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Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Supernatural" (four novellas by Larissa Ione, Alexandra Ivy, Jacquelyn Frank, & G.A. Aiken)

Title: Supernatural (Anthology)
Publisher: Zebra, 2011

“Vampire Fight Club,” by Larissa Ione, from her DEMONICA Series (Ratings: V4; S4; H2)
     In this novella, a flawed shape shifter finds her true love in the form of a jaded, guilt-ridden vampire. Vladlena (Lena) Paskelkov is a nurse at Underworld General Hospital (aka UG), operated by the five Seminus demon brothers who are at the center of the series. Lena just turned 24, and if she doesn't complete her first shift in the next month or so, she will go violently insane and will have to be put down. When Lena’s beloved brother dies from a beating, she is determined to track down his murderer. Nathan Sabine is an ancient vampire who originally began managing the Thirst supernatural night club for the dangerously evil demon, Fade, so that he could eventually get revenge for Fade’s murder of his wife. But now so much time has passed that Nathan’s feelings of vengeance have deteriorated into a morass of rage and apathy. When Lena applies for a job as a medic at Thirst, Nathan falls for her, and vice versa. Click HERE to go to my review of the DEMONICA Series.

“Darkness Eternal,” by Alexandra Ivy, from her GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY Series (Ratings: V4; S4; H2)
     This novella carries on the story arc that began in Devoured by Darkness, where we followed the romance of Tane, the Charon (assassin) for his clan, and Laylah, a hybrid witch-Jinn, who has been rejected and emotionally battered by just about everybody. The evil villainess of both that book and this novella is Marika, Laylah’s power-hungry vampire aunt, who views Laylah as her key to world domination. This novella tells the love story of Kata, Laylah's gypsy witch mother, who has been imprisoned and tortured for centuries by Marika. Now, Marika is dead, but she placed a curse on Kata before she died. Kata's rescuer is Uriel, an ancient vampire warrior who is also cursed. Together, they survive a trip to Hell, a battle with the hard-to-kill Marika, and—ultimately—their HEA. If you've been reading the series, you won't want to miss this story. Click HERE to go to my review of the GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY Series. Ivy also writes as Debbie Raleigh.

“Kane,” by Jacquelyn Frank, from her NIGHTWALKERS Series (Ratings: V3; S4; H2)
     Kane is the younger brother of Jacob the Enforcer. (See Jacob, book 1 of the NIGHTWALKERS Series.) Kane is nearly 100 years old, but his control isn't quite good enough on the eve of Samhain to keep him from touching an attractive human woman (Corrine), which is a huge infraction of demon rules that gets him severely punished. As it turns out, Corrine is Kane's Imprinted mate (aka soul mate), and while he is off being punished for his daring deed, she begins to waste away (see the quotation below for the reason why). When the Elder demons figure out what is happening, they chain Kane to a bed next to the unconscious Corrine so that his presence will give her the strength to recover, but will not allow him to touch her. The novella tells the story of what happens when Corrine wakes up naked in a strange bed next to an out-of-control gorgeous man who is heavily chained and manacled. As if that's not enough of a shock, he tells her that they are meant to be together forever and there's no way to change the situation. What's a girl to do? Frank tells her story in her usual melodramatic manner, so if you love her night-walking demon series, you'll love this story. Read my review of the NIGHTWALKERS Series in my book, Fang-tastic Fiction, which is available in many libraries.

Here is a quotation from "Kane" that explains the earliest connection between the demons and the druids: 
     "A thousand years ago the Demon race had actually been comprised of two races. Demon and Druid. they had lived a symbiotic existence. Demons could not know the depth of true and meaningful love with a soul mate, without a genetically perfect Druid counterpart; Druids could never know their own power without that perfect Demon's touch to give birth to it. And...they could not survive apart from one another. The Druid would whither [sic] away and die within a couple of weeks for want of the energy of the Demon it fed from, and the Demon would pine for its love, suffer untold depression, and usually seek an end at its own hand or simply waste itself away into death....Yet, even knowing this, a millennia ago the Demons had taken an active hand in the destruction of the Druid race. Just because of a slight by one King to another King....The Demon King wiped out nearly half the Druid population in one cruel act...Demons...killed themselves in untold numbers once they were set free [of their Druid mages]....[Some] Druids...had escaped Demon persecution and hidden themselves deeply amongst the infantile human race." (pp. 250-251)

“Dragon on Top,” by G. A. Aiken , from her DRAGON KIN Series (Ratings: V5; S4; H4)

     I've read all of the books in the other three series, but DRAGON KIN is new to me. (Aiken also writes as Shelly Laurenston.) Aiken writes in a humorous manner, sometimes frentically so, but I did enjoy the story, which follows the romance between two dragons: a warrior and a peacemaker. Defying gender expectations, Aiken makes her hero, Bram, a royal diplomat who spends his time writing treaties and then finessing them through political channels. Ghleanna, his heroine, is a fierce dragon warrior, who leads her troops bravely into battle and spends her down time arguing and fighting with her many warrior brothers and sisters. This is kind of like a  hook-up between Zena the Warrior Princess and Giles from Buffy. Back to the story: Ghleanna and her ruffian warrior brothers are commanded to escort Bram to a neighboring country on a diplomatic mission when they are attacked by traitorous warriors. When Ghleanna and Bram seek refuge in an unfriendly underwater country run by a powerful female dragon, they both must use their special skills to escape, falling in love along the way. 

Here's a quotation from “Dragon on Top” to give you a flavor of the humor: 
     "Bram buried his nose against her neck, breathed in deep. "Gods, female.  You smell like blood and death." 
     Ghleanna smiled. Honestly, this dragon....
     "You've always known what you do to me, Ghleanna. Especially when you come back from battle with all your new scars and still covered in the blood and gore of our enemies. There's only so much a dragon can take!" (p. 469)
     In summary, the novellas in this anthology are important pieces of their respective series. They can be read as stand-alones, but you'll get a deeper meaning and more enjoyment if you read them in the context of the series. Because all of the expositional world building has been done in the novels that precede these novellas, the authors don't have to spend a lot of time in explanations and can jump right into the story—always an advantage in a short novella.

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