Korynn's Reviews > Irresistible Forces

Irresistible Forces by Catherine Asaro
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's review
Apr 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fifantasy, romance

I searched for this book long and hard because I desperately wanted to read the Bujold Vorkosigan short story "Winterfair Gifts". The first thing that threw me off about this paperback volume I found is that it looks like a romance novel - embossed flowery font for the title, a romatic elfish damsel on the cover. Inside it contains short stories by Bujold (right in front), Mary Jo Putney, Catherine Asaro, Deb Stover, Jo Beverley, and Jennifer Roberson.
Bujold's "Winterfair Gifts" does not disappoint - it features Miles and Ekaterin's wedding but the bride nearly doesn't make it to the altar due to sinister circumstances that Sergeant Taura and Armsman Roic manage to unravel in time. There is some nice romance there, nothing overstated.
Putney's "the Alchemical Marriage" is historical fiction, in this case the Spanish Armada awaits to invades Queen Elizabeth I's England and only two powerful mages can stop it, if John Dee can convince them to unite. It's a typical mutual attraction but denied due to needing to be working partners kinda smoldering romance that explodes into magical sex scenes on the front lawn that conviently raise storms that blow the Spanish Armada into smithereens in time for witty remarks about how the earth moved.
Asaro's "Stained Glass Heart" is idyllic and fanciful - about a world of farmers with a ruling class of spacefarers mated with the nobility. Our male protangonist is in love with the girl next door (who knew she was so pretty all grown up?) but he is meant to be wed to another. Drama ensues.
Deb Stover's "Skin Deep" is shallow and hides itself in ridiculous tough language that pop fiction is filled with. A deceased husband is sent to earth via his Irish Cop guardian angel to match his widow with the man she was supposed to marry (and still loves) if hubbie dear hadn't set up lover boy for a fall from grace. To make it more humiliating they choose to stick the husband in a woman's body. The widow is a reporter who happens to be writing an article about a strip joint where lover boy happens to be working his incredibly fit bod as a dancer (and happens to investigating the joint as an undercover cop). Coincidences are lavishly showered on all characters. A silly evil gangster plot is tacked together. Mutual passionate attraction is denied painfully by the widow and lover boy. Standard romance with lots of crow eating at the end.
Jo Beverley's "The Trouble With Heroes" is really good in comparison. The story introduces us to a newly inhabited Britified planet with walled cities that keep out creatures known as "blighters." This culture also nourished a new species of humanity with abilities known as "fixers" - regulated and trained people who can eliminate blighters and do lots of other nice things that the populace understands and supports. Only suddenly blighters are everywhere and walled cities are being emptied...things are going very badly very quickly and Jenny Hart, our protagonist suddenly looks at her old friend, now fixer, Dan and wonders about his responsibilities and his chances of going to war and re-evaluates him as a friend, acquaintance and possible lover. I very much enjoyed the simple discovery of how much Jenny valued Dan as a person and how she really explored her relationship with him. The ending is bittersweet but satisfying and perhaps resonates in today's world.
Jennifer Roberson's "Shadows in the Wood" is a short story linked to her established work with the characters of Marian and Robin Hood. It's a short serious work that features a clash of the world of Arthurian legend with the world of Robin Hood. Merlin, Excalibur, and Avalon all make appearances as Marian and Robin must do Merlin a small favor that turns into a minor epic of a magical quest.
Overall, the volume was solid about featuring romance in science fiction and fantasy and was a nice taste of different author's styles. Most of the stories were well written if familiar.

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