by Mima, Celia Kyle, and Darragha Foster, paranormal (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-520-6
Half-Were House is a collection of three stories revolving around female werecats who are banished from their respective prides for either being unable to shift or being able to shift only half-way. These women are called "half-weres". They will find themselves in the Half-Were House, a home of sorts for half-weres that is run by a were-lion Tasheka and her human companion Sam, although the Half-Were House doesn't play a prominent part in the story line of two of the three stories.
Darragha Foster kicks off the show with Tail Over Whiskers and... well, this is a Darragha Foster story so if you haven't read anything by her, you should know to expect a story that straddles the line between being macabre and being an eccentric kind of genius. Some readers will find this story too quirky for words, others will find it utterly tasteless, and there is hardly any middle ground to be found here. You see, our heroine Blaze can only transform into a cat, and only half way at that, when she experiences an orgasm. As you can imagine, she is more successful scoring with a battery-operated boyfriend than she is with an actual guy. When the story opens, Blaze decides that she has to get laid by a real life guy after too long of going without and, luckily for our hero Jack Hawk, he happens to be at the right place and the right time, and looking just right for the job to boot. Wait until she realizes just what kind of fellow she has taken to bed, heh.
This one has one strike against it. I tell you, the lines uttered by the characters make me cringe because they can be so corny. But this is a pretty typical story by this author - I find the way the author puts everything together most deliciously entertaining. This is not a pretty romance, mind you, because we have all kinds of blood-letting and other fun stuff that some people may consider icky, but I find the whole process most fascinating and even amusing indeed. The author has a very naughty and twisted sense of imagination - she may be crude and vulgar, she may even be profane at times, but at the end of the day, the story is always one of its kind, heh. This one is too much fun for me, in other words, but as always with this author's stories, it is not for everyone.
In Mima's Earning Her Stripes, we have Meg, our rebellious half-were who decides to give the establishment her finger and live her life her own way... or at least, commit little shows of rebellion as much as she can under the rules she is subjected to in the Half-Were House. When the story opens, she sneaks out of the House in an attempt to reclaim her life (and her schoolteacher job), but none of her few friends are willing to take her in. Well, were-panther Ben Foster, the brother of her pride's enforcer, is willing to take her in, and it is not only because she had once pulled a To Sir, With Love thing with his son. He will take her in and even help her get her job back, and he has also waited all this time for her to be available as his mate. You see, before she was exposed as a half-were, she had a boyfriend and this fellow proceeded to ditch her once she was no longer in with the cool kids.
This one is also a pretty good read, although I have to warn readers to watch out or look forward to, depending on their preferences, a threesome scene that comes out of nowhere late in the story. Ben is a man of authority but he doesn't go around acting like a stereotypical alpha male, while Meg comes off as someone who is strong but not too feisty or over the top like some heroines of this kind of stories can be. These two have a relationship that isn't solely caused by mating instincts, so that is very nice indeed.
Celia Kyle closes this anthology with Piece Of Tail. This one is easily the most recognizably formulaic story of the bunch. This one is also a ménage à trois story, featuring everyone's favorite cast of characters: two men who boink each other while seeking a woman to share and a randy heroine who delivers some sassy lines. Gina, our half-were heroine, is invited to a date by her boss and his boyfriend, Daniel and Patrick. Daniel and Patrick are lovers but for some reason they decide that they need a woman in the mix as well. This story has plenty of sex scenes. Some minor plot about Gina feeling betrayed by her human boyfriends will show up later, but that lasts for, oh, a few pages before these people are once again resuming their bedroom siesta. Characterization is the weakest in this story compared to the previous two stories and let's not even start with the story line. Read this for the sex scenes, don't ask for more, and I think you'll be fine.
If I look at the anthology as a whole, my complain would be that the Half-Were House is used so differently in varying degrees in all three stories that I have no idea what it actually is at the end of the day. Each author seems to have her own interpretation of the House and there seems to be very little effort made to ensure that there is some consistency in the House that is presented in each story.
Still, I have to say, I have a good time with two out of three stories here. And when it comes to anthologies, two out of three hitting the bullseye is a really good thing indeed.
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