by Rae Morgan, Emma Sinclair, and Sherrill Quinn; paranormal (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-328-8
Edge Of Night is a paranormal anthology with a theme revolving around spooky heroes that go bump in the night. Okay, that sounds like every other paranormal anthology out there but you can't blame me for trying to make this anthology come off as a little bit more unique than it actually is.
In Rae Morgan's Evanescence, our hero Kai Axon is losing it one morning when he realizes that his favorite coffee person Sian York is not around in her bookstore/bistro to serve him her drink. Apparently poor CIA operative Kai needs Sian around to serve him his drink because he's attracted to her and realizes that she's his, you know, that ugly S-word that I really don't want to say aloud anymore. Recently, however, Kai senses that Sian is experiencing some kind of emotional distress so he's feeling most ill at ease when she vanishes on him that morning. He also knows that Sian is hiding a lot of secrets. Because she's his S-word, he's going to make her his whether she's ready for him or not. It turns out that Sian is under the Witness Protection Program but yet again (for the fifth time) her past has caught up with her. It's up to Kai to come to the rescue. How fortunate, therefore, that he's not exactly human - he can transform into a shadow-like form, which would have come useful, I'd bet, when he was a high school kid sneaking into the locker rooms to spy on the cheerleaders.
For a hero with creepy stalker-like tendencies, Kai gets to display his mighty macho hero antics here and I must say it is quite touching to see such a fellow shed tears as he worries about Sian's well-being while killing anyone who dares hurt her. This story is more of a damsel-in-distress thing but the main characters are pretty likable, if rather familiar archetypes in the genre. I'm just not sure about the hero's paranormal nature - it doesn't really play a significant part in the story. Kai could have been a human CIA agent, for example, and this story would still have worked fine. The paranormal aspect feels tacked on for the sake of making the story a little out of this world. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good story to kick off the anthology.
Emma Sinclair's Welcome To The Darkness is next. Gwen has all kinds of weird dreams where two gorgeous guys would come to her telling her that she's some kind of key and then one of them, she can't tell which, will say that she will die so that light will reign or something like that. She is unaware that every move she makes is being watched by Derek, the King of Darkness. Apparently this guy has computer monitors that show him everything that is taking place at night and he has fun sporting a massive woody as he watches Gwen sleep at night. I believe the concept of a guy sporting a huge erection while playing the voyeur is supposed to be romantic instead of massively creepy, perhaps because he's cute.
If you are wondering what the Key is, what the King of Darkness is, just what is going on in this story, well, join the club. Emma Sinclair seems to be writing a story for an exclusive group of readers who already know the workings of her mind. She mentions things like Priestesses and Keys but any explanation as to what these concepts mean is not provided. All I know is that Gwen is the Key, Derek loves her (I'll just have to take the author's word for this because I don't see that either), and the other fellow is not the nicest guy around the place. I don't know why the author writes something like this that makes no sense whatsoever to anyone new to whatever series this story may belong to. I suppose she must be content with her current pool of loyal readers and doesn't care about leading any new reader into her fold.
Sherrill Quinn closes the anthology with Damnation. This one is clearly part of some kind of series as well, what with vampire Protectors and damsels-in-distress running all over the place. Unlike Emma Sinclair's "I know something that you don't, heh, heh, heh!" act, however, at least I know what is going on here.
Brianna "Bree" Dempsey comes home one fine day to see a hitman waiting for her. She's not the smartest person in the house, as evidenced by her pleas to the hitman not to shoot her dog Oscar. Then again, the hitman is not the smartest person around either as he babbles to Bree for no reason when he could have just shot her dead and leave in time for lunch and when he finally makes his move, he aims at the stupid dog first. Can I say "made for each other"? Unfortunately for Mr Hitman, he is given the bitchslap of manliness by our hero Jack Gerrard before he gets a chance to bond with Bree over their mutual stupidity.
Jack, whose previous name was Jacques Gerrard until he becomes a vampire after having Hot Angry Sex with a lamia (don't ask), is a vampire Protector. The change of name from Jacques to Jack must have arisen during the whole "Screw French Fries, we want Freedom Fries!" fiasco a few years back when everyone in America hates the French for not wanting to drop bombs all over Iraq. At any rate, Jack spends the rest of the story trying to humor Bree as she goes on and on about how vampires won't pout when she's not magically shedding tears at the drop of a coin because she's such a Special Precious Wee Heroine that way. Oh, and the evil lamia shows up once again so that the hero can finally demonstrate that he's not a beast or something.
Damnation is a rather grotesque coupling of a heroine who alternates between being some kind of starry-eyed ditz and a sex bomb with a very stereotypical hero. The overall effect is very disconcerting because Ms Quinn's timing is off. She has Bree behaving cute and precious in all the wrong moments, for example, but I don't know whether to laugh or cringe because it is never made clear in this story whether it's meant to be a farce or not. If it's meant to be a farce, the story is never over-the-top enough to qualify as one. As a result, the heroine's attempts to be a smart-ass make her come off like a gigantic bucket of dumb as she should be scared and running for her life instead of acting like Punky Brewster on a school field trip.
Edge Of Night never really improves after Rae Morgan's story. In fact, the first story is the best one of the three. Come to think of it, the title of each story could have easily described the quality of each story. There is indeed an Evanescence of fun after Rae Morgan's story, with Emma Sinclair's story really a Welcome To The Darkness material while Damnation is indeed the feeling I get after reading Sherrill Quinn's story. If things don't work out for Ms Sinclair and Ms Quinn in the writing front, there may be a chance at a career at some psychic hotline company.
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