though, and this spills over in real life during a memorable encounter on a kitchen counter. The sex is fun, Mariann is adorable, and Bastien’s alpha male personality and his shyness towards Mariann make rather sexy contrasts.
Angela Knight also delivers a fun story in Seduction’s Gift, in which our hero Lancelot du Lac is the most rakish vampires among the Knights of the Round Table. Or is that Vampires of the Round Table? They call themselves Majae though and appoint themselves as guardians of humankind against the onset of technology. They are either Luddites or they have read too much Isaac Asimov. Anyway, you too can become a Maja. All you need to do is to have an innate talent to, er, maja. The Majae will then send one of them over to convert you in the most painful way possible, by giving you multiple orgasms. Where do I sign up and are multiple applications allowed?
Grace Morgan, the descendent of the infamous Morgan le Fey, doesn’t want to be a Maja. King Arthur is not taking no for an answer so he sends Lancelot, seducer and assassin extraordinaire, to maja her to her sense.
The sex scenes? Scorching ohmigod-every-stitch-on-me-is-on-fire hot.
What is not hot though are the huge cast of characters and the detailed backstory that take up too much space from the main characters. I know the author wants this story to introduce the reader to her upcoming series but this is a novella, not a full-length book. Seduction’s Gift is more memorable for its love scenes and not much else. Still, as an appetizer to spicy things to come, this one isn’t bad at all.
I don’t mind paying $7.99 if Hot Blooded consists solely of the stories by Ms Holly and Ms Knight. Okay, maybe $5.99. What I’m saying is, this is one anthology where the headlining authors fall flat on their faces. Fans of sensual paranormal romances who don’t mind getting shortchanged in characterization in return for some enjoyable spicy entertainment will enjoy this anthology, I suspect, but even then, the accolades will have to go mostly to Emma Holly and Angela Knight.