The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook
A Tale of the Iron Seas – While the search for a killer puts Constable Newberry’s life in danger, he faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?
I haven’t read The Iron Duke much to the chagrin of many of my steampunk/romance loving friends. While I’ve read some steampunk that I really like, most books in this genre have to come highly recommended before I’ll take the plunge. The Iron Duke falls into the “highly recommended” category so I really have no excuse as to why I haven’t read it. After reading The Blushing Bounder I will remedy that soon.
The world in this story just popped! Although I haven’t read Iron Duke and am not familiar with the world, I was able to jump right into this novella with no problems at all. I want to use words like lush, vibrant, and crisp. From the moment I started to read this world came alive. I’m not always able to clearly visualize an unfamiliar setting and when an author can set me firmly in their world seemingly effortlessly, I love it.
The mystery and romance in the story were middle of the road for me. I wasn’t overwhelmed with Oh.Em.Gee but I found the characters likable, and the romance was quite emotional touching. However I think the real strength is in the world building and vibrant setting.
Vixen by Jill Myles
Miko’s denied her were-fox nature for far too long and turned her back on her vixen heritage. But when she meets two very sexy cat-shifters, she has to decide if she truly wants to give up on her frisky side, or embrace it. Because the were-fox in her doesn’t want to choose between both men…it wants them both.
Miko is a fox shifter who, by nature feels compelled have sex with every man she is around for any period of time. She has made a conscious decision to deny her nature so she lives in a lonely house in the woods. Two hot men show up on her doorstep sent by her vixen mother to protect her from fox hunters. By that evening they find themselves playing strip poker and the teasing and sexual tension abounds. Bow-chicca-wow-wow. I kept waiting for the bisexual pizza delivery boy to ring the bell. Wait, that would have been super hot!
This story was my least favorite in the anthology simply because it was the least original. It’s sandwiched between two very creative alternate worlds and this one didn’t offer up anything new or exciting in the way of shifter romance. It’s light and predictable but once I got passed the bow-chicca-wow-wow set up, I found that I did enjoy this story. The sex is hot, and relationship does come around to something more than meaningless sex with the promise of a romantic future for the three protagonists. All in all, a very sexy quick read.
“Kitten-tiger & the Monk” by Carolyn Crane
A Disillusionists Novella – Sophia Sidway, Midcity’s most dangerous memory revisionist, seeks out the mysterious Monk in the wasteland beneath the Tangle turnpike, hoping for redemption…but it turns out that the Monk is not all that pious, and the turnpike is no turnpike at all.
I am a fan(atic) of the Disillusionist series have been eagerly awaiting another installment after we were left with a bit of a cliff hanger in Double Cross. This story does not address the cliffhanger from the previous book but this little morsel was enough to tide me over until I can get my proper Disillusionist fix. This was my favorite story in the anthology.
Sophia and Robert have a romantic history that ended badly when Sophia betrayed Robert years ago. Now, years later they are reunited under unusual circumstances. Sophia is a memory revisionist and is associated with local criminals. She suffers from guilt over the things she’s done and for how she betrayed Robert and is looking for some personal redemption. So she seeks out the Monk who is able to ‘reset’ people so to speak. He can use his talent to erase a criminal’s mind so that they can start over with no memory of their criminal past. But Sophia does not realize that Robert is the Monk and she seeks redemption from the very man she betrayed.
I really liked the characters in this story but then I do tend to like my characters flawed. Sophia is bad, but she wants to be good and start over. Robert is a bit of a mess and having Sophia waltz back into his life, knowing she wouldn’t hesitate to betray him again, doesn’t seem to detract from his attraction to her. I really enjoyed the way the romance was rekindled between these two.
I don’t want to give too much away about the Tangle turnpike and Robert’s role in its management but I will say that this novella was well written and the world it is set in is absolutely fascinating. Even if you have not read the Disillustionist series I don’t believe you will have any trouble jumping right into this world and getting a good feel for the setting and characters. Carolyn Crane writes a very unique, quirky alternate world and you get a nice little sample of that in this novella.
To sum up
All in all I think this anthology did exactly what it was supposed to do. It provided three entertaining stories and made me want more from all three authors. Well done.
Wild and Steamy – Anthology
August 3rd 2011