Secrets Volume 13
by Amber Green, Calista Fox, Rachelle Chase, and Charlotte Featherstone; romantic erotica (2005)
Red Sage Publishing, $12.99, ISBN 0-9754516-3-4


Oh dear, this is really not good. Secrets 13 has four short stories that come off like attempts by fanfiction writers to emulate bestselling authors that they admire. It is probably too much to expect a new author that will create her own canon and perspective to reel in readers in every anthology, but this anthology is not delivering the goods at all.

Rachelle Chase opens the anthology with her contemporary story Out Of Control which has our proper and responsible businesswoman Astrid Thomas realizing that the man she hopes to do business with, Erik Santos, is the man who put an ad requesting a submissive two-day weekend "wife". This is another one of those "proper businesswoman wants to be dominated" stories that never fails to show up at least three times a month in the new releases shelf and while there is some attempts at twists here and there towards the end, Ms Chase fails to do anything interesting or new in this story. Astrid and Erik are two familiar characters going through the motions of carrying out boring domination fantasies that come off as more tame than they should be. The characters are flat and they are trying to fool me that lust and love are the same thing. I'd say that a whipping is in order for these two bad kids but I'm sure those two will run away screaming when they are confronted with genuine hardcore domination/submissive kinks.

Amber Green's Hawkmoor is interesting in the context of this anthology but it's also at the end of day a bad Merry Gentry fanfiction. Our heroine, Mary Alison, is a shapeshifter that doesn't know her powers until her destined soulmate foreva since she was four, Prince Darien, shows up and schools her in all the ways possible so that Mary can become some One True Vagina that will save the Hidden World... but not before our darling Lia tries to get herself into a threesome with Mary and Darien so that they can threesome their way to world peace. Or something. Can the One True Vagina triumph at the end of the day? It's a pity that I am at this point pretty tired of all those "must ardeur for world peace" plots that Laurell K Hamilton are churning out ad nauseum so I'm not the most receptive person for this story. Maybe people who are still reading those Merry Gentry books will appreciate this story more than me. Right now my reaction whenever I come across these Merrita K Hamilton stories is wishing for Edward to show up and lay waste to these indiscriminate wanton copulators to kingdom come with the biggest and most badass firearms he can lay his hands on.

Charlotte Featherstone's Lessons In Pleasure has a rake deciding to reconnect with a former sweetheart by duelling with her close friend so that she will offer her body to him for three days in exchange for calling off the duel. While I applaud the hero Damien Westerham for being familiar with the workings of a typical dunderhead Regency historical romance heroine and exploiting Lily Farrington's weakness to his advantage, ugh, he loves Lily for her dunderhead aspects so I don't know what to say. The sex is pretty well-written but it's sex between a silly man who is apparently unfamiliar with flowers and make-up expensive gifts and a dunderhead. I find myself worrying about the fact that these two stupid people may end up creating poor stupid babies that can't help themselves in the future. Oh, and Cathy Maxwell did a short story with a premise that is very similar to this one in the anthology The One That Got Away. The latter is so much better with very well-drawn characters.

Calista Fox's In The Heat Of The Night has our annoying and reckless Molina Toscana, who is amazingly enough not some reject from America's Next Top Model despite having a name like hers, forgetting that her rich daddy hired bodyguard Nick Moretti to protect her from bad guys so she instead plays stupid seduction games. All I can say to this story is: die, Molina.

Not to sound banal or anything, but thirteen is such an unlucky number, isn't it?

Rating: 49


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