Katharine Kimbriel's Reviews > Must Love Hellhounds

Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris
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's review
Dec 20, 10

bookshelves: contemporary-fantasy, paranormal
Read in December, 2010

This anthology was a lot of fun, and once again, I got three good – even great – stories and one so-so. I picked up the anthology because I was enjoying the Kate Daniels stories by Ilona Andrews, and there’s a story from that world in here. Also, I regularly enjoy the many worlds of Charlaine Harris.

Turns out I found two new writers to investigate, but the Harris story was very forgettable. The easiest way to describe it is, it felt like she was under an obligation to come up with something, and did so. But it’s not her best work, and even the theme of a couple of professional paranormal bodyguards/mercenaries would not inspire me to pick up another story about the characters. Even the best writers don’t always click with an audience. Apparently I wasn’t the audience for the Harris novella.

Andrews and Brook used the hellhound theme the best. In the Andrews story, we see little of Kate (though we see something new about her which feels significant) but we finally get to see Andrea the would-be knight mercenary and hidden bouda and Raphael the dominant werehyena (bouda) spar off in a tale of magic, death in many forms, regret, and taking gifts when they are offered for whatever time you get them. Lots of fun and well written.

The Meljean Brook story was a world new to me, but I didn’t feel a great lack of info in getting to the point of the story. The young female former CIA/current butler to a very powerful and scary, if charismatic vampire was interesting and had the depth to deal with a very unusual family member of the vampire, with a very unusual magical trait – one essential for her to help retrieve a kidnapped member of the family. She’s a very competent and lethal butler, and the guy is different, sharp, sexy, and worth trying to work with in multiple ways – and the hellhound who they are accepting on their journey has personality and makes its presence felt. I’d like to see more about the characters.

The Singh story has two very charismatic characters, Sara and Deacon – they’re Guild Hunters, the people who hunt down escaped and rampaging vampire servants of angels and archangels (who may have wings, but are not at all what most people think of when the word angel is used. We’re talking scary “people” with their own agendas.) Sara and Deacon are terrifying in their own right (Deacon is fond of a fellow hunter’s hellhound, and doesn’t hesitate to make sure she’s all right coming out of a tranq!) and also a chemistry pair made in heaven, although once their job together is done, it doesn’t look like they can stay together, even as a secret. Sara has been offered the top slot at the Guild, and she knows she’d be the best of the hunters to take it – and Deacon is not the type of person to handle politics and social maneuvering well. He talks with the deadly weapons he is famous for making. But when both people have choices, surprising things can happen.

I’d like to see more of all three of these couples, and I recommend their stories. Nice attraction levels especially in the Brook and Singh stories; sex is not the main point but used well when used. Have fun!
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message 1: by Estara (new) - added it

Estara I'm not sure about the Archangel series by Singh, although I really like her Psy/Changeling series, but I can tell you that the current two novellas that exist in that universe are both very good: I just don't like the overall power situation between the hero and heroine in the main series and I plain don't like the hero at all.

Deacon and Sara do get together, as you'll find out if you do decide to read the first full novel.

Meljean Brook started out in fanfiction (Wonderwoman and Batman) and was scouted by an editor. Her Guardians universe is her first big book series, I've liked all of them in various degrees and like the Kate Daniels series she has an overarching plot in mind, so there will only be two more books (plus the various novellas) until the plot line is finished, she always concentrates on different couples in her paranormal world.

The vampire and his love actually are in one of the books I like most. The hellhound belongs to the heroine of the first full novel - but some people found the construction of that one a bit confusing. I didn't have that problem, having read a lot of epic fantasy.

She really had a major breakthrough this year with her steampunk romance series The Iron Seas, the first novella of which is her strongest work to date. I loved the plot and setting and most of the characters in her first full novel The Iron Duke in that series, but I wasn't quite as convinced of the hero and heroine's love story.

Ilona Andrews you've already discovered ^^.

Katharine Kimbriel Ah -- I had wondered about that in the Singh books -- when you mean "main series" do you mean the one about Sara's friend and her abrupt transition? I saw a promo for that series, and I'm a bit torn -- frankly, the angels do not sound like nice people at all, they sound like Roman or Greek gods -- larger than life humans with powers, excessive chemical drives and the emotional maturity of 10-year-olds. Which may be insulting the 10-year-olds. The old absolute power corrupts biz. I also think I'd have issues with the entire power dimension there.

Unless that is Singh's point -- that all interactions for the average woman and the average man are like that, and women spend their time outwitting their men's worst excesses. That might be interesting....

So the Brook novels each are about different couples?

message 3: by Estara (new) - added it

Estara That comparison to a pantheon of Greek Gods is a good analogy. Also there are some frankly ridiculous technicalities (like the fact that making someone into an angel happens when an archangel explodes in sexual extasy (with a shower of sparkly bits off their feathers, which can also be used as a drug... eww). And the hero basically is fairly inhuman (as demanded by the plot) in his treatment of the heroine at first - in ways I find unforgivable.

The Brook Guardian series is... like a superhero team fighting against the villains, only that the superheroes are invested in their powers by Angels and the villains are demons and Lucifer (the vampires come into it because God made the angels who fought neither for nor against Heaven into Nosferatu, and then the Guardians found out that they could save Nosferatu victims by making them drink the Nosferatu blood, turning them into vampires).

The couple of the first novel are a fallen Guardian - now human - and a half-Demon trying to become human (and their story is told with flashbacks to 800 years before our time, but mostly plays nowadays).

One of my favourite couples is the sparkly vampire and the Indian computer geek girl, who is a sidekick in the first novel - she really kicks ass.

The powers the Guardians have, apart from general powers that all share, seem to depend on their personalities and so you get the superhero-team angle. They even have their own dimensional city called Coelum or Caelum... can't quite remember.

re: Psy/Changeling the power struggle also has a major plot in the background and she also concentrates on different couples each book but the world-building: the idea of psi-powered people, were-people and regular humans living and interacting in a shared world - that is in the back of all of them. We get a lot of cross-culture couples.

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