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Kathleen O’Reilly, Julie Kenner and Dee Davis

Dear Author

REVIEW: Hell with the Ladies – Anthology – by Kathleen...

Dear Ladies:

To Hell With the LadiesHere’s the sttory behind how this book was chosen for the dueling review and why it’s late (it’s supposed to be a November dueling review). Jayne and I were tossing around ideas. I suggested Drop Dead Gorgeous but Jayne confessed to not having read Linda Howard in years. Billionaires Prefer Blondes came up but Jayne couldn’t make it past the first chapter (or was it two chapters). We agreed upon this Anthology given that Jayne liked Kathleen O’Reilly’s Diva’s Guide to Selling Your Soul.

Alas, while Jayne was prompt and had her review done in November, I could not get into the second story. I emailed Jayne, doing many mea culpas and asking if we could just do away with the belated November dueling review. Jayne suggested our dueling reviews be her review on this book and my review of Billionaire’s Prefer Blondes (which will go up next week), but because of the ending of the second novella and the kick ass third novella, I was glad to participate. Mostly my opinions mirror Jayne’s which seems rare these days.

My overall opinion is that the writing was good in all three stories but I didn’t believe that there was a good match and thus a believable HEA in the first two. The last one, however, has me looking up Dee Davis’ backlist.

Jack by Kathleen O’Reilly

Jack is over 900 years old. He’s seen everything, done everything and everyone. When his father offers him the keys to the kingdom in exchange for a book, Jack is pretty sure that he will have no problem fulfilling his father’s request. Off he goes to New York to the bookstore owned by the D’Angelis family. Only the woman manning the bookstore would rather give her body to Jack than the book. Gabrielle D’Angelis wants to get away from the decaying bookstore and see the world and believes that the best that she can do is to marry out.

Jack is charming, the epitome of the wealthy and charismatic male. Gabrielle can’t help but be seduced by the fancy restaurants and the expensive clothes and gifts. But when it comes down to it, Jack gives nothing of himself and in the end, that just isn’t enough for Gabrielle.

This isn’t a bad storyline and the writing isn’t bad either. The problem that I had with Gabrielle and Jack is that I don’t really know why either of them fell in love for each other. It wasn’t apparent to me what good qualities Jack had and while Gabrielle was lively, she seemed a bit shallow. I wasn’t convinced that the pair of them were a good match. I was even further perturbed by the fact that the ending was very contrived and not really well integrated into what little world building there was. C.

Nick by Julie Kenner

Nick is the middle brother who is charged with stealing the soul of a beautiful young woman. Delilah Burnett left her smalltown to come to New York to be a model. Lila was the real weakness in the story. She wanted to be a model but when faced with the opportunity of sitting for a painting for one of the greatest portrait artists of the time, she just doesn’t know if she should Blah. Lila was further presented as this small town girl with a heart of gold, but within hours of meeting Nick, she seemed willing to do whatever he wanted.

Nick was more compelling. As he spent more time with Lila, painting what he felt would be his greatest painting of all, he begins to fall for her big heart. Unfortunately, Lila changes as he begins stealing bits of her soul and he begins to despise himself. There was a disturbing undercurrent here that only the soulless women would be brash partiers willing to seduce and be seduced. C.

Marcus by Dee Davis

Haven’t read Dee Davis before but I’ll be looking for her at the bookstore now. This story worked so much better because it seemed that there was a certain equality between the two main protagonists. Celeste is the daughter of a who likes to acquire things by illegal means if necessary;Marcus the youngest son of Lucifer has a long history of thievery as well. (I loved that he was a pirate so many years ago. :)). He’s not so interested in the ruling hell as getting one up on his older brothers and to feed acquisitive desire for the elusive Devil’s Delight. Marcus is drawn to Celeste and has been in the past but refuses to give of himself fearing Celeste’s rejection due to Marcus origins.

Celeste and Marcus work together to obtain the Devil’s Delight and in doing so cannot deny their attraction for each other. Even as they are together in bed, they each tell themselves it cannot mean anything more than physical. But the Devil’s Delight is not a stone that has good fortune attached to it.

You were able to sell me an entire love story within the confines of an anthology. Celeste and Marcus were full bodied characters with believable motivations (although Celeste’s was a little unclear). Marcus was not the rapacious rogue that the previous two sons were made out to be and thus his transformation was completely believable as was the HEA. Added to the love story was a neat little adventure plot. In all, it was well done. B.

In the end, I was glad I read the anthology just to discover a new to me author. I guess that is why publishers keep putting out anthologies.

Best regards,

Jane

Dear Author

REVIEW: Hell with the Ladies – Anthology – by Kathleen...

Ladies,

I think most romance readers view anthologies as a mixed blessing. Readers get a chance to read favorite authors or try new ones in a short format. Sometimes the stories work but usually there’s at least one which doesn’t. I’ll cut short your suspense and say that in “To Hell with the Ladies” that usual premise didn’t hold true for me: two stories were OK while one was quite good.

Ms. O’Reilly, you start things out with the story of Lucifer’s oldest son. Jack has waited almost 1000 years for the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps. His current occupation is running a casino in Vegas but he jumps at the chance to fulfill his father’s demand and thereby take over the family business, namely running hell. All Jack has to do is go to an old, family run bookstore in NYC and buy one little book, The Book of Souls. Piece of cake, Jake thinks. Especially when Jack finds that the store is run by a pretty but naive young women. A little wining and dining, some killer shopping sprees and great sex later, Jack learns that not every women will be satisfied with the material things he has to offer. Will Jack discover what Gabriella really wants and more importantly, is she worth losing hell for?

At first I wasn’t sure how well I’d like this one. Gabriella comes off a little like NYC trailer trash. She’s young, naive, willing to be seduced by the trinkets Jack can lavish on her. But then, she straightens up, looks Jack in the eye and tells him what he can do with his baubles. Jack is bewildered. No woman has ever turned him down and aren’t all women just after more stuff? B- for creating a woman who’s wiser than she appears and a hero who ends up being worthy of her.

Ms. Kenner, you take up the trilogy next with the middle son. Nick’s well known around the world as a hot young artist and suave ladies’ man. What people don’t know is that it’s not just his artistic talent which makes his paintings so life like, it’s the little piece of each sitter’s soul that Nick adds to his creations. When papa dearest offers Nick the chance to take the reins of hell, Nick thinks he’s got the deal sewn up. All he has to do is paint one portrait of the daughter of minister….and put her entire soul into it. As the painting progresses and Lila Bennett slowly loses her inhibitions along with her soul, Nick finds himself wondering for the first time about what he’s doing. Sure Lila will end up with what she claims she’s wanted all the time, fame and notoriety for having sat for him, but can he bear to cause her such a loss even as he’s falling in love with her?

Lila was just a bit too innocent for me. The mix of sweet, shy woman with alluring sexpot who manages to tame the rogue is a hard one to pull off and Lila doesn’t quite do it for me. Nick is better as a man slowly realizing what his actions are doing to this woman. C+

Ms Dee you wind up the anthology with Marcus’s tale. After his first two sons failed him (well, folks it isn’t really a spoiler since this is a romance anthology!), Lucifer turns to his youngest son with the same deal. Only this time he wants a priceless, famous ruby. Finding the Devils’ Delight is right up Marcus’s alley. A former pirate and now cat burgler of sorts, Marcus has tracked down lost and unaccounted for works of art for centuries. And this time, he gets to work with a former lover whose father also wants the gemstone. Celeste and Marcus reluctantly agree to work together to fine the ruby with the understanding that after that, all bets are off as to who actually gets to keep it. But will Marcus be any more willing to sacrifice the woman he loves in order to fullfill his father’s demands?

This ended up being the best of the bunch for me. Celeste is more worldly wise and Marcus isn’t quite as jaded as his elder brothers, both of whom are starting to grow weary of immortality. I liked that Celeste is a stronger character and she seemed more balanced with her hero. The action/adventure theme was also more fun. B for this one.

~Jayne