Batanya and Clovache are bodyguards in the service of the Britlingen Collective. The ladies have only recently completed their last assignment, yet are called in for a new mission. The pair's new client is named Crick. No matter how innocent the man pretends to be, Batanya and Clovache can tell he is hiding information. It is not until the contract is signed that the bodyguards learn where they are going. Crick is heading to Hell so he can steal Lucifer's conjuring ball. It is the only destination in which no one has ever returned from.
***** FIVE STARS! Exciting and intriguing. The Collective is worth having its very own series! *****
Angels' Judgment by Nalini Singh
The Cadre of Ten are the archangels who rule the world in all ways that matter. They meet when Simon, the human Guild Director of the American Chapter, decides he will retire within the next year. Simon informs them that he chooses Sara Haziz to be his successor. Once done, Simon calls in Deacon to be Sara's bodyguard without her knowledge. Why? Certain archangels may feel the urge to "test" her. Though the Guild hunts and retrieves Made vampires who break their Contracts, the hunters do their best not to kill them. However, very rarely, a hunter cracks and seems to go insane. Should that happen the one called "Slayer" hunts down the hunter and terminates him.
Sara knows almost instantly that Deacon is a babysitter, but is shocked to learn he is also "Slayer". The two are out to find a vampire serial killer. The evidence points to the killer being a hunter from the Guild. At the same time, Sara must keep her eyes out for a possible life-threatening test or two.
After just suffering through the collection "Nocturnal" which went from bad to terrible I starting questioning what makes a good short story. The minimum has to be plot, characters and good writing. But that can be more of a challenge in a shorter piece when the author doesn't have a lot of space to develop either character or plot. In this collection the writers demonstrate how it can and should be done. In each of these novellas the writer's skill is obvious. All four of the stories in this collection include an original plot, believable characters, under the control of a skilled writer. What none of them have is a cliched, hackneyed storyline in which supernatural hunky lover meets plucky female, immediately takes her to bed for "amazing" sex, then together they defeat the bad evil thing and vow instant and eternal love. The End! Instead each story is different and everyone of them is a treat. My personal favourite is "Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews whom I enjoy in everything she writes. I was less impressed with "Angel's Judgement" by Nalini Singh, although she is also a great favourite of mine. Anyone who has read "Angel's Blood" will find this story worth reading because it gives the back story about two of the characters in that excellent book, Sara and Deacon. If you haven't read "Angel's Blood" or "Angel's Consort" don't let this piece put you off. Both novels are terrific. And the novella is okay, just not as good as the novels. Charlaine Harris is on an interesting tangent with "The Britlingens Go to Hell." It can be a pleasure to see a well known writer going in a different direction and this piece stands up very well. I did not know Meljean Brook but I really liked "Blind Spot" and will be looking for more of her work. No two stories in this book are alike and they are all imaginative and fun to read. And somehow they each managed to get at least one Hellhound into each story quite comfortably.
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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2 great, 1 good, and 1 badMarch 27 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
"The Britlingens Go To Hell" by Charlaine Harris. This story is a bit hard to classify. The story involves two female members of an elite Britlingens guard (who appeared briefly as bodyguards in All Together Dead, Sookie Stackhouse book 7) for hire who accept a contract with a thief on a recovery mission to Hell. The setting is a planet in a futuristic alternate dimension. Translation: hovercrafts and time travel portals.
There are a couple historical cameos that pop up inexplicably in an attempt at comic relief; attempt being the operative word there. And Lucifer himself as the villain is more interested in sadomasochism then anything else. The obligatory hellhounds serve as prison guard dogs.
If I hadn't read Charlaine Harris before, this story would probably have kept me from seeking out her other books. This just feels like she phoned it in. The writing is not good, the characters underdeveloped (even for a novella), and the world convoluted and poorly explained. Since I know that Charlaine Harris is a good author, I'm going to dismiss this effort as a fluke.
Sexual Content: references to sadomasochism and male rape. Anatomical sexual incompatibilities.
2 out 5
"Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews takes place in the same world as the Kate Daniels series. While Kate is in a few scenes, "Magic Mourns" focuses on Kate's best friend and fellow Knight in the Order of Merciful Aid, Andrea Nash. I'll admit it up front: I bought this anthology solely to read this story. The Kate Daniels series is hands down one of the best urban fantasy series today. I was a little disappointed when I realized that Kate (and Curran) wouldn't be front and center in this story, but my disappointment didn't make it past the first page.
Of all the stories in this anthology, "Magic Mourns" makes the best use of the hellhound concept using Greek mythology and the most famous hellhound of all: Cerberus. Familiar characters abound here, most notably the werehyena Rafael. He had been pursing Andrea since the previous Kate Daniels book and I loved getting to focus more on that relationship.
I also loved how thoroughly and quickly the complex world of this series and those that inhabit it (Masters of the Dead, The Pack etc) were explained and incorporated into the narrative. Longtime fans and new readers alike should love this edgy, and deeply magical story. And a BIG thank you to Gordon and Ilona for the pretty significant reveal regarding Curran at the end. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, book 5) is due May 25, 2010, and for me, the wait just got worse.
*"Magic Mourns" is my pick for best story of the anthology*
Sexual Content: References to rape. Implied sex.
"Angels' Judgment" by Nalini Singh continues her Guild Hunter Series following Angels' Blood. In her Guild Hunter Series, Nalini Singh capitalizes on the two hottest trends in the urban fantasy genre today: vampires and angels. I know I don't normally associate the two, but Nalini makes it work.
Sara wasn't used to feeling sorry for vampires. Her job, after all, was to bag, tag and transport them back to their masters, the angels. -Angels' Judgment
If you're new to this series, the world building here spins traditional angel mythology completely on its head. Forget everything you learned in Sunday school, these angels are lethal beings of unimaginable power as well as the creators (and masters) of vampires. When a vampire tries to buck the system and go AWOL, Guild Hunters are called in to bag & tag them and drag them back to their angelic masters.
"Angels' Judgment" is a prequel to Angel's Blood and focuses on Elena's best friend, Sara. While on the hunt for a rogue Hunter who has been butchering vampires, Sara teams up with smokin' hot Deacon (aka The Slayer) to stop the killer and survive the `angel sanctioned tests' long enough to become the new Guild Director.
I loved the original angels in this world and the strong, yet still feminine, character of Sara. I'm not usually a fan of a lot of romance in short stories or novellas simply because there aren't a lot of pages available to develop a love story with any credibility. That being said, I thought the relationship between Sara and Deacon had more substance than most. I especially liked the scene where she `protected' him at the club.
For me, anthologies are a great way to try out new authors and possibly get hooked on their writing style. From there, good characters and unique world building will always reel me in, and with "Angels' Judgment," Nalini Singh has caught herself another happy reader.
Sexual Content: One brief non-graphic sex scene, one long semi-graphic sex scene, a scene takes place in a gay club without any description.
"Blind Spot" by Meljean Brook takes place in the world of her Guardian Series. Ex CIA operative Maggie Wren (who appeared briefly in Demon Forged) has been working as a `butler' for the vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont (from Demon Moon) when she is sent to rescue his kidnapped niece, Katherine, along with the aid of his nephew, Blake. While not a vampire like his uncle, Blake, though blind, has his own talents that include being able to see through anyone else's eyes. Given the title of this anthology, I'll give you one guess what kind of breed his seeing eye dog is.
Despite having roughly the same amount of pages as the other authors in this anthology, Meljean delivers the best romance of the bunch in "Blind Spot." It drives me nuts in a story when character's stop for `sex breaks' during life or death situations (for example rescuing your sister from her demon kidnapper). Fortunately, while there is a satisfying amount of romantic tension here, both characters have enough self control to put Katherine's life ahead of their own attraction.
I really only had one problem with this story. I would imagine that growing up together, Katherine and Blake would have learned the most effective ways of communicating with each other, given their unique abilities. And I have to think that sign language would have occurred to someone by now. I mean how hard would it be to look at your own hands and even just spell out a message alphabetically?
This was my first time reading Meljean Brooks and I'm now going to have to add myself to her throngs of fans. Her writing, pacing, characters, and world are simply delicious. The next Guardian book, Demon Blood is due out July 6, 2010.
Sexual Content: References to sex.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.5 stars - Man's Best `Fiend' puts in an appearance in Stories you can really sink your teeth intoSept. 1 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Four of my favorite authors: Charlaine Harris, Meljean Brook, Iona Andrews and Nalini Singh all in one book, Yippee! Most of the stories were the perfect kind of connected shorts, ones which explore side characters so as not to take away from the main arc of the authors' popular series but which are still fun fill-ins for these wonderful worlds. If you are a fan of Brook's Guardians, Andrews' Kate Daniel's world, or Singh's Angel series, you are not going to want to miss this one. However if you are only a True Blood/Southern Vampires fan looking for a Sookie fix, you may be disappointed.
[Charlaine Harris' "The Britilingens Go to Hell"] was not at all what I expected, it was more fantasy, and not a Sookie Stackhouse story (apparently though the guards made an appearance in the series - see the comment on my review by Lynda for the details). Two female body guards in an alternate dimension with magic are given the job of escorting a thief back to hell to recover a stolen item he was force to leave behind. - This is the only one of the stories that wasn't a romance all though there is a reference to the heroine `doubling her pleasure and doubling her fun' by taking advantage of the leading man's `special' endowments off screen. The story was okay, but it was basically just a walk-about in Hell, it had almost a MaryJanice Davidson feel. (3 stars)
[Nalini Singh's "Angel's Judgement"] is a romance complete with the promise of a happily ever after. Set before Angels' Blood, we get the backstory for Elena's friend Sara as Sara is on the brink of accepting the job as Guild Director - should she live through the Angels' and vampires' test. Fortunately, using the pretense of aiding Sara in the hunt, for not a vamp but a rogue Guild Hunter, uber dark and sexy Slayer Deacon is on tap as backup. - I have to admit it, I read this one first and I had such high expectations - since I really really liked Angel's Blood - that I liked it when I read it but didn't love it. Unlike Singh's earlier Angel's Blood e-prequel (Angels' Pawn), this prequel doesn't really have the flavor of Angel's Blood. But still this might may be a good thing if you prefer her PsyChangelings, because Singh does write a good short story romance. I liked it better, on the second read with the different expectations. (3.5 stars 1st read, 4 stars on the second)
[Iona Andrews' "Magic Mourns"] was my favorite of the stories, Kate's off recouping from the events of Magic Strikes. Series regulars hyena shifter Raphael and closet hyena beastkin Andrea take a turn in the spotlight, and get a chance at romance while tackling a problem that involves a hellhound, a ghostly shade, some apples and a snake - okay as I mentioned above the short is a nice little carve out from the series. You could live without finding out whether the yummy Raphael and the weapons loving Andrea finally get their hook-up, but why would you want to? This story really has the flavor of the series and does such a good job of weaving in the mythical elements and of course the romance. (5 stars)
[MelJean Brook's "Blind Spot] - Former CIA operative Maggie (a bit player in Demon Forged) finally thought that she had a place to belong with her job as guard and trouble shooter to Savi and Colin (Demon Moon), but a ghost from her past presents a possible conflict of loyalties in Maggie's hunt for a missing woman. Blind hero Blake seems an unlikely ally to help Maggie find his kidnapped sister - but then again Blake is more than he seems. Maggie's going to need Blake's special talents and a hellhound with a sense of humor, to make the right choices - I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Brook's Guardian series, I just love her heroes, and Blake is a good one. Brook also does a good job with the relationship between Maggie and Blake by setting up a pre-existing connection on Blake's part and, instead of rushing to bring the romance to completion, leaving us with a promise of a HEA for Maggie and Blake. (4.5 stars)
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
As the cover says, these are "devilish" dogs and super good stories.Sept. 7 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
SYNOPSIS: In this book you will find four stories which actually fit the title of this anthology. That's a huge plus all by itself.
Charlaine Harris, "The Britlingens Go to Hell", 80 pages Two bodyguards from the Britlingen Collective are chosen for the duty of taking a client to retrieve an item he left.....in Hell. These two bodyguards are absolutely the best at what they do, so figuring out how to escape their prison cells shouldn't be too much of a problem for these women. The hellhounds who are guarding them have very different ideas.
Nalini Singh, "Angels' Judgment", 92 pages Guild Hunters have a very specific job, hunt down runaway vampires and return them to their Masters. Those Masters just happen to be angels and in exchange for making a person immortal the new vampire owes their master 100 years of service. Someone is out there decapitating the undead as they try to run out on their contracts. It looks like a Hunter has gone rogue. Unfortunately Lucy the hellhound's master is suspected of being the hunter gone bad.
Ilona Andrews, "Magic Mourns", 90 pages Andrea Nash is trying her best to fill in for Kate Daniels while Kate recuperates from her latest stressful case. Unfortunately everybody who calls in wants to talk to Kate. When Andrea gets a call telling her about a hound straight out of hell as big as a house she loads up with all the weapons she can carry to go find out what it is all about. Raphael, the werehyena who really, really wants Andrea to be his girlfriend needs for her to help him find the dead body of his mother's mate. Did this hound steal the body? Why would Cerberus, the hound from Hell, want to steal the body of Alex Doulos, a Greek pagan?
Meljean Brook, "Blind Spot: A Guardian Novella", 91 pages After leaving the CIA Maggie Wren has taken a job as butler in the home of vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont. When word comes that Mr. Ames-Beaumont's niece Katherine has been kidnapped Maggie boards a plane for New York City with Sir Pup, the hellhound, to meet Geoffrey Blake, Katherine's brother. Nothing in his dossier had prepared her for the fact that Geoffrey is blind or for the even more unusual facts which are about to be revealed about Geoff and Kathrine.
OPINION: These are four truly excellent stories. Well written and well plotted so that the hellhound element is contained within each story as a very natural, vital aspect of the activity that takes place. The idea to have these four authors write stories which showed both the good and the bad sides of these hounds was really a stroke of genius. Each of the stories is entirely different. They all go in completely different directions and so the book never became boring or tiresome for me. Usually there is one particular story in an anthology which entertains me the most but this time I would be hard pressed to chose only one favorite. Plus the authors kept very light touches in the stories, allowing the humor to show through in order to keep things from getting gruesome and too overwhelmingly dark. Have you ever thought about Narcissus flirting with the Devil? Well neither had I but that character was hilarious. My personal favorite was drawing with a Sharpie on the face of a sleeping werehyena who was considered by the ladies as really hot stuff. I chuckled over that one for a long time.
RECOMMENDATION: Yes. Absolutely. Go buy this book and enjoy four great stories from four super talented writers. I loved it!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Must read for all Kate Danels fansDec 21 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I love the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, which is why I purchased this anthology. That story alone would have been worth the price of the book. But what surprised me is that I also enjoyed all of the other stories. In other anthologies, I've often found that some of the stories were good while others weren't so much. It was great to find a collection that I liked all of them.
1. The best of the bunch, the Ilona Andrews tale is focused on Andrea and Raphael, Kate's friends. Occurring in the time period between books three and four, we see their relationship develop and their fight against Cerebus a giant hellhound to return Rafael's step dad's body to his mother for burial. It was a great read. You can read it standalone, but it's better to read the first three Kate Daniels books first because there are some things talked about that you just won't get without the back story. Also, important for Kate Daniels fans, YOU LEARN A KEY THING ABOUT CURRAN AT THE END OF THE STORY THAT IS NOT MENTIONED IN THE EARLIER THREE BOOKS. I can't wait for book four, so this short story was nice to help pass the time.
2. My second favorite, the Nalini Singh story was part of her new Guild Hunters series. I loved the first book of the series Angels Blood; I liked it even better than her Psy-changeling series. This story was focused on Sara and Deacon's relationship and occurs just before Sara takes the Director position. Sara plays a role as Elena's BFF and boss in Angels Blood. Provides a good back story to Angels Blood.
3. The Meljean Brook tale focused on Maggie, a former CIA agent who is working for Colin and Savi (who we met in Demon Angel and Demon Moon). She works with Blake and Sir Pup to help find his sister who has been kidnapped. Like Brook's other stories, this one was well-written and engrossing.
4. The Charlaine Harris story was a surprise. I expected Sookie Sackhouse (which I like), instead it was more of a fantasy story about bodyguards helping a theif get into hell to steal something from Lucifer. An entertaining little read, but not quite what I expected.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2 brilliant and 2 poop... IMOAug. 3 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Charlaine Harris has gone further up in my estimation! In the strange world of Witches, bodyguards and contracts Crich and Lis 2 Britlingers go into Hell on a mission to retrieve a ball! Trying to dodge the tunnel making giant slime snails and mating Demons, they plough on in search of their quest. I loved all the humour and imaginative talent shown in this tale, as with lots of fairytales it does have a bit of cop out/happy ending.
I have never read Nalini Singh before but wow I certainly will be again! A power warped world of Vampires, Hunters & Angels! The Guild needs a new leader and a killer is on the loose - this has more twists than Hampton Court maze. Beautifully erotic in it writing Ms Singh is an author I want more of. A rise to power, sex, politics and Vampires to boot.... plus the cutest puppy called Slayer!
I could not get interested into the other 2 stories... I did not enjoy the childish writing or the daft content.... but others appear to love them! Just as an anthology should be I suppose!