This was my first time reading works by these authors, with the exception of Tami Dane, whose book Blood of Eden I reviewed a few weeks ago on FVBR. For one of the authors – Angie Fox – it will not be my last … the others didn’t fare as well.
Reviews are in the order that the stories appear in the book. There were four stories in all, each about 90-100 pages long and with the exception of the last, they were all PNRs (the last one wasn’t romance). As the title suggests, they all involve werewives, which was another first for me: I’m relatively new to PNR in general (can only say that for so long, I know) and these were my first werewolf stories.
All the stories take place in these rich Stepford-like neighborhoods, so whether they were co-existing or not, whether they had the same werewolf-mythology rules or not – I was a little confused on both scores. Finally, while I did love the title (because those horrible, ridiculous, make-me-feel-smart-for-just-breathing Bravo shows are a guilty-pleasure of mine), the “Vampire County” part had me a bit confused, since vampires are not the common species throughout the stories – but minor detail … I guess.
“Where Darkness Lives” by Alexandra Ivy
On the whole, the story wasn’t bad. I liked the heroine, Sophia, who is normally not really my type. She’s the perfect looks, big-boobed, bombshell sexy, every-guy-wants-to-do-her and is-a-bitch-and-loves it type. I liked her straightforwardness though and though she was definitely aware of all of the above, she never came off as egotistical. I don’t really know what to say about the hero, Luc. He seems like a great guy, but we don’t really get to know him very much. The greatest thing that sticks in my mind is his amazingly hot speedo-wearing bronzed bod …
Which leads me to my biggest complaint: the entire thing was pure lust. Short stories have a tough line to toe, I know, but this was so over-the-top and constant that it got on my nerves. From the first instant Sophia and Luc see one another, they want to jump in the sack, which is fine, but honestly – seriously, I dare you to count, because I think this is factually accurate – every single other thought they have is about wanting to rip off clothing, spread out on the kitchen table, roll over one another in bed, press skin against skin, lick and kiss and yeah – you get the picture. It was so oppressive that it stopped me from being able to enjoy anything else about the story.
There is a “mystery,” but it seemed a little random and out of place. I was also confused by several aspects of the world building, but this was my first ever werewolf story, so at the time I thought there were maybe some common things across all of them that I just hadn’t learned yet (apparently is not the case).
“Murder on Mysteria Lane” by Angie Fox
I really, really enjoyed this story! The setup is of a murder investigation that pairs up Heather, kind-of-outcast werewolf and master interrogator, with Lucien, sexy vampire sleuth. The actual mystery was interesting and didn’t seem randomly thrown in, but the main enjoyment for me was definitely Heather and Lucien’s relationship. I loved the back-and-forth between them and the playfulness. They are setup as opposites, which is a favorite pairing of mine, and it was nice to see Heather slowly believe that someone like Lucien was actually interested in her.
Heather was a fantastic heroine and I definitely felt that I had more of a feeling for her than for Lucien, though I’m sure this was not helped by the fact that the entire thing is told in first person from her perspective. She’s a real spitfire, kick-ass heroine with a definite attitude, and while once or twice it came off as crossing the line into immaturity, the other times it was a joy to read and had me chuckling. I loved Lucien’s sweetness and tenderness with her, especially when contrasted with her tough exterior.
I again was confused a little by some of the world building, but this being another werewolf story, maybe this was due to my previous inexperience with this subgenre/species. There was a lot about the pack, which I didn’t totally get, and since Heather’s kind-of-outsider status is a big part of her, I wish that I had better understood that.
All in all a terrific read though, with some stellar dialogue, laugh-out-loud scenes, and very hot, smoking chemistry. This last surprised me, because with so few pages it’s hard to build a both heated and believable connection between the characters, but the much more subtle heat in this story had me warming up far more than the blatant and constant mention of sex in Ivy’s short story, “Where Darkness Lives.”
One of My Favorite Exchanges from “Murder on Mysteria Lane”:
“What?” I demanded. He had a funny look on his face. Like he’d swallowed a bug. “Lay it on me. What else did I do wrong?”
“Nothing,” he choked. So much for honesty. How long had that lasted – five minutes? He cleared his throat, his gaze positively feral. Holy heck. Was he going to sink his fangs into me?
My pulse quickened and I took a careful step toward the door. “There’d better be some law against biting your partner.”
“I will not bite you,” he said, his voice rough.
“Then why are you looking at me like I’m the main course?”
“A thousand pardons,” he said, breathy. He’d even taken on a slight Spanish accent. “Your decision to disrobe was most unexpected.”
What did the guy want? I’d kept on my red thong. God, I couldn’t wait to get back to the pack where I could run around naked in peace.
“Werewolves in Chic Clothing” by Tami Dane
I did not enjoy the Tami Dane story. Her writing is a little over the top sometimes and I did not feel a connection with the characters. It’s told in first-person from the perspective of the heroine and she was too wishy-washy for me, plus the only thing we really see about her relationship with the hero is that they’re sexually attracted to one another – oh, and that he’s gorgeous and rich of course, other than that, I don’t feel like we learned much more.
I can’t even remember either of their names, which is definitely never a good sign. The basic story setup is that they met through an online dating site, have been seeing one another for five months with him flying out to NYC to see her, and now she’s moving in with him and his 12-year-old son – yes, without having even met the boy before, as far as I could tell. Definitely a no-no in my mind.
The hero’s wife died a couple of years ago and she doesn’t know much of the details, but when the women in the neighborhood (who were also friends with said wife) start hinting that her new hubby is the one responsible for her death, the heroine starts to question their still-new relationship and whether she really knows the man she’s going to marry. From the get-go, this part of the plot made absolutely no sense, starting with the wives’ suspicions, which seemed to pop up out of the blue and come and go with the tide.
I had the same problem with this story as I did with Dane’s novel Blood of Eden, the story tried to go in too many different directions and in the end feels like a low-budget horror film. I was also never really clear on “the mystery” in the sense that I didn’t understand why that had happened. This may have been due to my werewolf-ignorance, but it should have been explained by the author either way, IMO.
“What’s Yours is Mine” by Jess Haines
This story had me a bit confused. It wasn’t romance,which I guess it didn’t have to be, but that was what I had been expecting. What was very bizarre was that there was no heroine or hero – actually, no one really likable at all!
There are four women who make up there “werewives” of the story: Cassandra, Alexis, Vera, and Heather. When a new woman, Tiffany Winters, moves to town who seems interested in joining the pack, the usual dance begins of whether she’s a good fit, whether they want to allow her into their illustrious circle, and whether she really is who she says she is – or does she have hidden motives for her apparent-werewolf interest?
None of the characters were likable or even particularly entertaining or funny, so there wasn’t much to enjoy. The one thing I did like was the twist at the end, but it wasn’t worth reading just for that. Despite the four women being presented as standard “rich bitches,” they still seemed very wishy-washy to me and were not even intriguing in their bitchiness; there was absolutely nothing compelling about them or their story.
Sadly, other than the second story by Angie Fox, this book can definitely be skipped. I really did like “Murder on Mysteria Lane” and will be checking out Fox’s backlist, but none of the others won me over. Great as Fox’s story was, one out of four does not an enticing-book-buy make.