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romancearoundthecorner

Brie's Corner

Supervillain book reviewer. Lover of secret pains and purple proses. I review over at Romance Around the Corner.

Fire & Frost (Iron Seas, #3.4; Code of Shadows, #0.5) - Meljean Brook,  Carolyn Crane,  Jessica Sims Originally posted at Romance Around the CornerSource: A review copy was provided by the authors. Fire and Frost is the newest collaboration between authors Meljean Brook, Carolyn Crane and Jessica Sims. The novellas are unique and almost impossible to compare, but they do have two things in common: the charming, compelling characters and the way the “hot and cold” theme has been cleverly incorporated into each story.In Speed Mating by Jessica Sims we meet Estrella, a mixed tiger and lion shifter (or liger) who is about to go into heat and asks her clan’s alpha to help her find a suitable male to have sex with. Hilarity ensues. Well, not hilarity exactly, but as the title suggests, this is a light, tongue-in-cheek story that’s all about having fun while still managing to sneak in an interesting and welcome take on the ubiquitous shifter romance.Speed mating is a fun and simple story, but it’s detailed enough to form a clear image of the rules and workings of its particular world. These characters have an animal side that sometimes takes over them in ways that are both natural and inconvenient, but they also have choices and are, above all, rational humans. So ultimately Estrella can decide whether to have sex or not (even if not having it can be quite difficult), she can pick a mate, and her alpha stops himself from actively pursuing the woman he wants just because he’s in a position of power over her and doesn’t want to abuse it or make her feel forced.It was perhaps a bit too short and rushed, especially at the end where the love declarations came out of nowhere, but I had a lot of fun with it.3.5 StarsNext we have Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane. Set in the 1980’s, it tells the story of Veronica, a reclusive witch who’s being chased by the mob and uses a computer to create a complex spell that allows her to conjure people from a picture. That’s how she ends up with Max, a cop who was recently murdered by the same people chasing Veronica. Her plan is to use him as a bodyguard, but things get complicated when they fall in love, even if neither is aware of the other’s feelings.The premise is weird and slightly cheesy, but the story was surprisingly charming and even a bit sad. A nerdy witch that uses a magical computer program to bring photographs to life sounds like a weird premise, but once we see how alone this woman is, how badly the dead cop wants to live, and how much they need each other, it becomes clear that as interesting and weird the setting is, Veronica and Max are the real stars.The romance was very emotional and heartfelt, even if it was never clear exactly why he was so in love. I had the impression that he was confusing need with love, and his emotional response to her was similar to hero-worship. Yet seeing Veronica through his eyes was enough to make me root for them.4 StarsLast but not least is Wrecked by Meljean Brook. Elizabeth has been running from her father for years. Caius is the huntsman in charge of bringing her home. She always liked him, but thought he hated her; he tried really hard not to like her, but thoroughly failed at it. And now they meet again under slightly different (and dangerous) circumstances. Basically, this novella is an unrequited love twofer with a touch of adventure. And I loved it.Wrecked is a bit longer, which means that we get more insight into the character’s history. Elizabeth is a strong, kind and resourceful heroine; perhaps a bit too sweet, but never annoying. And Caius spends the whole time being emotionally vulnerable. The result is a lovely romance and a reader filled with all the feelings. All of them!On top of that, there’s action and a disturbing villain. What keeps this from being a 5-star read is that the resolution was slightly rushed and too convenient, but other than that, it was entirely satisfying.4 StarsIt’s unusual to find an anthology where all the novellas are equally strong, albeit for different reasons. Each story is part of a series, but they all stand alone well. I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to fans of Paranormal Romance who are feeling bit tired of all those overbearing alpha males. You certainly won’t find one of those here.