Note: This is a review of an adult book. Please, do not read either the review or the book reviewed unless you are an adult.
SUMMARY (from the publisher): New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon and rising stars Jaid Black and Kresley Cole unlock the pleasures and perils of embracing the boldest and most powerful of lovers – 100% alpha males – in three sensually erotic tales. Discover the physical rapture of his muscular arms... Become a prisoner of passion, swept away by an encounter with his primal side... And get lost in the all-consuming thrill of white-hot pursuit by a relentless stranger who may be your most dangerous foe, the best lover you've ever had – or both.
Playing Easy to Get is a collection of shorts stories by different authors. I will review each of the three on their own, because all they have in common is genre, which is erotic (paranormal) romance.
Turn Up the Heat by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Allison is an average American woman. She is a cleaning lady in a Wal-Mart in a small town. She finds escape in reading a romance novel called Sugar and Spice. There is a contest the winner of which can live for a week as the heroine of the book on an island surrounded only by handsome men who do everything the heroine wants.
Allison is too shy to dare to apply, but then her high school friend Maggie appears in the town and convinces her to enter the contest. Maggie works for Wulfgar Zimmerman, Z in short, a very rich and successful businessman who finances the whole thing, and she pulls the strings so that Allison wins.
Vince is Z’s childhood friend, a gangster, who wants to go legit, but his boss sends killers after him because he knows too much. Z hides him among the men on the Sugar and Spice contest experience. Naturally, Allison and Vince meet, like each other and consequently subside to their lust, being interrupted by mafia hit men.
So much about the plot, nothing unexpected. except that the contest, Maggie, Z and all the chain of events seem far-fetched. If I understand it correctly this short story is supposed to be about what is possible to happen in real life, but ends far from such. SPOILER: I don’t think FBI is as lenient to wannabe-ex-gangsters as it is to Vince, including him and Allison in a top secret specialist team in the end. END OF SPOILER.
Next, Allison does not appeal to me. In the beginning she hates her job, feels sorry for herself and drowns her misery in fantasizing about the hero from her favourite romance instead maybe taking some classes and trying to change her fortune. Then all of a sudden she turns into an adventurer and becomes a tough girl who fights with gangsters, showing no fear. Although development of characters is desirable, Allison’s lacks the transition from one kind of a person to another.
One thing I liked about this short story was Kenyon’s writing, especially her sarcastic attempts to mock the romance genre. She uses some witty phrases, such as “lust at first sight" and, Allison wishes a house would land on top of her floor manager and put “him out of her misery." Therefore, I rate this short story ** A LITTLE STRANGE.
Hunter’s Oath by Jaid Black
After her brother dies in a helicopter crash, Sophia travels to his funeral in the Arctic Circle. On the way from the funeral she is kidnapped to be sold on an auction for a bride to a member of an underground Viking civilization. Before the auction, an old lady healer mixes an aphrodisiac in her tea, so Sophia becomes a sexual maniac and is therefore able to fall in love with her “husband”/master and they live happily ever after.
I can’t even begin to tell how absurd and repulsive I find this plot. Firstly, there is no way a sane woman would fall in love with someone she is forcefully wed to. Surely, she might as a part of one’s mind’s survival strategy, or the Stockholm syndrome, but it would not have been real love. Secondly, I do not see how on earth would a modern, successful, emancipated woman, being used to all the comforts of the contemporary world adapt to a life in a primitive society in a blink of an eye. Finally, I found the whole sex issue in this short story just disgusting. I am not a prude or I would not have ventured to read this genre, but I prefer sex to do at least something with love.
The idea of the ancient Vikings surviving in secrecy in an underground world up to these days is, I must admit, interesting. Perhaps the author should concentrate on that and develop it, and work harder on the conflict which would arise if a person from a modern world encountered the society that is thought to have been long gone, which could potentially result in a decent novel. However, this short story, such as it is, is on my opinion only ** A LITTLE STRANGE just because of the Vikings idea.
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole
This short story is the reason why I bought the book in the first place. It is the first part of Immortals After Dark series. I read the first novel in the series, A Hunger Like No Other, before this short story, and although it was perfectly readable and understandable on its own, it intrigued me so much that I wanted to find out how everything starts.
The Warlord Wants Forever has nothing in common with the other two short stories in the collection, apart from the genre. It is the longest short story in the collection – it could easily become a novel with a few more pages. It is also by far the best of the three. This is why I decided to review it in a separate post. I rate it **** VERY STRANGE.
RECOMMENDATION: There is nothing to miss if you just skip the first two short stories and move right onto the third which is an original and compelling approach to paranormal romance.