Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend Reading: When He Was Bad

When He Was Bad
Miss Congeniality by Shelly Laurenston
Wicked Ways by Cynthia Eden

I had a lot on my “to do” list this weekend, and didn’t get through nearly enough of it.

Frankly, I blame Michele.

Yes, Michele Reilly, everyone’s favorite substitute librarian and FOL President. It’s all her fault, really. It began several months ago when I mentioned that while I read and enjoyed both contemporary and historical romances, I just couldn’t get into paranormals because I was not a huge vampire fan. “Ah, well,” she said, “maybe you should try some of these authors.” Then she scribbled a list of names and sent me trotting off to the spin racks in search of wizards and werewolves and other long-leggedy (and totally buff) beasties. As a former reader of fantasy, science fiction, and anything to do with ghosts, witches and wizards, I found that I really enjoyed the paranormal twist after all.

The next thing you know, I’m planning a “Paranormal Romance” display. I have been dutifully researching new releases and popular series and ordering boxloads of new paperbacks. Some would say this is symptomatic of a problem, but I like to think of it as just being really thorough in my Collection Development duties. In fact, I am so dedicated that I take it one step further and try to read at least one book by every author I order. For instance, last week when I saw that two new anthologies featuring authors I had not yet read had arrived in the library, I briefly considered the mountains of laundry in my bathroom, the list of errands in my agenda, and all the things in the yard that really needed my attention. Then I plucked both titles off of the new book cart and headed out for the weekend, vowing to read very, very quickly.

Am I a good little librarian or what?!?

When I got home I cracked open When He Was Bad, which contains stories by Cynthia Eden and Shelly Laurenston. Both feature shape shifters, with a vampire guest starring as the villain in Eden’s Wicked Ways. Though the stories differ somewhat in tone, neither disappoints.

Wicked Ways is the story of Miranda Shaw, a high school teacher looking forward to a summer vacation of relaxation and recreational dating. In a stroke of really, really bad luck, the antique loving gentleman that Miranda meets through an online dating site turns out to be a vampire. Not just your run of the mill vampire, but one who happens to be a brutal serial killer. Even in the vampire world, such behavior is considered really bad form. Fortunately, Miranda is rescued by her sexy new neighbor, Cain Lawson, who turns out to be a shapeshifter on leave from the FBI. Cain has had a little thing for Miranda since he moved in next door, and can’t believe she has had the poor taste to date a vampire. After chasing off the bad guy, Cain realizes that Miranda had no idea what she was getting involved with; she has no knowledge of the population of Other that inhabits the world right alongside her. So Cain has the unenviable task of explaining to his new love interest that he is actually a jaguar in a man’s body, and that she has now become the target of a psycho killer of the Undead variety. Not the best starting point for any relationship, but the two still manage to join forces to track down the killer and a hot love affair ensues. This is a quick, suspenseful read; a little violent, but not over the top. In spite of the short length, you do get a good sense of the characters and the emotional arc of the story is satisfying.

In Miss Congeniality Shelly Laurenston combines romance, humor and suspense as she tells the story of Dr. Irene Conridge, a brilliant, detached and relentlessly logical scientist. Irene has for many years fascinated Niles Van Holtz, of the local wealthy, influential and shapeshifting Van Holtz clan. Van, as his friends call him, is rich, handsome, and in line to be the next Alpha male of his pack. He can’t figure out why Irene won’t give him the time of day. The happy-go-lucky wolf in formal attire makes a point of chatting her up at every University event. Since the Van Holtz family are generous donors, Irene must be relatively civil to the man she finds arrogant and empty-headed. The former child prodigy is interested only in her experiments. Unfortunately for Irene, the agents of several governments are also interested in her experiments, which leads to a near death experience in the woods just outside town. Van rescues Irene, takes her back to the Van Holtz estate to heal, and a hot, if somewhat antagonistic, love affair ensues. This one is a lot of fun, as the incorrigible Van does everything possible to insinuate himself into Irene’s life, while she fights the attraction because he is disrupting her well ordered existence. The initially chilly Irene is really quite likeable, and Van is a bad boy with a heart of gold. The supporting cast is equally entertaining, making for an all around enjoyable story.

There are more books by both Eden and Laurenston on the shelf and on order. Because I am so virtuous, I will not hoard them in my To Be Read pile. You will be able to find them in the paranormal romance display any day now.
Unless I get through more of my "to do" list at home.
If I do, all bets are off...

1 comment:

Cynthia Eden said...

Macaire, thank you very much for taking the time to review When He Was Bad. I'm glad you enjoyed the stories in the anthology.