Author: Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, Carolyn Crane
Release Date: 3 August 2011
Number of pages: 327 pages
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Meljean Brook's site, Jill Myles's site, Carolyn Crane's site
Grade: 4 stars
Goodreads appetizer: The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook - Iron Seas #0.4 novella
The search for a killer puts Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth's life in danger and her assistant, Constable Newberry, in the line of fire. But Newberry faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?
My Thoughts: I haven't read Meljean Brook's steampunk series yet so I had no previous notion of the Iron Seas world or characters. First I was amazed by the similar yet so different world Meljean Brook has created: where London is the liberal city compared to the more conservative America, where people have machines transplanted into their bodies to be faster, better. This novella packed so many novelties I kept marveling at all the tiny details which made this alternate universe so different.
The hero of this novella is Constable Newberry, a big yet gentle and soft hearted man whose marriage to his wife is icy to say the least. The couple had to marry because of a stolen kiss and Temperance (the wife) is convinced that her husband married her only for her dowry, not a good start especially since she had tender feelings for him.
Let me just tell you that Meljean Brook makes the most of the length restrictions of this novella and presents the reader with a story able to stand on its own. The Blushing Bounder was a very interesting and sweet steampunk novella set in an astonishing and very rich world. In my opinion if one has already read The Iron Duke and knows some of the mentioned characters of this novella it can be enjoyed even more, so I'll be sure to return and re-read it after I become acquainted with The Iron Duke.
Goodreads appetizer: Vixen by Jill Myles - A shifter novella
Miko's denied her were-fox nature for far too long and turned her back on her vixen heritage. But when she meets two very sexy cat-shifters, she has to decide if she truly wants to give up on her frisky side, or embrace it. Because the were-fox in her doesn't want to choose between both men...it wants them both.
My Thoughts: Jill Myles is another new to me author so I had no idea as to what to expect, and maybe that is one of the reasons why Vixen blew me away. It was fantastic and hot, and definitely lived up to title of the anthology as it most certainly was wild and steamy!
I never read about fox shifters so I was a completely blank canvas for Jill Myles to tell me about their characteristics and what makes them so different and unique.
The heroine of this novella is Miko, a werefox who wanting to renounce her quite wild fox-side lives in the middle of nowhere so as to avoid temptation. But she can't avoid it when temptation comes ringing her doorbell :-) Fox hunts are being organized in her neighbourhood and two sexy and drool-worthy cat-shifters were sent as bodyguards to protect her from any harm.
The two heroes were dreamy: one blond the other dark, one teasing and cocky the other quiet and intense, they were black and white opposites of each other but both were charismatic and trustworthy. For me one of the highlights of this novella was the threefold banter between the characters which worked as perfect verbal foreplay. Besides the steamy teasing the playfulness of the characters made this novella fresh and enchanting.
I had a wonderful time with Jill Myles' characters, my only complaint is that I would have loved to stay longer ;-p
Goodreads appetizer: Kitten-tiger & the Monk by Carolyn Crane - Disillusionists #2.5 novella
Sophia Sidway, Midcity's most dangerous memory revisionist, seeks out the mysterious Monk in the wasteland beneath the Tangle turnpike, hoping for redemption...but it turns out that the Monk is not all that pious, and the turnpike is no turnpike at all.
My Thoughts: To be honest this novella is the reason why I became interested in this anthology. I loved Mind Games, the first book in Carolyn Crane's Disillusionists trilogy and couldn't wait to revisit the beloved characters and the original world of Midcity again. And Carolyn Crane does not disappoint. Even though the old characters don't make an appearance in this story, Carolyn Crane introduces new ones who are just as complex and fascinating.
I was once again amazed at the incredibly original powers Carolyn Crane has created in this novella. The heroine of Kitten-tiger & the Monk is Sophia, whose special power is "revising memories", i.e. she can enter anyone's mind and erase or supplant memories at will. An incredibly powerful and dangerous talent, and one which weighs heavily on Sophia's conscience. That is why she is searching for the Monk, one of the most feared disillusionist, so he can reprogram her.
Sophia and the hero of the novella, Robert go way back: they grew up together and were each other's first love. I enjoyed how their whole history unfolded bit by bit through flashbacks and memories and we finally learned what happened exactly between these two to make their once sweet and close relationship so hostile and cold.
I forgot why exactly I was fanaticly enthusiastic about Mind Games, but this novella was enough to remind me why: Carolyn Crane's lyrical writing simply enchants the reader with its metaphorical pictures and emotional intensity.
Staring into her eyes had once been a compulsion, like staring into something vast—the Grand Canyon, or a star-glutted sky—and the harder you looked, the vaster and more impossibly glorious it seemed, and you had to keep looking, to somehow find a way to take it all in.
Not only was the resolution of the novella satisfactory but I enjoyed the journey leading there just as much. Both Sophia and Robert are interesting characters and my heart went out to both of them for suffering so much and all alone.
Kitten-tiger & the Monk was a fantastic novella which I enjoyed immensely. It made me want to return to the Disillusionist universe and re-read Carolyn Crane's novels. And I think that's exactly what I'll do since I have to pass the time somehow while I'm waiting for the release of Book #3.
Verdict: Based on the title and the sexy cover I was expecting this anthology to be more wild and steamy on the sexual side, but it was only Jill Myles' novella which can be called erotic of the three. Nonetheless, all three stories are well written and entertaining, the first and last introducing the reader to unique and fascinating alternate universes that will leave you blinking. The Blushing Bounder is innocently sweet and heartwarming, Vixen is the hottest and most sensual, and then there is Kitten-tiger & the Monk which has the most beautifully written heartache and emotional depth.
Wild & Steamy is a great anthology on its own, but if you discovered any of the authors thanks to it, make sure to check out their full length novels, I know that's what I'll be doing. :-)