Dear Ms. Kelly,
I’m not usually a fan of Blaze books nor of anthologies. Often elements of a story I love such as characterization and believability are sacrificed for the hot sex that the imprint is known for and anthologies in general sometimes irk me due to the short word count that demands I believe that two people who just met are in love forevah after 80-100 pages. When you offered us a copy of your latest book, I debated with myself if I really felt I could read it and do a decent review. In the end, I took the plunge. While I’ve not been turned into a babbling proselyte, I was rewarded with a fun, fast, and yes hot, story of five couples enjoying themselves immensely.
My usual sticking point with short stories, novellas and anthologies is trying to believe that two people who just met have now fallen hopelessly in love. Love at first sight will only carry so many stories for me. After that, it’s up to the author to wisely use her word count to convey an entire story arc in a manner that doesn’t strain credulity. Since you were also including several scenes of hotness, you were even more constrained. I think you were smart to have four of the couples already know each other. This way the initial meeting is dispensed with, the attraction is already there, the conflict is already in place and you can head straight to the reconciliation and still include the hot sex. The one couple who are new to each other end their story with an agreement to begin dating and the hope that this will lead to more which worked just fine for me.
Four of the five conflicts here are well thought out. One just seemed to be the heroine thinking the hero is too sweet for her and that she’s too bitchy for him. That one seemed a little silly to me. Yet on the other hand, this was the story which might have the scene at which some readers will balk. Admittedly I don’t read many Blaze novels so I’m not sure if threesomes are beginning to be routinely included in them but it’s the first such scene I recall in a series print book. The story with the FBI hero basically kidnapping a star witness is one I didn’t dwell on the details too much either. The premise that she thought he used her during his undercover investigation was fine but I was a bit iffy about the number of agents suddenly racing around the city tracking the hit man. If she’s so important to the case, why let her be in this wedding anyway?
The millionaire and the stripper story conflict was fine. He’s from a wealthy background and she’s definitely not, he’s a high profile businessman and she takes her clothes off to pay for college, he’s a teensy bit of a snot and she calls him on it. No problems for me with this one. The two stories that worked best for me were the childhood sweethearts who parted on bad terms and the overworked housewife who longs for a night away from the demands of her young children. I could see how two teenagers let passion overwhelm them right at a time when college was looming, families could interfere and intervene and people move on and loose touch with each other. And what mother, no matter how loving and devoted to her offspring, couldn’t do with a night away from sippy cups, diapers and bedtime stories and in bed with a man who wants to cherish the woman she still is?
But what about the hot scenes? Well, there’s the sex with a stranger in a car, slightly voyeuristic sex in an elevator with a piano bar pick up, sex on the run, reunion sex, and the threesome. All followed by even more hotness lasting through the night. By morning, for these couples, everything below the waist is kaput as Madeline Kahn famously sang in “Blazing Saddles.” Yet, despite the scenes being hot, and they were, none of them squicked me out as so many erotica offerings do these days. I didn’t once scrunch my face up and say “eeuuuw.” Maybe the book would be judged too tame by those who want blatant buttseck, twincest, BDSM and other delights, yet you do allow for the imagination to fill in the blanks if that is what is desired. B for “One Wild Wedding Night.”