This collection of shorts contained new to me authors (Hieber and Taylor) and a series I’ve been enjoying (McDonald)
A Christmas Carroll by Leanna Renee Hieber (Strangely Beautiful 2.5) (3stars)
One holiday season at the Luminal in Victorian London, the spirits responsible for weaving memories through time and space are concerned that without a respite or spirit intercession, their headmistress and vicar could be lost forever to grief. For this reader’s taste, getting through the flowery, overwritten descriptive phrases given to Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol was hard work.
The Worth of a Sylph by L. J. McDonald (Sylph 2.5) (3.5stars)
Lily ‘The Widow’ Blackwell has caring for the valley orphans for years, at 82 she’s thinking it’s time to get her affairs in order. She advises Mace to shop for a new mistress. Meanwhile Jayden, Lily’s youngest charge, a very emotional teen runs away to a nearby town to try to rule the battle sylph by becoming a swordsman.
The Crystal Crib by Helen Scott Taylor(Magic Knot 3) (2.75stars)
Sonja goes to broker a deal in Iceland and inadvertently reignites the feud between her father and Vidar, a guardian angel. Unfortunately, this reader was adrift through most of this read and couldn’t get past the middle-ish feeling. It seemed to strongly depend on the reader’s familiarity with the series.
Mountain sized lycan lieutenant of the Wolf Creek Pack and local sheriff Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Dunham is delaying his claim and trying not to rush his still fragile intended mate, librarian Katalin ‘Kat’ Petrova. It’d taken 200 years to find her so he’d wait. Gabe’s burning the candle at both ends watching over Kat all night and ‘sheriffing’ all day,but not chasing the increasingly bold rogues kidnapping gifted lycans.
Rescued from kidnappers before they could rape her or her sister Sara, still learning to master her gift of telekinesis and the still fresh ache of her father murdering her mother and planning to sell her and Sara has robbed Kat of her ability to cope. Gabe’s frustration mounts as Kat agrees with the lycan therapist that she learn to cope alone before she mates Gabe despite their strong emotional bond.
After taking care of Kat in a crisis and not making her emotions or telekinesis unstable, Gabe suggested moving in to his place for comfort. Life with Gabe makes Kat happy, she thinking about life with Gabe and their consummation ceremony helps stabilize her power. The Wolf Creek pack goes on high alert when they hear an unmated, gifted female from a neighboring pack was kidnapped by the Hellfire pack.
When the unmated women were abducted from their alpha couple, Joe and Quinn’s mating celebration, Wolf Creek ranch hand Cactus Mackey was one of men determined to rescue them. Following a trail into Mexico Cactus finds he hasn’t caught the rogues kidnapping random unmated females, he’s caught a group rounding up gifted unmated female lycans.
Among the women just saved from rape, Cactus is locked onto his mate, Sara. She and her sister were bartered to the Hellfire pack when their father discovered gifts he didn’t know they had. In itself, the story was extremely erotic and the ongoing thread following the kidnapping found a bit of resolution but deja vu was a huge issue for this reader during the outing. Accounting for some overlap is the read runs parallel to Rayne Poteet and Ringo Ramone’s story. (P3pp3rp0t’s Review of Ringo’s Ride)
Shadow of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Darkhunterverse #15.6/Were-hunter #3.5) Rating: 4.5stars
Arcadian were-hunter Angelia not only almost killed Fury Kattalakis’ when his brother Dare revealed Fury was Katagarian, she broke his heart and their future. Now Angelia and Dare are traveling through time using the magic of their tessa to strip Katagarians of their powers. Looking to finish a shifter that got away, they travel to Sanctuary where they promptly attack Fury.
Remembering the times she’d shared with Fury, Angelia helps a severely injured Fury escape and has to come face to face with some home truths. News of the tessera ambushes and their new magic has spread and Fury does the only thing he knows to end Dare’s ambushes. While Fury’s a favorite, I wanted a better mate for him. (Note: This short is also available in the Short Bites Anthology)
The Story of Son by J.R. Ward (Stand Alone) Rating: 4.5stars
High-powered attorney Claire Stoughton’s job is also her personal life. When an elderly client, Mrs. Leeds, insists Claire come to the house for a signature, Claire’s wondering how quickly they can be done so she can go back to the office. Ignoring Claire’s protests of not wanting to meet a man or become involved with anyone, Mrs. Leeds ensures Claire and her son meet.
Aroused by the scents around her, Claire’s frightened in the dark with chains rattling, but then she meets Mrs. Leeds son and sympathizes over his lonely existence. Claire’s affected by his innocence and promises to show him her reality but he refuses since it’s forbidden. (Note: This short’s set in Caldwell but isn’t part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series)
Beyond the Night by Susan Squires (Companion #6.5) Rating: 4.25stars
After years at sea, Drew Carlowe returned home unrecognizable and re-invented from stable boy Andy Cooper and bought the second grandest property in the area. The locals aren’t impressed, they’re convinced the house is haunted by a blood-sucking ghost. When Drew arrives, vampire Freya’s appalled that Drew’s treating the house like it’s his when her father’s owned it for centuries.
The townsfolk tell Drew the reason for his return no longer exists, Drew decides to rid his home of the feminine entity that mesmerized him and drank his blood the previous night. However, when Drew finds Freya he finds out they share an enemy and an attraction. This was my first Susan Squires read but I am intrigued by this world and will read the series.
Midnight Kiss Goodbye by Dianna Love (Belador #.5) Rating:3.5stars
Neither Trey McCree nor Sasha Armand has forgotten anything about their relationship. Not the days, the nights or the time Trey left Sasha to work for VIPER (Vigilante International Protectors Elite Regiment) as a Belador warrior. Though Trey watched over Sasha during their time apart, Sasha was completely unaware and caught off-guard when he stepped from the shadows.
Fledgling witch Sasha was seeking Kujoo magician, Ekkbar, believing he could help her save her sister though Trey was tracking Sasha out of affection for safety and to ensure Ekkbar minded the tentative truce between their people. Ekkbar was there looking for a way to free himself from a curse that had him living in servitude to a cruel Hindu lord.
This outing was somewhat interesting but more confusing and made this entry seem rushed and incomplete. Luckily for this reader, the bulk of this information is folded into the series as part of a more cohesive tale, it also leads to the opening scene of Blood Trinity.
Overall Rating: 4stars
This extreme short is a few intimate scenes from Alexander and Sara’s marriage. When Sara wants something Alex doesn’t her anger gives him time to think it over very carefully. But she forgot he has gifts. The outing is about them and doesn’t further the overall arc.
Impure vampire Gray Donohue wants three things. One for his sister, Sara, her pureblood husband, Alexander, and his brothers to stop hovering; two, to have purpose and; three to not be a receiver for everyone’s random thoughts anytime they’re near. Now if he can keep Dillon out of his thoughts especially at the wrong time he could enjoy plenty of random sex for a start on his new life.
But Gray’s strike for independence gains him things he doesn’t think he wants. First is a brush with an Impure resistance group then sex is interrupted by thoughts of Dillon and if that wasn’t enough, he gets kidnapped by the Order for blood castration (removal of all desire and ability to reproduce).and learns things about his father that he ever knew before he’s kidnapped again. By Dillon!
At first blush it seems Gray’s wanderings yielded nothing more than a hook-up or two but definitely not so as there’s much more than new additions for his personal steaming pile. This short ensured there’s more than enough to share with the entire family.
Single mom Rachel Stevenson got bad news on her 4 year old son’s latest test results. The chemo didn’t work and with no siblings his best chance at life is for his father to donate his bear shifter bone marrow. But Brady Grant broke Rachel’s heart when he went to the marines and doesn’t know he’s a father. First things first, find Brady, tell him and save their baby.
Brady told Rachel was obligated to join the marines but her logic didn’t accept it. Though Rachel was the first person Brady wanted to see when he got back, their bitter parting made him hesitate. When she shows him their son, Brady guesses he’s the father but walks away in anger. While not a fan of the secret baby trope I never warmed to self-involved, cowardly and whiny Rachel in this rushed read.
Hannah Howell – Highland Blood (MacNachton Vampire #7) – Rating:4stars
One of the two new to me authors here presented a well-written, easy to follow short. The very accurate synopsis leaves this reader with little to say except Adeline and Lachann were fairly well developed with good chemistry in their soft but fast courtship on the run. There was connection to the series in a mention of the Demon Hunter Laird issue though there were missing pieces due to the rapid pacing.
Alexandra Ivy – Taken By Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #7.5) – Rating:3.75stars
London clan vampire chief, desirable Victor, Marquess DeRosa covets witch Juliet Lawrence’s powers and gives chase despite her staunch refusal and the enemy mage that protects her. The plotting felt a bit off for my taste in this dramatic right paced short featuring a subdued Levet in the midst of danger ushering the fated mates to their ultimate destiny and a fitting entry to the series..
Kaitlin O’Riley – Immortal Dreams – Rating:3stars
The second new to me author here introduces beautiful widow Grace Sutton as she’s been haunted by mysterious dreams of a handsome stranger as her mother in law busily tries to marry her off now that she can socialize again. Things begin to fall in place for Grace when she sees her dream man personified in vampire Stuart Phillips, Lord Radcliffe.
Overall Rating: 4stars
This guilty pleasure of a series is back with Austin Rose trying to follow big brother, Jayden’s footsteps and earn a place on the elite DIRE team. In town for Riordan’s wedding and planning to surprise Jayden, when he showed up with Jayden’s fiancé Hope Powers, Austin falls for assassin Belle Mason’s scam.
Belle’s mission to infiltrate the agency for takedown targeting Hope as the link is thrown when she sneaks into a pre-wedding party and sees Austin Raised as an emotionless soldier, Belle works for the mysterious Madam and dreams of building a new life for herself and her sisters and is totally unprepared for Austin’s physical and emotional effect on her and has to choose between him and her sisters.
Though not enhanced and despite Jayden’s protests, Austin’s assigned by Mitchell under DIRE’s aegis to interrogate Belle. While she’s reluctant to just give information to DIRE, Belle’s willing to bargain with Austin for it. All bets are off when Belle finds out Austin lied to her and he really is a DIRE agent.
This free read is available at the author’s website: (http://www.kristenashley.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Rock-Chick-Redux-1.pdf)
This Rock Chick fans only sexy short is a scene from Ally & Ren’s honeymoon that can be read in less than a sitting. For what it is, it’s well done but it’s missable if you aren’t a completist.
ReRead: November 2016/Originally Read: October 2013
Rating: 4 Stars