Usually, any given anthology I come across will have just one or two stories I am interested in. But with this one, I hit the motherload, with stories from three of my very favorite authors: Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook (writing as Milla Vane). I didn’t love every story equally, but overall, I think UF/ PNR readers will get enough bang for their buck.
Secrets at Midnight: I am such a fan of Nalini Singh and her Psy-Changeling world, but this novella was not a hit for me. It had some good things going on, but there were some parts that really fell flat.
The hero is Bastien, one of Mercy’s brothers. He wasn’t really looking to settle down, but once he encountered his mate’s scent, he knew he had to find her. He tracked her for days, before meeting her in a totally convenient and contrived happenstance. She seems to be human, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out she is part changeling. Kirby and Bastien fall for 0ne another as they work to solve the mysteries of her heritage and her past.
I found this story to be fairly predictable. But my biggest issue was with the dialogue between Kirby and Bastien. They try to be sexy and saucy, but it was missing Singh’s usual magic. Not sexy at all.
Where the story is at its best is when Kirby finally finds herself and gets to interact with her family. That actually made me a little misty. But the rest? Not so much. It wasn’t bad, but I have loved other stories from her much more.
Magic Steals: Jim and Dali. How do I love thee? This is such an understated, wonderful couple. Ever since we first got a taste of the Jim and Dali connection in their (way too short) “Magic Dreams” novella, I have been
impatiently waiting for a chance to see them together again. This story satisfied me in every way. It follows Dali, with Jim at her side, as she uses her special Indonesian mojo to fight an evil manifestation targeting folks who share a common business building. The magic plot, though, is only a vehicle to show us Dali in her element –and how she and Jim finally stop tiptoeing around their relationship.
I love how insecure Dali is and how we see her utter adoration of Jim. She views him so differently than Kate does, but through her 1st person POV, we see such a different man. This Jim is awesome. He is so good to her. Watching her finally realize the depths of his feelings is so gratifying. And the end is perfect. (Plus… sex.) Made of win.
Lucky Charms: This is the only story in the group by an author I have never read before, but I really enjoyed this set up for Lisa Shearin’s SPI Files urban fantasy series. It follows a seer named Mac who is giving up her civilian life to join a supernatural policing agency. Her first assignment is helping to track down a leprechaun prince and his buddies who escaped a protection detail at a bachelor party. The story is funny and fast paced with an engaging cast of character. I will definitely be checking out The Grendel Affair.
The Beast of Blackmoor: I love Meljean Brook and I was totally psyched for this barbarian “beast” story. It was pretty dark and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. The story centered on Kavik, a warrior forsaken by the goddess he offended in his youth –and Mala, a champion of the same goddess, on a quest for her favor. Mala’s mission puts her squarely in Kavik’s path and it doesn’t take long to discover that their destinies are intertwined. There is some pretty heavy stuff here: rape, torture, and the like. And parts seemed pretty bleak. But the sexy times were very hot and the HEA was satisfying. — I leave the story conflicted, but affected, so take that as you will.
Overall, I think is definitely an anthology worth checking out!
*ARC provided by author for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews,
Lisa Shearin & Milla Vane
Release Date: November 25, 2014