Burning Up (Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook)

Burning Up is an anthology of four novellas, most of which are paranormal in nature. They were written by Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra and Meljean Brook.

I bought it for Nalini Singh (how could it be any different?), since her novella was a Psy-Changeling story. [My reviews of the other books here.] That story was also the best on in the book. The other three were mostly meh. There was also nothing that really kept them together, except them being paranormal (one of them was actually SciFi, not Fantasy) and romance-y. The settings were very different (1 medieval, 1 1800s, 1 futuristic, 1 steampunk) and the tones and themes just wouldn’t fit together.

As an anthology, it’s pretty much average to bad. More about the stories individually after the jump.

Whispers of Sin by Nalini Singh

Ria lives in Chinatown, San Francisco, where things are getting ruled more and more by the mob. When she’s almost raped, barely managing to fight off her attacker, the changelings of the area, most notably Emmett, decide to step in. They take her into protective custody, basically. Which includes all of Ria’s family, who really don’t like to see Emmett courting Ria.

Whispers of Sin is actually a prequel to the Psy-Changeling Series and I enjoyed the hell out of it. [It was so good to read a Psy-Changeling story that I liked again!] Ria and Emmett are great characters, the story was nice and it felt very organic.

Blood and Roses by Angela Knight

Amaris is a Blood Rose which means that she has some magical powers, which are being used by an evil king and her evil father who hold her not-evil little sister hostage. When the evil king manages to capture Raniero, a vampire who works for a good king, he sends out Amaris to soften him up. Sexiness ensues.

Man, I had some problems with the concept of this world, mainly that I felt like I mostly had to guess about who or what Blood Roses actually are. Add to that a little bit of forced sex and a story that just didn’t manage to pull me in and you’ve got a decidedly bad novella.

Shifting Seas by Virginia Kantra

18oosomething: Jack Harris returns from war, having inherited a lot of land. On his land (more like an entire village) he finds a beautiful young woman, Morwenna, and starts sleeping with her, soon discovering his deep feelings for her. But Morwenna is hiding something: She’s a selkie.

The story wasn’t bad, I just didn’t get why it was set in that time: Neither Jack nor Morwenna behave like somebody of that time would – but nobody cares. Seriously, Morwenna throws herself at Jack, basically undressing him in front of the whole town and there’s not even a rumour about her? She performs magic and nobody cries out “witch!” That just seems very unlikely. And Jack suffers from the old historical novel problem that people used to have different values and that we don’t like to see that today so he just gets the values of somebody living today. [You know what I mean?] That’s pretty annoying.

Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook

Ivy is a very talented blacksmith who, after being assaulted in London, tries to flee from there by hiring on a ship – the ship of Eben “Mad” Machen. Unfortunately, Machen doesn’t need a blacksmith. So, Ivy offers her virginity instead but then gets scared by her own courage and jumps at the first opportunity to back out of the bargain. Some time later, Machen finds her again and is bent on getting his end of the bargain.

The world Meljean Brook seems very intricate. Unfortunately, it is so complex that half of the time I didn’t know what was going on – who are the Horde? What the hell happened? What do the nanoagents do? And instead of enticing me to read more of this stuff (this novella is the first in a new series), it was just frustrating.

It felt like Brook had no idea that steampunk is supposed to be Science Fiction and didn’t bother to read up on the science part. I mean, somebody who actually writes that “he could feel the nanoagents racing under his skin” really doesn’t know what nano means. Also, you can’t just magically explain everything with “the nanoagents did it!”

Though there were parts of the story I enjoyed, mostly I was annoyed by it.

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