Wednesday, August 3

Out of the Light Into the Shadows Anthology

Authors Featured: Lori Foster, L.L. Foster, and Erin McCarthy
Anthology – 4 Stories

Lori Foster:
L.L. Foster:
Erin McCarthy:

So this wonderful anthology has four stories in it – one by Lori Foster, one by L.L. Foster (these two names belong to the same wonderful woman, FYI) and two by the fabulous Erin McCarthy. Both of these ladies have written some of my favorite contemporaries, so I was very excited to stumble across this anthology at my local library (which I visit when I’m broke). Three of the stories have a strong paranormal element (Deal or No Deal, Total Control, Undead Man’s Hand) whereas one is pretty much devoid of paranormal activity (Have Mercy). Without further ado, I bring you your review (each story gets its own section and grade, with an overall grade for the book at the end).

Have Mercy – Lori Foster: Contemporary, 84 pages
I really liked Have Mercy. Wyatt Reyes is sexy and gorgeous, Mercedes (Mercy) Jardine is cute, fun, smart, and strong. Together they make a great pair. The premise of the story is as follows: Mercy and Wyatt have been dating for six months and are totally in love. Mercy, knowing she’s pregnant (even though she’s been on the pill) asks Wyatt if he’ll marry her – but he flat out refuses saying he never wants to marry or have kids, due to some issue in the past. He asks Mercy to move in with him and she agrees, hoping it will give her time to work on their problems and for her to convince him he’ll love a kid before the baby comes.
I won’t reveal all the secrets but I thought this story was realistic, touching, and even a little sad though it had a gorgeous HEA. I felt that our protagonists were well rounded and well developed. The story was fun, short, fast, and sexy. A good read worthy of an A- rating.

Deal or No DealErin McCarthy: Paranormal, 58 pages
Deal or No Deal had the potential to be a favorite – I loved the story line of long-lost lovers reuniting, but having to re-establish trust. Unfortunately, this story was way to short to make the trust-building believable, or any of the plot so it seemed kinda silly at times, and definitely went unrealistically fast. Katie (Maria) Stolin is a duchess – and a vampire. The daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she was meant for assassination but a vampire guard at the assassination site, Nick, saved both her and Peter (younger brother) from death. Now she lives as an undead blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. Michael St. Markov, her love from the past (now also a vampire) finally finds her after her century in hiding, and professes his love for her – but she doesn’t trust or believe the man she holds responsible for her family’s murder.
I liked the romantic plot well enough (cute at times, sexy at others), the secondary characters provided comic relief and spice, but the plot revolving around Rasputin and a necklace was hard to get into in such a short story. I also didn’t see the trust building really happen and this story was way to short for McCarthy to strongly develop the characters. I did like Michael though. An average read worth of a C rating.

Total Control – L.L. Foster: Paranormal, 86 pages
Braxton Jardine (Mercy’s older brother) has a special talent that enables him to control minds and read emotions with ease. Unfortunately (cry him a river, ladies), to keep himself sane he needs to have sex – a lot (sounds like a variation of ‘blue balls’ to me). His long-time assistant, Cameo Smithson, is the only woman he wants – he needs – and he intends to have her. What follows is a short story of total seduction and surrender with a bit of action thrown in.
Normally, I really like Lori Foster’s Alpha heroes (I can’t speak for L.L. Foster yet) but this one was way too overbearing for me. I found him annoying and insensitive at times, where that normally isn’t the case. Maybe I just didn’t get to know Brax well enough in this short story but I found him almost cheesy in his over-protectiveness. Cameo was a lovely, strong, spirited, open-minded heroine whom I absolutely adored though she had a few moments where I found her calm sanity hard to believe. Overall, I enjoyed the romance, and the action plot was great, but the hero was not my favorite earning this short story a C- rating.

Undead Man’s Hand­ – Erin McCarthy: Paranormal, 89 pages
Nick Stolin, the vampire bodyguard and ‘big brother’ figure to Katie in Deal or No Deal, is the protagonist in this story – and his female counterpart is human homicide detective Jordan Waters. The story opens with a scene through the eyes of Samantha Keller (who dies immediately after) and then goes to Jordan working on Samantha’s case – and how it intertwines with three other murders. After discovering that a boy was seen in the alley – identified as 'autistic' boy Peter Stolin – Jordan goes to talk to him and meets his ‘father’ Nick. Thirteen-years-old and pale, Peter isn’t any help – but Nick and Jordan soon start a very sexy relationship together. Jordan is enjoying herself, but Peter is really creeping her out. When Nick realizes he loves her and wants to tell her his secret – that he’s a vampire – will Jordan believe him, or walk away? And what of the murders?
This was a story of secrets. We know who the murderer is from page one, and he’s really a chillingly cold, messed-up killer (aren’t all killer’s partially messed up?). The romance was cute, and I liked Jordan’s very realistic reaction to Nick’s secrets. The story was fast-paced and drew you in from page one with chilling, intriguing, sadistic details of murder and light-hearted scenes of love and play. I really enjoyed this story and Nick was the perfect balance of manly-man and sweet-n-sensitive for my tastes. I also really enjoyed the to-catch-a-killer plot in this book. It was extremely well developed. Since I loved Jordan for her down-to-earth realism and I loved Nick for his sweet, yet sexy, nature, this story gets an A rating.

Favorite quotes:
Total Control –
Amos slowly stood. “I didn’t know Brax had a female of importance here.”
Cameo’s brows lifted. “So there’s another kind of female?”

Undead Man’s Hand –
“Let. Me. Go. There is no fucking way you can be over a hundred years old.”
He held on, knowing she could never escape, not with his strength, and he needed her to hear everything. “I can be if I am a vampire.”
“Oh, my God,” she whispered. “You’re a whack job! …”

“Sexy”ness rating: Hot and Sexy. Whew.

Overall Rating: B

Bottom Line: This is a fun anthology by two great, well-loved authors. It wasn’t my favorite of theirs, but it was entertaining and fun! There were some great and some average, but overall it was a fast, sexy read that I would recommend.

Pages: 342
Published: August 4, 2009
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Romance (Have Mercy)

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