Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CARINA PRESS PRESENTS: EDITOR’S CHOICE VOLUME I by Cindy Spencer Pape, Shannon Stacy & Adrianne Giordano

Publisher: Carina Press
Date published: June 4th 2012
ISBN: 978-14268-9383-4
Erotic romance
Obtained via publisher
Reviewed by Helen

This is a great offering to celebrate Carina Press' second anniversary. Three very different erotic romances, but all of them are very fulfilling stories, spectacular ambassadors for their genre.

Kilts & Kraken by Cindy Spencer PapeDr. Geneva MacKay is one of the first female physicians in Edinburgh and has established her own clinic, admittedly with mainly female patients. Her family belongs to The Order of the Round Table which sends her north to care for the badly wounded Magnus, Baron Findlay, who has been fighting kraken attacks on his island home.
Magnus has updated the island and his castle with many modern steam inventions, but the kraken attacks are disrupting the lives of everyone on the island, killing people and destroying their peace and happiness.
These two are instantly attracted. Between trying to deal with the kraken and each other, the action is intense.

Cindy Spencer Pape's "Kilts and Kraken" is another of her excellent steampunk stories. I may be biased, because I have edited Cindy in the past, but she's a very professional author with a wickedly twisted imagination that pulls elements from everywhere, throws them together, and ends up with an amazing world distinctively her own.
I was enjoying this book so much it was a struggle to remember I was supposed to be reviewing it, not just reading it. Ms. Spencer Pape drags the reader along at an incredible pace and I was loving the ride. There's an amazing steampunk world mixing historical and fantasy together seamlessly, plus the kraken themselves and a touch of magic. This author invariably includes something paranormal somewhere and it always lifts her books from the very good to the excellent.
The hero and heroine had electric chemistry, the secondary characters were strong and well developed, and the plot was exciting and fast paced.
My one, very small complaint, was that there were two minor characters, one Catriona the other Catherine, and I found the similar names annoying. It pulled me out of the story and I had to stop and think which was which whenever Catherine was mentioned. It wasn't very often but it was enough to prevent me giving the book a perfect score (4.75 instead of 5).

Negotiating Point by Adrienne GiordanoGavin Sheppard is a hostage negotiator for Taylor Security and his boss' pregnant wife has been kidnapped. The boss is worried sick, the action men want to storm in all guns blazing, Gavin wants to talk to the bad guys, and the IT geek is making him hotter than the hostage situation.
Janet Fink is irresistibly attracted to Gavin but knows getting close to him is stupid and getting close to him during such a delicate operation as this one, is truly insane. Nevertheless…

I love this couple. Together they're an epic romance. Each is fighting the attraction so hard and their internal monologue is wonderful. I also love the way Janet uses her computer skills to show she's a true part of the team. The story is fast-paced and exciting and the minor characters are well-drawn. The bi-play between Gavin and the knuckle-dragger is very clever indeed. The author has shown good skills at leavening the extreme tension with humor.
My only complaints were a couple of minor things, including a paragraph of wobbly POV, that may well have been corrected before the book was published. I was reading an advance review copy. 4.5 stars.

Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon StaceyAnna Frazier takes her grandparents' advice and goes to stay at their lakeside camp after losing her high-powered job and having to give up her beautiful apartment. She assumes she'll get another job in a few weeks and soon be back in the big city working 60-hour weeks for a huge paycheck.
Cameron Mayfield is not surprised when the bossy 10-year-old he once knew turns out to be an equally bossy and always-on-the-go adult. He is surprised by how beautiful she is and how attracted to her he is. But he loves peace, silence, slow and just sitting. Can they possibly get along as neighbors, never mind anything more?

There was some absolutely outstanding dialogue in this book. Laugh out loud, spit beverage on the screen, roll on the floor, funny. But also clever, very, very clever. These two people were such polar opposites, yet so good together in bed. Even though the prologue of this anthology had promised a happy ending for all three stories, and even though I've read thousands of romances, I was unsure of how it could happen. The author's conclusion was unforeseen, and truly brilliant. This story definitely deserves 5 stars.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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