AztecLady does Angela Knight’s “Mad Dog Love”, Alyssa Day’s “Shifter’s Lady”, and Virginia Kantra’s “Sea Crossing”Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Posted in: AztecLady Reviews
Tags:Children of the Sea, Warriors of Poseidon
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
“Shifter’s Lady”, by Alyssa Day
Set shortly after the events at the end of Atlantis Awakening, “Shifter’s Lady” is the fourth story in Ms Day’s Warriors of Poseidon series. It centers mostly on the culture and mores of the panther shifters of Florida, which were introduced in the previous short story, “Wild Hearts in Atlantis” (Wild Thing anthology, Berkley).
Marie, First Maiden of the healing Temple of the Nereids, leaves Atlantis for the first time in her life, to visit her brother, Bastien, and his new mate, Kat Fiero. Of course, best laid plans and all that-Bastien is called to help in the search for Lord Justice, leaving Kat and Marie to get to know each other without him.
However, things are not so peachy among the panthers these days-something has been killing both full cats and shifters in the past few weeks. Ethan, the pride’s Alpha, already has his hands full investigating these killings, and now he must assume responsibility for the safety and well-being of this Atlantean maiden.
Add some high octane sexual awareness between these two oh-so-different beings and… potential for international incidents, anyone?
I must say (and this may count as somewhat spoilerish) that the ending breaks a couple of my “romance genre” rules, but it fits both characters-in personality and circumstances. A different ending might have been more… satisfiying? in terms of this couple, but it would have broken all sorts of internal world building rules.
Obviously, a nice side effect is that now I’m looking forward to seeing more on how Ethan and Marie’s relationship works as the overarching plot threads develop in future installments.
7 out of 10
“Sea Crossing”, by Virginia Kantra
This story is a prequel to Ms Kantra’s Children of the Sea series. Based on the Celtic legends of selkies, the children of the sea are elementals, beings created by God during the creation of the world. Set in the early 1900s, “Sea Crossing” tells the story of one Emma March and Griff, one of Prince Conn’s wardens at Sanctuary.
Formerly a teacher at a girls’ school in Liverpool, Emma is traveling to Canada in search of a new beginning. She is also running from her ruined reputation and her regrets. During the crossing she is assaulted by doubt-after all, the contract she signed to pay for her ticked amounts to signing away years of her life in a foreign country, with no guarantee that her situation would improve. In her experience, men have the power-physical and social-to make women’s lives uncomfortable at best and miserable at worst. As if that weren’t enough upheaval for any one person’s life, the ship sinks in a storm, and Emma wakes up afterwards a guest of sorts, in a strange island in the middle of the North Atlantic.
For his part, Griff is completely out of his depth dealing with a human female. His position as warden has mostly involved keeping the peace between the male selkies on the island of Sanctuary and making sure the young selkies who live there before their change are fed and sheltered. Now, his prince commands him to persuade this human to accept the position of teacher-while keeping her safe from the other males. Not quite as easy as it should be, since he must fight his own attraction as well.
Excellent world building for such a limited word count and writing that is very vivid. Like Meljean Brook’s “Falling for Anthony” (Hot Spell anthology, 2006 Berkley) before it, this one short story has made me an addict to a series. Yes, yet another series *head desk* (I’ll never learn, will I?). My only consolation: there are three books already out.
8 out of 10