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Review: Holding Out for a Hero (anthology)

Holding Out for a Hero (anthology)
Romance, Superheroes
Ebook $2.99 (355 pages, ENTANGLED)
Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane
After five years in training, it's finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There's only one problem. She's been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.
Blade's whole life has gone according to plan, and he's more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he's teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.
Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there's more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.
Ironheart by Nico Rosso
Vince might be hard as steel, but he's not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.
The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he's determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can't fight him alone. She needs Vince's brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.
When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.
Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan
Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket--even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona's powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won't be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant... and she's hurt enough people already. Including herself.
But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona's M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona's dangerous, convinced she's Fire¬ball, and convinced he'll damn himself if he doesn't resist a heat that's always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame--but Ian has his own secrets.
And he'll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.
From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders
Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father's inhuman empire.
Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.
One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias's hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

A Superb Collection of Modern Superpowered Romances (4 stars)

Having previously read and enjoyed FROM THE ASHES (5 stars) and PLAYING WITH FIRE (3 stars) when they were individually released on 2012 I was thrilled to get the entire anthology in my hands. In the interest of keeping this review to a length that won't bore you please note that you can find my reviews for the former novellas under their respective pages on whichever outlet this review is posted on. Instead of going over them again let me focus on the other two!

SCARLETT FEVER by Christine Bell and Ella Dane, is the one for the reader who loves their hero and heroine as opposite as possible. Scarlett and Blade spend more time butting heads over their respective ways to handle situations than the tourists spend searching for air conditioning. Their partnership is far from their ideal assignment but they both know how important their first assigment is for their careers as superheroes.

I am already a huuuuuge fan of Christine Bell and her trademark humor really makes this one a pleasure to read. At this point I don't think there's a genre she can't pull off with wicked dialog and a sensuality level that sizzles at just the right times. Ella Dane is a new author and I hope to see what she can do on her own because together these gals made Scarlett and Blade a couple I couldn't wait to see clash and ultimately fall in love. If you're a Bell fan too, this is one you shouldn't miss. This is definitely the lightest of the anthology and sure to appeal to fans of superheroes-in-training type stories—think Sky High all grown up! (5 stars)

IRONHEART by Nico Rosso, is the one I've been dogging my guy friends to read. Rosso knows how to write a kickass story with authenticly male verbiage—and I should hope so considering he's the only male romance writer that I read regularly. I don't know how better to explain it than that he has a way of taking the things I love about romance and roughing them up a bit in a way that feels deliciously wrong in all the right ways. (For example, I don't like a love scene to feature the 'P' word in reference to female anatomy but it always feels like the right choice in Rosso's work). I think his style will very much appeal to the comic book loving guy who has a soft spot for love stories.

Ironheart is pretty dark, almost as dark as FROM THE ASHES, but has the best—and in my humble opinion—most original world building. Vince and Kara's powers are just too cool and sure to cause many a geek heart to flutter. This is the one for the true comic book fan, the one who has a collection of 80's Marvel titles stored away for safe keeping. As characters, I did feel a bit detached from them, mostly due to the curse of novellas not leaving lots of room for character development and back story. Let's face it... superhero fans love us some back story. That said it was a freaking awesome one for fight scenes and I would seriously love to see it as an anime style movie. If you love Rosso's writing style and want to see him do a comic book this is a must read. (4 stars)

Now, in case you don't want to find my full length reviews for the other two here are a quick snippet from each:

PLAYING WITH FIRE by Tamara Morgan, It's not a bad story or a bad romance, it just fell flat to me. The whole hot-girl with a crush on the geek (as teenagers) thing kind of confused me and never really felt plausible. The plot has a nice twist that's not totally unpredictable but enjoyable. As a novella it's a nice afternoon filler read for readers who love comicbook type stories and superheroes. (3 stars)

FROM THE ASHES by Adrien-Luc Sanders, shouldn't a love story... a romance novel... be focused on two parties (regardless of gender) finding a happily ever after together? Keeping that in mind, FROM THE ASHES was actually my first m/m romance read and I owe Sanders a debt of gratitude for being able to write Tobias' story in such a way that was so organic and true, that I loved it. As a character, Tobias is fascinating and a narrator I could quickly liken to Dexter (of the television series, as I haven't read the books). I very much enjoyed the moral dilemma of the abberants... if you were told you couldn't be anything other than the monster does that make it so? If, like myself, you enjoy science fiction and superhero-ish type romances where neither race nor sexual orientation matter as long as there's a great plot and two people falling in love I highly recommend FROM THE ASHES. (5 stars)

As an anthology I cannot recommend HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO enough. This is what I wish all romance anthologies could be like. A mixed bag of racial and sexual orientation stories where neither of those actually matter in the grand scheme. These are really enjoyable romances plain and simple and if you are a geek for superheroes you are sure to find at least one story in here you'll enjoy.

Notes: Review copy received via publisher.

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