(Originally from All About Romance)
Cynthia Wolf, Larissa Ione, Kate St. James and Mia Verano
December 2007, Erotic Romance
Red Sage, $12.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 1603100016
For me, the Secrets anthologies have always delivered in the realm of romantic short stories. Even though volume 21 failed to shine as brightly as previous collections, it’s a bit like the chocolate metaphor: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
In Caged Wolf by Cynthia Eden, Madison knows that capturing a werewolf is dangerous. But she’s been trained, she’s been prepared, and she’s covered all her bases. Except the fact that Alerac is her mate. And he’s not entirely unwilling to be caught.
Eden’s story still touches on some of my hotpoints: the whole “you’re my mate, we’re destined” thing gets a bit tired. But somehow she always manages to pull her story out of cliché and into enjoyable for me. This is another good effort, and those familiar with her previous works will recognize some of the secondary characters. Grade: B
I love this woman. Seriously. In the last Secrets volume I reviewed, Larissa Ione earned a DIK rating from me. This time in Wet Dreams, Ione explores a more action-packed plotline: heroine Marina Summers has a crash course in dangerous living when Brent Logan crashes onto her boat, bleeding from a gunshot wound and pursued by some very dangerous characters. A suspense-filled night follows as Marina and Brent attempt to survive, and deal with their growing attraction.
This story doesn’t quite hit the high notes that Ione’s previous story did – the action plot takes away somewhat from the romance plot line – but it’s still the best story in this collection, with a solid suspense plot, likable characters, and a very realistic, satisfying ending. Grade: B+
Lexi is just one of those characters you have to like. She’s cute, funny, and very practical. Covering her aunt’s store, Grin and Bare It, while she’s away on vacation, Lexi spends her time gaining invaluable information in lubricants and other sexual aides at the same time, chasing immature young men out of the store, and waiting for her favourite customer Gage to show up. She simultaneously loves and dreads his visits. She’s crazy attracted to him, but is nonetheless intimidated by the sheer amount of massage oil he seems to go through. Finally, unwilling to deal with it anymore, she decides to use him for one crazy weekend of sex before locking herself away for two years and devoting herself to study. However, Gage has other plans.
Good Vibrations is a cute little story, though the sex scenes depend just a little too much on props, and the final resolution just a little rushed. Grade: C+
My main problem with Virgin of the Amazon stems from the overall premise: for me it didn’t work. Those readers able to accept it will probably grade this story a little higher. Anna Winter gets lost on a tour of the Amazon River and ends up wandering into a tribal camp, complete with its own God in the form of a Brit named Coop.
Here’s the premise with which I have a problem: Coop decides that Anna is an ice queen and needs to be warmed up via sexual humiliations. Within the space of 30 seconds. The humiliations are many and varied, but don’t take into account the trust that a good D/s story requires to deliver a solid happy-ever-after. Further, Coop is revealed to be a bit of a sleaze, really. To sum up, I just didn’t like it. Grade: D+
Unfortunately, this Secrets volume was marred for me by the last story, but it is still worth a look for those who love romantic short stories.