Needing something quick and easy to read during my commutes to work, I decided to read this anthology which has been sitting on my kindle since late last year. So did this collection make the journeys more pleasurable or did they make me want to jump out of the car?
OF MONSTERS AND MEN by Jocelynn Drake
This was an enjoyable little romp in a series I have yet to pick up. When I found out that there was another short to be read, I jumped at the chance. What I didn’t realise was that this story was set after book one, Angel’s Ink, which I have still to read. Though it was clear I had missed some important developments in the universe, it only made me want to read the book more.
The premise of this short is that the Winter Court is going on the Wild Hunt in woods that are part of the territory of the local werewolf pack. The alpha of the pack requests the help of Gage, the main protagonist of the Asylum Tales series. As you may have read in my reviews of the two novella’s Bronx and Trixie, he is still trying to keep his head down. In this tale, it seems something happened in Angels Ink that has meant he isn’t so under the radar as he would like.
With the help of Trixie (who is now his girlfriend), he manages to help the Werewolves, but not without a huge confrontation against the Winter Court.
This was a brilliant little tale and Drake really does have a knack for giving the reader a lot of bang for their buck. Its a tightly knitted tale, which manages to demonstrate alot about Gage in the limited amount of page space she has available.
I saw a side to Gage that really made me stop and cast aside all comparisons to another wizard I love in this genre. Gage is much more of a man balancing delicatly on the edge of the abyss. When he thinks that the Winter Court has hurt Trixie, who we find out is a fey from the summer court, Gage really does titter on the edge of going apocalyptic on their asses. He realises that he can’t “unlearn” everything the Ivory Tower had taught him; that the temptation to fall into the known ways is just one misstep away.
Whether it could be read as a stand-alone, I can’t really say. Part of me says yes, because I didn’t get lost even though I had not read the first book, but then I was at an advantage because I had read the prequel novella’s. No matter, this was a brilliant read. (4/5)
THE GHOUL NEXT DOOR by Terri Garey
I have mixed feelings about this story. True, I enjoyed it very much and much like Jocelynn Drake, Terri Garey has managed to construct a really interesting and meaty tale, but for me this could easily have been expanded into a full novel.
Cassie, our female lead for she isn’t really a heroine in this tale, decides to use her gifts as a witch to drive out the person who she sees as having stolen her birth right. She sets about breaking down the wall on All Hallows Eve, in order to drive out Falco, the current owner of Cassies childhood home.
However, things don’t go entirely to plan as Cassie breaks one of the sacred oaths by using her power against another being like herself. It turns out that Falco is actually a Warlock.
Both have to call a truce and battle a foe who wants to have both the house and the Grimore that is Cassies, for himself.
There is so much potential in this story that when I finished it, I wanted to know more. There is so much backstory that is left unexplored, especially with Falco and the relationship between Falco’s family and Cassies. Again I do recognise that there is only a limited number of pages available to construct a full storyline. Garey does manage to do this, but this could have easily been a full length novel or even a series. (4/5)
TRICK OR TREATHEN by Caris Roane
This was the weakest out of the three. While The Ghoul Next Door was an enjoyable read, this was one where the heroine really grated on my nerves. She bounds blindly into a situation with little regard of the consequences.
The setting is a world very similar to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, where vampires are out in the open and are living alongside humans.
Jenna, our female lead in the story breaks into one of local vampire nests in order to get its Master Treyne to help her find her sister. She believes another Master has kidnapped her. Jenna thinks this happened at Treynes club and she wants him to help her get in.
For a story with a pretty interesting hook, it holds very little substance with most of the story taken up with the bedroom antics between Treyne and Jenna. Though Jenna doesn’t really like vampires, even more so after her is kidnapped. True, she dislikes Treyne less than others but she still holds some prejudices against him. This is all overridden by a bond that seems to connect Jenna and Treyne.
I must admit that there are some really well written steamy scenes in this book, especially since it is a short novella. My main criticism is that the short doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It is neither a satisfying Urban Fantasy nor Paranormal Romance. Again, it may have been better as a full length novel in order to give the writer the flexibility to build up the unwanted attraction between the two leads. Then the disappearance of Jenna’s sister could have been built a better. As another review commented, both Jenna and Treyne spent more time in bed with each other rather than the more pressing matter of saving Jenna’s sister.
I do have one of Roane’s novels books on my TBR, Born of Ashes. I would be interested to see if she can write a satisfying read. This short won’t put me off of reading it, I’m just a bit more wary. (2.5/5)
The shorts in this novel do show the potential each author has and overall I did enjoy them. However, I can’t help feeling that with Roane and Garey, the limited length they had meant that their full potential was not displayed.
In the case of Garey, I know that she can write a great novel as I have read Devil Without A Cause and I really enjoyed it. So if you do like this short, then I suggest you should pick that up.
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