4 stories, some better, some worse. 3 awesome hot romances, one bleah not-even-a-romance.
Secrets at Midnight by Nalin Singh: hot guy, hot girl, nice cast of characters, nice mix of urban and forest scenes – but it uses one of my least favorite tropes: ignorant girl gets educated by wise man. Note the imbalance of girl/man. Singh gives an excellent background for the girl’s ignorance, but I still hate the trope. OTOH, said guy is kind not in any way a jerk. Nice story. 3 stars.
Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews: hot guy, woman with tiny tits and no hips. And she’s near-sighted. And a magician. He’s the Alpha of the cat shape-shifter clan, he’s strong and powerful, and she can’t imagine what he sees in her. Nice cast of characters, nice assortment of urban scenes, nice mix of his skills and her skills. Really nice use of family and ‘what if they find out.’ Nice scene where he points out that she only looks at her flaws, while he is looking at her magnificent assets. And PS, she’s really beautiful, why doesn’t she see that? I had to read that part a few times. Nice story. 5 stars.
Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin: boring woman, boring men, boring romp through stripper clubs, boring mix of office and club scenes, and where was the romance? 1 star.
Beasts of Blackmoor by Milla Vane: crusading woman, angry man, conflicting goals. A powerful mix of brutality and gentleness among the main characters, straight brutality from most of the cast. Scenes are feudal towns and poor villages and roadside mud and rain. This is the only story featuring rape, memories of rape, and threats of rape. It also has the most explicit sex scenes between the heroes. The uses of ‘taming’ and ‘beast’ are off-putting when you figure out what they mean. 3 stars.