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Monday, November 26, 2012

Anthology: "The Undead in My Bed"

Title:  The Undead in My Bed   
Authors:  Katie MacAlister, Molly Harper, & Jessica Sims  
Plot Type:  Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)   
Publisher:  Pocket (10/2012)   

     This is an anthology of three novellas, each focusing on a sexy male vampire and a cute and spunky woman (two are human; one is a shifter) as they meet, fall in love, and get their HEAs. All three novellas are segments of established series, but each can be read as a stand-alone.

Katie MacAlister:  "Shades of Gray" 
Ratings: Violence2; Sensuality2; Humor4 
     In this episode from MacAlister's DARK ONES series, the spurned Guardian Noelle finally lands her very own Dark One. If you've been reading the series, you know that Noelle was supposed to be the Beloved of Sebastian Mercier, but Sebastian fell in love with Ysabelle Raleigh instead. As this story opens, Noelle is on location in a broken-down Czechoslovakian castle as part of the crew of a ghost-busters reality TV show. Coincidentally, the long-missing owner of the castleGrayson ("Gray") Soucek, a Dark Oneshows up and the two realize that they are meant for one another. Unfortunately for Noell, Gray at first turns away from her because of his difficult personal situation. Due to a messy bit of family intrigue, he has been vitiated (i.e., bound to a Demon Lord for the purpose of corruption). For centuries, Gray has been moving from place to place trying to avoid the Demon Lord's minions, who are trying to track him down. 

     Needless to say, the couple makes it through their eight steps of joining and heads off for their HEA. This is a typical MacAlister story in which the heroine is smart and feisty, the hero is a handsome buffoon, the dialogue is cute, and the starring couple follows the usual progression from meet to heat to HEA. Click HERE to read my review of the DARK ONES series. 

Molly Harper:  "Undead Sublet" 
Ratings: Violence2; Sensuality3; Humor4
     This is the longest and strongest of the three novellas (170 pages), and it is part of Harper's HALF-MOON HOLLOW series, which is a spin-off of the NICE GIRLS/JANE JAMESON series. Click HERE to read my review of the HALF MOON HOLLOW series. Click HERE to read my review of the NICE GIRLS series.

     As the story begins, Tess Maitland in the kitchen of the Chicago restaurant where she is the executive chef when she begins hallucinating that the salad vegetables are singing and dancing. Needless to say, Tess is long overdue for a restorative vacation, and she decides that visiting her mentor in Half Moon Hollow, Kentucky, is just what she needs. When Tess rents a charming house that is being rehabbed before being sold in a divorce settlement, she's relieved to have some peace, until she discovers that she is sharing the house with sexy Sam Clemson, who is a vampire, a carpenter, and the soon-to-be ex-husband of Lindy, the woman who rented the house to Tess (and who failed to mention anything about a blood-sucking roommate).  

     The story follows the antics of Tess and Sam as they play sophomoric pranks in the hopes of driving each other away—like super-gluing car keys, removing door knobs, hot-saucing blood bags, and setting crickets loose in enclosed spaces. Eventually, Tess and Sam agree to co-exist peacefully, and he helps her concoct a recipe for a contest to invent a new vampire food that gives vampires the taste of real food without the unpleasant after effects. As the weeks pass, Sam and Tess fall for one another and Tess begins to believe that she could be really happy in Half Moon Hollow.

     This novella is typical of the series, with its frenetically funny dialogue, quirky characters, light-weight plot line, and (of course) an HEA for the hero and heroine. This is the first story in either of the two Half Moon series to put a positive spin on Jane Jameson's mother, who is usually portrayed as thoughtlessly cruel and totally clueless. Well, she's still pretty clueless in this novella, but she actually does a few nice things for Tess.   

Jessica Sims:  "Out with a Fang"        
Ratings: Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor—2
     This is the shortest and weakest of the three novellas (115 pages), and it is part of the MIDNIGHT LIAISONS series. Click HERE to read my review of the MIDNIGHT LIAISONS series. 

     Ruby Sommers is a were-jaguar on her first date booked through the Midnight Liaisons Dating Service, and she is shocked and dismayed to learn that the agency has matched her up with a vampire. Not that Ruby is opposed to vampires in general—it's just that she was looking forward to meeting a nice sexy shifter. Ruby's romantic life pretty much ended four years ago when she fell in love with Michael (a human) and then had to stage a fake tryst with another man (boyfriend of a friend) in order to shock Michael into dumping her, because the Alliance (the ruling council for supernaturals) enforces strict rules against supernaturals dating humans—not to mention the fact that Ruby's father threatened to kill Michael if she didn't stop seeing him. Ruby is still in love with Michael, and she has been drifting through life ever since they broke up.

     Strangely, Valjean, Ruby's vampire date asks her to wear a blindfold, explaining that he is a new vampire who hasn't yet learned to control his fangs and he's afraid he will scare her. Both Ruby and the reader recognize this as a flimsy ploy, and we're not at all surprised to learn that "Valjean" is really Michael, who was turned not long after the debacle of their break-up. 

     The story follows the couple through an improbable story line as they rekindle their romance while on the run from mysterious vampire mob thugs who are trying to kill Michael for an absurd reason. Ruby and Michael wind up rescuing each other as the story line gets more and more ridiculous.

     This is a typical story for this series: a light-weight plot with holes big enough to drive a semi-truck through and shallow, cardboard protagonists with absolutely no chemistry between them. 

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