I didn't just love this book. I. LOVED. This. Book. The kind of love that makes you ignore your real life and stay up past your bedtime because you caI didn't just love this book. I. LOVED. This. Book. The kind of love that makes you ignore your real life and stay up past your bedtime because you can't put it down. It features one of my favorite tropes --a historical romance where the hero is too far below the heroine's social status for them to be together. And it plays out to perfection.
Aline and McKenna grew up together. Only she was a young Lady and he was a stableboy. As they got older, their friendship grew into something more. They loved each other completely, but both knew that they had no chance at a future together. They tried to keep their feelings a secret, but Aline's dad found out and ripped them apart.
12 years later, McKenna comes back a new man, with a score to settle. You see, Alina let him believe she didn't love him, in order to save him from her father's wrath. All these years, she's never loved anyone else. And neither has he. McKenna thinks it's revenge he wants, but deep down he yearns for the only thing that has ever really mattered to him: Alina.
There is so much delicious angst as these two reunite. I loved the hopelessness of it all. They knew they couldn't be together, but their love was real! Even after a dozen years apart! These two broke my heart. McKenna is such a swoon-worthy hero. He has loved this woman for 12 years. Despite all of his success, he can't be happy without her. For goodness sake, Alina told him she would never love anyone else. She would never marry anyone else. And she didn't. He was it for her. She was it for him. Even when they hurt, their love endured.
My only small gripe is that there was too much time on a secondary romance featuring Aline's sister and McKenna's friend. It's not a bad romance, I just wanted every second spent with the main couple.
Overall, I loved this book like chocolate. Like Chris Hemsworth covered in chocolate. I just wish there was more.
This 500+ page collection finally gives Jane Yellowrock fans all of the series' short stories in one place. Almost all of them have been previously reThis 500+ page collection finally gives Jane Yellowrock fans all of the series' short stories in one place. Almost all of them have been previously released, though many were only in digital form. There are two new offerings, though, if you've already read the other shorts, and together, make up about 20% of the book.
The following take place prior to book 1:
We Sa and the Lumber King – I have to question what the point of this story was, unless it’s just to please fans who enjoy the voice of Beast. There is very little to this, just a couple of pages from Beast’s POV while Jane was a little girl who lived in her mind. We get Beast’s perspective on the white men who are cutting down the trees and destroying her home. And then Beast kills the leader. The end. I didn’t get much out of it.
The Early Years – I’ll admit, I have wondered what it was like for Jane to consciously shift into her Beast for the first time. After all, from the time she was 12 until she was 18, she had no idea what she was. She suppressed the voice of Beast in her head. She had no memory of her life Before.
This story follows Jane as she leaves the orphanage in search of her history. And we go with her on the journey during her first shift. Sadly, this one was not great for me. It’s too much inside of Jane/ Beast’s head. Very little actually happens. Probably my least favorite of the short stories I have read in this series.
Snafu – This story is very short. It is just a glimpse of Jane as she begins her PI internship. It’s interesting to see her as a young woman. She is excited about starting a new chapter of her life. But she is still tough as nails and sharp as a tack.
Cat Tats – As much as I loathe Rick LeFleur, I actually enjoyed this short story from his POV. (Maybe it was because he was tortured, LOL.) It’s set long before he ever met Jane and gives us some more of his backstory. Primarily, it takes us through the chain of events that left him with his cat tattoos. It’s a difficult trial for him and could have ended very differently. But it was a good enough story, it almost made me forget that I hate him. Almost.
Kits – What a great story! This is the genesis of Jane’s friendship with Molly. As it begins, they are casual acquaintances. But when one day, Molly doesn’t show up for work, Jane gets concerned and sets out to find out what has gone wrong. In the end, she helps save Angie Baby from herself and makes an unbreakable bond with the child’s mother. The end made me get a bit misty — no small feat for a story this short.
Haints – This is an action oriented tale told from Molly’s POV. Molly has been tasked to get to the bottom of a haunted house and she drafts Jane to help her. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a pretty cool story involving magic, a vampire, a witch, and a pocket universe. We also get some quality time with Evan and a visit with Angie Baby. I liked this one.
Signatures of the Dead – The events of this story are referenced often in the series. It’s the vampire case that made Jane Yellowrock a well known vamp-killer. A rouge group of vampires is on a killing spree and Molly and Jane are on the case. No one is safe from the vampires’ blood hunger and gleeful violence. Even one of Molly’s sisters becomes a victim. When Jane, Molly, and a police officer friend named Brax go into an abandoned mine to confront them, the results are bloody and the lives of the survivors will never be the same.
This story kicked ass. We get to see Jane and Molly both doing what they do best. And we know it’s pivotal to where Jane’s life will go. You don’t want to miss this one.
Read after Skinwalker:
First Sight – This is a Bruiser story, but it was WAY too short. This is actually his POV on the first time he and Jane meet in Skinwalker. I love how drawn he is to her right away and I enjoyed seeing her through his eyes. But it was only a scant few pages. Less a story and more a vignette.
Read after Mercy Blade:
Blood Fangs and Going Furry – And so we are back to Rick again. This is an excellent story to read immediately after Mercy Blade. That book had such a great ending line. This story picks up immediately at that point and tells the story from Rick’s perspective. Mercy Blade is the book that left Rick dead to me, so it’s hard to muster too much sympathy for him here. His suffering is real, though, and I enjoyed getting a little of his perspective. Douchebag that he is.
Dance Master – Another Bruiser story, but this one switches from 1st person to 3rd. This story confirmed for me that Bruiser is the guy who Jane should be with. I haven’t been without my concerns surrounding him, but his inner dialogue proves that he likes and respects Jane for who she is –and has no desire to diminish her. He also sees Rick for what he is, ruminating, “(Rick’s) history suggested that he was incapable of maintaining a romantic relationship with only one woman for any length of time. And it was even more unlikely that he would survive his next full moon, though George wouldn’t wish such pain and madness on anyone, even a faithless, charismatic rival. ” True dat.
This is also sadly short, but it’s satisfying and sexy, and if I wasn’t Team Bruiser before, I am now.
Golden Delicious - (This was the first time I'd read this one, though it was previously published in the anthology An Apple for the Creature.) This is a look inside Rick's training for PsyLED. It's interesting how I don't mind Rick so much when he is far away from Jane. Here, he is trying to find a balance working with Brute and Pea, while working a training mission. I enjoyed it and liked getting a little more insight into his partner and mysterious mentor, Soul.
Read after Raven Cursed:
Cajun With Fangs – Eh, this one was ok. It’s set just after Raven Cursed, though it doesn’t really draw much from that book. Jane is on her way back to New Orleans when she has bike trouble and has to stop in a small bayou town. She discovers quickly that there is a war going on between the vampires and witches there and she gets drawn in, despite her best efforts. It ends up something like a supernatural Cajun Romeo and Juliet. Being from New Orleans, the coon-ass accents kind of grated on me. The story itself was fair. I could take it or leave it.
The Devil's Left Boot - (This one was also new to me, though previously released in the anthology Kicking It.) This one features Molly's twin sisters Cia and Liz. The witches are hired to find the mother of a mean girl they knew in high school. But it's no simple case. It involves blood magic and a rouge vampire --and ultimately, they have to call in Jane for help. I enjoyed this even though it focused on characters outside of Jane's inner circle. Faith Hunter does a really good job making her characters feel real and making me invest, even for a short time.
Plus, there is a goat. In a diaper.
Read after Blood Trade:
Beneath a Bloody Moon – Rick the Dick calls Jane to the bayou town of Chauvin to track a werewolf problem. She has to put herself in grave danger to make it through the case, and Rick was there, being called her sorta-boyfriend, and setting my teeth on edge. (I hate how his inability to be faithful is just an aside, no big deal, like the color of his eyes.)
Despite my hate for Rick, it’s a fairly good story, action wise, and we get time with Eli and the Kid. Plus, "Black Water" makes way more sense if you’ve read this one.
Black Water – Jane is on her way back home after her job is done hunting the werewolf pack in the last story, when she learns that the job is not quite done. It seems a werewolf has broken out of prison and he is looking for payback for Jane’s role in the death of his sister. Jane returns to the small town she had just left behind to deal with the aftermath. You see, the man has kidnapped two young women –and he has targeted Rick’s family members in his search for Jane.
Jane teams up with Serge, an off the grid werewolf and sets out to give the man the confrontation he’s been searching for. It was an all-action story. And it faithfully maintained the tone of the full length books, from Jane’s internal dialogue with Beast, to her growing familial ties with Eli and the Kid, to her annoying and self-destructive pseudo-relationship with Ricky Bo. The man was only a voice on the phone and I was still able to hate him.
There is never much doubt that Jane will save the day, but that makes it no less fun watching her do it.
Read after Black Arts:
Off the Grid – Set after the events of Black Arts, here Jane is in North Carolina, to help a vampire clan at Leo’s behest. A perverted religious cult has kidnapped one of their Mithrans and Jane is tasked to get her back. During her mission, she meets a special woman who escaped from the cult and may be able to help. The story is pretty good, but I felt like it was more of a vehicle to introduce us to Nell, who will be the main character in Faith Hunter’s next series. Maybe Rick will move permanently to those books. One can only hope.
Read after Broken Soul:
Not All Is As It Seems - (New to me. Previously published in the anthology Temporally Out of Order.) A Molly story. Big Evan is out of town when two vamps show up looking for a lost teakettle that has made its way to Angie Baby. But this is no ordinary teapot. It has some sort of spirit inside, but it's not clear who or what it is. Molly and her sister must work together to solve the mystery before handing the item over to the local MOC . This was really quite sweet. A lot of heart in a short number of pages.
Read after Dark Heir:
Cat Fight - This is one of the two brand new stories. It piggybacks off the plot of "Cajun With Fangs." Leo sends Jane back to Bayou Oiseau, where our Romeo and Juliet couple are having some marital problems. After having a baby, Shauna walks in on her man Gabe at another woman's vein. She flips out and steals an artifact from the vampires and brings it home to the witches. Now the entire town is fighting over it. Jane, the Youngers, and Edmund the vamp have to sort it all out and bring peace to the town.
I'm still not a fan of the accents, but the story is pretty good, and it's long enough to sink your teeth into. Plus, any time we get a visit from the Mercy Blade, it's a win.
Bound No More - The second new story. This one centers on a threat from one of those rainbow dragons, just as Molly and Angie Baby visit Jane. This story actually has some interesting developments that will ripple into the novels. Like a secret Molly is keeping. And how much freaking scary power Angie has. A really good offering that leaves me excited for the next book.
Overall, this is a sweeping collection, enough content for two books, easily. And if you haven't read most of these shorts already, it's definitely worth your time. Some of the stories are kind of meh, but most of them are really good and will be a treat for fans of the series.