Title: Burning Up
Authors: Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
Page Count: 343 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was from my personal library
50 words or less: Spicy hot anthology from four veteran PNR authors.
I'd been looking forward to Burning Up for a long time, at first because of the new offering in the Psy-Changeling series that's included, but then because of the introduction to Meljean Brook's new steampunk romance series as well. I'm pleased to say that this book lived up to my expectations entirely and even had a few surprises in store.
First up was Whisper of Sin by Nalini Singh, which is the story of Ria, a human, and Emmett, her changeling mate. Emmett takes it upon himself to act as Ria's bodyguard and it was extremely fun to watch their relationship grow and develop. It was definitely up to par with what I've come to expect from this series, as well as for Play of Passion when it comes out this fall.
The second story was Angela Knight's Blood and Roses, which definitely had its high and low points. I admit I wasn't quite comfortable with the romance between the characters (dramatically unfair power dynamics and the so-called "forced seduction" element don't really work for me) I did really enjoy the world and the setting of the story, as well as the idea of a high fantasy/vampire/medieval mashup. I think this story would have done a lot better as a full length novel, since as it stands the pacing of the relationship was kind of wham-bam-thank you ma'am-I-love-you-forever-and-ever-amen.
Overall Grade: B-
The third offering, Shifting Sea by Virginia Kantra, was the story that, for me, was the most middle of the road. It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible, it just kind of...was. I didn't find myself terribly enthralled to find out what happened to the characters or how they came to be there, and the world didn't interest me all that much. I think folks that were already interested in the series might have enjoyed it more; for me it was a pleasant enough story but nothing to write home about.
Overall Grade: B-
The final story and the one that seems to have been the breakout hit of this anthology is Meljean Brook's Here There Be Monsters, which is the story of piracy, technological slavery, invention, romance, Victorian sensibilities, rumors, intrigue, and a second chance romance that really worked for me. This story is also a good example of how uneven power dynamics in a relationship can work to a story's advantage; although Eben (the pirate captain) is definitely holding all the cards, he tries to avoid using them in his relationship with Ivy (the genius mechanic). He wants to win her on his own or not at all.
Overall Grade: A
It's actually pretty rare that I buy an anthology (I usually opt to get them from the library) but I did spring for this one, even in violation of my promise to not buy books this month. I guess, though, if I'm going to cheat on my book diet, it's good that it was for a book as enjoyable as this one.
Overall Grade: A
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