TBR Challenge Review: Wild & Steamy by Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, Carolyn Crane

Format: ebook
Pub Date: August 2011
Publisher: Self published
Length: 48K words
FTC: Purchased myself

Since I tend to know where or how I acquired my print books, I retreated to my digital TBR for help with his month's theme, "How did this get here?"  I'm pretty sure I picked this one up around DABWAHA time, but I honestly can't remember. Close enough!

Anthologies are a fun way to try new authors or to read shorter works by a favorite one. I'm always curious to see how well short stories and novellas fit together both with the theme and with the other authors included. In Wild & Steamy, I have to say not so well. Each author's story was well crafted, but as a whole, it just didn't fit together.

Meljean Brook
The Blushing Bounder

The problem with many series that have excellent world building is that it is difficult to jump in mid-stream. I think this will be a fun read for anyone who has read the Iron Duke, but might prove a bit of a challenge for those who haven't. There's a lot of stuff that isn't explained all that well (because it is explained in other books in far more depth.)

While the world may give the reader some trouble, the characters are vibrant and engaging. I loved the emotion here. I rarely like 'marriage in trouble' stories, but this was a unique take on it, and the resolution was so, so sweet. I just want to give Newberry a big squeezie hug.

My Grade: B

Jill Myles

This is the only one of the three stories that can be read without any knowledge of the author's other works.  It's pretty straight-forward paranormal with a spicy threesome. A duo of hot shape-shifting bodyguards is sent to protect a werefox from an illegal fox hunting group. Sexy-times ensue.

The characters, sexual tension and dialogue were all well done. My only problem was the hit-you-over-the-head justification of the threesome by throwing out the 'werefoxes are promiscuous" line over and over.

My Grade: B-

Carolyn Crane
Kitten-tiger and the Monk

I've only read the first in the Disillusionist trilogy, but I was familiar enough with the world to understand what was happening in this book. I imagine anyone who hasn't read at least one of the books would be completely lost, though. Crane's world is complex. And you could probably hear me sighing a big heaving sigh of relief that this book wasn't written in first person-present. A POV and tense combination that I loathe with every fiber of my being (and also the way the Disillusionist series is written).

If you can get past the 'WTF is going on?' issue, as well as the lengthy backstory,  this is probably the most angsty of the novellas. It's dark, as all Crane works seem to be, but there is a ton of emotion. Betrayal, young love, despair, forgiveness. It's all here.

My Grade: C+/B-

Thematically, only the tiniest thread connects these stories. The "wild" is provided by the Vixen story. The "steamy" is provided by the steampunk story by Brook. I'm not quite sure where Crane's story fits in. Both Crane and Brook have such strong voices that I don't think they fit well in the same collection. I would recommend the anthology, but only for those who have read at least some of the other books in the series by Crane and Brook. Otherwise these just don't work and really don't stand well on their own.

The Blurb:

The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook - An Iron Seas novella of 15,000 words: 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?

Vixen by Jill Myles - A shifter novella of 15,000 words: 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.

Kitten-tiger & the Monk by Carolyn Crane - A Disillusionists novella of 20,000 words: 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

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