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LOVER’S LOCKET by Cathryn Fox
Caira, bakery owner and independent woman, wonders if she’ll ever find true love. The portrait hanging in her living room, passed down through several generations of her family seems to mock her. The handsome warrior in the portrait is a constant reminder of what she doesn’t have in her life. One day, while browsing in an antique shop, Caira finds herself drawn to a locket and is told that reciting the etched incantation will help the owner find true love, but at the risk of evil. Caira makes the decision to recite the incantation, surprised by the appearance of her true love. But she and her lover are faced with an unfathomable darkness; will their love be strong enough to overcome?
Caira and her unexpected lover are wonderfully appealing in this tale of undying love by Cathryn Fox. Caira’s previous failures at love have been experienced by every woman, are well-written, and enable readers to understand in her disappointment. LOVER’S LOCKET is an excellent offering in the Alluring Tales anthology.
KILI’S ICE MAN by Delilah Devlin
Kili Wilder’s love for and knowledge of the Gladiator series is a plus when it comes to successfully doing her job of marketing network spots. Her attraction to Gladiator Gunnar Thorsson is strong, and when Gunnar first spots Kili in her office, he is equally and almost instantly attracted to her as well. That is until he eavesdrops on a conversation between her and a friend wherein they agree that someone like him, perhaps not too bright, might make for an interesting partner. He then manages to put himself in the middle of her virtual reality fantasy, in an effort to prove to her that he is more than just a body, and that he is worth taking a chance on.
KILI’S ICE MAN might be short, but the relationship between Kili and Gunnar heats up fast, and is very satisfying. Ms. Devlin’s contribution to this anthology is a fun bit of fantasy, and Kili and Gunnar and their reactions and attraction to one another are a sensual treat.
THE HOTTEST ONE NIGHT STAND by Lisa Renee Jones
When Assistant D.A. Jessica Montgomery stops at dingy bar to use the phone after her cell phone dies, she immediately spots a gorgeous Latino man and is unable to take her eyes off him; she is disappointed when he leaves before she has the opportunity to talk to him. She leaves shortly after he does, even more discouraged when her car breaks down and the only hotel in the area doesn’t have any rooms available. Indulging herself in a good cry, she is startled by the appearance of a man at her car window; it’s the same man she had ogled at the bar. He invites her to share his hotel room, and she cautiously decides to take him up on his offer. After a long, sensuous night spent together, Jessica wakes up alone, totally sated, but somewhat sad, upon finding that her passionate stranger was gone. When undercover DEA agent Dominic Montez surprises Jessica at her sister’s home a week later, will he be able to convince Jessica that he is worth taking a chance on?
Lisa Renee Jones has a knack for writing bold heroes, unafraid of taking charge and going after the women they want. In THE HOTTEST ONE NIGHT STAND, she has penned a story with two successful professionals who are confident in their chosen professions, but just a little unsure of themselves when it comes to love. Witnessing their passion is a true pleasure, just one of several in this sweet story!
OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Myla Jackson
T.J. Evans, a member of a special vampire killing task force for the Houston P.D., can’t figure out what has caused the sudden change of heart of his neighbor, Cassidy Jones. He and Cassidy had recently given in to a shared attraction, becoming lovers, and then shortly after she turned cold and now avoids him, refusing to talk to him. When T.J. discovers that Cassidy has not evacuated, despite an impending Category 5 hurricane, he decides that he must take matters into his own hands to see that she is removed from her home and taken to safety. Cassidy has her own reasons for avoiding T.J., all valid in her frightened, confused mind. When the hurricane strikes, these two must ride it out together, and decide if their attraction can weather the storm to allow them a solid future together.
Myla Jackson’s contribution to this anthology is an incredibly sweet paranormal. The vampire plotline is very well done and I feel certain that even readers who are not vampire fans will find it appealing. Cassidy’s despair is excellently written, and T.J.’s struggle to understand is heartening.
A FAMILIAR KIND OF MAGIC by Sylvia Day
When warlock Max Westin is sent to tame familiar Victoria St. John, he soon realizes that this will be unlike any of his previous assignments by the high council. Victoria sets out to seduce Max almost immediately, and try however hard he may, he can’t resist her feline charms. Victoria isn’t prepared for Max’s persuasive domination; stubborn as she may be, her defenses are down from previous heartache. Max realizes that the high council’s plans for taming Victoria will completely break her spirit, but he’s uncertain of how far he can go to protect her without bringing the wrath of the high council down on both of them.
Sylvia Day has a unique talent for writing totally seductive heroines, and her heroes are always the epitome of male perfection. Max and Victoria are no exception. They are sophisticated, attractive, intelligent characters, and their smooth seduction of each other is simply breathtaking.
TEMPTING GRACE by Sasha White
Grace Walters repeatedly turns down Lukas Martin’s request to go to dinner, until one night when she is emotionally weakened by the loss of a troubled teen that she was attempting to help. Lukas wants more than the one night stand that Grace is suggesting, but decides that he’ll take what he can get. After that one special night, Lukas wants more and refuses to give up on a more serious relationship with Grace. Grace, on the other hand, is determined to refuse Lukas until he gives up. Will Lukas be patient enough to persist, despite Grace’s stubborn resolve to keep him at arm’s length?
Grace and Lukas are written in such a way that readers can literally feel the emotions that they are experiencing. The attraction that Lukas feels for Grace, and her continued denial of feelings for Lukas, are reasonable and very realistic. Sasha White never fails to put forth a unique plotline, interesting, strong characters, and an abundance of sensuality.
QUICK SILVER by Vivi Anna
Sangria Silver is simply doing her job discreetly delivering packages of every sort, when she is hired to deliver a locked case, the contents of which were unknown to her, but undoubtedly illegal. This is not unusual, as Sangria offers an elite service for those who can afford it. What is unusual is when Sangria is forced off the road and the case is thrown from her car, broken open to reveal a bound man. The man is Vance Verona, a sex worker who is hired out to entertain rich, high-powered women. Sangria knows that her failure to deliver is pretty much the equivalent of signing her own death warrant. When Sangria and Vance become lovers, they become more determined than ever to stay alive, because there are two men whose assignment it is to find and kill them.
Vivi Anna’s story gives readers a look into the future with Sangria and Vance’s story. Sangria is a strong, self-sufficient woman, dependent on no one but herself. Vance is an incredibly passionate man, determined to be there for Sangria, no small task given her independent stubbornness.
The ALLURING TALES: AWAKEN THE FANTASY anthology is a dazzling mix of short stories; something for everyone. Sometimes multi-author anthologies fail to engage everyone. Not so with this anthology. The quality of authors and stories is a pleasant surprise, given the quantity. I do feel however, that if each and every one of the stories isn’t a hit with some readers, they won’t be disappointed, again because of the number of authors involved. I give this anthology a high recommendation and feel that readers will find themselves completely satisfied with it.
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