As implied by the title, this 2008 anthology by Berkley contains stories centered on shapeshifters, with each author giving these paranormal beings their own unique spin. I grabbed this book while glomming the Warriors of Poseidon series and, I have to say, I have had GREAT luck with anthologies lately. Way better than the usual for me, for sure: four stories, three read, three enjoyed.
The (much hated) back cover blurb:
Something happens when the beast within is teased and tempted. Something dangerous. Something inescapable. Something so irresistible no woman would want to run from it.
Whether transforming beneath a cool blue moon, prowling the night streets with feline grace and bloodred talons, or panting with pleasure, the shifters come alive to fulfill your wildest fantasies…
“Mad Dog Love”, by Angela Knight
Talk about twists! (insert wide smile here)
This story is set in the Lorezostellar Empire, an alternative futuristic universe where shapeshifters are not magical beings (yes, Ms Knight did stretch the ‘paranormal’ bit here). Instead, they are created via biotechnological manipulation. Cooler still is that a very similar technology (nano bots) is used on non-shifter humans to increase stamina, combat skills, etc. Shapeshifters from the Freeworlds can be captured and enslaved by humans of the empire, using their nano implants to control them.
The empire is presently ruled (with an iron fist too) by a regent until the princess and heir reaches her majority. Most of the population is glad to know that she is to be married off to the regent’s son immediately thereafter, because this princess’ excesses would put some of our current so-called celebrities’ scandals to shame in a heartbeat.
But things are rarely what they seem, and this particular princess has her own agenda-which involves going AWOL and finding a warrior to assist her. Enter Rance Conlan, aka Mad Dog. Recently captured, he is precisely the type of force to be reckoned with that Princess Zarifa needs.
And the chase is, as they say, on.
I love the world building-it is complex enough, but without excessive complications or unnecessary detail. I also loved how the relationship develops, slowly over time, with the characters working through misunderstandings and preconceptions.
However… I felt that the story took a nosedive with the final confrontation. It was more than a tad too pat, having all the main players show up when and how they did. Still, Zarifa’s revelation was great and quite unexpected.
7.5 out of 10