Title: When He Was Bad
Authors: Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden
Page Count: 352 pages
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review compliments of the public library
50 words or less: Shelly Laurenston's "Miss Congeniality" details how Irene Conridge, the nutty professor we met in Go Fetch came to meet her husband, Niles Van Holtz, while Cynthia Eden's "Wicked Ways" is the story of semi-retired FBI agent and shifter Cain Lawson's quest to defend his neighbor (and future mate if Cain has anything to say about it,) Miranda Shaw, from a fierce vampire attack.
This book would serve as a really accessibly entry point to books by either of these authors, both of whom write great paranormal romance, especially shifter paranormal romance, which if you ask me, is the best kind. But I digress.
Anyway, to start at the beginning, the first story was Shelly Laurenston's, and while it's not imperative that you read Go Fetch before reading this one, it definitely deepens the laughs, as Dr. Conridge makes quite an impression there as Miki's mentor for her doctoral thesis. The rather extensive back story between her and her husband, Niles Van Holtz, alpha of the Van Holtz pack, is hinted at there, and fully developed in this story.
Irene Conridge prides herself on being a babe in total control of herself. The fact that that's just a fancy acronym for bitch is a failing for other people to deal with, as far as she's concerned. She's beyond smart, she's attractive (although she can't be bothered to think about nonsense like that) and her skills are sought after by everybody with a brain. Niles Van Holtz can't keep his hands or his thoughts to himself and figures that he and Irene can have a grand old time together, since in his opinion marking a female doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that you gave her a hickey. How wrong, wrong wrong they both are about, well, everything.
I really enjoy stories whose contributions to a broader series are augmenting our understanding of what goes on in that world and giving us a deeper flavor for the characters and their personalities. You don't have to read this book to follow what's going on in the series, but if you do, you'll have a really great time. Niles and Irene are hilarious together, and the fact that despite everything they end up together and happy makes for an interesting, fun story.
Grade for this story: A
The second offering is "Wicked Ways by Cynthia Eden and is, as far as I can tell, a relatively stand alone story. Cain Lawson is ready to settle down and find his mate and live happily ever after, and he's got his eye on his new next door neighbor, Miranda Lawson. When Miranda is attacked by a vampire after an Internet date goes terribly wrong, Cain's got to use all his skills to keep her safe, even if it means revealing his secret and risking Miranda wanting nothing to do with him afterwards.
This was a great adventure and a great romance packed in a relatively limited number of pages. I am a sucker for a great shifter story, as you know, and this definitely fits the bill. Short, sweet, spicy and adventurous, Cain and Miranda are a great couple. This story made me even more excited for this author's upcoming werewolf story, Never Cry Wolf, due out in June. Sigh, waiting is so hard!
Grade for this story: A
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