Here’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.