Ellora's Cavemen: Tales From The Temple III
by Sherri L King, Cheyenne McCray, Mary Wine, Delilah Devlin, Anya Bast, and Diana Hunter; romantic erotica (2004)
Ellora's Cave, $9.99, ISBN 1-4199-0050-1

The guy on the cover is quite cute, if a little too much on the whole porn-star/steroids side. But as for the stories in the third book in Ellora's Cave Tales From The Temple anthology franchise, all I can say is, I think I have completely reached saturation point where the whole futuristic/paranormal "Mate! You are my Mate!" overkill is concerned. I'm tired of cartoonish plots, silly bimbos, and steroidal Neanderthal he-men. This anthology is not for readers who have reached that saturation point like I have.

Cheyenne McCray offers Wolf's Law. Analeen hates wolves and is afraid of them because wolves killed her mother a long time ago. But when a wolf rescues her from slave-traders and she eventually finds herself under the care of wild mountain guy Law who has a secret (you have once chance to guess as to what secret he is keeping from everyone else), she is so helpless and needy that she has to fall in love, I suppose, with the man who rescues her. Sick and so pathetically-desperate heroine, the alpha male, the whole "Mate! Mate! Mate!" thing, wolves... been there, done that, I'm sure readers can figure out the rest of the story by now.

Anya Bast's novella Scarlet Sweet is connected to the Blood Of The Rose series. I haven't read any of the author's works before but Scarlet Sweet is yet another vampire "Mate! Yearning! Desire! Italics!" story. Cerian is the last of the sidhe, Rhys is a Vampir, and the whole thing feels like a Laurell K Hamilton fan's rather slavishly faithful fanfiction rather than a story in its own right.

Diana Hunter's Writers Unblocked is a welcome respite from the relentless unoriginal paint-by-numbers formulaic paranormal rehashes that are the other novellas in the anthology. Here, two romance authors, one male and one female just to make this clear, have a problem. She likes to be dominated. He likes to dominate. (I guess romance readers are not ready for a dominatrix heroine.) They don't know how to show this "inner side" of theirs so their sex life along with everything else is going down the drain until he chances upon such D/S scene in her book. I find it really hard to imagine that the husband Jack Blackburn and the wife Jessica have never talked about this or D/S in general because they both write steamy books but hey, since there is no "Mate! Mate! Hunger! Italics!" plot element overkill in sight, just two silly people in a contrived plot doing some admittedly vanilla D/S stuff to tantalize the readers, I'll take what I can get.

Mary Wine's Fast Forward tells the story of our heroine Leah. They may have spacecrafts in this story but this is clearly one of those plots favored Cassie Edwards and friends, in which an obviously white heroine (Leah) is sold to the scary local guy by her expedition mates so that these enterprising folks can get to settle down in this planet. Leah naturally learns to settle down and views the Tailarmarans in a positive light, the usual. Fast Forward may not be the most original story around but I like this one because the author works at creating a relationship instead of bombarding me with tedious italicized "Mate! Hunger! Mate!" squealing passed off as "sexual tension". Ms Wine does the best she could in the short story format and the end result is a pleasant if not too memorable read.

Delilah Devlin's Raptor's Prey... sigh. This could have been a truly intriguing story. Our space law enforcer heroine Captain Andromeda O'Keefe is transporting her captive Khalim Padja and she is in stasis for a month during the space travel thingie. That makes sense, since I've seen Aliens a few times already. Anyway, she has been having erotic dreams all this while that star Khalim. Imagine her consternation when she realizes that Khalim is using his psychic gifts to make her his sexual captive. The problem with this story is that for a space enforcer, Andromeda's brain cavity must be stuffed with heads of Barbie dolls instead of any functional brain cell. The whole story comes off like a cautionary tale about what happens when Jessica Simpson is allowed to join a space cadet program, only with a happy ending to fool me into believing otherwise.

Sherri L King's Overexposed, from what I learn snooping around the Ellora's Cave website, is the start of a new series, Voyeurs, that is also linked to a previous series, The Horde Wars. I don't think a short novella is the best way to start off a new series, at least not with Overexposed because I am either lost or feeling dissatisfied because the relationship between the main characters are barely developed. From what I gather from this story, daemons are at war with the Shikars, a special race that protect humans from the man-eating daemons. A photographer, Alek Fromin, has accidentally taken a photo of a daemon (how cute) and now the Shikar Mata Hari, Agate, has to retrieve the photographic evidence from Alek before humans know of the existence of daemons. After all, we don't want widespread panic, do we? But after kissing Alek, Agate is all about the "I can't erase his memories! He's so hot! I wish he's on American Idol so that I can vote for him all night and write him fan emails, eeeee!" thing. Since this story is too short to make any impact on me, I am not tantalized or intrigued by this series as much as I wonder whether Ms King could be the pseudonym for the always enterprising Sherrilyn Kenyon in order for her to sneakily sell off her lunch-time doodling to Ellora's Cave for some extra bucks. Probably not, but this story - and the whole premise - is yet another familiar territory of oversexed paranormal soap operatics plundered dry by the likes of Ms Kenyon and Angela Knight, among many others.

And because so many things about this anthology are mind-numbingly dull efforts that incorporate the most uninspired elements of the romantic paranormal genre, and worse, these stories are all in novella format so they fare even worse than the full-length works that the authors slavishly emulate, the anthology comes off like a collection of works by enthusiastic fanfiction authors who have many sources to plunder for their inspiration but not much of effort or imagination to make their overly formulaic stories stand out from the glut. I am bored beyond belief working my way through this anthology.

Rating: 48

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