Cravings
by Laurell K Hamilton, MaryJanice Davidson, Eileen Wilks, and Rebecca York; paranormal (2004)
Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13815-0


Don't have too much high hopes for a new Laurell K Hamilton story in this "sensuous" anthology, because her Beyond The Ardeur is an excerpt from her upcoming book Incubus Dreams. There is something very sleazy about Jove using this author's book excerpt to headline an anthology for the second time (the first time this happened was in the 2001 anthology Out Of This World). And as some people would have guessed by now, this excerpt in question stars Anita Blake and a cast of throbbing penises whose names I can't really remember or care to. Maybe underneath the tangle of sweaty and pointlessly copulating bodies I would probably find a decent story in a nutshell (not the ardeur kind of nutshells, you pervs) but I am so over Anita Blake and I am therefore totally over this story. It doesn't matter - fans of Anita Blake are better off getting the actual full-length book instead of settling for crumbs in this NC-17 rated The Bachelorette soap opera.

MaryJanice Davidson's Dead Girls Don't Dance on the other hand is pure fun, but at this point in time, the author is getting close to being overexposed in the sense that she seems to be having a new work out every few months but these stories are all about the fluffy banters and high-octane stylistics without genuine emotional depths. I wish for a story where this author demonstrates that she can make me sigh as easily as she can make me laugh. This story of Andrea the vampiress falling for her rather clueless ex-college classmate is quite funny, upbeat, but unfortunately, just like everything else the author has written in terms of style. Having read so much of the author's outputs in the last few months, there is a sameness to her style that is fast becoming monotonous. Unless the author spreads her wings and does something to surprise me, she's in danger of turning into a one-trick pony. An entertaining pony, no doubt, but a pony nonetheless.

Eileen Wilks seems to be trying too hard to be sensuous in Originally Human, but it's an entertaining read. This one tells of a succubus and an amnesiac man falling in love as they try to unravel the mystery of his identity, among other things. Molly is an entertaining first-person narrator, although her insisting that she's actually a good person (she's just cursed, she's not a demon, y'all) can be tedious at times. This story has some interesting twists and surprises. It's too bad that the heroine, despite being the narrator, remains a vague character and the story has some questions that are left unanswered. I guess I'll have to wait for the author's upcoming full-length paranormal debut to find out whether this is just a device to reel me into the author's Moon Children series.

Rebecca York's Burning Moon is part of the author's ongoing Moon series with Jove in the sense that like the author's full-length books with Jove, this is a paranormal romantic suspense story. Antonia Delarosa is a blind tarot reader. Grant Marshall is a werewolf out to avenge his mate's murder. Yes, it's love. This novella is too short to make a case for itself where character development is concerned, but within its short length, Grant makes a sympathetic hero while Antonia doesn't get on my nerves too much with her New-Age psychic dipstick act. When it comes to romance heroines, I've learned to settle for "not annoying" instead of asking for the moon. There is some suspense in here too. This story delivers the most as far as I'm concerned because it seeks to entertain me without trying too hard to be gimmicky (look, ma, chick-lit undead Bridget Jones, woo-hoo!) and sexy.

In conclusion, all I can say is this. If you buy this anthology solely for Laurell K Hamilton's "novella", here's a lollypop, you sucker. If you want more of the Undead And Unwed schtick from MaryJanice Davidson with no deviation from the formula, you will not be disappointed, I believe, in anything other than the short length. Eileen Wilks delivers her own style of sassy chick-lit inhuman heroine schtick in her own novella and it is an intriguing look into what her upcoming book has to offer. Rebecca York's story is similarly a nice introduction to her own ongoing series to readers new to her works. In short, four authors advertise themselves in this anthology with shorter, watered-down variations of their previous and future offerings but only three authors are making an actual effort in doing so. It will make a satisfying kind of poetic justice if Ms Hamilton's fans end up ditching Anita Blake for a book by the other three authors.

Rating: 76


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