Monday, December 22, 2003

Review: Midnight Pleasures (anthology) by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, Maggie Shayne, Ronda Thompson

Title: Midnight Pleasures
Series: Dark-Hunters, Dream-Hunters, Wild Wulfs of London
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, Maggie Shayne, Ronda Thompson
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: November 17, 2003
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 0312987625
ISBN-13: 9780312987626

Handsome and sensual, surrounded by an aura of danger, mystery, and the forbidden, a lover steps from the shadows. But is he mortal? Or is he an ancient god, a sorcerer, or a mythical beast who can possess a woman's heart...and her very soul?

Four of romance's most popular authors have created this spellbinding collection of stores filled with dark passion and desire. Under the cover of darkness, their heroes inhabit worlds haunted by ageless hungers and deadly forces stronger than any seen by day...and vanquished only by the power of love.

Now travel into realms where dazzling wonders roam the night, where magic replaces reason, and where a kiss unleashes a raging fire in the blood. And here, if you dare, discover the seduction that begins at the bewitching hour when a man and woman partake in...Midnight Pleasures.

Darkfest by Amanda Ashley
The price of saving her dying mother is Channa's promise to spend a year at the castle of tormented nobleman, Lord Darkfest...to obey him as his servant or, as his secrets are revealed, to become his salvation. And her own.

Phantom Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Haunted by recurring nightmares of terrifying beasts, Erin McDaniels is afraid to sleep-until a hero arrives in her dreams to save her...and makes erotic, incredible love to her. But can she find him again when she is awake?

Under Her Spell by Maggie Shayne
A consultant for a TV series about one gorgeous witch, "white witch" Melissa St. Cloud plans to make the show authentic. But once on the set she is pulled into the arms of a man who opens up a doorway to the darkside and chilling peril.

A Wulf's Curse by Ronda Thompson
Running away from an arranged marriage, Elise steals aboard a wagon in a traveling circus and finds herself in the bed of the Beast Master, Sterling Wulf, who is something other than he seems...and suddenly all Elise desires.


My rating:

Amanda Ashley's contribution was, at least for me, the weakest of the bunch. The characters and the supposedly historical language put me off big time. Not to mention a few unanswered questions, like what happened to Darkfest's adversity to light, his sudden hunger for blood (Was he turning into a vampire? Did she save him from that fate?) and what was supposed to happen after the story ended. We learned that Darkfest has lived for more than three centuries so was immortal (or had an incredibly long life-span), but Channa Leigh was, for all I know, a simple mortal woman. Did she became immortal when she married him? Did he become mortal when he married her?
All these unknowns!

It is Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dream-Hunter novella that earned this anthology its three star rating. So it wasn't as edgy as her latest work, but it's always nice to travel back in time and read something a little lighter from under her pen.
It was a pretty straightforward SK story with the hero that turns out to be the initial bad-guy, but the love for a woman makes him a good-guy, which ends in suffering and torment, until the love of the previously mentioned woman sets him free and they all live happily ever after. Sappy maybe, but boy did I like it.

Maggie Shayne's story held much potential at the beginning, with the strange and potent attraction between the two leading characters offering all sorts of possibilities. But the end result with the cuckoo warlock ghost visiting his son from the grave to get his gorgeously tight, hot, young body, hit my enthusiasm with the force of a truck, pulverizing it in an instant.

Ronda Thompson's story, the last in the book, was nothing extraordinary, even a little boring at times, and created a completely different lycan mythology that we know. Apparently for the Wulf boys to change into the furry howlers, the moon factor comes in second. It's the love that sets the beast free, which I found rather peculiar, since the love is supposed to set everything right, heal all wounds etc.
I wasn't convinced and I really hope the three full-length novels will fare better.