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Creature Feature is a two-story anthology by authors Poppy Dennison and Mary Calmes. Both feature paranormal stories as the cover and title suggest, one about a werewolf and the other a demon.
Diagnosis: Wolf by Poppy Dennison
Rating: 4 stars
Andrew Hughes is thrilled when he gets a call for a temp nursing job. He has been struggling to make ends meet after his brother Danny used his ID and emptied Andrew’s bank accounts to pay off his debts. At this point Andrew will take just about any work he can, though he must admit approaching the huge house with the enormous, hulking guards is a bit intimidating. Not to mention finding out that the man he is to care for has a mystery illness that no one will tell him about. But Andrew needs the money and they are offering to pay him double time, so Andrew accepts the job taking care of Caleb DiMartino.
As the days pass, Caleb doesn’t seem to be getting any better and without knowing what is wrong, Andrew has no idea how to help him. When he learns the truth about Caleb, that he and his family are wolf shifters, Andrew is totally shocked. But he soon comes to accept the strange circumstances, especially as he finds himself more and more attracted to Caleb. But soon it becomes clear that Caleb’s poor health is not an accident, and that someone is out to hurt him. Not only that, but Andrew’s family troubles come back to haunt him as well and both their lives are threatened. And through it all Andrew must decide if he can accept these crazy circumstances and the fact that his lover is from a totally different world, and open himself up to a relationship between them.
This was a fun story and I really liked the unusual set up with Caleb as the sick shifter who can’t shift, feuding families, and Andrew caught in the middle of it all. I found Andrew a likable guy, dedicated to his job while at the same time recognizing his attraction for Caleb. I felt for him as he is caught in terrible circumstances because of his brother’s mistakes, but still finding himself unable to report the crimes and send his brother to jail. He is always the responsible one, the one who takes the fall while his brother takes advantage of him. So I liked seeing him swept off his feet here by Caleb and taken under the wing of the DiMartino family. And families play a big role here, with the DiMartino’s bonding together to care for Caleb and ultimately Andrew, compared to the betrayal by Andrew’s own family and others. It is a nice contrast to see how even though they are big, scary wolves, Caleb and his father are caring and doting and protect their own.
The stor is a bit on the light side and I found it a quick read despite being pretty much novel length. It could have used a little more development in the relationship between Andrew and Caleb and I found some of the resolutions at the climax a bit quick and easy. But I definitely enjoyed this one and it is a nice, fun shifter story with two likable heroes and an interesting set up.
Landslide by Mary Calmes
Rating: 4.5 stars
Frank works as a courier, making deliveries for the demon Cael to a host of other supernatural creatures. It turns out Frank is a mihr, making him the rare human who is not susceptible to glamor, spells, and other tricks from vampires, shifters, and the like. Which means he is the perfect person to deliver and retrieve packages between Cael and other supernaturals. Frank likes his job. It pays well and as a former Marine, Frank can handle himself quite well against any bad guys he encounters. The only downside is dealing with Cael, who happens to be totally hot and alluring, but who also isn’t interested in Frank (despite Cael’s repeated assertions that they are mates and meant to be together).
One day Frank gets a panicked phone call from his sister Lindsey, who is about to celebrate her engagement. But instead she had a night of wild sex with a werewolf, who accidentally turned her. Not to mention that while partying with the hot stripper wolf, she also saw someone dumping a body in a nearby lake and the sheriff won’t believe her because she had been drinking. So Frank sets off to help his sister, bringing along Cael in hopes that the powerful demon will be able to help solve at least one of the many problems this has created.
As it turns out, a bit of time together is exactly what Frank and Cael need to finally begin to understand one another. Frank begins to open himself up to the idea of a relationship with Cael and the fact that he may have been misunderstanding Cael’s interest all along. And Cael finally figures out just how to reach Frank and how to drive him wild. But things aren’t all smooth sailing as they must help Lindsey sort out her mess, deal with facing Frank’s family once again, and stay safe from a group of wolves who aren’t to happy with Frank.
Ok, before I go any further, I have to admit something to you all. *whispers* This is the first book I have ever read by Mary Calmes. *hang head* Yes, I know! What have I been doing? But for some weird reason, I just haven’t read anything by her yet so this was my first toe dip into her writing and I must say I really loved this one. First of all, the world building is fabulous here and such a unique take on the supernatural world. With vampires, werewolves, and the like coming out to the world many years before, there has now developed an almost supernatural bureaucracy of sorts. Wolves must register with Homeland Security, vampires can’t turn anyone without being in a relationship for a full year, there are separate screening check points at TSA for humans and other creatures. It was all very fun and cleverly thought out. After reading many paranormals, it is always so nice to find one that puts a little bit of a unique spin on things and this story definitely did that. I would love to read more set it in this world.
I also really loved Frank and Cael. Again, an unusual couple and a very interesting hero in Frank. In a romance world of perfect men, I love to come across one that is not quite so perfect. In this case, Frank is a bit on the chubby side. He has lost some weight but is still heavier than he should be, and has some insecurities about his appearance. Plus he is a big, burly former Marine and everyone expects him to be a top, but want he really wants to do is bottom (and his super secret is that he’d love to be held down and dominated). When he first meets Cael, Frank misinterprets Cael’s interaction with him as a lack of interest. And from that point forward, despite Cael’s protestations to the contrary, Frank can’t really let himself believe this super hot, sexy guy is interested. So I loved see him slowly come to accept that Cael really wants him. And to see Cael realize that a bit of hard core seduction would help move things along. They have great sexual tension together combined with some playful banter I really liked.
My only real issues with the story centered around the suspense element. This is a short novel and with all the world building and relationship development, the action at the end got a little muddled to me. To be honest, I am not sure I really totally understood what was happening in the end and the motivations of all the different players. There were just a lot of things happening, often with characters we never meet on page, and it was just hard to keep track of it all. It took what was a really tight story and made it sag a little at the end.
But overall I really enjoyed this one. Fun, unique, sexy, and a really great story.
Cover Review: I love the artwork on this cover and think it is beautifully done. I am not 100% sure it fits with the tone of the anthology though. It implies the sort of humor and campiness that goes with those old horror movies and neither of these stories really matches that tone. But definitely good looking.