"Well-crafted collection of short stories"
In PANTHER, the pressure is on for 25-yo Danielle De Mauris
to get married -- mostly from her worldly-wise seer Gran
with witch-blood who insists that Dani will be meeting her
soul mate in a tall, dark handsome stranger. Of course,
Gran has been making this prediction for her granddaughter
for as long as Dani can remember and it hasn't yet come
true. Not unless you count the large black stray that Dani
finds at death's door near her shop cellar one dark and
stormy night and which Gran nurses back to health.
After experiencing a weird and vivid hallucination and
Dani's cat, Pan, has a violent convulsive reaction, Dani
takes to letting the animal sleep across her chest at
night, a sad commentary on her non-existent love-life to be
sure, that she has resorted to "sleeping with" her cat.
But what Dani thinks are hallucinations are actually her
own witch blood awakening and harbingers of her destiny.
Things escalate once she brings a mirror (a birthday
present and family heirloom) up from the cellar to polish.
What she sees in the mirror is too fantastic to believe,
but Dani soon discovers that the mirror does not lie, and
Pan is not the innocent pet that he first seemed.
In SHADOW MAN, Sereia is hot to trot and on the prowl at
The Den. Clad in black mini and bustier, blatantly sexual
and trying to lure one special man who can provide her with
the nectar she seeks, Sereia is unapologetic of her
sexuality and only mildly repentant of the consequences.
Clad all in black and as unique and enigmatic as he is
arousing and dangerous, Zac Delany immediately catches
Sereia's attention when he struts into the bar. Initially,
he is immune to her telepathic bait, a fact that makes him
an excellent choice and even more alluring than his dark
hair and dark smoldering eyes, the possibility strong that
he has what she seeks.
Sereia barely completes the process of merging with Zac and
eliciting his godhood before she and her lover are
violently interrupted. What follows will force difficult
choices on both Sereia and Zac.
In BOUQUET, Torquen, eldest of his Blood-kind brothers at a
costume party celebrating Bram Stoker's birthday, has the
tables turned on him by a young woman who is not quite what
Alluring and innocent, Natalie possesses Bouquet, that
rarest of human blood coveted by all vampires. It is for
this very reason that Torquen is inexorably drawn to her.
But getting Natalie and having her may prove to be much
more than Torquen ever bargained for in this sensual game
of cat and mouse.
In TIGER! TIGER!, Sir Julian Wentworth is one of the
wealthiest Lords in the Ton, as pompous and self-centered
as he is rich. He has deflowered young women and pleasured
himself with more of the sophisticated women of the Ton
than he can count or remember. A woman is but a warm body
to him, created for his amusement and nothing more. When
his carriage is set upon by two masked robbers, Julian is
suddenly forced to reconsider this mindset as one of the
highwaymen is actually a highwaywoman with a mean score to
Six months after his ravishment, Julian is not himself. He
doesn't indulge in any of his usual pastimes, a haunted man
in the midst of a fruitless search far and wide for the
mysterious woman responsible for his quandary.
Lady Desdemona MacLeod is a rich widow living in seclusion
in the Scottish Highlands. Enigmatic and unconventional,
she thumbs her nose at London society while throwing
soirees for which many of the Ton would give their eye-
teeth for an invitation. Lady MacLeod has her reasons for
being private and secretive, and when Julian receives a
most sought-after proposal to attend an affair at her
mansion he will find out exactly what they are, his past
sins rising up to slap him firmly in the face.
In LA PETIT MORT, Tess, a dancer and Robert, a violinist in
the orchestra, discover that "little death" has more than
one meaning as they reunite on the stage to enact an
impassioned flamenco, and later, a more intimate dance
after the performance. This tale of timeless everlasting
love quickly unfolds as Robert teases Tess with visions of
their past together and regales her with hopes of the
future they will inevitably share.
In FLIGHT NIGHT, orphaned after her father's death one year
previously, Melisande lives a life of drudgery and
vassalage at her uncle's castle and beneath the cruel hand
of her cousin Lythia.
When Lythia's betrothed, Hadan, arrives with his companion,
Roheel, in tow, Melisande's recent mysterious dreams take
on new meaning, beginning to make sense to her.
Roheel is from the "east" as was Melisande's father.
Strange and different, there is an aura about him to which
Melisande is drawn. It is also an aura she fears, and when
Roheel comes to her bedchamber one evening with information
about their shared history, she realizes her fear is not
In RESURRECTION, at the camp site of an archeological dig
in Egypt, Simone Beauris has been having trouble sleeping
due in no small part to the graphically erotic frescoes
depicted upon the walls of Prince Re-Nefru's secret tomb.
Simone accidentally drops and breaks open an alabaster box
that holds the Re-Nefru's vow of revenge against those who
ruined him, pretty standard stuff. What isn't standard,
however, is the sudden appearance of Prince Re-Nefru
himself, summoned by Simone's reading of the box's
parchment. But is the man another product of Simon'e horny
imagination or flesh-and-blood real?
A collection of short stories all linked by one common
theme -- that nothing is as it seems and no one is what or
who they seem -- FORBIDDEN NIGHTS is inhabited by an
assortment of shapeshifters and other mythological beings
who all have two basic things in common with the humans
whose space they share: the need to touch and be touched;
to love and be loved.
Astrid creates several fully-realized worlds of wyres,
vamps, succubi and ghosts in a minimal amount of space, the
stories as varied as the methods their inhabitants use to
attract the opposite sex; as engaging and well-crafted as
each protagonist. A well-done anthology, worth the read!
Posted December 13, 2005
Reviewed by Gracie McKeever
Posted November 20, 2006