Man Of My Dreams
by Suzanne Forster, Virginia Kantra, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Maggie Shayne; paranormal (2004)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13793-6

Four authors band together for some Halloween cash-fishing by demonstrating how stereotypes fuel their successful careers.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Fire And Ice is a reprint of a 2001 work. I actually bought the story, published in ebook format, from iPublish through Amazon two years back but it went out of print after I've purchased it and I couldn't download the ebook as a result. Luckily, I managed to get a refund from Amazon. They aren't so bad after all, I guess. Anyway, about this story, what can I say? It has a typical Sherrilyn Kenyon hero in that he suffers from all sorts of emotional baggages that all that's missing is a deep-seated fear of Donald Duck. Set in some stereotypical space universe, a little left of Tantooine and two turns from Medieval Cafe, I get some silly virginal princess who must get laid (and hence, ruined) now or marry some disagreeable older man as per the marriage commandments laid down by her father. Why these heroines can't just commit suicide, old Bollywood movie style, and spare me their nonsense is beyond me. Anyway, she gets our hero, her father get them both, and lots of unoriginal plot developments ensue. Ms Kenyon has been writing the same paranormals over and over with minor variations to the plot and theme, I see. To give her credit, she camouflages her one-note repertoire better than, say, Jayne Ann Krentz and Stephanie Laurens.

Maggie Shayne pairs a psychic heroine and a skeptical detective in Daydream Believer. The heroine sees some vision of murder that could be tied to a serial killer on the loose. The hero is skeptical, yadda yadda yadda, same old story. The hero and the heroine are familiar characters but the short length of the story prevents them from being anything more than superficial stereotypes. The suspense is dumb, even when I try to make allowances for the length constraints Ms Shayne has to deal with in the writing of this story. Really, the suspense is so dumb that I'm still wondering why every blind grandmother and her seeing-eye dog hasn't solved the serial killer case in time for breakfast.

Suzanne Forster's Shocking Lucy is the most memorable story in the sense that I feel sorry for the truly idiotic heroine and disgust at the man she is going to marry at the end of the story. This is another one of those stories where the heroine is going to marry a guy who doesn't excite her in the least, insists that she's going to marry him, and then fall for the electrician in, oh, maybe a little longer than it takes to grab a fly swatter and hit some sense into Lucy Sexton. The hero, Noah, has a secret that, when revealed, leaves me with a bitter aftertaste. Because the heroine demonstrates that she has more girlish charms than common sense and the hero is quite unpleasant, this story comes off like some parody of a "post-modern" artistic story, where the adulterous lovers run off into the sunset, only to be squashed to death by the "Bye, bye, see you again!" town sign, and we can all sigh, "Ah, love is so bittersweet!" and move on with our lives, never having to be ashamed of reading a love story because They All Died so it's not a romance novel, it's Serious Literature. Of course, nobody dies here, but it's still not good.

Virginia Kantra's Midsummer's Night Magic has a prim librarian realizing that her AWOL boyfriend isn't AWOL as much as he's held captive by the Faerie Queen. This one is not bad at all, the characters being pleasant and non-annoying, but at the same time they come off as rather bland tried-and-true template romance novel characters so they don't come to life as vividly as they should have. This is the best story of the bunch, but as recommendations go, this isn't much.

Man Of My Dreams? I'll just keep looking, thanks.

Rating: 55

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