Hot Blooded, an anthology

>> Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It seems like a bit of a waste to buy an anthology for just one story, but that's what I did with Hot Blooded. I got this one only because it had a story by Emma Holly.

The first story was Dark Hunger (excerpt), by Christine Feehan.

In a dark jungle, a beautiful activist liberates animals from a secret laboratory—and stumbles across an unexpected prisoner releases the Carpathian from his bonds—only to unleash his voracious appetite on herself…
Same old, same old. I know already that I don't like Feehan, I shouldn't have wasted my time, but I'm still stupid enough that I feel guilty if I leave a story unread in an anthology. The same uber-alpha hero, who has almost unlimited powers, the same "You're mine" relationship, the same very disturbing mind-rape element...

That said, this particular entry was slightly better than the other ones I've read, since the hero actually tells the heroine that maybe, possibly, he should have considered her feelings and her plans for her life before he bonded her to him (or whatever it was that he did). Oh, joy! Still, this was a D for me.

The second story was my least favourite of the whole anthology. It was Awaiting Sunrise by Maggie Shayne.

A science professor enters the steamy bayou to find a new species of animal, convinced that its presence is behind the stories of lycanthropy in the region, but finds herself tempted by a legendary creature straight out of her most sensual nightmare…
The story starts really bad, totally surreal. And I say surreal not because the heroine is attacked by a warewolf, but because she then goes to a doctor who basically sexually harasses her and she seems to see nothing wrong in that. This is not a "hmmm, is that expression in his eyes sexual interest? Or am I imagining things" situation. No, the guy basically paws at her breasts and grabs at her nipples. And the nitwit simply feels no outrage about it, never even thinks how utterly inappropriate his behaviour was. And then the guy's excuse, later on, is that she releases the beast in him, or some such rot.

I'm afraid the characters never recovered from this, as far as I'm concerned, and I simply couldn't relate to them at all. Add to this a villain who is considerate enought to write out detailed plans of what he means to do, and keeps them locked inside a regular, easy to unlock drawer. "Jennifer Rose is the best I've ever seen, the best I've ever worked with. But I must never let her believe I support her theories. In fact I need to prove them wrong, discredit her, even while I use her to lead me to what I need." Is this ridiculous or what? A D-.

Luckily, when I was thinking this anthology would hit the wall, I came across the third story, The Night Owl by Emma Holly. Ahhh, now that's more like it!!!

Little ever seems to stir in the sleepy woods of a small Vermont town, until a new owner takes over the exclusive local inn. He is centuries old and has traveled far and wide to find his queen—and now nothing will stop him from claiming her…
Excellent, just excellent. A really sweet, wonderful hero who's seriously sexy and charming, and who is knocked on his ass by how much he loves the heroine. And a heroine who's a refreshingly normal person.

The love scenes blew the top of my head off. Whereas in the first two stories I found them a bit icky, here they were steamy hot. I also liked that there was little plot in here, the story was mostly focused on the characters. My grade: an A.

The last story was the most complex, Seduction's Gift by Angela Knight.

All's fair in the war between desire and resistance when a lady cop pulls over a speeder—and finds an immortal lover who is determined to seduce her into accepting her own passionate destiny!
The very uninformative summary above doesn't give a clue about the complex mythology involved in this story. Basically, the knights of the Round Table were vampires/Magi and they are still undead. Their mission in life is to save the world. Their have had children all over the place over the last 1600 years, and these descendants carry inside them a Gift, which from what I could understand is the potential to become Majae (female) or Magi (male) themselves. To come into their power, they have to have sex a few times (at least three) with a Maja or Magus of the opposite sex (a bit cheesy, I know). I've probably made a couple of mistakes, but that's basically it.

So, our hero is Lancelot du Lac and our heroine is Grace Morgan, a descendant of Morgana. Lancelot's mission is to awaken Grace's gift, but Grace wants nothing to do with it. Simple.

I was amazed at how well Knight managed to set up her world and mythology in a very short story, and not overwhelm me with information. Yes, a couple of scenes felt a little clumsy, like Lance sitting in while a new recruit is given information, but mostly, it was good.

The romance itself was pretty nice, too, though I might have liked Grace to be a little less powerless faced with Lancelot's power. She's had a crush on him forever, he has supernatural strength... a bit too much. Still, pretty good.

My grade: a B+. I'd love to read more

A bit of an uneven anthology, my grade for it is a B-, just because I liked the Emma Holly story so much!


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