Authors: Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Sharon Shinn, Meljean Brook
Plot Type: mostly SMR
Publisher: Berkley Sensation, 2011
The incredible world that Andrews builds in this novella (the longest in the book) doesn't really have any angels, but it is still absolutely amazing. As the story opens, Karina is driving her young daughter, Emily, and three of her classmates on a field trip when they take an exit for a rest stop and and are attacked by monsters. Then, another monster arrives to rescue Karina and Emily, transporting them to another realm of existence. (The other kids are sent home to their families.) The story could have turned into a typical beauty and the beast knock-off, but Andrews is a much better story teller than that. Lucas is a mysterious being who shifts into his monster form when he is in attack mode, and then shifts back into a heavily-muscled alpha male when the danger is past. He lives with three other men—all very strange and scary—in an isolated house where they always seem to be in defense mode against unseen enemies. As the plot slowly unwinds, Karina learns more information about this strange world and about the role she must play if she wants to survive. Many scenes are extremely violent, but they serve to give both Karina and the reader a sense of the innate cruelty of this world. What a great story! Click HERE to read Andrews's "unofficial blurb" about the novella, which suggests that this is the beginning of a new series. I hope so. On that same web page is a link to an excerpt from the story.
Sharon Shinn: "Nocturne" (Ratings: V2; S3; H2) (Plot Type: SMR Fantasy)
In this fantasy world, mortals live among angels at a time and place that vaguely resemble the ancient city of Samaria in the 9th Century BC. As the story begins, Moriah has been on the run for years, moving from one job to the next, always antagonizing whatever person is in charge. Now, she has arrived at the Gabriel School, a home for problem children, many of whom are the offspring of an angel and a human woman many of whom desert their children when they turn out to be mortal rather than angelic. These women are called angel-seekers. As Moriah furtively explores the school and its grounds during her solo night shift, she discovers that a blind angel lives in the house on a hill just behind the school. When she finagles her way in, she makes friends with the angel (Corban) and they exchange their life stories. As Moriah helps Corban fly again, they begin to bond and then to fall in love. This is a standard SMR story: two angst-filled characters with tragic pasts coming together in love and lust.
Meljean Brook: "Ascension," from her GUARDIAN Series (Ratings: V3; S4; H2) (Plot Type: SMR)