Title: Must Love Hellhounds
Authors: Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook
Page Count: 361 pages
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Copy for review compliments of the public library
50 words or less: Four novellas, each from a popular UF/PNR series, all focusing on the shared theme of hellhounds.
This is definitely one of my favorite anthologies I've come across in quite awhile. Already being a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse and Guild Hunter novels from Charlaine Harris and Nalini Singh, respectively, I was excited to get another dose of the story and characters from those worlds. I'd encountere the Guardian series in another anthology, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that this was my first encounter with the Kate Daniels series, but you can bet I'll be fixing that ASAP. As always, I liked some stories more than others, but overall this one is definitely a winner and worth checking out if you like these authors or are interested in becoming a fan.
Straight out of the gate is "The Britlingins Go To Hell" by Charlaine Harris and features two ancillary characters from All Together Dead. They were on assignment when Sookie met them at the vampire convention, and here we get a better look at what their world is like and what they do when they aren't making cameos in vampire books. While I knew going in that this wasn't a Sookie Stackhouse story per se, I was expecting a little more action and movement than was present here. This story felt more like a detailed character sketch instead of a standalone story. It's a nice treat to hold you over between Sookie books (although I'm two books behind in the series at this point) but don't expect the cast regulars beyond the Britlingens to be here. Grade: B
The second story is Angel's Judgement by Nalini Singh and is the story of how Elena's best friend Sara became the Guild Director and also met her husband, Deacon. Everything I love about the Guild Hunter series is here as well, and it was nice to see some of the other characters get some page time (not that I don't love Elena and Raphael though.) The way the hellhound element worked into this story was fun as well, and this serves as an excellent introduction to the series and the author's writing style as there isn't really any information that you would need to know before reading to appreciate the story. Grade: A
Third was the surprise hit of this collection for me, and fully alerted me to my need to start a new series immediately; Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews. How have I not read this series yet? Frankly I have no idea, but this story showed me that I need to fix that immediately. It's the story of Andrea, Kate's best friend, and Raphael, a hyena shifter who's decided that Andrea is his mate. Raphael has been a bit of a horn dog in the past, so Anrea is really wary of what will happen when his attention wanes, as she's sure it will. Raphael has to prove that he's a changed man, and does so admirably; he helps Andrea with a case, and earns her trust and her secrets at the same time! Admittedly there were things that I didn't fully appreciate because they referenced the events of the first three books in this series (this story is billed as #3.5 in this series) but all that did was make me want to read the books. This story was definitely my favorite of the four, which is saying a fair piece in and of itself. Grade: A
Finally there was "Blind Spot" by Meljean Brook, which is part of her Guardian series. I need to read this series as well, and from the beginning, as I've read a couple of related novellas but none of the full length novels. This story is a winner though, and features characters with really unusual powers having to solve a really unique mystery and maybe find love in the process. It stars Maggie, the butler, having to save the niece and nephew of her boss without giving away a bunch of her own secrets in the process. Suffice it to say, Geoff, the nephew, isn't what she expects at all, much to the enjoyment of the audience. This series is going on my ever-growing TBR pile as well. Grade: A
As I always say, anthologies are a cheaper, sometimes riskier way of discovering new authors, but I can definitely and wholeheartedly recommend this one. Existing fans of the series will love the new additions; newcomers will definitely want to track down the previous volumes and enjoy each series from the beginning.
Overall Grade: A-
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