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Review: Burning Up

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Burning Up – Anthology
Authors:Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
Release Date: August 2010
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
ISBN: #978-0425235959
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): paperback, e-book

“Whisper of Sin” – Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling Series prequel story)

     From the author’s website: “Whisper of Sin” features Ria, who, as Lucas’s executive assistant, has appeared in a number of previous books in the series including Slave to Sensation and Mine to Possess. This novella is set back in time, and tells the story of how Ria met her changeling mate, Emmett, and became part of DarkRiver. It also shows us another glimpse of DarkRiver’s past.
     What I’m talking about:  Ria (a human) is attacked and nearly raped before DarkRiver enforcers step in.  Changeling Emmett is immediately attracted to Ria and serves as her protector.  The story follows the couple as they learn about one another, and learn to trust each other.
     This is story set in Ms. Singh’s amazing Psy/Changeling series (one of the best PNR series out there). It is set back in time, so you do not have to have knowledge of the series to enjoy this novella. Ms. Singh does a fabulous job of drawing me in by creating characters I care about. The story moves quickly, but doesn’t skimp on plot development or hot romance. My only issue was the final “hurdle” placed in front of the couple, which felt forced and unnecessary. The couple was already together and in love. I did not see the purpose in tossing them one more issue to deal with – especially one so minor and silly. But it was just that – silly – and the story is still a good one.
     My Rating: 4 stars. Really enjoyed – strongly recommend.

“Blood and Roses” Angela Knight

     My summary: “Blood and Roses” is a vampire and wizard story with a mediaeval setting. Evil wizard Korban is a traitor to the king and plans to break the magical barrier that holds back the human-eating, lizard-skinned Varil race. He holds 3-year-old Marin captive and forces sister Amaris to do his bidding – which includes seducing the king’s investigator, vampire Raniero, and convince him to betray the king.
     What I’m talking about:  Unfortunately, this story did not have adequate space to develop a solid romance between Raniero and Amaris. She seduces him, at the direction of her captor, but then feels an immediate connection. She doesn’t trust vampires, yet cannot explain why she feels safe with Raniero. Likewise, Raniero has a history which causes him similar doubts about Amaris. Yet they bond immediately. I do not care for “forced” sex starting off a “deep and true” relationship and did not feel a connection to these characters because of it. However, the action in this story is exciting and the story is decent.
     My Rating: 2.5 stars. Finished it, didn’t hate it – take it or leave it.

“Shifting Sea” Virginia Kantra  (Children of the Sea Series #3.5)

     My summary: Retired Major John (Jack) Harris inherits a rather large estate in Regency Scotland. He was badly hurt during the Peninsular War, and heads to his new home on his trusted horse, Neptune. On his way into town, he meets sexy Morwenna and mistakes her for a prostitute. Little does he know that she is actually one of the finfolk – created when God made the earth. She can live as a human or any sea creature she wishes. When she saves a lost fisherman, Jack realizes he has to make her his wife. But will Morwenna be able to keep her secrets? Does she want to give up her sea life for Jack?
     What I’m talking about:  After just finishing the previous short story in which a relationship starts off with meaningless sex, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this story because in their first meeting, Jack and Morwenna have sex. But unlike “Blood and Roses,” “Shifting Sea” takes the time to build a solid relationship between the two main characters. Jack is drawn to Morwenna and throughout the story, he courts her in a very romantic fashion. I like that Jack in imperfect and the Morwenna tells it like it is. She is not human and does not always understand human emotions or ambitions. The story was a little predictable at times, but I really enjoyed the climax and ending to the tale.
     I have not read any of Ms. Kantra’s Children of the Sea series, but throughly enjoyed this tale. I did not feel lost at all.
     My Rating: 4 stars. Really enjoyed – strongly recommend.

     “Here There Be Monsters” – Meljean Brook (The Iron Seas prequel story)

     My summary: Blacksmith Ivy is nearly captured for slavery and is terrified to stay in London any longer. She seeks the aid of pirate captain, Mad Machen, to get her out of town. But for passage on his ship, she offers herself and her viginity.Although she escapes her bargain, Mad Machen finds her two years later. During this time she hears stories of the horrors Mad Machen is capable of. Little does she know that he’s fancied her as long as he’s known her and never intended anything but to court her.  “Here There Be Monsters” is the first story in Ms. Brook’s new steampunk series, The Iron Seas.
      What I’m talking about: What can I say but that I LOVED this story! Ms. Brook does an amazing job building her new world and creating characters with heart and soul. Ivy’s innocence and determination drive her to believe she can and will create whatever she desires. Her character is full of life and I enjoyed seeing her develop a spine and get over her fears about life and her pirate captor.
     Meanwhile, tough-on-the-outside, Mad Machen has ached for Ivy since he first met her. His love is heart-warming, and his strength of character is endearing. The fact that he searched for Ivy for two years, waiting for her – not knowing what had happened… and once he finds her lets her set the tempo and mood… Ah-so romantic and so good! Each interaction between Mad Machen and Ivy was a joy to read. Their banter is playful, but they shifted easily into thoughtful and sometimes serious discussions. They treat each other as equals, whether they realize it or not. The dialogue is sharp and smart.
     This story has it all – adventure, romance, hot smex, and a happy-ever-after. The characters stuck with me and I didn’t want their story to end. I look forward to reading more in this new series.
     My Rating: 5 stars. Personal favorite – a must read.

My Rating (for the entire book): 

Really enjoyed – strongly recommend

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