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6.16.2009

Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (anthology)

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The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance by Trisha Telep
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Trade Paperback (RUNNING PRESS, 512 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0762436514
24 new short stories from the hottest names
Fall in love with someone out of this world.
If love transcends all boundaries then paranormal romance is its logical conclusion. From the biggest names around, here are 24 tales to take you to another time and place.
Let Alyssa Day, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Cheyenne McCray, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Allyson James Marland and others show you powers beyond your wildest imaginings.
Within these pages mythical beasts, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, heart-stoppingly handsome ghosts, angels, and mortals with extra-sensitive sensory perception play out the themes of extraordinary desires.

Author Site: www.runningpress.com

Great variety... not so great quality... (3 stars)

A widesweeping selection of paranormal fables of the romantic persuasion, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE, is a tantalizing sampler for fans of both the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres. Filled with short stories from some of the biggest names—and some little known—in paranormal romance and urban fantasy I highly recommend this for other readers who are seeking a taste of new authors or to try something from an old favorite. To keep things brief let me offer information on each short story...

[THE TEMPTATION OF ROBIN GREEN] by Carrie Vaughan, Lieutenant Robin Green's work at the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology introduces her to some strange and interesting creatures of myth and legend, one of which may steal her heart. -- This was classic Vaughan and fans of her Kitty Norville series will recognize a familiar face at the center. 4/5 stars

[SUCCUBUS SEDUCTION] by Cheyenne McCray, Lilin, a succubus, has been charged by the queen of the Unseelie Court to seduce Archer Dane and bring her his soul... but Archer won't be won so easily. -- Definitely more erotic than romantic this was an okay story but not really my thing. 3/5 stars

[PARANORMAL ROMANCE BLUES] by Kelley Armstrong, Half-demons looking for love in all the wrong places. -- I'm known for not caring for Armstrong's writing style and unfortunately this one didn't help win my fandom. 1/5 stars

[JOHN DOE] by Anna Windsor, Celebrating her 30th birthday working the late shift at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital would be really boring for Dutch Brennan if it weren't for the interesting new arrival. -- An interesting mythology and okay premise, fans of her Dark Crescent Sisterhood should like this one. 3/5 stars

[TAKING HOLD] by Anya Bast, Human nurse, Lily, has volunteered to help in the search for a lost young werewolf with Mac, the wolf she's got a jones for. -- One of the most well executed plots in the collection, this actually felt like a complete story, nicely done. 4/5 stars

[HOW TO DATE A SUPERHERO] by Jean Johnson, Partnered superheroes struggle to find a way to balance their conflicted feelings toward each other without endangering the team. -- Love a good superhero story but this one felt reeeeeally cheesy and more about sexual attraction than romance. 2/5 stars

[DANIEL] by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, When a process server gets tangled up with a sexy vampire and his master things could get nasty. -- This one felt like a reject from the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, not much story or romance. 1/5 stars

[LIGHT THROUGH FOG] by Holly Lisle, When Sarah's husband Sam died all that was left to connect them was their tree and a mysterious magic in the fog. -- By far the stand-out story of the bunch, vividly imagined, extremely romantic and touching, doesn't quite make up for the less-than-stellar rest of the collection but a must-read! 5/5 stars

[THE TUESDAY ENCHANTRESS] by Mary Jo Putney, It's not everyday Charlie meets a gorgeous fellow Guardian but this might be his lucky day... or a really, really unlucky one when the two are put in a hostage situation. -- Haven't read the series this ties into but I think I want to now, this story was really clever, the characters very real and likable, loved it! 5/5 stars

[TRINITY BLUE] by Eve Silver, Jen's love-life heats up when she hires a mysterious drifter to help with some painting around her grandmother's house, but could he have something to do with an equally mysterious murder? -- This one ties into Silver's Compact of Sorcerer's series (I think?) and therefore was a little confusing but wasn't too bad. 3/5 stars

[GRACE OF SMALL MAGICS] by Ilona Andrews, When warring mage clans clash Grace not only discovers that her family is essentially owned by one of them or that she must now fight beside her new master but that there's a lot more to herself and her master than meets the eye. -- Not sure if this one ties into one of Andrews' series but was a very interesting concept and an okay story. 4/5 stars

[ONCE A DEMON] by Dina James, Kyle prefers his solitude but when a friend offers a chance to speak of the love he lost it may lead to his salvation. -- Loved the ending but the pace was really slow and tedious overall. 4/5 stars

[NIGHT VISION] by Maria V. Snyder, Most of her life Sophia has hidden from those who would use her unusual gifts but perhaps putting them to use in the right ways could be a good thing. -- Another interesting concept delivered in an okay package but didn't really wow me. 3/5 stars

[PELE'S TEARS] by Catherine Mulvany, Dillon Makua never forgot his first love and when she comes crashing back into his life to solve the mystery of her grandmother's suicide maybe Neolani hasn't forgotten him either. -- I'm a sucker for Hawaiian mythology being used in fiction and I love first love reunion stories so this one was a favorite. 5/5 stars

[PACK] by Jeaniene Frost, Getting lost in the woods alone has definitely gotten Marlee in over her head when she gets attacked and rescued by two very different wolves. -- My first taste of Frost's writing and I like it, am guessing her fans will too. 4/5 stars

[WHEN GARGOYLES FLY] by Lori Devoti, When Mord the gargoyle is awakened by Kami after a hundred years of slumber the world of humans could be in mortal danger. -- Ugh, a too-stupid-to-live heroine and a really one-dimensional hero killed what could have been a cool gargoyle story. 1/5 stars

[THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER AND HIS WIFE] by Sara Mackenzie, Sent back from purgatory to right a past wrong, Zek strikes a bargain to see his wife in her reincarnation one more time. -- An okay romance and a slightly confusing mythos make for an okay story. 3/5 stars

[BLOOD SONG] by Lynda Hilburn, Ethan is a vampire who gets stuck on clean-up duty when he meets the enigmatic sound-healer Grace and what their meeting brings is simply magic. -- Liked the characters and I thought the sound healing was pretty cool but some will find it hokey or even cheesy, def not for every reader. 4/5 stars

[THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS] by Alyssa Day, A princess, 'peas' made of iron and a gathering of fae are all it takes for trouble and romance in this tale. -- Humorous and original if pushing into silly territory. 4/5 stars

[AT SECOND BITE] by Michelle Rowen, Evan Frost is convinced that Julia is his soulmate reincarnated and when his brother Henry tries to kill her things get even more confusing. -- I tried to like this one but the romance felt very contrived and the concept just didn't work for me. 2/5 stars

[BLUE CRUSH] by Rachel Caine, Joanne and David from the Weather Warden series spend a day at the beach saving lives, kicking booty and getting a little frisky. -- I've only read the first book in the series so not sure where this tale should fall but I think this is definitely for fans of the series only. 3/5 stars

[THE WAGER] by Sherrilyn Kenyon, A strangely narrated Lords of Avalon tale of loving and pissing-off the wrong woman. -- This might have been okay but the narration was sooo badly done (and I normally like Kenyon). 1/5 stars

[IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING] by Meljean Brook, Five years ago Emma left Oregon and Nathan behind but when she comes home and faces off with a murderer she and Nathan will need one another to bring the bad guy down. -- I actually really liked this one, it was believable and not too predictable. 5/5 stars

[THE DREAM CATCHER] by Allyson James, Set in an unusual world where high society humans no longer have sexual relations a creature meant to fulfill fantasies of all kinds will awaken Natalia to the pleasure and joy of her secret desires. -- Unique, intriguing and a nice cap to the end of this collection... I dunno why this felt a little steampunk to me but it did. 4/5 stars

As a whole I felt that this collection had a few strong tales but was mostly a very random selection of stories with paranormal elements. There was definitely a lot of variety in concepts (fae, gargoyles, selkies) but a sad lack of quality storytelling. I think most fans of the paranormal romance genre won't find this to their taste. There are a few vampire stories, a couple of shapeshifter ones and lots of magic users but it was missing the really juicy sensuality and deeply heart-felt romance most of them (us!) want to find in something like this.

3 comments:

Karen W. said...

I've only read the first 12or 13 stories so far, and I agree with you that Holly Lisle's is the best, hands down. Loved it. I'm happy to see it looks like there are a few more good reads in the second half. :)

Rhianna said...

It's so hard to know when you buy anthologies this big! I actually really thought I would enjoy this one more than I did the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance so it was a little frustrating. You'll have to pop back Karen and let me know what you think of the rest when you get finished! :)

Karen W. said...

I'll try to remember to do that, Rhianna. I'm just not sure how long it's going to be until I finish! LOL!

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