The stories in most anthologies are barely held together by a common thread. Sometimes I wonder what they have in common at all. But this one is different in that all three novellas take place inside the broader construct of a larger story. The premise is pulled from Julia Talbot’s Bloodrose series. (Though it will make sense even if you haven’t read those books.) A new club, catering to supernaturals is opening… and each short story features characters who are working there.
“It’s Elemental” is Talbot’s offering. It features a Native American werewolf shifter named Chayton and his unlikely relationship with a demon named Kenny. Chayton is the strong, silent type… and he is working construction on the new property. Kenny is the interior designer. The story is fast-moving and very sexy. There’s not a lot of emotion behind it, but it’s quick and hot. Neither man expects expects overpowering attraction they feel for each other, but it’s fun watching them surrender to their desires.
“The Third Course” is a shifter-menage short story by BA Tortuga. The sexual dynamic in this one was not my brand of kink… for two reasons. First and foremost, it’s a twincest story. Secondly, it’s a dom/sub relationship (which is also not my thing.) In a nutshell, twin chefs Marco and Stephan are werecats and lovers. Marco is the submissive/beta and Stephan “takes care of him.” Then alpha werewolf shifter Faelan comes along and tops them both. It helped me get through the incest thing to simply pretend the guys weren’t really brothers while I read about them having sex with each other… otherwise I just would have been too squicked out. There were sexy times –and I like the way Tortuga writes her shifters, with their animal traits bleeding over into their human lives. She took the same approach in Just Like Cats & Dogs, which I liked better.
The last novella is “Smoke and Gold” by Sean Michael. This is the story of dragon-shifter Daniel and the demon Zee. Daniel is the dragon who owns the property that the club is being built on. Zee is the head dominant, there to make sure all the “playrooms” are up to snuff. This story was basically the struggle of Zee trying to top Daniel. Again, the whole dom/sub thing is not a turn-on for me. There is alot of back and forth banter about who is the child and who is the master; there is a lot of spanking; some sex; a dash of magic –and then a few whacks with the belt for good measure.
Overall, I liked the idea of pulling all the stories together under a common arc. The first story was the best in the bunch for me… it simply suited my tastes much better than the other two. But if D/s relationships and twincest rock your boat, you might like the other two stories more than I did. It was all an interesting foray outside of my comfort zone. But I am hard pressed to figure out how to give it a rating.
*ARC provided by author for review
Cereus: Buildingby BA Tortuga, Sean Michael, Julia TalbotRelease Date: September 13, 2011Publisher: Torquere Press