My review originally posted on Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/burning-up-antho
“Whisper of Sin” by Nalini Singh - 5 stars
It’s 2072 and a human gang is threatening the streets of San Francisco. Psy government officials have deemed the threat negligible, but the leopard DarkRiver pack, who has claimed San Francisco as their territory, is determined to wipe out any threats in the city. Human Ria Wembley learns just how serious DarkRiver is about the safety of San Franciscans when she’s rescued from a deadly attack by DarkRiver Changelings. But Ria isn’t safe just yet, and until she is, she’ll be guarded by the Changelings – and by one leopard in particular. Emmett, a sexy, possessive, dominant DarkRiver soldier awakens something in Ria she’s never before experienced. And Ria is about to learn that when a DarkRiver male sets his sights on his mate, he’ll use every sensual trick at his disposal to make her his.
“Whisper of Sin” is romance, sensual delight, action, and fun all woven together into a gorgeous tapestry of a story. Nalini Singh adds another hit to her phenomenal Psy-Changeling series with Ria and Emmett’s romance. Emmett is one heck of an alpha leopard, but Ria matches him every step of the way. She may be human, but she’s no pushover. These two are one hundred percent perfect for each other and the sparks that fly between them make the pages of “Whisper of Sin” practically crackle with energy.
The biggest obstacle in Ria and Emmett’s romance is not the threat of the gang after Ria, but her family. Ria’s parents are sure they know what’s best for her (and it’s not Emmett), but they’re genuinely good-hearted people who love their daughter. I adored the Wembley family, particularly Ria’s grandmother. The family dynamics added another layer to “Whisper of Sin” that enabled me to connect with Ria even further.
“Whisper of Sin” is a prequel to Ms. Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Fans of the series will surely love, as I did, seeing more of the history of the DarkRiver pack. Lucas, Dorian, and Tammy are all strong secondary characters and other DarkRiver leopards that readers know and love make an appearance as well. It’s fascinating to see how DarkRiver built up the power they have by the timeline of the first book, Slave to Sensation. Yet while there is a wealth of entertainment to be had for those who already know and love the Psy-Changeling series (eagle-eyed readers in particular should enjoying watching a scene played out between Ria and Emmett that is referenced in Mine to Possess), those unfamiliar with the series will not be left behind. Ms. Singh ensures that “Whisper of Sin” fully stands on its own. However, I’m sure anyone whose first encounter with the DarkRiver pack is in reading “Whisper of Sin” won’t stay a stranger to those luscious leopards for long. Ms. Singh’s stories are that addictive!
“Blood and Roses” by Angela Knight - 2 stars
Raniero, a vampire knight loyal to his king, has been sent to investigate rumors that Wizard Lord Korban is attempting to destroy the barrier that keeps the dangerous Varilian raiders out of the kingdom. Ambushed by Korban’s deadly allies, Raniero finds himself held captive by the evil wizard. But what’s most dangerous to Raniero is not the wizard or the Varil: it’s the seductive Blood Rose Amaris he doesn’t know he can trust.
A warrior vampire, a seductive Blood Rose, sex, power, danger…all the makings of a great story are present in “Blood and Roses,” but somehow the story falls far short of what Angela Knight’s capable of. Some of the very best novellas I have read were written by Ms. Knight, but “Blood and Roses” missed the mark for me. Raniero and Amaris had interesting histories, but the two never came to life for me. Sadly, both the sex and battle scenes fell flat for me as well. Obstacles came crashing down in a matter of seconds and made it feel like they were just placed in the story for the sake of being there. I truly wanted to like “Blood and Roses,” but I’m afraid I will have to pass on re-reading this novella in favor of enjoying other stories by Ms. Knight.
“Shifting Sea” by Virginia Kantra - 4 stars
Major John Harris has survived war, but he’s not so sure he’s prepared to survive inheriting a Scottish estate. While riding near the sea one day, Jack encounters a beautiful siren of a woman, Morwenna. Morwenna is unlike any woman Jack has ever met. She’s bold, independent, and no one in town seems to know who she is. There’s something almost otherworldly about her. The question is, is Jack ready to learn the truth about the woman who is swiftly capturing his heart?
“Shifting Sea” is, quite simply, enchanting. Virginia Kantra lures her readers in from the start, much like Morwenna does to Jack. It’s impossible not to adore Morwenna and Jack, for both are kind, honorable, and strong. Furthermore, as someone new to Ms. Kantra’s Children of the Sea series, I was intrigued to learn of the “finfolk,” which is what Morwenna is – a shape-shifting Child of the Sea.
“Shifting Sea” is a prequel to the Children of the Sea series, and though I have not yet read any of the books, I most definitely want to now!
“Here There Be Monsters” by Meljean Brook - 5 stars
esperate to flee London, Ivy entered into a dangerous agreement: her body for passage on pirate captain Mad Machen’s ship. Fearful of the bargain she made, Ivy willingly accepted aid from one of Mad Machen’s rivals. Two years later, the lovely blacksmith is scraping out a living in Fool’s Cove. But Ivy’s peaceful existence is shattered when Mad Machen finds her. This time, there can be no escape. Mad Machen wants Ivy to build a machine that will be a monster unlike any has ever seen. What’s more, the mad pirate still wants her to uphold her end of their long-ago bargain…
Meljean Brook launches what’s sure to be a thrilling steampunk series with the exciting “Here There Be Monsters.” Ivy and Mad Machen’s story is quite possibly my favorite novella in this anthology; and given the other stories, that says something. The world Ms. Brook has created in “Here There Be Monsters” is inventive and intriguing and I can’t wait to see where she goes with it in future Iron Seas stories.
Yet, it wasn’t just the originality of Ms. Brook’s steampunk world that captivated me. Ivy and Eben (aka Mad Machen) are truly the heart and soul of “Here There Be Monsters.” Ivy’s spirit, talent, and determination made her a heroine to admire. Eben, in turn, just about melted my heart. Most may call him mad, but there’s tenderness in him when it comes to Ivy that truly made me envy her.
In “Here There Be Monsters,” Ms. Brook perfectly balances world-building with romance. If Ivy and Eban’s story is any indication, The Iron Seas will be a series to watch.
There are three great reasons to buy Burning Up
: Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, and Meljean Brook. Each of these three authors pack one heck of a punch with their sexy, engaging tales. Like the title suggests, Burning Up
smolders with red-hot sexuality. That alone might be enough to make it a worthwhile read, but Burning Up
goes above and beyond with its original stories and romances that touch the heart.