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Monday, January 11, 2010

Heart of Darkness by Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne and Susan Krinard

Heart of Darkness by Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne and Susan Krinard
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (328 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Fern

From the masters of paranormal romance, three brand-new tales of seduction…

The Darkest Angel by Gena Showalter

A Lords of the Underworld tale

An iron-willed demon assassin, the angel Lysander has never known lust—until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of Lucifer, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the pure-hearted Lysander into temptation….

Love Me to Death by Maggie Shayne

Twenty-two years ago four teenage boys were convicted of a young girl's murder. Now, in the form of a beautiful woman, the "victim" is seeking vengeance. And only one man dares to dig into the past to uncover its secrets… and set her free.

Lady of the Nile by Susan Krinard

Lady Tameri believes herself to be the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian princess, and Leo Erskine has set out to prove her wrong…never dreaming that the two of them are about to discover a prophecy that will bind them together forever.

When given the opportunity to review the wickedly delicious anthology, Heart of Darkness, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Stories from Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne, and Susan Krinard? Are you kidding? Each author is a personal favorite, and I knew with the paranormal/fantasy slant, I was about to enter into literary heaven.

Without further ado, I’ve reviewed each of the stories below.

First up is The Darkest Angel, penned by the rip-roaringly funny Gena Showalter. The righteous angel Lysander has discovered his vice, the one temptation that can possibly destroy him–Bianka Skyhawk. Unable to kill the beautiful harpy, so he decides to reform her instead. Too bad all doesn’t go according to plan. Trapped in his inescapable cloud, the spunky Bianca decides to melt ice with fire. After all, sometimes the best way to tempt the innocent is to lure them with the forbidden. Muchos laughter, chemistry, and sizzling sex ensue.

I loved the lush and vivid world Ms. Showalter has created, as well as the secondary characters that add dimension and depth to the material. You get snarky humor, snappy dialogue, and a heaping helping of emotion in this little treat. The primary protagonists are wonderful, and the premise is unique and captivating. Showalter fans will love this tasty nibble, and will rush to purchase the prior stories (if they haven’t read them already) after enjoying this one.

Up next is Love Me To Death, by the ever-wonderful Maggie Shayne. At sixteen, David and his friends did something very foolish, and it resulted in the death of an innocent girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, twenty-two years later, strange things are taking place. Sierra’s ghost is back…or is she? The young woman who shares her face claims to be someone else entirely, but she knows things she shouldn’t. Sara’s been having odd dreams–of fire, of pain, and of the breathtakingly beautiful man she feels destined to be with. When she learns the images in her dreams and paintings are an actual place, she travels to Port Lucinda to uncover the mystery and find answers.

In true Shayne fashion, Love Me To Death engages the reader immediately with an opening that sets the tone, creates a heavy weight of dread in your gut, and lets you know you’re in for something wickedly good. Is Sara a ghost? Or is she the reincarnation of Sierra? And what is up with her intense feelings for David? The hunky fireman she just met but has dreamed of for weeks? You get ghosts, past betrayals, and so many twists and turns I’d suggest buckling up before taking the ride. Super-creepy at times, sensuous at others, the mystery is what will keep you guessing and hovering on the edge of your seat.

The final story, Lady of the Nile, is written by the lovely Susan Krinard. When Leo Erskine sets out to unravel the mysteries surrounding a duchess that claims to know secrets from an Egyptian past, he discovers more than he ever bargained for. Her Grace, Tameri, isn’t at all what she seems–and neither is he. Thrust into a world of magic, gods and goddesses, and reincarnation, Leo will have to push logic aside in favor of accepting what he knows to be true within if he wants to save the woman he’s waited lifetimes for.

Lady of the Nile is a complex tale with multifaceted characters, oodles of mystery, and a whole lot of I-totally-didn’t-see-that-coming whammies. Reincarnation, Egyptian gods, a war to keep the balance…it just doesn’t get any better than this. Think The Mummy, but with an intriguing twist, and a considerable dash of darkness. I absolutely loved this story, and felt it ended the anthology perfectly.

By and by, Heart of Darkness is a fantastic and delightful read everyone will enjoy. As you can probably imagine with authors of this caliber, the writing is exceptional, the characters are memorable, and I just couldn’t put any of the stories down.

Definitely a must have on the TBR list.