Examining what happens when a young relationship goes from being the best and happiest choice in the world to being a condition of staying alive occup...moreExamining what happens when a young relationship goes from being the best and happiest choice in the world to being a condition of staying alive occupies this book. Cursed on the night of their coming out, Rick and Cole have two traumas to recover from, plus all the practical matters that go into maintaining the conditions a playful or spiteful character out of mythology can think up.
That Cole and Rick love each other is clear, but when it goes from being their joy to an obligation, things do get sticky. To their great credit, each of them makes sacrifices and changes plans to make this awkward arrangement work, but some sacrifices are greater than others, and some kill the soul with too much togetherness.
Drunken cursing should be a “get smacked by Zeus” offense, because Silenus comes up with something that’s a real problem in the modern world. Silenus is associated with Dionysus (Bacchus), and he’s usually portrayed in situations where a good time was had by all.
Except, this time, for Cole and Rick. They are loving, they are smart, talented, and thoughtful, but they are also bound by an obligation that wears like manacles after a time. How they deal with this and deal directly with Silenus lets the story unfold. It’s not the evolution that the mythological character foresaw, but better.
The story shouldn’t be seen as YA though we start with the MCs in their late teens, on the cusp of graduating and going on to college in their chosen fields. The entire arc takes decades to unroll, and there’s quite a bit of onstage and explicit sex, which puts the story in the adult realm. The book is frontloaded with sex, almost to the point of excess, but the story does settle into more plot and less groping.
Silenus and Dion only show up at moments of great emotional disturbance, to create issues or to be bargained with. The fantasy element of the story is secondary to the real world problems it creates, but is an interesting point, particularly as the young men need to find out who they’re dealing with and how they might gain the upper hand.
The writing style evolves with the characters and their situation, which was a nice touch—the older, wiser, and a little sadder characters don’t sound just like their 18 year old selves, and their characterizations let me follow along in their emotional journeys. They’re complex enough to add depth to the character driven plot, and to make the happy ending something they’ve worked for and deserve. (less)
3.5 average, review originally posted at Cryselle's Bookshelf.
Heart's Tournament by Mell Eight
This was a novella length fantasy piece (est 30k) that...more3.5 average, review originally posted at Cryselle's Bookshelf.
Heart's Tournament by Mell Eight
This was a novella length fantasy piece (est 30k) that turned out to have a number of irrelevancies stuck in, made to look important, and then ignored. Start with the twincest: I read this anyway although that trope usually hits my squick buttons. Turns out there’s nothing there to squick me with. If you want on-screen action, don’t look here, nor should you look for the boys’ examination of why they became lovers. We only get third party psychobabble about a two sentence issue. You wanna push this button, at least make me care one way or the other about it. The trainers Sariel and Linalee were the more interesting couple.
Another example: the battle cats’ only function was to separate Saar and Keel. Battle cats? I want to know more than that they grow to over 400 pounds and are orange with stripes. Which sounds like a tiger. I want to see what they do. Here, nothing.
Long, shallow, and ultimately tensionless, this was not a good lead-off piece for the collection. 1.5
Champion by Andrea Speed
After struggling through the first piece, I was rewarded with the story that should have led the collection. In this science fiction story, humans are the low species on the totem pole, and like marginalized groups gaining acceptance through boxing, look to grab acceptance via physical triumph. We have an established couple who worry for each other, support each other, and love each other. I bled in the ring with Kell and Layne, and rejoiced with them after. 5
Canis Project by Kish Swanson
If you want on-screen brotherly love, here it is. Once we’re sure how dear Alex and Liam are to each other, we follow Liam through years of revenge-hunting until he meets the opponent who can take him down. There are wheels within wheels here with motivations, and the truth might be out there somewhere. Annoying and possibly deliberate absence of understanding on what genetic engineering actually is, but go with it, the story has some interesting twists. 3.75
Experiment Number Six by Mina MacLeod
Excellent contemporary/science fiction story, with a plot worthy of more examination in a longer piece, although my tolerance for present tense might not hold out that long. The slow bloom between Eric and Jason is tense, with self-awareness on both sides that this may be a product of isolation and manipulation. Jason’s undergone prolonged medical torture and interrogation for information he doesn’t have, and Eric helps put him back together. Great team, interesting scientific twist in the plot. 4.5
Knight & Novice by Cassandra Pierce
Here’s a fantasy short that’s really the first act in a longer piece, it perks along and then chops off after the first mystery is resolved, but not the greater problem. Renulf is torn between loyalty to his old codger of a master and excitement from the visitor to their remote sanctuary, who has hints of the greater world and is terribly sexy. Sword and sorcery, but without the truly exciting bits. 3
Fight to the Finish by Diana Sheridan
Told like a rehashed fairy tale but without the logic that usually applies when a king offers the hand of his heir. Maltroos fights for the right to live openly with his beloved, Saxtry worries, and there you have it in a rather flat style. 2
Rule Breaker by Archer Kay Leah
One of the gems of this collection, with very full and rounded characters, a plot worthy of the name, adventure, and excitement. Here’s the story that made me sad to end and want to reread. Tracel is *trans, in a world where lifestyle is possible but difficult, and physical modification too dangerous to contemplate. She’s a beautiful character and nuanced to the bone. Gren has two fights, one with himself over what’s truly important and one with the upstart Allon. There’s a lot of worldbuilding in a very small space. At about 18k words, it’s long enough to tell the story and short enough to leave me wanting more. 5
A Little Magic by Annabelle Kitch
What was probably meant as humor came out as TSTL to get Thrim captured, and then to be shrunk to a pocket-pet adds to the indignity. Fortunately, the character starts thinking better when his brain is the size of a pea. One of the other gladiators befriends him, and the story becomes a partnership between the two. There’s no on screen action, and the story didn’t even really need to be cast as m/m to work. 4
A Good Man by Caitlin Ricci
The motivations are there, the backstory is there, but it’s all on the surface. I didn’t feel any of this, and Emory’s shame, his connection to his father, and his decision to get punched in the face repeatedly all ought to get more of a reaction. Nor did I feel any real understanding of the sport. 2
Gladiatrix by S.S. Skye
This is the one lesbian story of the group, which is mostly focused on external plot. It takes place in a medieval-feeling world with some Roman Empire tendencies toward bread and circuses. It’s well done—the other MC is crucial to the resolution, and the story wouldn’t work the same if they weren’t potential lovers. Daelan’s terror and determination come through very strongly. Little of the word count is devoted to them getting physical, but you just know that this couple will work. 4
Feint of Heart by Freddie Milano
Cal’s adorable: he’s a squire and thus a knight in training, but he’s still like a big puppy in some ways and very much picked on by another squire. He’s enamored of the knight to whom he gives service, and he manages to be in the right place at the right time almost as often as he manages to get into trouble. There’s lots of court intrigue and fighting which are bright on the page, and a lovely ending. 4.5
Chasing Coyote by August Aimes
This is the Western in the group, with magic. Not quite the American West, but with the right feel. The magical system is well thought-out and not over-explained, which let talisman worker/thief Coyote and not-too-bright but rather humorous bounty hunter Jove chase each other around, working mostly at cross-purposes and occasionally in tandem. The goal isn’t what Jove thought it was, and the ending is perfect. 5
As with any anthology, the stories will vary, and my favorites may not be your favorites. However, the huge gap between the stories that worked well or really well and the three that felt phoned in makes me wish this anthology had worked out 50k words shorter. That would have improved the price point (which is steep for an ebook) and given the overall volume a 4.25 average rating instead of the 3.5 marbles which is unfairly penalizing some really good stories. I'm rounding down at Goodreads because while overall I liked the collection, 25% of the word count is "I want those hours back."
Copy received at Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. (less)
The cover is a pretty good metaphor for this book—whatever that man makes you think, turn it 90 degrees.
Our nameless protagonist lives in a downward spiral of despair—he’s given up on the world. His songwriting mocks him, his girlfriend gives up on him, his agent’s all but forgotten him, and his bank account has that hollow sound of terminal emptiness. The opening is so bleak that I seriously questioned being able to stay with the protag for the rest. DNF at the 10% mark was a real possibility, staved off by the prospect of elderly Field and Streams at the dentist's office. We’re not even given a name as a point of connection.
The action heats up when Detective Marzoli appears at the door with questions about a neighbor and a bit of man-flirting in spite of the condition to which Protag has sunk, mostly for informational purposes.
We’re treated to a non-standard investigation of the upstairs neighbor’s disappearance—he’s considered inconsequential and only Marzoli (no first name ever given) cares enough to pursue. We’re also treated to a slow unraveling of Protag’s defenses and his past, which is messy. Marzoli has his own issues, which don’t become clear until late in the story, and because of the order in which things happen, don’t even begin to explain his attraction to Protag as more than observer of strategic windows. (Seriously, after a year in a 650 square foot apartment clogged with dirty clothes and garbage, a forty year old man who hasn’t seen the sun or exercised and lives on takeout is going to resemble a grub found under a rock. Given his stated torpor in his daily life, let’s not speculate on his hygiene.)
The style is more literary than we’re used to in romance: Protag spends a lot of time fingering the textures of his soul and of New York City. We get flashbacks to his past, a moment here, a trauma there. It’s a wonder he’s functioned this long, and up to the year of hibernation, this well, without intensive therapy. Poor guy, and no wonder his brother Paul fell apart. Participating in the investigation best he can with his limited mobility gives him something important to think about and heals something within, aided by Marzoli’s interest.
Protag begins with a semi-committed relationship with Joanna, who gets an undeserved helping of scorn, even though she’s stuck with him past the bounds of sanity, and hasn’t entirely given up on him, however badly it’s expressed. In true “out for you” fashion, he doesn’t much question his attraction to Marzoli, only contrasting it with other relationships with men in his life, including adults who should have been soundly kicked in the ass. (I have a small weird admiration, overridden by a nuclear level of hate, for the grandfather.) Marzoli is a good guy, if somewhat unexplored, but that’s inherent in the structure of the story—we have only one POV and bigger concerns: the tension lasts most of the book. We get enough to be hopeful for them.
The investigation is marred by a couple of assumptions based on slivers of data, but the solution is actually terrific. The action sequences at the end are pretty cool, and we are left understanding all the whys.
A stronger, or perhaps more competent, editorial hand would have been nice, eliminating some continuity errors and spelling and punctuation that veers from British/Australian conventions to American, which is peculiar in a book set in New York with a US born protagonist. Everyone who touched this book needs to review apostrophes. Some words either do not mean what they're meant to mean, or might be local slang that doesn't export. Frex, from the blurb--sludges? Really? (Had I been looking at blurb only, I would have passed for that bit of stupid, but instead I found the story via a discussion of food vs gay men, which intrigued me into buying.)
I did have to keep reading in spite of the many small bounces out of the story, and I would read more from this author, but there were an awful lot of bounces. If you're looking for thrills, it's derivative but done well, if you're looking for romance, it has insta-issues, but as a whole, worth the read. (less)
This is a complex world with complex problems, and our two heroes are squack on the opposite sides. While it isn’...more4.5 marbles from Cryselle's Bookshelf
This is a complex world with complex problems, and our two heroes are squack on the opposite sides. While it isn’t obvious at first how they can overcome the barriers even a little, Sael and Koreh do find a way to come together, at least partially, by the end of the story. This is a trilogy, and so nothing is completely resolved. And that’s way more than okay. More story for Cryssy!
I enjoy YA for the sweet dawn of understanding and coming together, and I appreciate the moderation of YA, where every push, poke and grunt isn’t on screen. Sael, the more prudish and restrained of the pair, comes from the high ranks of the realm. His father, the vek, has raised his sons to the equivalent of estate and clergy, not that it keeps Sael from needing to take on skills and responsibilities he never expected to need. His magic expands under the tutelage of Geilin, the mage tasked as his guardian. Geilin’s responsibilities increase exponentially as the quarrel between the vek and the emperor grows. They’d be lost without Koreh, whom they find on the road to Harleh.
This is a big, expansive plot, on the level of the humans and the supernatural, and the way they twine together. Koreh, who’s grown up as a street urchin, has no reason to trust Geilin and Sael, and little understanding of how he feels for the lordling who comes closer and backs away with every danger. Sael both yearns for Koreh’s approval and hesitates to give up his spare clothing when everything Koreh owns is washed away in a river crossing. Of the two, Sael needs more growth.
By the time the two (three, Geilin’s still there) survive the dangers of the road and reach their destination, the two young men know both that the warring factions of the gods separate them as much as their differences in ranks and expectations. Koreh, though, has enjoyed the tutelage of the underdog Taaweh, and has to act on behalf of more than one master.
The story is delightfully complex with its worldbuilding and with relationships: both young men have others pulling their strings, and not always in the same direction. Sael’s readiness to take offense or see motives where none may exist, while failing to note honesty (in his defense, it’s a rare commodity in his world) complicate their course. Being gay isn’t a major strike in this world; it does complicate life for someone of Sael’s rank.
While there is a glossary at the front and much is available from context, the difficult balance between “This is strange and other” and “here’s your story” wobbles a little. The local language becomes a little intrusive and overexplained, as if the author doesn’t entire trust us to “get it” but this flaw should be overlooked as the Taaweh maneuver their human champion through the war that is only partially theirs.
This is a sweeping epic and not yet complete, and I want the rest! (less)
Here we have a couple of alpha males, on opposing sides of a very wide gap. Nathaniel is a Company man with a more convoluted path than his military l...moreHere we have a couple of alpha males, on opposing sides of a very wide gap. Nathaniel is a Company man with a more convoluted path than his military lover and escort Caspar can imagine. In this world, the population has been depleted by war and by plague, creating a very stratified society where the major goal is to repopulate the world. If you can stomach the nonsensical worldbuilding of Divergent, you can probably buy into the Company, their complete intolerance for homosexuality, for people who don’t toe their lines, and the carnage that follows on from it. For a society that wishes to expand their numbers, they do kill off more than they breed.
Resistance is inevitable, and Nathaniel, a Company mucky-muck in IT, needs to be evacuated to a safe compound nearly 500 miles distant from the city, through what seems to be mostly wilderness, as 90% of the urbanization has disappeared between now and 2070. Tying down the date so tightly introduces reality, which doesn’t promote the suspension of disbelief this story requires. One has to take Nathaniel’s attraction to and feelings for Caspar as a given as well, because some sideways glances and a blowjob do not a relationship make.
Swallow the set-up as a bitter pill though, and get to the adventure, as they make their way to the compound in the north, which is punctuated by multiple sex scenes, most of which can be skimmed without losing anything, although I did almost blow by one that mattered to the plot and had to go back and read in detail.
The author does do a fine job of keeping her characters off balance, introducing twists and turns that distort the fragile trust they have in one another. Some of this is brutal reading, but it makes sense, and is one of the finest aspects of the book. Simple goals become complex goals, and then become as simple as “stay alive” again. In the course of this I did believe in the relationship, as Caspar had to go from bare physical attraction to love, via distrust and sometimes despair. Nathaniel’s path to Caspar is simpler, though he has to navigate all the reasons for distrust and overcome them.
The style is simple and gritty, we’re inside the head of a career soldier on the battlefield, which makes the frequent endearments Nathaniel uses kind of ludicrous, and only when he spoke them ironically did I not flinch. YMMV.
I would have been perfectly content with a brief epilog after Chapter 18, but the ending abandoned the alpha male adventure and descended into flowery romantic territory where I came close to throwing my Kindle. I was moderately prepared for it after having read the novella, but didn’t like it any better the second time. The book seems to be trying to be all things to all people, which comes across as serious breaks in characterization. Really, it’s okay to have alpha men be alpha men and express the more tender side while staying in character. And seriously, men, particularly in situations of danger or while wounded, can think with their big heads.
I am embarrassed to admit how much of this book I had to skim: I *never* skim, but the incessant sex scenes strung together with a few pages of plot, and then the smooptastic ending required some “reader editing” or the book would have been a DNF. There is some very good stuff in here, particularly after they arrive at the compound, but it has to be picked out.
Don’t show me the peen unless it advances the plot.
Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I hesitated very hard between 2 stars and 3 stars here, because parts are excellent other parts are !!! 3 marbles at Cryselle's Bookshelf but the rating systems don't line up exactly.(less)
What I had here was a story that I wanted very much to enjoy, with a quirk that came a hair’s breadth from causing a DNF in chapter 2.
If I *never* se...moreWhat I had here was a story that I wanted very much to enjoy, with a quirk that came a hair’s breadth from causing a DNF in chapter 2.
If I *never* see the word “demon” again, that will be just fine. This book has a lifetime’s supply.
Yes, Justin has some. So do the other characters. Yes, they need to be vanquished. Doing so with subtlety makes for a good story. These demons are personified, given actions and implied dialogue. As seen from the first person POV of Justin, the whiz-bang skater of all styles and sports, they are a huge distancing effect from the emotions of the story. Yes Justin feels their effects, but they’re outside of him. The effect might have been intended to make his feelings concrete, instead, they become a barrier between him and his ownership of his feelings and reactions.
There’s some really good stuff in here, with family coming together, eventually, and in Jack’s case, a little unbelievably, with love and closet-dwelling, with teammates being important beyond the rest of the world and ingrained prejudices, and the slow realization of love with a background of two twenty-year-olds’ assholery, and the physical prowess of the young and highly trained.
They almost, but not quite overshadow some absurd plot points, such as Marina the Russian skating coach’s personal plans, CJ’s unbelievable silence in the face of threat, and an entire group of young men’s inability or unwillingness to use basic internet tools. I don't believe for a minute that a team wouldn't try to find out about the newcomer.
Justin’s family has been torn apart by the death of his mother. He, his brother, sister, and father all have to come to terms with their reactions to and blaming for her death, and watching them heal is one of the strong points of this story. An extraordinarily gifted child such as Justin can be a disruptive force in the family, and this story doesn’t shy away from exposing the cracks in the unity.
The degree of physical dedication to skating at this level was an integral part of the story, but not overwhelming, and made a very rich atmosphere. That CJ is also a highly ranked athlete was great, it gave them balance on the stardom issues. CJ is a hockey star who’s also a whiz in the kitchen, and amazingly well balanced until all of a sudden he needs to be something else, which was a little jarring. Another character, Danny, was an interesting study: he was torn between what he wanted and what he thought he could have, what he wanted to do and what he thought he was expected to do, and his arc may not be quite complete.
This story left me torn, because there are some excellently done aspects mixed in with the less believable and the outright aggravating. I found enough to like in this book that I read past the Chinese water torture of the demon issue, but it was a near thing. After the initial chapters, the framework of the personified demons would fade away for a while and I could sink into the story, until Ack! There they are again! Yanking me out of the story and denying the characters ownership of their emotions.
This author can write, and I would give her work another try, but this book has enough problems that I can’t rate it more than 2.5 marbles. (less)
These two stories are so perfect together that it’s a shame they ever appeared apart. Both told from the first per...more4.75 marbles at Cryselle's Bookshelf
These two stories are so perfect together that it’s a shame they ever appeared apart. Both told from the first person POV of Alex, we’re allowed to watch as dancer and rentboy Alex falls for James, and James falls even more reluctantly for Alex. Then we have the delight of seeing them a year later and finding out what they’ve become to each other.
The two are off to a very rocky start, since they meet while culinary student Alex, in his persona of Cristof the dancer, sits in the lap of a third man. James has enough flexibility that what could be catastrophic is merely tense and horrible, leaving Alex wondering. James comes back to find out for himself what Alex is all about.
The book has a lot of sex, which is probably why the author listed it as erotica at ARe, but make no mistake, it all drives the plot and fuels the character growth. This is truly a romance plot arc, and both men have to grow and change in order to be with each other. They are definitely more than a good time to each other, which the second story illustrates.
Flash forward to a year later, when once again James goes out of the country, leaving Alex home to cook, and wryly chuckle to himself that he’s pining for his lover. Homecoming can’t come soon enough for either of them. Short, sweet, hot. Very loving.
In a way, these two stories read like the first chapters and the last chapter of a larger work, though they weren’t written as such, and if Cari Z wanted to put a middle in, I’d read that in a heartbeat. I’m not much of a BDSM reader, but the very mild bondage scene didn’t frighten me off: it was hot hot hot, mostly because of how much Alex was getting off on it. Less pleasant was James calling Alex “baby” a couple times, which I find a bounce out of the story. ymmv
If you’re in the mood for short, sexy, and intense, these two stories will feed your need. (less)
Yay, another helping of Harvey and Gabe! My favorite vampire and vampire slayer couple are back for more narrow escapes and near death experiences. Pl...moreYay, another helping of Harvey and Gabe! My favorite vampire and vampire slayer couple are back for more narrow escapes and near death experiences. Plus some hot loving.
Apologies for any spoilers to the first book: series make reviewing a challenge.
Harvey was a vegetarian before he was turned, which makes his current nutritional needs a problem. He’s been working on a blood substitute with less than perfect results. Some of his experiments are this side of disastrous. Harvey is tenacious, a good chemist, and as a former nurse, he’s unusually well equipped to understand why unscrupulous (yes, there is another sort) vampires would prowl hospices and nursing homes.
Gabe, who comes from a long line of slayers, has seen his skills improve with time, exposure, and experience. Echoes of the first book in this series are scattered here and there, so coming in here wouldn’t leave you lost, but both Gabe and Harvey are better understood if you read the first in the series. Gabe has an unusual employer with some astonishing contacts and a very clear worldview—this sends the pair around the world on various adventures. They need to get their sightseeing done early, because being welcome to come back: NOT.
This volume is structured as two short but related sections, and I’m not sure why they’re divided up, but okay, the adventures take them from the US to Hungary, where Gabe has roots and can speak the language. Their quarry has evil plans, but both Gabe and Harvey have some unusual skills.
The relationship here is established, but has lots of room for solidification. Gabe and Harvey may love each other deeply and smex each other frequently, but they don’t understand each other very well, and the gap between their prospective timelines isn’t helping. Nor are Harvey’s fears and doubts about himself, rekindled after a bloody encounter and a too-delicious snack on Gabe.
I especially enjoyed the section in Budapest. The author knows this city and the language, weaving details into the story. History, twentieth century and from hundreds of years ago, reverberates through this ancient place and current adventure. Vampire lore is both used and debunked on the very doorstep of Transylvania. Very satisfying!
Also satisfying is who the relationship and the external plot weave together and how one affects the other. One couldn’t have worked out without the other, so good storytelling.
There are also some ongoing story threads that continue from book one, reviewed here, that lead me to believe we haven’t heard the last of Gabe and Harvey. Which makes me happy!
Copy received from author in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I love anthologies, I get to read new to me authors, and in this case, a couple of my favorites too. Everyone’s got a different take on wh...more4.25 marbles
I love anthologies, I get to read new to me authors, and in this case, a couple of my favorites too. Everyone’s got a different take on what it means to be a ninja from hell, and from the coffee-snort title to the last line, this was fun. Apparently there’s a companion volume called Butt Pirates from Space. Excuse me while I clean my keyboard.
Cleanup on Aisle Me--Shae Connor has hell-beasties erupting into a costume store: her clerk Johnny doesn’t quite believe the ninja forces can battle them, but they’re very efficient at disposing of the pieces after. Do not hold liquid while reading the ending.
Sheathing His Sword – JP Barnaby gives us ninja porn stars attempting a stealth shoot for reasons that make the producer look kind of pitiful. Cute, probably cuter if you like porn stars more than I do.
Twink Ninja Tiger, Flaxen Buns of Fury – Kage Allen plays with all the ninja tropes in every cheesy movie when he sets a twinky emissary with a serious case of “doesn’t get it” to the sacred ninja training post for inspection. Definitely do not be holding liquid. Warukatta. Or bless their hearts. Or both. Cause I’m still giggling.
Twerk It – Ally Blue pays a humorous homage to a series I think needs to be mocked more often, with her demon slaying ninja on the trail of the sex and mischief demon who’s creating issues for the purveyor of porn. I never knew there was a demon dedicated to making sure I’m dressed like an old laundry basket. :D
Hell is Where the Heart Is – Eden Winters has a demon with mommy problems- as in the Big Fucking Deal of Level 6 has Life Plans for him. Vik has to find his own solution to her demands. Which spawns other issues. HEHEHE.
Ninja Vanish – Kiernan Kelly’s second rate TV ninjas take on real ninja issues in a deal that looks like agents really are the spawn of Satan. I would like to see them dressed in their Hell Ninja suits. Loved the plotting in the end.
The Soldier and the Vagabond – Jevocas Green has a sort of yaoi story, where the POV character reads very, very young, as in too young to read this book, no relationship development, and a microscopic plot to go with the dub-con. Yes doesn’t happen until after asking is irrelevant. There is a Ninja, there is a mention of Hell, and other than that I don’t know why this story is in this book. Yes, it hit my dub-con hot button which not everyone has, but the other issues are problems.
A Ninja Walks Into a Bar – TC Blue has the longest story in the collection, running approximately 1/3 of the word count, and it’s worth every word. Dallas has been abducted to Hell by the demon Lord Nikita’s ninja, Akira, who falls for his prisoner. Dallas is darling, running at the mouth and not seeing why Hell shouldn’t conform to his wishes, which turns out to be a strength. Ki ends up rethinking everything. Nicely done.
As with all anthologies, quality will vary, but here, aside from one very questionable inclusion, it’s varying in a high, narrow range. Three of the stories are biter-bit, my favorite kind, though to tell you which three and how would be spoilery. Much fun aside from the nasty jolt in the middle. (less)