Review – Agony/Ecstasy Anthology – Part 2

Welcome back for the 2nd half of the review of the Agony/Ecstasy Anthology. We are going to jump right in!

Transformed – Anne Calhoun
E: Well I got some of my questions from TRANSFIXED answered and I still want more!  I highly recommend that you start with the Agony half because her two stories flow one into the other.  It was great seeing another facet of the two main characters. A

MinnChica: I was a little confused by this story, because I started with this side of the anthology, and this should definitely be read AFTER Transfixed.  However, once I read the other Calhoun story and thought back to this one, it made so much more sense and I liked it more. Calhoun has a great voice and does a wonderful job with both the BDSM aspects and the more sweet romance.  B-

Has: This was definitely one of the strongest story/stories in the anthology and I am glad there was a followup with the perspective of the hero and different POV. This sequel was much softer and sweeter in tone but no less challenging than the first story in Transfixed and I love the role reversal and ditto on reading both together that starts off with Transfixed. While the hero was challenged and being dominanted in the first story – in Transformed the characters develop emotionally and I love the depth that was explored in this installment and how the hero helps to challenge the heroine who manages to let go emotionally instead of physically. A

 

Rescue Me – Meljean Brook
E: WOW, Such a strong female character with a great twist that is such a spoiler! A

MinnChica: I loved this novella. The heroine was so strong and driven to save herself from being kidnapped. I loved the way she dealt with getting out and how she used her desire to see and tell her long time best friend she loved him to get out alive. It was sweet and sexy and just such a great story. A

Has: I.LOVE.THIS.STORY. This has to be my favourite out of all the stories in the anthology, dark, tense, sexy and hawt. I loved how resourceful and smart the heroine was to get out of her predicament from being abducted by a serial killer and I especially loved the element of her fantasies about the hero helping her to get past her discomfort, it really ties in with the theme but it was wonderfully romantic and sexy. I just wished this story was longer. A+

 

The Wooden Pony – Soshanna Evers
E: This one was beyond my reading experience.  It was well written but very uncomfortable for me to read. D

MinnChica: I actually liked this one, but it was very heavy on some BDSM aspects that might not be for everyone. I’ve read other stories by Evers, and I think she does a wonderful job of mixing harder BDSM play with the emotional entanglements that goes along with it. But it’s not for the faint of heart. B+

Has: I enjoyed this story even though it harder elements of BDSM, although the sex was hawt and intense, the emotional elements didn’t work as well. C+

 

Kiss of Life – Lily Daniels
E: I think I missed the intent of this one.  I understand wanting revenge and seizing life after you have survived something horrible but those two parts didn’t meld for me. D-

MinnChica: I liked the Titanic aspect of this story, but other than that, the rest was lost on me as well. I find that when revenge and anger and hatred gets mixed in with my BDSM, it tends to train wreck for me. I don’t like when characters come from a dark place like that, and it didn’t work for me. D

Has: I loved this one, because the setting especially the Titanic element and the time period stood out for me. I also thought the romance was good, and the love scenes worked especially the one in the car. There was a lot of depth and plot and I thought the characterisation was well rounded . I thought it was unusual and wished there was more stories like this with this setting. B+

 

Silverhouse – Sarabeth Scott
E: The secret language of lovers, I really enjoyed what Ms Scott revealed at the end about their relationship. B

MinnChica: For me, I like the punishment aspect of this one. I thought it was sexy and fun and sweet and had a bunch of the great aspects of BDSM that I liked. I thought that it was actually one story that fit really well with the short length. B

Has: I really liked this one too, the sexual battle of wills between the hero and heroine and how that fits in with the BDSM theme really worked. The ending was perfect and I also didn’t feel that there was anything missing with the story. B

 

Bruised Ego – Christine D’Abo
E: Different take on how important it can be to know that you aren’t the only person who feels a certain way that doesn’t appear to be society’s accepted norm. B-

MinnChica: There were some aspects I did and didn’t like about this. As a psychology major, I’m not a fan of any mental health professional getting involved their patients. However, it was soon evident that our heroine was not a regular therapist, but part of the story had already been a little tainted for me. C-

Has: This was a very unusual story and I am not sure on how to take it with the theme of it. Although the sex scenes was hot and intense, I just felt  the set-up missed the mark for me and I totally agree about the therapist thing – Although I am glad how the ending played out but it didn’t fully work for me. C

 

On My Skin – DL Galace
E: Very vivid description of what I have heard getting a tattoo is like for some people.  I didn’t quite buy into the characters’ motivations though.  I think this would have benefitted from a longer wordcount. C-

MinnChica: This story didn’t really do anything for me. Other than the heroine wanting a tattoo, I couldn’t understand why these two were together. But, having multiple tattoos, I can also see the pleasure in that pain. =) But as the story itself, it didn’t really do much for me. D

Has: I thought this story worked on a lot of levels, and I love the theme of tattoos and how it linked with the main theme and sexuality. I thought it was sexy and sweet but I also wished the story was longer because it felt that the plot, and characterisation just got going for me. C+

 

Just Say Yes – HelenKay Dimon
E: Enjoyable short story that included some rather neat twists that I wish more authors would use when it came to common tropes. B

MinnChica: I liked this story. It was a great little look into what happens when a boss steps out of line with her employee. I thought it was great that both the heroine and the hero were ready to accept the consequences of their actions, especially when our hero was willing to make a major change in life for his heroine. B+

Has: This was a great short and I liked how the relationship developed between the hero and heroine and the dynamics of being a boss and employee. It was also interesting to note that the heroine was the one in charge although I wished there was more emphasis on the hero, Colin. But I liked how the story played out and its conclusion. I really liked how realistic things turned out. B

 
Into The Red – Cameron Belle
E: Fascinating world-building, like a futuristic Rome complete with gladiators.  Ms Belle made me wish the two main characters could have a longer HFN (Happy For Now). B-

MinnChica: This was an interesting one, with a really unique world that I would have liked to see more of. I thought the two heroes were an unlikely pair, but worked together. Where one was soft the other was hard and rough. I would like to see more in this world, especially in a longer format. C+

Has: This was one of the highlights for me in the anthology I think the setting and the premise was fantastic and I really liked how both heroes interacted with each other. I wished it was much longer. This was a short but sexually intense story with real depth and I will definitely look out for more of Belle’s books/stories. B+

 

Overtaken – Sara Thorn
E: I felt like there was a very complex back-story with the two characters that could have sucked me into the story, but without that… C-

MinnChica: This is going to sound horrible, but I don’t remember not liking this, but at the same time it didn’t stand out to me at all either. After a few days now, I hate to say that I don’t even remember much about this short.  D

Has: I also didn’t like this story as much for similar reasons. I did like the setting and I get the reluctance by the hero, but I couldn’t connect with the characters and although the sex scenes was hot, it just didn’t have much depth. C-

 

 

OVERALL ANTHOLOGY:

E: I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I agreed to participate in this review.  I have enjoyed reading some BDSM in the past but lately I have felt rather burnt out with the sameness “Me dom, me in club, me see woman, me know woman is perfect sub, me dom woman sub, we HEA.”  I also enjoy reading the information posted on DA so I was curious to see what Ms Litte would pull together in this anthology.  I also thought it fascinating that she decided to go with two sides of the same coin.  Overall I found with any anthology some stories resonated with me and others didn’t.  I was pleased to find at least two new-to-me authors that I plan on reading more of their works.  I also found some stories that I wished had been expanded into novellas or even novels.  I am going to give this a C overall I think.

MinnChica: I was really looking forward to this anthology because I’ve been a big fan of BDSM romance stories for awhile now. And while there were some stories that I really enjoyed and will probably re-read again and again…. most of them were either so-so or really fell short for me. I don’t know if I had my expectations too high or what, but I have to say that overall, the anthology was a solid C for me.

Has: I am not usually a big fan of BDSM/S&M stories or themes  or anthologies for that matter because they tend to be too short for my tastes. But after reading  this anthology, I am definitely more open to the sub-genre now. I have also discovered some interesting and new authors who I will definitely check out, but in conclusion, this is an anthology which I will think will challenge some perspectives and expectations. There was a couple of stories that didn’t work for me, in conclusion, I enjoyed most of the stories despite some which I wished was much longer. I give this anthology a C+

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Nice reviews. Interesting to see many different opinions/grades on the same stories. I haven’t had great luck with erotic collections but enjoy finding those rare gems.

    ReplyReply
  2. Heller says

    Rescue Me – Meljean Brook was my favorite of all the stories in this anthology. I’ve never read anything by Meljean Brook before and it makes me want to very much though. I LOVED it!

    ReplyReply

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