Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Midnight Pleasures

Midnight Pleasures isn’t the best anthology I’ve ever read, but it has stories from two series I enjoy, so it was worth a read.

The first story is Amanda Ashley’s “Darkfest.” I’ve never read anything from her before.  The title character is a dark wizard who has never known love.  He is very powerful and he is taken with Channa Leigh, a virginal blind village girl.  He visits her village in the form of a wolf and somehow, when she touches him, she can see.  But he knows he can’t stay with her as a wolf.  When Channa Leigh’s mother becomes ill, her father begs Darkfest for help and he agrees to heal the woman in exchange for a year with Channa Leigh in his fortress.  The story was sweet.  Not terribly strong, but not bad.  There were some things (like his taste for blood and problems with the sunlight) that were never really fleshed out.  And speaking of flesh, despite the fact there was much talk about them both being virgins… their relationship was never consummated.  Bummer.

The second story was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Phantom Lover.” This is part of her Dark/Dream Hunter universe.  V’Aiden is a Greek God of sleep (for lack of a more complex explanation.) He falls in love with Erin in her dreams. She’s been plagued by monsters in her sleep which are draining her for power. And he comes to her rescue.  Can they make it work even though he is not human and they live in two different worlds?  I’m a huge fan of the Dark/Dream Hunters, so I really enjoyed this one.  As always, Kenyon’s storytelling is sexy and enthralling. I can’t say if someone unfamiliar with the series would enjoy it as much as I did.  But I thought it was great.

Maggie Shayne’s ”Under Her Spell” is next.  It features Melissa, a white witch who has been hired by a tv show about the supernatural, to consult on its accuracy.  She is quickly drawn to her new boss, but she realizes he is surrounded by dark energy.  It turns out his father was a dark wizard who is reaching out to him beyond the grave and only Melissa can save his soul.  It was kind of… well, meh, for me. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t have any interest in reading any more about these characters.

And the last novella is “A Wulf’s Curse,” part of Ronda Thompson’s Wild Wulfs of London series.  The story centers on Sterling, the youngest of the Wulf brothers. He ran away from his London home 10 years earlier when he father triggered the family curse. Dad turned into a wolf at the dinner table, then committed suicide. His mother killed herself shortly after. The curse is triggered by love, so Sterling has no interest in losing his heart.  But when the beautiful Elise stows away in the carnival where he works, he can’t help but fall for her innocent charms.  It was  sweet addition to the series.  Steamy love scenes and a great happy ending.  My only beef is, that unlike the resolutions that other Wulf stories had, we didn’t get to see Sterling beat his curse.  We just have to assume it all works out in the end.

Overall, the collection of stories was fair. I really enjoyed the Kenyon and Thompson offerings. The other two are just ok.   3 1/2 stars.

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