Surrendering to otherworldly desire has never been so dangerous-and deliciously satisfying.
The Phoenix Project- by Jacquelyn Frank
Held captive, Amara is subjected to bizarre experiments that test the limits of her sanity. But nothing prepares her for being locked away-naked-with a sexy ex-cop-after they-ve been pumped full of drugs that increase their sexual appetites to animalistic intensity.
Crystal Dreams- by Kate Douglas
When Lemurian Guard Darius chases a demon spirit to Earth, he faces a lethal battle between good and evil. His ally is Mari, a breathtakingly beautiful human who unknowingly holds the key to victory. But before the war is over, Darius-s desire for his mortal companion threatens to erupt-and could cost Mari her life.
Spark of Temptation- by Jess Haines
Blackmailed into taking a treacherous case, P.I. Sara Halloway is thrust into a demon war. Sara seeks guidance from a charismatic mage, but their hunger for one another soon becomes a deadly distraction-and the danger surrounding them only makes their urges more powerful.
My Soul to Take- by Clare Willis
New Orleans native Dr. Maggie Dillon thought she left her past behind her-until she-s enraptured by a handsome patient who has been possessed by a malevolent spirit. To find a cure, Colby revisits her magical roots-and unleashes a primal lust too vital to ignore.
Obtained: Jess Haines
Genre: Paranormal Romance
I opened this book with the sole intention of only reading Jess Haines's story. But then I was convinced by a certain someone to read the other stories, which is why I have decided to review all four pieces below.
The Phoenix Project by Jacquelyn Frank - 2/5
Like many other reviewers have said previously, this book was the most sexual out of all four. And you know, if it weren't for a few factors, I think I would have truly enjoyed the story. The premise was interesting, it really was, and I absolutely loved the animalistic/human interactions. But then, I guess a lot of you already knew I did, since I'm a huge werewolf fan. Regardless, I genuinely was interested in that particular part, and kept reading because of it. So, let it be known that, despite my rating, Jacquelyn Frank can write. So well, that I think I might explore another book of hers at a later date. And she can write some steamy sex scenes. However, I remained unconvinced of the "love" between hero and heroine.
So let's focus on the rape. Is it considered rape if both parties are attracted to each other, and both parties are being forced to fuck each other? In my mind, yes, it is. Will everyone be bothered by this when they read it? No, they won't. Some will be able to overlook it (which is what I think was intended when the story was written), and others, like me, will grit their teeth and roll their eyes and shake their heads when any word of "love" is uttered in this tale.
Maybe I have issues with love in these sorts of stories because I don't buy into the whole: "oh hey, we're both being forced to have sex with each other... and now, suddenly, after having sex with you about five times and killing some crazy bitch, I love you!" No. Not happening. I'm sorry, some people might buy it, some people might be able to overlook it, but I don't, and I can't.
I grew tired of the heroine in the beginning stating how scared she was. First time? Okay. Second, third, fourth, etc, times? Shut up already, please. How does Amara go from someone so quiet, internal woman who's grown apathetic about her captivity to suddenly telling a complete stranger that she's scared? Kind of nit-picky on my part, but it bugged me. I didn't think it was necessary to have her keep repeating it.
Finally there's the whole... back out in human civilization, and we're the only ones who can save all these other people because the police force is busy with their thumbs up their asses. I'll admit it, I didn't care. I skimmed. I don't even remember what happened because I was comatose at this point after only sleeping for 2 hours the night before.
Sexytime Heat Level: 4/5 - If one can overlook the rape, the sex is sizzling.
Sexual Tension: 0.5/5 - There's a teensy bit, but that was it.
Interest Level: 5/5 - for the start/middle; 0/5 for the end.
Crystal Dreams by Kate Douglas - DNF
Mari was a bit too weird for my tastes, both with the way she talked to herself, and the way she acted around Darius. Plus, having an ex-boyfriend stealing funds from your bank account? I would have imagined she would take legal action, if possible. Or at least talk to the bank. And why would you let someone you're dating have access to your credit cards in the first place? Maybe if you're married, definitely not when you're dating.
I was also not interested in this new world with some different race with demon killing crystal swords... 40 pages in, and the plot/characters still left me uninterested. This story was not for me, though I'm sure other people might enjoy it.
Sexytime Heat Level: N/A
Sexual Tension: N/A
Interest Level: N/A
Spark of Temptation by Jess Haines - 4.5/5
Finally, the main reason I read this anthology! Much like Hunted by the Others, Jess did not disappoint me with this story. It was interesting reading about this universe in another character's point of view.
This, by far, has been one of the most amusing reads in a long, long time for me; a breath of fresh air. I was blinded by tears on multiple occasions at the start (with Sara and Arnold's interactions). When things grew serious in the story, the laughter fizzled away... but then came back towards the end. It was the perfect amount of suspense--both with the couple and the bad guys--and lightheartedness for me.
The one thing I would have liked to see explained a teensy bit further was the part where Joe goes to Sara's house. I understand why was he there, but when he grabs her shoulders, what on earth was he going to say? Was he going to warn her of something else? Was he going to try and give her an address or a name? Something very minor, and it does not affect the plot, but nevertheless, I am still curious.
I have heard a few people give SOT a lower rating because of the lack of sex, but not every single paranormal romance needs to have sex in it. Is it better to have sex and risk making the characters out of character? Or is it better to let them behave as they normally would and have a believable HEA? I believe the latter applies, and if it is done elegantly enough--with lots of sexual tension--then I don't see why people should complain. Hell, it just gives the author an excuse to write another story with sex next time ;)
Enough of my rant, though. Once again, Jess has written an engaging story that furthered my understanding and connection with the characters in her world. It has also increased my excitement for Taken by the Others.
Sexytime Heat Level: 0/5 - There is no sex in this story.
Sexual Tension: 3.5/5 - There was enough to make me antsy for their HEA, but I wasn't dying for them to jump in bed together. Yet.
Interest Level: 5/5 - I thought I wouldn't care about Sara/Arnold; I was wrong. Give me more!
My Soul to Take- by Clare Willis - 2/5
I really wanted to like this story. The beginning successfully pulled me in, intriguing me with thoughts of spirituality versus modern medicine. Not my typical sort of read, but the attraction, and then our little spirit rearing his head early on, encouraged me to keep going.
I loved the way Clare effortlessly transported me back in time in the beginning. I felt like I was zoning out with Maggie, only to be jerked back into the present. It was both fun and exciting and reveals a skill at writing to be able to pull something like that off.
I'm not entirely sure what happened after that, though, since for me, the romance was rushed. I was turned off from this completely when they started saying I love you; it was too soon for me and didn't feel natural. They knew each other for about a week-ish, and while, yes, they had to deal with a possession, I didn't feel any urgency or mutually life threatening experience that would speed up the process and intensify their feelings. There's a ghost, he possessed a guy, guy wants to kill ghost, ghost threatening heroine. All of this was stated, but it was stated in a way that had me thinking "so what?"
When they finally had sex? It was lessened because of Maggie's fears of our ghostly friend. Don't expect sex scenes either, it's a fade to black sexytime. Not necessarily bad, but a few readers might be disappointed with the lack of sexual tension and then sex. Personally? I was a bit disappointed. Some sexual tension would have been nice, instead.
The exorcism was also a bit weird. I got confused when Maggie kinda-sorta got possessed. Still not sure what happened there.
I think I might check out some of Clare's other works before I dismiss her due to one novella. It would be interesting to see what she comes up with in a complete novel, where there aren't as many constraints with length.
Sexytime Heat Level: 1/5 - The sex was skipped over in this story.
Sexual Tension: 2/5 - The beginning had most of this.
Interest Level: 5/5 - the beginning; 2/5 -middle to the end.
- Paperback - 532 pages
- Price: $6.99
- ISBN 10: 1420109871
- ISBN 13: 978-1420109870
- Released: September 7, 2010
- Buy it via Amazon