Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Love at First Bite

I love Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series –and I’m on board to read just about anything she writes; which led me to the anthology Love at First Bite

Kenyon’s offering “Until Death Do Us Part,” focuses on the Dark Hunter Velkan and his long estranged love Esperetta.  Retta was the daughter of Vlad Tepesh (yes, Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula.)  She fell in love with Velkan when he rescued her from a band of killers and rapists hundreds of years ago. They married, and Velkan tied their souls together for eternity with magic. Because of a longstanding feud between their houses, the realized they would have to fake their deaths to escape their families.  (Think Romeo and Juliet.)  Only thing is, Velkan didn’t think the plan would work. So he helped Retta fake her death and then turned himself over to her father, planning to have Retta’s body snuck away so she could get a chance at a new life.

Obviously, that didn’t work out. When Vlad came to claim Velkan, in his anger, he killed his daughter for real –then killed Velkan.  Velkan’s soul screamed out for vengeance and Artemis made him a Dark Hunter, so that he could kill Vlad.  But because he had tied their souls together, when Velkan came back to life, so did Retta. She goes back to her home just in time to see Velkan kill her father –and she believes he betrayed her. And for the past several hundred years, she has hated him for it.  This story shows how they get back together, overcoming the misunderstandings between them, and rekindling the passion that never really died. Not the best story in the Dark Hunter world, but it was good and I enjoyed it.  (They can’t all be Dance With the Devil.)

The second story was “Ride the Night Wind,” from LA Banks and is apparently an offshoot on her Vampire Huntress Series. This is the first thing I’ve ever read from LA Banks and I did not enjoy it. The story focused on a young man named Jose who meets his destined love Juanita. They are being hunted by demons and are both going to become instrumental in the fight against of evil. This is clearly a backstory to two people who are relevant in the current series. But it took me a long time to understand what was going on. The slang and grammar were frankly horrible. And the biggest sin for me: the ending was not happy. I finished this story feeling like I had been sucker punched and I wish I would have skipped it.

The third story is “The Gift,” from the Companion series written by Susan Squires. I wasn’t familiar with her either. And it took me a little while to get into this story, but I did, eventually. Our hero, Davie Ware, is a human called to help some good vampires defeat some bad vampires in Casablanca back in the 1800′s. That would be hard enough on the guy, but it’s made even worse by the fact that he had recently escaped a female vampire who had held him as a sex slave and tortured him… AND he had to leave on this mission the very day he had planned to propose to his love, Emma. Davie sacrifices himself and his future to do the right thing. But Emma doesn’t give up on him and follows him, hoping for a future. I liked this one and may check out the Companion series after reading it.

The last story was “The Forgotten One” from Ronda Thompson and I loved this one. It featured Anne, an 1800′s lady who wants to shake up her staid life. Enter Merrick, the new stablemaster. There is an undeniable attraction between the two. But a relationship seems impossible because of the difference in their social station. Complicating matters further, it seems Merrick is also a werewolf. In a very short time, I came to care for both Anne and Merrick. I enjoyed the development of their relationship and I was excited to find out this, too is tied to a series. I will definitely be reading more of the Wild Wulfs of London.

If you’ve made it to the end of this review, I feel like you should have earned some kind of merit badge. But I will wrap it up, saying that it was a solid anthology and one I’d recommend. Just read the Banks story at your own risk. 4 stars.

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