First things first, I do think that it would be better for readers to have read the first book in the series, Hotter On The Edge, which at the time of this review’s publication, is free on Amazon for Kindle. As always, double check prices before purchasing any book, as prices are subject to change without notice.
All of that aside, though, I really enjoyed this anthology.
GOLD LIKE THE SUN by Erin Kellison
It’s the wedding of the millennium! Princess Pilar Sol and Hakan Frust are celebrating their union with sector fetes full of celebrity and pomp. Theirs is an arranged marriage to preserve the vital commerce of the Nyer Transit Hub, and yet Pilar is madly, unreservedly, passionately in love. She has all the excitement she has long dreamed of—and a little more than she bargained for when she discovers that Hakan’s grasping family wants her dead.
Hakan has done everything in his power to save his inheritance—the bustling but impoverished Hub—including marrying a wealthy princess for her dowry. His heart isn’t supposed to be part of the deal, but Pilar has all the beauty and joy his life lacks. When Hakan runs afoul of his uncle’s associates—criminal in nature, violent in approach—he refuses to risk Pilar, not for money, not even for his life.
But Pilar is not so easily cast aside, and negotiations turn into a gamble with the future of the sector in the balance. Hakan is about to learn about the high stakes his bride will hazard, as he now has far more to lose—and win—than he ever believed possible: a future brighter than gold.
Holy cow this anthology started off with a bang. I was sitting-straight-up-in-bed-SHOCKED by some of the things that went down in this story, and though things did “work out well” in the end, it was a hell of a ride from Point A to Point B.
I really enjoyed the shock factor of some of the things that happened in this story, and the non-stop action as well as the drama between Pilar and Hakan really kept the story moving.
was a great way to start off the anthology.
TO KEEP A WIFE by KC Klein
In the shards of civilization ruined by a global war, Lake has gotten the life she never dared dreamed of—a safe haven, and the love of a good man, her husband, Hudson Black Creek. But Lake’s hard-won happiness doesn’t last long when powerful Elders lay siege on Black Creek Manor in retaliation for a past defiance. As Lake watches everything she loves go up in flames, she sacrifices herself for the chance to keep Hudson and her brother alive. Syon, a diabolic Elder with his own agenda, will push Lake to her breaking point, forcing her to compromise—heart and soul— in order to survive.
Hudson wakes from a head wound to find that his whole world is reduced to ashes. With no memory of why he’s sacrificed everything for a woman whose name is tattooed on his chest, Hudson is determined to make his heart match the emptiness of his mind, and wipe out everything except the hatred for those who are to blame—the Elders and the wife he sought to protect.
As evil and fear spread across a war-torn land, Lake and Hudson are tested like never before, and both will have to forgive betrayals and risk greater heartbreak if they want a chance at saving their lives… and their love.
It’s important for me to mention that I’m a big fan of K.C. Klein’s work, even though her stories never fail to make me extremely uncomfortable. She forces me to go outside of the tiny little box of “how things are ‘supposed’ to work in romance” and realize that sometimes a Happily Ever After is much more meaningful if the characters (and the readers) are put through the ringer first.
This story broke my heart into a thousand little pieces. Having read the previous story in the series, I had thought that the tough times were over for Hudson and Lake, but boy howdy was I wrong about that. And as hard as it was to read about some of the things that happened to these characters, I would be a bold faced liar if I said that it didn’t make their Happily Ever After all the more meaningful.
The only thing that I didn’t care for in this story was the fact that the timeframe changed. As the author notes, the first story in this novella happened after the events in the novel of this series, Dark Future, a time-traveling tale of which I am a huge fan. This novella, however, changes things around and forces the previous novella as well as this one to be set before the events of Dark Future. Though this shouldn’t be a problem to newcomers to the series, I admit it was confusing as hell for me as I read some of it.
PRINCE OF PASSION by Jessa Slade
When mercenary raiders targeted the empathic crystals that imbue the legendary l’auraly lovers with extraordinary sensual prowess, Icere, the last male l’auralyo, helped destroy the crystals. Rather than let the source of uninhibited pleasure be corrupted into a mind-controlling drug, he allowed his passionate destiny to remain forever unfulfilled. Now, Icere channels his fury into revenge. Tracking the raiders through the interstellar sheerways to a watery world infamous for its aphrodisiac liqueur, he finds a queen—as adrift and alone as he—forced for years into a fate she never desired.
Saya-Rynn inherited duty, command and control from her cruel grandfather and fought to transform her dangerous planet into a paradise for her people—but the price was literally a poison that runs through her veins. Though she feels as ancient as the seas, she finds herself awash in the hot male potency of the young Icere. Still, she resists the chance for indulgence she thinks has passed by her. But when the raiders strike again, Rynn must embrace her troubled legacy, and Icere will find his place as a lover and a fighter. Together, the reluctant ruler and the deposed prince of passion find common purpose, combating the mysterious entity seeking to rule the sheerways, and claim a love as bright as the infinite stars.
As usual, this trio has saved the best for last. I loved not only the virgin hero (hello!), but the delicious tension between Icere and the older, more experienced Rynn. The mermaid mythology as well as the intrigue and danger woven into the tale only added to the drama, and I especially appreciated the concern that Rynn had about taking a lover who was of an age with her own son. It’s not often that we get “older” heroines in romance, and I for one appreciated that she wasn’t some young, green girl. The action, the drama, and the passion of this story made it a perfect way to close out the anthology.
Overall, a very solid 4/5 Stars