Boundless
by Annie Dean, Bonnie Dee, and Dionne Galace; paranormal (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-374-5


Oh, Boundless has such a lovely cover. This is one book that should go into print, if you ask me, if only to give the cover the exposure it deserves. The anthology itself is a decent read.

Annie Dean starts things off with Seven Days. Teresa, our heroine, plans to join the Sisters of Peace in prayer and llama-tending (don't ask) when she finds herself visited by this hot hunk that only she can see. Our heroine's hidden vices are merely mystery novels and a sassy mouth, but for some reason she has become the latest pawn in the struggle between good and evil. This visitor will tempt her into surrendering her soul to him and if he succeeds, he'll be free from his servitude to the Devil while she will be eternally damned. That's all. All she needs to do in order to save her soul is to resist him for seven days and seven nights.

I adore this story. It's short but it feels like a really long story because it has romance and sexual tension featuring most fascinating characters. Teresa is no dim-witted innocent despite wanting to be a nun - she knows enough about masturbation and sex to hold her own against our demon Dev's naughty little attempts at seduction.

Her lashes drifted down. "Kurt Vonnegut said, 'Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.' So maybe you’re not a demon pretending to be a dragon anymore. Perhaps you’re a dragon pretending to be a demon."

He shuddered against her. "Teresa. Why do you say such things?"

"Because they feel true."

"You terrify me." Dev leaned his forehead against hers.

As the first fingers of light stole over the window sill she had to ask. "Why?"

"Because you may mean the end of me."

Aww, is that an angelic choir in the background led by Celine Dion serenading our duo?

This story feels really rushed towards the end when the author introduces some weighty issues in Teresa's past pretty abruptly. As much as I like this one, I can't help thinking that I will love it to pieces if it is longer and the author has more opportunity to flesh out her story.

Bonnie Dee is next with The Straw Man. Our poor heroine Marie, at 32, finds herself playing Granny Goodwitch on Halloween night. She lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and as a result, she's pretty much doomed to being a spinster once she realizes that none of the local guys will suit her and she doesn't know how else she will meet someone she will fall in love with and marry. She ends up talking to the scarecrow in her garden - don't ask - and carelessly mentions that maybe he should be a real man for her to get to know. The next thing she knows, there's this fellow on her doorstep knocking on her door and waking her up from her sleep. I suppose it's a good thing that she wasn't talking to a giant stuffed Garfield or something because that will be really embarrassing. Anyway, Sam the Friendly Scarecrow is human only for a night so our two lovebirds are soon making the bed go bump.

Normally I will roll up my eyes because come on, we're talking about a scarecrow here. But Ms Dee happily strings me along, having Sam and Marie bond and know each other with increasing urgency and even desperation as sunrise approaches. I am surprised to find myself cringing when the sun finally rises and Marie goes, "Nooooo!" Ms Dee portrays Marie as this lonely yet likable woman well enough that I find myself going "Nooooo!" along with her. It's silly, I know, and I blame Ms Dee for making me behave in this manner. This story is much better paced than the previous story and I like it.

Dionne Galace makes her Liquid Silver Books debut with Waking Kitty. Our hero Jack Ridley leads the local KTCI News team that covers unusual stories, such as the current The X-Files-worthy event of a ship that appeared right out of nowhere, maybe from the Bermuda Triangle, in the middle of a bar. I still can't imagine how that can happen. Anyway, Jack meets Kitty Jones who happens to be one of the people in the bar when this ship appears right in the middle of the place and give everyone a big scare. Poor Kitty in the meantime is living out her personal Wonderfalls-like life where she encounters strangers and even talking lizards giving her blatant hints that she may not be who she is. On top of that, she is experiencing headaches and there are many things about her past that she can't remember. Can Jack and Kitty solve the mystery of her real identity?

Waking Kitty is the weakest story of the three because it is so over-the-top that there are many times when I find myself distracted from the story by the wacky happenings. The ship in the bar, for example. Did the ship topple over to one side and smash down a wall? It gets to a point where I find myself trying to envision the various scenarios in my head when I should be paying attention to the story.

Wacky is fine, of course, but given that this is a short story and there are so many things happening quickly, I find myself remembering at the end of the day the ship, the talking lizard, and pink hair rather than the actual story itself. This is one story that would have really benefited from being longer.

To conclude, Boundless is a pretty entertaining read, but like many anthologies out there, the stories are too short and would have been much better if they were longer.

Rating: 79


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