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Monday, November 14, 2011

"Highland Hunger" (Anthology)

Authors:  Hannah Howell, Jackie Ivie, and Michele Sinclair
Title:  Highland Hunger
Plot Type:  SMR
Publisher:  Kensington, 2011 

     This anthology contains three traditional paranormal soul-mate romances, all of which have a Scottish Highlands element. If you're crazy about tall, handsome, muscular, Gaelic-speaking vampires, then this is definitely the book for you. In each story, a lonely Highland vampire meets and mates with his feisty, stubborn, and always virginal soul mate. Ratings for violence, sensuality, and humor vary from story to story and are included at the beginning of each individual review. 

Hannah Howell:  "Dark Embrace," from her HIGHLAND SERIES (Ratings: V3; S4; H1)
     Raibeart MacNachton saves the beautiful Una Dunn from a band of witch hunters and learns that she shares his MacNachton vampire heritage. The story follows Raibeart and Una as they scramble to reach the MacNachton lands ahead of the hunters. Then, they lead the clan warriors in the rescue of eight other Lost Ones. The Lost Ones are half-blood MacNachtons fathered by wandering vampire warriors. The MacNachtons have recently become aware of these half-bloods and are trying to rescue as many as possible from human persecution. Raibeart and Una don't have the high levels of angst that most such couples must work through. They fall in lust immediately, and love soon follows. The villains are dispatched quickly and efficiently, and Una is never in any real danger after she meets up with Raibeart.

Here is the rescue scene:
     "Una was just thinking that she would put an end to the game by going on the attack when the sound of hooves thundering over the ground made her and her enemies tense....Her glance turned into an open-mouthed stare. A huge black horse was galloping their way, but it was the man seated on the impressive beast that fully grasped her attention and held it. He was big, big enough that he needed a horse that size just to carry his weight. Long black hair, broad shoulders, and a wide grin on his handsome face—a wide grin that revealed a glimpse of what looked like fangs. She did not flinch when he leaned down, holding out a hand as he drew near yet barely reining in his mount. Una weighed her choices in that heartbeat of time it took for him to reach her. Five men to battle or one big one. The choice was clear. She grabbed his wrist and leapt up, noting his strength as he easily drew her up behind him." (p. 6)    

***   ***   ***   *****   ***   ***   *** 

Jackie Ivie:  "A Knight Beyond Black" (Ratings: V1; S4; H3)
     Twenty-one years ago, vampire Iain Duncan MacAvee woke up one day with the certain knowledge that his soul mate, Tira Coxton-Coombs, had just been born. Iain tracked Tira down and signed an agreement with her father in which he promised to pay all of the family's considerable expenses in return for marriage to Tira on her 21st birthday. There are just two small problems: No one has ever mentioned this contract to Tira, and no one is aware that Iain is a vampire. On the eve of this most-important birthday, Lady Tira is having a miserable time at a ball when she is swept off her feet by the rich and handsome Duke of MacAvee. When Iain insists that they will marry within the week, Tira is understandably shocked and extremely upset, but she is also attracted to Iain and is unhappy with her other prospects and with her jealous sister, so she goes along with his plans. When the wedding is over and the marriage is consummated (including Tira's vampiric turning), Iain begins to have second thoughts. He's afraid that Tira hates him for turning her without her consent, while Tira thinks that he doesn't really love her. It's a typical SMR angst-filled plot with overtones of an old-fashioned bodice ripper.

Here is Iain reliving the loneliness of his long life and remembering how he felt when he first realized that his mate had been born:
     "...his mate, destined, birthed into this world just for him. Forever. She was his. He'd known it twenty-one years ago and he knew it now. With every moment that passed. He little cared that she'd been born into a Sassenach family with only a hint of Scot roots and even less claim of honor. She was his mate and he knew it. The moment she'd existed he'd felt it. Every leaf in his orchard and every animal in his stables had reacted. Or Iain's senses had been reborn again, with even more height and breadth and scope. Three hundred lonely years he'd waited and now she was here, within reach. As succulent as a ripe peach, as deep as a windswept moor, and as beautiful as every moonrise he'd watched. More so." (pp. 100-101)     

***   ***   ***   *****   ***   ***   ***

Michele Sinclair:  "The Guardian" (Ratings: V4; S4; H2) 
     Dorian is an immortal Nosferatu (vampire) who looks like a Highlander, and in fact, he loves the Highlands better than his own Greek homeland. Dorian's nephew, Ionas, has a history of trouble making, and now Ionas has apparently sent his minions to the Highlands in search of a mysterious woman whose blood has magical qualities. When Duncan arrives to save the lives of the humans who are being slaughtered by Ionas' hunters, he finds that someone is already defending themthe Guardian of Badenoch, a beautiful seemingly human young woman named Morae Deincourtand she is quite upset that he is cutting into her action. The two clash (of course), but soon are lustfully attracted to one another. Each tries to ignore the attraction because they both have deep secrets that they are not ready to share. Needless to say, love conquers all. This story begins with a lengthy prologue, which is stuffed to overflowing with expositional information. This novella reads like the prequel to a series. I don't know if that's the case, but if so, I'd be interested in reading more. 

Here is Moirae's reaction when she discovers that someone is trying to replace her as the Guardian of Badenoch:
     "Moirae sat in shock, barely registering what the two women were jabbering. With each new description, Moirae's jaw became more rigid and the outrage in her emerald eyes grew. Moonlight? a sword? A new horse! All things she had been forced to avoid because of what she wasa woman....Moirae groaned, throwing her face into her hands. A deep voice! Whoever had the impudence to take over the role she had so carefully created was executing it in a way she had only dreamed of doing." (pp. 210-211)

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