This is a collection of four paranormal stories by well-known names in this genre. Two of the stories are standalone, the other two are short continuations from previous stories and thus are less successful for those who haven't read the previous novels.
THE YEARNING by Hannah Howell. In this story a young woman tries to break a curse which has blanketed two families for over four hundred years. The ancestress of Sophie Hay cursed her unborn child whose father, a MacCordy, left her; the curse called for the MacCordy line to never find happiness until they chose love over wealth and social position. Unfortunately for Sophie, the curse rebounded on Mona Galt, her ancestress, and meant that the Galt women's descendents find happiness briefly and then it is snatched away from them. She decides to visit the current MacCordy Laird and try to help him. She finds a morose man, Alpin MacCordy, whose beast inside is almost at the point of mastering him. Can Sophie and Alpin find love and freedom from the curse?
This is a good read with few surprises but some good characterisation and a satisfactory resolution.
A HELL OF A TIME by Jackie Kessler continues the story of Jessie/Jezebel from Hell's Belles. In this story Jessie and Paul decide to go away for a quiet weekend at a cabin in the countryside. Despite Jessie's nature now being human, rather than succubus, she finds herself unwelcome and that some of the entities already at the cabin want to drive her away. Jessie knows that her former life must cause some problems to Paul and she tries to shield him from the supernatural events that are going on, but those working against her are trying harder than she thinks and she and Paul must face up to some of the difficulties she's trying to avoid.
This story felt a little aimless at times, more as if the author was writing it for a chance to include further sex scenes rather than advance any plot; it also relies fairly heavily on the previous book and doesn't give large chunks of backstory for new readers.
CITY OF DEMONS by Richelle Mead apparently continues a previous story, one I haven't read. Georgie is a succubus who is living with Seth Mortensen, a human. Unfortunately this means that she can't touch him at all or she will steal his life which makes for a rather awkward love life. Georgie is sent by Jerome, her boss, to serve on a jury in a trial of three demons, one of whom is believed to have destroyed another demon. Georgie soon finds that she's the only juror interested in proceedings and, more worryingly, that Seth seems to be finding a close friendship with a waitress at a cafe. Can Georgie keep her honesty despite bribery from the accused in the trial and can she keep her man despite her inability to touch him.
This story was really good fun in terms of the setting of the trial, the different bribery methods and the demon/succubus world. It was less successful in the relationship between Georgie and Seth and ended, I felt, at a rather loose end. I enjoyed the trial sections, even if I did spot the twist coming, but felt that the love interest part was far less well developed.
BITTEN by Lynsay Sands was a light and fun final story in this book. It's a standalone story unrelated to her Argeneau vampire series, despite having a vampire hero. Keeran was turned by an evil female vampire and has lived a recluse for 200 years. When he rescues Emily Wentworth Collins from a sinking ship he finds that he's brought a lively and helpful woman into his castle, one who is trying to avoid an unwanted marriage and whose light and life seem to be spreading around the village. But a man who loathes his new nature and who tries to keep away from everyone may not be able to withstand a forceful character like Emily.
Lynsay Sands writes the brooding vampire character very effectively and some of the side characters, such as the housekeeper, are also very well written. This was an enjoyable story and finished off the book on a very positive note.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008