Wild Thing anthology

>> Tuesday, July 10, 2007

TITLE: Wild Thing
AUTHORS: Maggie Shayne, Meljean Brook , Marjorie M. Liu and Alyssa Day

PAGES: 394

TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: 3 out of 4 stories are part of series. Meljean Brook's story is the third in the Guardians series, Marjorie Liu's is the first in a new series and Alyssa Day's is second in the Warriors of Poseidon series. I believe the Shayne stands alone, but I could be wrong and it could be 4 out of 4.

REASON FOR READING: I was dying to read the Meljean Brook story, so when she offered to send it to me, I went "YES, YES, YES and YES, please." Well, actually, I first told her I would be perfectly happy to get it as e-ARC, but Meljean said she knew I liked Marjorie M. Liu, so better to send me the actual book so I could read that story as well. Wasn't that incredibly thoughtful?

New York Times bestselling authors Maggie Shayne and Marjorie M. Liu, and sizzling newcomers Alyssa Day and Meljean Brook discover the wild instinct in everyone with four all-new stories of feral heat. Fans will get swept away by the passions in the unfathomable depths of Atlantis; they'll follow the shadows that stalk both the living and the undead in a world of vampires and guardian angels; they'll enter the forbidden world of the demon horde and their willing victims; and they'll be privy to the secrets of a beautiful animal-whisperer who's drawn closer to the most suspect of all male animals-man.
I didn't exactly read the stories in order (I still have trouble giving myself permission to NOT read a story in an anthology at all, but my inner dictator has now relented a bit and lets me go straight to the one I most want to read), but that's how I'm presenting them below.

The first was by Maggie Shayne, titled Animal Magnetism.

A hot cop trying to solve a string of rapes in his hometown; a lady vet who can talk to animals--including the dog who can identify the rapist; a desperate man who needs to silence them both.
Unfortunately, I didn't remember just how much I'd hated this author's story in the Hot Blooded anthology, otherwise I might have convinced that inner dictator to give me a pass. Animal Magnetism was an improvement over that one, but that's not saying much.

The story itself is not bad. The execution is pretty ho-hum, but the plot did have possibilities. I mean, a woman who can communicate with animals and is shown the face of a serial rapist by the latest victim's dog? Interesting! And the hero was quite nice.

But the heroine! I intensely disliked Macy. I always say how I like bitchy heroines, but I guess that isn't exactly true. I like heroines who are not afraid to stand up for herselves for fear people will think them bitchy. I like strong, decisive, proactive women. I don't like bitchy people. There's a difference, and Macy belongs to the latter category. She treats people badly for no reason. She's rude and inconsiderate, and I'd probably be very tempted to deck her if I were to meet her in real life.

She does mellow a bit as the story goes on, but sorry, I wanted the hero to run in the opposite direction. I didn't see why he loved her and I actually didn't see why she loved him either. The former because she's such a major bitch, the latter because I have no idea who this man was.


Second in the book, but the first to be read by me: Meljean Brook 's Paradise.

Lucas Marsden has faced nosferatu before and survived, but he doesn't know how to defeat the demon who hunts the vampires in his community...

But he knows exactly what he wants from the beautiful Guardian sent to protect them.
I didn't start reading this story with extremely high expectations. After reading the short story that was the introduction to the series and the two full-length books, I got the impression that MB does best with plenty of space to do justice to her complex worldbuilding and in-depth characterization. Plus, there was this review at AAR...

Well, I suppose having read the rest of the series makes all the difference, because I loved this story. It might even have been better to have read Demon Moon before I read Paradise, because there was a lot about vampires that I already knew and wasn't seeing for the first time. To my eyes, this was simply a lovely romance with an excellently done external plot, set in a world I already knew well. But yeah, I suspect that for someone for whom this story is an introduction to the Guardians universe, trying to understand the rules of this very unique world might distract them from enjoying the story.

So, what did I like? The characters, especially. I hadn't really got much of a feel for Selah in Demon Angel, but I did now. After reading this story,I know exactly who she is, and I know exactly who Lucas is. They're very much individual, unique characters, each with their personality and issues, and MB succeeded in showing a very real connection between them. I totally got why these two particular persons would fall in love with each other. They fit together, both mentally and physically.

Also excellent: the story outside Lucas and Selah's relationship was pretty simple and straightforward (for MB *g*), which fit the short length well, and I was almost as interested in it as in the romance.

GRADE: A very strong B+

The anthology continues with Hunter Kiss, by Marjorie M. Liu.

...the introduction to a brand new urban fantasy series about a woman whose body is covered in living tattoos -her own personal demons to call on when the sun goes down, who both protect her life, and are destined to end it.
HK is very clearly an introduction to these characters and their universe, but Liu manages to present a perfectly satisfying romance and story, while making it clear that this is just the beginning.

Maxine's mission and the story behind the tattoos are a fascinating premise, and she's a very intriguing character. In fact, both she and Grant Cooperon, the former priest with whom she falls in love, are great characters. We don't get to go in too deep into their issues and personalities, but this story made me very anxious to read a full-length book about them.

GRADE: Another B+.

Finally, Wild Hearts in Atlantis, by new-to-me author Alyssa Day

Bastien can't believe Prince Conlan sent him to be the liaison to the Florida panther shape-shifter coalition. He's a warrior, not a politician. To make matters worse, the only woman who has ever seen behind the mask of calm he presents to the world is a half-breed shape-shifter—sworn enemies to the Atlantean defenders of humanity. But old alliances may be changing . . .
As I mentioned above, this is the second entry in a series. Day did well in explaining her universe without ever making me feel lost, but she never did succeed in fully capturing my interest.

The former is quite a feat, given that there are different factions in conflict -vampires, humans, shapeshifters-, plus those people from Atlantis, which include a group of Warriors charged with protecting humanity. Our hero is one of them, and he's sent on a mission as a go-between between his people and the shifters. The heroine, half-human, half-shifter, and not able to actually take her animal form (therefore teased and bullied by everyone), is his contact, and together they're to stop a horrible plot.

Could be good (especially because the hero is pretty interesting... a guy convinced that he's not particularly smart), but it never engaged me. I think my problem was how completely unsubtle it all was. It felt pretty campy, but the author wrote it all very seriously. I ended up fighting the temptation to skim.

GRADE: C+ for this one, with bonus points for clear world-building.

GRADE FOR THE WHOLE THING: Two excellent stories and two more or less average ones. I'll round up and give this a B.


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