Everlasting Bad Boys
by Shelly Laurenston, Cynthia Eden, and Noelle Mack; paranormal (2009)
Brava, $14.00, ISBN 978-0-7582-2850-5


Everlasting Bad Boys, as the title suggests, is an anthology of three stories, each with a spooky boyfriend that can live longer than your usual human bloke. Needless to say, when the short story is iffy, the longevity of the boyfriend turns out to be not such a good thing.

It is probably the need of a "big name" to sell the anthology that has Shelly Laurenston using this pen name on the cover instead of her other pseudonym, GA Aiken. However, her story Can't Get Enough is actually set in the same fantasy setting as the Dragon Kin books she wrote under the GA Aiken name. If you haven't been following GA Aiken's books, this one would be a pretty good introduction to those books in the sense that this story captures perfectly the mayhem and over the top bawdy antics typical of the books in that series. For those who have been following the Dragon Kin series, there is a nice surprise in the epilogue that puts the whole short story in perspective.

In this one, we meet the dragon Ailean the Wicked who has two reputations that made him one to remember: he's a bloody warrior and also an unrepentant male slut. Shalin the Innocent, a dragon who has been banished from court due to some unfortunate circumstance involving her and Ailean, is not immune to Ailean's charms, but she also knows that sleeping with that man, as much as she wants to, can mean certain death for her. You see, the princess, Adienna, has turned crazy-obsessed bunny boiler over Ailean, and because Shalin had accidentally issued a sexual challenge to Ailean (don't ask), she's now on Adienna's hate list. Actually getting involved with Ailean will definitely get Shalin in even more trouble with Aidenna. Not that this will stop Ailean. What he sees, he wants...

This one is a fun story, but I have to agree with Shalin's initial stance where Ailean is concerned: I don't think any man is worth taking the risk of getting killed, at least not for some hot romp between the sheets. Ailean attracts trouble like a magnet attract sharp nails - no matter how great he is a lover, he's not worth the trouble where I am concerned.

Still, Ailean does have his adorable dork moments, I'd give him that. That is the beauty of these dragons, I tell you: be they brave warriors or male sluts of the first degree, they are not immune to being such silly dolts now and then that their silliness only adds to their charm. They are like adorable bulldogs, ferocious to the core, but at the same time they are so silly, playful, devoted, and loyal to the people they love.

Readers of GA Aiken's previous two Dragon Kin books that came before this short story will not what to expect in this one. As fun as I find this story to be, I also feel that this one is hampered considerably by the length of the story. The story is getting good as its focus shifts away from sex... and then it ends. Hmmph.

Cynthia Eden's Spellbound is an exact opposite of Shelly Laurenston's story. The hero is alpha to a ridiculous degree while the heroine is pretty much his doormat.

Our witch heroine Serena Tyme summons a "soul-eater" named Luis D'Amil to help her track down the villain who has been binding and killing off the witches in her coven, but as she is pleading her case to Luis, he is more interested in how innocent or not she is, how sexy she is, and how emo he is. After declaring that he wants Serena as payment for services rendered, his first action is to nearly destroy the surviving members of Serena's coven if she hadn't stopped him in time. This is before he keeps telling her that she is not the boss of him, she will do whatever he tells her to, and it's time for her to put out. Serena has no personality here apart from being a love futon for an alpha male with more glower than brainpower while Luis is a singularly unappealing hero because he's stupid and arrogant, a most singularly obnoxious combination if you ask me.

Noelle Mack's Turn Me On is nothing more than sex scenes thinly padded with some pretense at a plot. Our ditsy geek designer heroine Beth Danforth gets a job at SpectraSign and two months down the road she is sleeping with her boss, Justin Watts, the first time he brings her to his place. I know he has a marvelous house and a bigger bank account, but I think I'd appreciate the story more if Beth is sleeping with the boss for career opportunities. Instead, the story first has a chapter showing how Beth gets her job, and it then skips to two months later when I'm told that Beth and Justin are attracted to each other and therefore the next few chapters are going to be focused on Beth and Justin vigorously engaging in sexual intercourse. Oh, and Beth then learns that Justin is not exactly human, they engage in vigorous sexual intercourse some more, they decide that they are now officially in love, and they would no doubt be conjoined in fabulous sexual clinch for the rest of their lives. By the time the story ends, I'm scratching my head and wondering what it is that I have just read. It comes, it goes, and I'm left feeling most unfulfilled.

As far as anthologies go, this one is pretty average. I'm fine with Shelly Laurenston's story, but it's not as satisfying as the full-length books set in the same setting. I'm annoyed by Cynthia Eden's story and am left completely bewildered by Noelle Mack's. All things considered, I'm pretty indifferent to this anthology as a whole. I've read better, I've read worse.

Rating: 67


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