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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Review: Tales From the Treasure Trove Vol. IV

Tales From the Treasure Trove - Volume IV
- A Jewels of the Quill Anthology
by Multiple Authors

Writing Treasures for Every Taste… Eight DISTINCTIVE AUTHORS offer new, short, exciting Tales from the Treasure Trove – each featuring a sparkling jewel!

Eight COMPELLING COUPLES discover romance, suspense, forces of nature, or the supernatural.

Eight ENTERTAINING SITUATIONS feature destined lovers, wild men of the past and present, deadly gems… or even creatures of fantasy come to life!

Including: Woman Cast in Amber by Janet Lane Walters; Turquoise Twilight by Jane Toombs; Blood of Amethyst by Karen Weisner; Petals of a Topaz Jewel by Carrie S. Masek; Sapphire Dreams by Nancy Pirri; Saurian Bloodstone by Cassie Walder; The Tanzanite Return by C.J. Winters; The Moonstone Fire by Christine DeSmet

Disclaimer: These four stories: Woman Cast in Amber; Blood of Amethyst; Petals of a Topaz Jewel; and The Tanzanite Return; are NOT typical romances, and do not necessarily include a HEA

This was a very interesting read on my part, as I wasn’t sure how to write a review for such a long anthology. The main thread these stories had that united them was that jewels were somehow in the title, and someway worked into the story whether as a character’s name or as an actual jewel in the story, which made it interesting to see where each story was going to head.

"Woman Cast in Amber" by Janet Lane Walters: Warning: This is one of the non-traditional romance stories, and does not have a truly discernible Happily Ever After, although in the closing of this tale we are informed that this isn't the end, we are being set up to hear more of the story from a secondary character later on.

We’ve all heard them, and some of us grew up hearing them… the classic “fairy tale”. A tale that has been handed down from generation to generation. This was a story that is told as if from generation to generation, although nothing seems to have been lost in the translation. You’ll find yourself rooting for Emme, hoping she can get through to Hugh, and then… well you’ll have to read it to find out.

"Turquoise Twilight" by Jane Toombs
Have you ever heard tales and stories growing up that you “knew” were just stories, but hey, why not visit your homeland and see what that’s all about? That is the basis for this actually quite fun story, even with the ominous presence of something evil lurking in the background.

Talissa is a no-nonsense, straightforward woman who wins a trip to her ancestral Romania by relating the stories she had been told growing up. Stories that claim she comes from a long line of Vampire Hunters. She doesn’t necessarily believe the stories, but hey, they won her a trip to Romania. The circumstances she finds herself in (i.e. being the only person on the tour not wearing black and fake fangs, having to fend off the advances of a French biker, wannabe Lothario… just to name a couple!) keep the story entertaining, without detracting from the seriously creepy vibe we occasionally get.

"Blood of Amethyst" by Karen Weisner
What would happen if the Big Bad Wolf was real? What if the witch really did lure in Hansel and Gretel? That is the question that made this story so gripping. Blood of Amethyst was a very riveting, chilling tale of a supernatural, paranormal small town that hides a thin veil between the worlds of good and evil. Definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, but be prepared, this is not your traditional romance, and doesn’t have your typical HEA. Even so, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

"Petals of a Topaz Jewel" by Carrie S. Masek
A fun short story that had a surprise twist at the end, this was not a love story, but still fun to read. Beth Collins was an interesting woman to meet, and it would have been nice to get to know her better. Sometimes, the thought of the possibility of more is a great way to be introduced to a previously unknown author. This one made me smile.

"Sapphire Dreams" by Nancy Pirri
Take a quick trip back to the Wild West and meet a Marshal on a mission to shut down every brothel he comes across (whether it’s actually a brothel or not), and a woman hotelier just trying to run an honest business… despite what the new Marshal may think. The sparks fly when these two strong-willed people meet, and an interesting and sweet love story ensues. I got a sweet little thrill at the end of this one.

"Saurian Bloodstone" by Cassie Walder
I enjoyed this interesting, in-depth glimpse into a world of shape-shifting dragons. This story was a great love story continuation of a previous tale where we get to catch up with characters from before. We all have moments of, “I wonder what’s happening with those characters…” This short story gives us a bit of a catch up glimpse, and I find I would like to read the previous story, or stories, by this author since I loved meeting all of her characters. The world-building was incredible, and even the seemingly formal speech in the dialogue was easy to follow and seemed completely appropriate. I would love to read more by Cassie Walder.

"The Tanzanite Return" by C.J. Winters
In "The Tanzanite Return" we meet twin sisters who have special abilities. They are psychics and both try to use their gifts in whatever ways they can to benefit society. While there is a bit of romance, that isn’t the primary focus of this tale. When the sisters buy each other a birthday gift of a Tanzanite pendant necklace, they never imagined that their lives would be changed forever.

While there wasn’t any real development of the romance part of the story, we did get to see that the men in their lives didn’t scoff at their gifts. They take them seriously, in fact, which helps get around the fact that we didn’t get the character and story development that would have added that much more. This was an interesting story with a touch of the paranormal.

"The Moonstone Fire" by Christine DeSmet
Who would want to burn down the newlyweds’ house? That is the question that John “Bozeman” Hall is asking when his friend and mentor, Peter LeBarron, calls on him to investigate the house fire that has landed him back in his father’s home. When Boze comes across his first suspect, he’s dumbfounded as to how to deal with the quirky woman squatting in the cave on his friend’s property. The fact that she has her son with her just confuses the matter further.

This was actually a very sweet and humorous love story that left me smiling in the end. The fact that John is a bit “broken” just endears him further as we move along in this story. I adored the son’s lisp and his easy acceptance of circumstances around him, which he relates in terms that are quite comical. The blooming love between John and Dolly is well done and in the end, brought a quick smile to my face.

Tales From the Treasure Trove--Volume IV was an interesting group of tales that ranged from the extremely hair-raising to the sweetly heartwarming. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone in these well-written tales.

Reviewed by Viscaria