I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight , as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.
In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella, Magic Steals , when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.
From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.
It’s seer Makenna Frazier's first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms .
This was a fun little collection of urban fantasy/paranormal romance fiction. I especially enjoyed the Ilona Andrews and the Lisa Shearin contributions. Their writings are consistently on target with my reading tastes. The Nalini Singh story is also exactly what one would expect from her, a little too skewed to the romance end of the scale for my reading taste, but her fans will undoubtedly get what they are looking for.
The interesting offering in my opinion is the Milla Vane story--shades of Robert E. Howard! This is Conan the Barbarian meets his Warrior Princess version and they struggle for supremacy! (Not that Howard wrote weak women--and the limitations of his time meant that he couldn’t detail their physical relationship in his stories the way Vane does). It’s obvious that Ms. Vane has appreciated Howard’s work and probably Fritz Leiber’s as well, classics of the sword & sorcery genre. The major shift is that this story is told from a strong female point of view--Mala decides what she is and isn’t willing to put up with from her Barbarian-to-be. It could have fallen flat, but for me it didn’t. But if sex on the page makes you uncomfortable, you will squirm while reading this gritty story. Mind you, if that makes you uncomfortable, you will not have made it this far in the book!
The Andrews story details the romance between Jim Shropshire and Dali Haurimau, in delightful fashion. I had never liked Jim all that much in the Kate Daniels series, but I’m due for a re-read in the near future and will see him quite differently now (and I will see Hugh D’Ambray differently after reading Iron and Magic).
The Lucky Charms story by Lisa Shearin is the introduction to her SPI Files series. It might have been fun to have read it before plunging into The Grendel Affair, but she didn’t write in any details that were crucial to understanding that first novel. (Completely unlike Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, where if you missed the initial short story, you ended up confused as heck during Cry Wolf).
All in all, a pleasant and fun offering by four talented authors.