Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review of Anthology Wild & Steamy by Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, and Carolyn Crane

This anthology is a quick read by three outstanding authors, and priced at $0.99, it’s a steal! I highly recommend it! 
The Blushing Bounder (Iron Seas #0.4) by Meljean Brook
I love, love, love Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series, so I was thrilled to read this prequel about Constable Newberry, Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth’s trusty assistant. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s set in a steampunk world in London. You can easily delve right into the novella without having read any of the other books, although I think you’ll enjoy the novella more if you have read the others. The story begins in the small flat of Temperance Newberry, an immigrant from what used to be the United States. She and Constable Edward Newberry have recently married, because he compromised her by kissing her. If that seems a bit prudish to you, you’re not alone, because it strikes Detective Inspector Wentworth as outlandish. Temperance is consumptive, and her husband moved them to London to have her infected with bugs, microscopic machines that will heal her. Thus far she’s refused to be infected, since she’s terrified of becoming a zombie after death. However, she witnesses a murder, and in the course of Newberry’s investigation, she learns to broaden her mind. This novella was a pleasure to read and a great introduction to the steampunk genre.
Vixen by Jill Myles
This novella features Miko, a kitsune, or, as she prefers, were-fox. She’s an artist living out in the countryside in an attempt to avoid her were-fox nature.  Were-foxes have voracious sexual appetites, but after witnessing her mother’s constant stream of boyfriends and lovers, Miko has decided to suppress that aspect of her nature by avoiding temptation. Her mother has other plans, however, and sends two sexy cat shifters, Jeremiah and Sam, to serve as bodyguards. It seems that Miko’s cousin was recently hunted in a fox hunt, and her mother’s worried that Miko could be next. That the two cat shifters are very attracted to Miko is just a side benefit. A cute shifter ménage story.
Kitten-tiger & the Monk (Disillusionists #2.5) by Carolyn Crane
What I most enjoy about Ms. Crane’s Disillusionist triology is the moral ambiguity. You just never know if a character is the bad guy or the good. The answer, of course, is that no one is truly one or the other, so her novels make for exciting reading, because you don’t know who to trust. The ending of her second novel, Double Cross, was a shocker, so I was pleased to see this novella since the third book won’t be published until December. I wasn’t pleased, though, when I saw that Sophia Sidway was the heroine of this novella. If you haven’t read the books, you’ll still be able to understand the novella, but you probably won’t hate Sophia quite the way I did. In fact, my reaction to Sophia’s dilemma in the novella was somewhere along the lines of “Die, Witch, Die!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!” Of course, I had to eat my words, because in a short novella, Ms. Crane managed to convince me that Sophia is not completely good but she’s also not as bad as I originally thought. Once again there’s more of that pesky moral ambiguity, which makes for a fascinating read, even if I’m a bit disgruntled about her salvaging Stinky Sophia.
In the novella, Sophia has been sent by the leader of the Disillusionists to another member of the team, the Monk. Sophia needs the Monk’s help so she can find the Tanglemaster. She’s sick of herself and wants the Tanglemaster to disillusion her (and he would have had my blessing, that’s for sure!). Sophia’s stunned to discover that the Monk is none other than Robert, her teenage sweetheart, whom she cruelly betrayed years ago. How the situation is resolved, plus the history behind the couple, make this one a winner.

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