Four mistresses of romantic fiction come together in one fantastic anthology featuring four riveting paranormal tales. I was already a fan of Angela Knight, Emma Holly and Lora Leigh, but Beyond the Dark was the first chance I have yet had to experience Diane Whiteside's talent. In my honest opinion, each of the stories in this collection has earned Kwips' highest rating of five Klovers!
~Dragon Dance by Angela Knight~
Random humans have developed inexplicable paranormal abilities. The change comes upon them without warning, and for many, they never recover from the madness that accompanies the transition period. Hostage negotiator Arial Dean is called in to talk down one such `Hyper', as they are called, in a standoff that threatens not only the man's wife and children, but every living being in the vicinity. It will take the combined efforts of Arial and the mysterious man known only as Tracker to subdue this dangerous new Hyper.
Angela Knight recently became one of my favorite authors, and I have been greatly anticipating this story from her! Dragon Dance in no way disappointed me. This story has several twists that I did not anticipate but which greatly ramped up my excitement for this story when each was revealed. I guess I am trying to say that it got better and better with each page! LOL Of course, it was captivating from page one, with characters that leapt off the page, immediately engendering a feeling of familiarity for them, and definitely a strong empathy.
As can be expected from an author who has affectionately described her work as `blatant smut', Dragon Dance has some blazing hot love scenes between Arial and Tracker! Of course, simply calling this story blatant smut would do this talented author a disservice. Without the emotion Ms. Knight effortlessly wrings from her characters, it would simply be sex. But Knight has written a true love story, with all the romantic passion guaranteed to satisfy any romance reader.
~Caught by the Tides by Diane Whiteside~
It is 1803 and England remains on guard for threat from Napoleon Bonaparte. Both the French and the English employ the use of powerful mages with the ability to control the elements and more in their battles. Owen Bentham is just such a King's Mage, in service to England. As he carries an imperative message that can change the tide of the war, the enemy calls a storm that leaves him near dead.
When Emma finds the handsome man washed up on her beach, she recognizes him as a King's Mage by the ring he wears, and knows that her duty to help him goes beyond simple human kindness, but is a duty to her country. But in caring for Owen, she finds herself caught in the midst of the fight, an unexpected but significant pawn that the traitorous mage will do anything to control. In order to foil the traitor and help Owen succeed in his mission, she must give everything she is to Owen.
As I said previously, Caught by the Tides is the first time I have read anything by Diane Whiteside, and made me oh so glad I have two more of her books waiting on my book shelf right now! Ms. Whiteside writes with a skill that draws the reader in to the story as if they were experiencing it for themselves instead of turning pages in a book.
The author's magical take on the Napoleonic wars was an absolute delight! I am not usually drawn to stories about wars, especially true historical events, but the paranormal element added an extra `oomph' to this story that made me forget this may not be my typical reading choice. Of course, the focus of the story is really on the battle between the two mages as well as Emma's and Owen's romance, with the Napoleonic threat as more of a backdrop.
At every turn, the noble Emma is ready to perform her duty to her country and King, especially when it involves Owen. No matter what he needs, she is willing to give to him, and it soon becomes apparent to both the reader and Emma herself that this is out of more than her `duty'.
Indeed, it is Owen's own past that inhibits him from accepting Emma's assistance in full until the time is critical. Having been used and hurt in the past, he is wary of opening himself fully to another. In the end, he does what he must, and finds deep down, he trusts the lovely Emma above all others with everything he has, heart and soul.
Caught by the Tides was a magnificent introduction to Diane Whiteside's work, and I cannot wait to read more from her very soon!
~Queen of all She Surveys by Emma Holly~
Once again, Queen Tou has won the latest battle between herself and King Ravna. This time, she has taken his surviving warriors hostage, demanding he ransom them for his own son, the legendary Prince Memnon. It is said that King Ravna has been touched by the gods, and his son is rumored to have inherited his father's insatiable lust. Unlike his father, however, Prince Memnon indulges himself only once a month, when the need becomes too great to control.
Queen Tou has also been blessed by the gods with eternal youth, but has been left with a raging sexual need that requires a harem of men to sate her each night. Her new husband, Prince Memnon, is not a man willing to share, but can he satisfy her needs in full by himself? More importantly, can the son of her enemy truly be trusted in her bed and her heart?
No matter the genre she is writing in, Emma Holly never fails to spin a fascinating tale full of some very memorable love scenes. But no matter how wild the sex, she always manages to infuse the scene with a great deal of true caring. Consequently, the sex scenes never come across as gratuitous but instead an expression of love between the characters involved.
Despite her heightened sexual appetite, Queen Tou only chooses men for her harem that she truly cares for. As such, I would not consider her promiscuous, despite her numerous sexual encounters. Especially since everything changes when she meets the irresistible Prince Memnon. Once she touches him, she desires no other, and so begins their love story.
Prince Memnon is a man consumed by worry over his own appetites, having never met a woman who can handle his sex drive when fully unleashed. In Queen Tou, he is more than surprised to find a woman he can respect, love, and with whom he can completely let himself go.
~In a Wolf's Embrace by Lora Leigh~
A Breed male often recognizes his mate the moment he first sees her or scents her. Matthias Slaughter recognized Grace Anderson's importance to him the moment he first met her, but knew he couldn't act on his feelings until his mission was complete. Fate has a way of taking decisions out of your hands, however, and when Grace accidentally witnesses Matthias assassinating her boss, an evil Council Scientist, Matthias has no choice but to take her with him.
Sequestered in a secluded cabin together, Matthias sets out to woo his little mate, explaining why he'd been assigned to terminate her employer. He is determined to allow her to choose him instead of forcing the Mating Heat on her, but his own hormones become difficult to control.
Grace knows she should run far away from this dangerous man, but something about him pulls at her, preventing her from denying him. Soon, their close proximity will break their control, binding them forever in a way that will consume them both.
Anyone who follows my reviews has probably figured out that Lora Leigh is at the top of my list of favorite authors. This woman cannot miss. It is evident in every book she releases that she cares passionately about both her characters and their stories and her imagination knows no limit.
Although sexy beyond belief, Matthias Slaughter is probably the hardest, most daunting Breed male we have yet met in the Breeds saga. The man is beyond hardcore, dedicated to eradicating the evil that spawned the Breeds and now threatens their very existence. It is just his luck to meet his own mate on just such a mission. How ironic that the kind, soft-hearted Grace should be his mate. But it is just those qualities that gentle him, and he fights his very nature to allow her the freedom of choice so important to her.
Grace proves a godsend to the intimidating assassin. With her sweet demeanor and open heart, she easily softens his own. And once she finds her way into his heart and soul, she teaches him how to enjoy life to its fullest instead of just surviving.
In a Wolf's Embrace is an outstanding addition to Leigh's Breeds series, and a story that will stay in my heart for a long time to come. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried more than once during this sweet and sexy romance, and I highly recommend grabbing a box of tissue before you sit down to read your own copy!
Series Order (NY books only):
Megan's Mark (The Breeds, Book 1) (Berkley Sensation)
Harmony's Way (The Breeds, Book 2)
Tanner's Scheme (The Breeds, Book 3)
Dawn's Awakening (The Breeds, Book 4)
Hot Spell (The Guardians, Book 1) (The Breed Next Door) (The Countess's Pleasure) (The Blood Kiss)(Falling For Anthony)
Beyond the Dark
Shifter (Berkley Sensation)