Wild & Steamy (Anthology)

Wild & SteamyBy Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, Carolyn Crane 

Publication Date: August 3, 2011
Genres: Steampunk, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

The Blushing Bounder (Iron Seas #1.5)
By Meljean Brook

The search for a killer puts Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth’s life in danger and her assistant, Constable Newberry, in the line of fire. But Newberry faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?

Vixen
By Jill Myles

Miko’s denied her were-fox nature for far too long and turned her back on her vixen heritage. But when she meets two very sexy cat-shifters, she has to decide if she truly wants to give up on her frisky side, or embrace it. Because the were-fox in her doesn’t want to choose between both men…it wants them both.

Kitten-tiger & The Monk (The Disillusionists Trilogy #2.5)
By Carolyn Crane

Sophia Sidway, Midcity’s most dangerous memory revisionist, seeks out the mysterious Monk in the wasteland beneath the Tangle turnpike, hoping for redemption…but it turns out that the Monk is not all that pious, and the turnpike is no turnpike at all.

Goodreads Summary

Brook’s novella is first up in the anthology and it’s less of a murder mystery than it is a little romance between Mina Wentworth’s sturdy yet shy constable Newberry and his reluctant wife Temperance.

Newberry had been courting Temperance in America when she became ill with consumption.  He forced a kiss upon her, effectively giving her no choice but to marry him.  He was drummed out of his job with the police and they were forced to leave.  When she asked him if he meant to kiss her to make him marry her and force her to go to a London that she despised, he said yes – but she never got his full answer and she assumed it was to gain control of her small inheritance.  She’s dying, surrounded by people filled with mechanical bugs injected into their blood and odd devices instead of limbs and now she’s a witness to a murder committed by a bizarre creature with springs for legs.  Her safety – and life – depends on her husband and his strange new partner.

I loved The Iron Duke, so this was an easy novella to love too.  I thought it started out in a smart place, with Temperance’s point of view that showed her continued confusion about her new mechanized surroundings and flashbacks about her relationship with Newberry.  A lot of my feelings about him are from The Iron Duke, so I do have a lot of affection for him already.  He’s a very sweet and protective man but horribly old-fashioned.  He already has the red hair but his blushes probably rival it in color.  He’s in love with his wife and wants her to get well but knows that the solution – what he brought her to London for – is the one thing she’s terrified of the most.

The mystery is pretty flat but the sweetness of the romance more than makes up for it.  It was nice to see the always brash Mina as well.  If there had been a glimpse of the Iron Duke himself, this would have been sublime.

My Rating: A-

Myles’ story is a sexy little piece about a were-fox who’s been hiding out in a remote cabin trying to suppress her natural instinct for polygamy.  Miko’s mother keeps sending potential mates out to her and when two yummy shifters show up on her doorstep, she assumes she’s at it again.  The truth is, there’s a fox hunt going on right in her backyard and Jeremiah and Sam are there as her bodyguards.  The longer she spends with both men the more seductive having her own tiny harem starts to look but she’s afraid they won’t be able to handle sharing.  They most competently prove her wrong.

While very steamy and sexy, this keeps a very light and playful feel.  There’s a little danger tossed in with the fox hunters but the main event is the play between Miko, Jere and Sam.

My Rating: B+

I was a big fan of the Disillusionists series and will be a little sad to see it end – the final book in the trilogy will be released in the beginning of December from Samhain – although it’s been optioned for possible television development.  Crane’s entry takes place after the end of the last book and features two of the most powerful of the Disillusionists – Sophia and Robert.  Sophia is able to remove people’s short-term memories and replace them with anything.  Robert’s ability isn’t revealed until the end, but it’s larger than anyone expected.  They were lovers a long time ago until she did something terrible, removing some precious memories of his to manipulate him into working on a horrible construction project for her family called the Tangle.  Now he works as the Tanglemaster and Packard, the former head of the Disillusionists, has sent her to him to find The Monk, the one person who can reboot her, removing all of her abilities and finally giving her the peace she’s been seeking.

Sophia thought Robert never knew what she did to him and lived with the guilt for years, but he’d known nearly all along.  When she came back into his life, he had to battle both his love and hatred all over again.  For both of them, their years apart and the things they’d done and become weighed on them.

This was darker than the other two but still a powerful love story.  It was the only novella of the three that moved me to tears and I think was the right choice to end the anthology with even if it didn’t really qualify as wild or steamy.

My Rating: B+

My Summary:  This is a varied, excellent selection of stories from really talented authors.  The two novellas from established series’ can both be read as standalones but obviously would be enjoyed more if you’ve read the other books first.  The Blushing Bounder in particular is a terrific place to start reading the Iron Seas series if you haven’t already picked it up since Brook has the next book coming out soon and it’s a great introduction to the world of romantic steampunk.

My Overall Rating: B+

Barbara

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