Tag Archives: shorter stories

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

28 Aug

UnlockedBona, a fellow TBR Challenge participant, posted a review of this story over a year ago, on her blog. As I mentioned here, her review led me to–finally–reading this story.

Which in turn, leads me to a confession: I do have a few Courtney Milan stories in the digital TBR.

But, I hear you say, aren’t you the one singing Ms Milan’s praises and telling us how wonderful her writing is?

Yes, yes, I am one of the many who do these things–because pretty much everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve liked very well indeed.

However, well before I fell into the dreaded reading slump from hell, almost two years ago (dear dog, shoot me now!), I already had accumulated scarily ginormous TBR mountain ranges (both print and digital), so really, it’s not surprising some of Ms Milan’s stories had gotten lost in the shuffle there.

Be warned: there are people in love and sexytimes in here, so if you don’t care to read about either, you may want to stop reading here. You may also keep in mind that this story deals with the aftermath of bullying.

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

This story is set in the same ‘universe’ as the Turner brothers stories, and it’s about a fairly minor secondary character introduced in Unveiled, the first novel.

While this story is definitely shorter than, say, Proof of Seduction or Trade Me, it didn’t read like a novella. By which I mean, despite the lower word count, the pacing and structure of the story allowed me to believe in the characters’ feelings about themselves and each other, and how these changed over time.

Here, have a blurb:

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

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Wild Embrace, by Nalini Singh

5 Jul

Wild Embrace, by Nalini Singh

This is the second all Psy/Changeling anthology, and the first with all new stories. (I reviewed Wild Invitation, the first anthology, here.)

Wild Embrace was released last year, after Allegiance of Honor came out; despite my utter disenchantment with that novel, I had already decided I would read the anthology, so I did at some point later in the year. I wasn’t awed by it, but I remembered enjoying it well enough.

After reading Silver Silence, I decided to re-read and review it, to satisfy my ‘completist’ tendencies.

I probably shouldn’t have done it so soon after, though, because I was hyper aware of all the worst of Ms Singh’s writing tics; none of these stories have aged well for me.

Reader warning: This anthology is part of a long series, so the review by necessity spoils some of the stories that came before. As with the rest of the series, there’s some adult language and explicit sex. Finally, I rant–a hell of a lot–about one of the novellas in this book. Continue reading

“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

14 Jul

TheWarlordWantsForeverI’m still bouncing between the Immortals After Dark series, and other, semi-random re-reads.

So here I am, with a review of the novella that set up the IAD universe.

A couple of things to know: there’s a lot of explicit, graphic sex for the page count; both main characters are total dicks towards each other, though the male protagonist’s behaviour toward his mate may be especially triggering for some readers (explained in the review, so…here be mild spoilers?).

Oh, and there’s cursing. Proceed at your own risk.

Also, please note: I’m using the original digital release cover.

This novella was originally released in print, a full decade ago, as part of the Playing Easy to Get anthology, with two other stories; one was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Turn up the Heat.” The other was a story by Jaid-I-hate-romance-readers-and-will-sue-blogs-and-their-owners-Black, aka Tina-I-married-a-convicted-murderer-and-harasssed-his-victim’s-daughter-Engler.

If you have read this blog before, you already know how I feel about any of my hard earned money making its way to that asshole’s pockets. If you have not, you may start here, and lose a few hours of your life finding out why. The point being: if you must read the anthology, you may want to buy it used, so the aforementioned asshole gets no royalty money from your purchase. Otherwise, this story is available by itself digitally pretty much everywhere ebooks are sold.

All good? Okay, let’s start.

“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

The protagonists are Myst, a two thousand plus years old Valkyrie, and Nikolai Wroth, a three hundred years old Forbearer Vampire.

If memory serves, I read this story fairly recently, and only after it was released digitally. At any rate, I had already read at least the first two, perhaps even the first three of the IAD full length novels. Obviously, at this point I knew quite a bit about the series’ world, but I think that this story does a really good job of introducing the series and providing background for the characters’ actions and thoughts, while avoiding infodumping all over the place.

As I don’t have the print edition, I don’t know if there was some sort of story-specific blurb somewhere, but here’s one from Fantastic Fiction:¹
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Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

6 Apr

Captive BrideI usually enjoy Bonnie Dee’s writing very much, because I’m always sucked into the lives of whatever characters she writes. Which tends to be exactly what I want, and need, from authors.

In this case, I had an extremely strong reaction to the beginning of the story, and it took a good long while before I could get past a particular scene–a scene with no gore, no graphic content, and no violence.

Our minds are strange places, n’est ce pas?

Eventually, I got past that bit, and then…well, I had other issues. Be warned, this is a very rambling and meandering review–more so than usual, that is.

Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

This is one of those extremely rare beasts in genre romance: it’s set in the aftermath of the War Between the States, but not in the South or the West (as we think of it–the Rockies or the Plains, or Texas). It’s set in San Francisco, in the late 1870.

Here’s the blurb from the author’s site:

San Francisco, 1870

Huiann arrives in America expecting to be wed to a wealthy businessman. She no sooner disembarks from the ship than she realizes Xie is not looking for a bride: Huiann is worth more to him as a high-end prostitute. Though her fate is better than that of other Chinese women forced into the sex trade, she has no intention of waiting for Xie to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. At the first opportunity, she escapes and disappears into the city.

When a beautiful woman takes refuge in his store, Alan’s life changes forever. He’s spent the last five years trying to forget the horrors of war, and had almost given up hope of finding love. He hires Huiann as his housekeeper, and though they can only communicate through signs and sketches, they quickly form a bond that transcends the need for words.

But Xie is determined to recover his property, and love may not be enough to protect Huiann from his vengeance.

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“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

15 Mar

EntwinedThe theme for this month’s TBR Challenge is ‘a recommended read.’ Nothing could be easier: about three quarters of the unread books in my possession are there because someone recommended them to me, at some point or another. Then, something else shiny (or horrid, like the reading slump from hell), gets in the way, and the books languish there unread–while I keep on acquiring more words that too often, go unread for long, long periods of time.

And sometimes, when I finally get around to reading them, I could kick myself. Hard.

That was the case here.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas world, and that I mourn the fact that there are so very few stories in that series, as well as knowing that there will probably be only one more full length book (the Blacksmith’s). Perhaps we will be lucky to have another short story released at some point (Scarsdale’s, pretty pretty please?)

So there I was, feeling bereft, when someone (don’t remember who), somewhere (no clue where), said something really glowingly positive about Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. I checked amazon, where this one is listed as Book 1 of the series, and priced at only 99¢. (Turns out, this is not the first story set in Darkest London, but the fifth.)¹ Of course I one-clicked it!

And then, it languished in the TBR until Saturday, when I read it in one delicious gulp.

(I really, really liked it.)

“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

The story starts with two young men, barely out of childhood, a drunken brawl, a promise and a secret. It continues with a lovely exchange of letters between two people who, despite all good intentions, soon reveal to the other who they truly are.

(Aside: this is one of the things I love about well written epistolary novels. People do tend to be more who they truly are through the written word, particularly when they don’t know each other face to face. A lot of prejudice and preconception, particularly those we are not aware of, is absent, and therefore, it doesn’t influence how we see the other person, when all we have is words between us.)

Here, have a blurb:

Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow.  While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame—and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help—and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.

Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?

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“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

5 Mar

TheSeductionofLordStoneWhile I am not on twitter, I lurk there, following #not chilled, and two or three people’s stream/timeline/whatever it’s called. I am fascinated by all the things I learn about that way.

Among these many interesting things, I saw that Anna Campbell just released the second in a trilogy of shorter stories about a trio of tonnish widows returning to society after their mandatory year of mourning.

As each of these are only 99c, and as I enjoy Ms Campbell’s writing (and her), very much indeed, I snapped both of them up.

Here are my thoughts.

“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

The prologue introduces our three friends, henceforth known as The Dashing Widows. Two of them are nearing the end of their obligatory year of mourning, and they are chomping at the bit to get back out there, and to finally be allowed to live. Instead of, you know, playing the small, background character of “wife” in someone else’s life. Their thirst for life after such prolonged emptiness convinces the third to join in their quest.

The blurb, from the author’s site:

For this reckless widow, love is the most dangerous game of all.

Caroline, Lady Beaumont, arrives in London seeking excitement after ten dreary years of marriage and an even drearier year of mourning. That means conquering society, dancing like there’s no tomorrow, and taking a lover to provide passion without promises. Promises, in this dashing widow’s dictionary, equal prison. So what is an adventurous lady to do when she loses her heart to a notorious rake who, for the first time in his life, wants forever?

Devilish Silas Nash, Viscount Stone is in love at last—with a beautiful, headstrong widow bent on playing the field. Worse, she’s enlisted his help to set her up with his disreputable best friend. No red-blooded man takes such a challenge lying down, and Silas schemes to seduce his darling into his arms, warm, willing and besotted. But will his passionate plots come undone against a woman determined to act the mistress, but never the wife?

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Wild Invitation, by Nalini Singh

2 Mar

Wild InvitationIt is not a secret for regular readers of my humble blog, that I am a fan of the Psy/Changeling series. Early last year I made a push to finish reviewing all the full length novels in the series, on time for the release this summer of Shards of Hope, the fourteenth title.

However, and despite having won an ARC copy of this all Psy/Changeling novellas anthology back in February 2013 *wince*, I have only reviewed one of the novellas in the series: “Whisper of Sin,” from Burning up.

Operating on the principle that late is better than never, and because a second Psy/Changeling anthology (this one is all new stories, yay!) is in the works for release some time in 2016, here is my review.

Warning: there’s some graphic sex and cursing, and newcomers to the series may be lost–particularly on the last two stories–because of the world building. Read at your own risk. For readers who are behind in the series, the last two stories are spoilerish for Kiss of Snow and Tangle of Need, respectively.

Wild Invitation, by Nalini Singh

This one-author anthology was originally released in March 2013. It contains four stories, though only two were written for it. I’m reviewing them as they appear in the book, though the blurbs for the first novella is from the original release.

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