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Review – Unbound by Angela Knight, Jennifer Ashley, Jean Johnson, Hanna Martine

Unbound cover image
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher and an author

Desire is released in these original stories by four masters of paranormal romance.

Angela Knight revisits the world of Guardian and genetically engineered Temporal Enforcers Dona and Alerio who combine their talents—and fight their passions—as they investigate a time-travel murder spree.

Jennifer Ashley continues her Shifters Unbound series as Bear Shifter Cormac is determined to take single mom Nell as his mate, despite her objections—until her sons are endangered and she desperately needs help.

Jean Johnson returns to her Vulland Chronicles: On the run after being falsely accused of treason, ex-prince Kiereseth and his companion Vielle take refuge in a snow-bound cabin—and in each other’s arms.

Hanna Martine expands on the fascinating world she introduced in Liquid Lies. After dissolving their arranged marriage so he can win her on his own terms, Ofarian guard David pairs up with the heartbroken Kelsey to try to thwart an enemy to their race.

*Blurb from Goodreads*

I have been known to buy an anthology based on a single author’s inclusion while hoping that I would enjoy at least half of the other stories. I was expecting a much different result with Unbound because I have read and enjoyed three of the four authors in this anthology. As a result I was really looking forward to reading it. I ended up with mixed feelings, some of which surprised me in both a positive and a negative manner.

Enforcer by Angela Knight
Knight is on my autobuy list and has been since I first discovered her novellas from Red Sage’s Secrets series. I have followed her from publisher to publisher; digital first, digital only, and print. She first started her Time Hunters series in 2008 as a spinoff from Jane’s Warlord published in 2004. The Time Hunters trilogy is a closely connected set of stories all focusing on a vicious group of serial killers who target time travel tourism and the Enforcers who protect the travelers. The first two came out about a year apart but there was a four-year wait for this final installment. During those four years I am afraid that either my reading tastes changed or something else caused this particular series to lose its magic. I found myself disappointed in the lingering angst from previous books between Dona and Alero. I also thought it seemed as if the ultimate bad guy had been given so much power that it required a loophole for his eventual defeat. Yes, Dona and Alero had to work together to win which I did like but the solution seemed almost anti-climatic for this installment and for the series itself.
I give Enforcer a C-

Perfect Mate by Jennifer Ashley
Ashley’s Shifter Unbound series is another one that I have been enjoying. It has an interesting take on marginalizing and segregating the Other as well as some of the horrible things people feel they can do to the Other. The focus of this series is really on the shapeshifters and other supernatural beings and how they manage to have full lives despite the best efforts of humans and rogue shifters. Nell has been the momma bear literally and figuratively in Shiftertown. After the death of her husband she raised her cubs by herself and is completely happy being single. However, several individuals in Shiftertown think that Nell needs a new mate so when Cormac showed up looking for a mate they constantly threw him in Nell’s path. He did play an important role in rescuing one of Nell’s cubs from a bounty hunter but I was not able to buy into their romance. I could understand the physical attraction between them but I never had the feeling that Nell actually cared for Cormac or that Cormac knew Nell for who she was. As I had been looking forward to Nell’s story I found this to be very disappointing. I think if Ashley had a longer word count her usual character and romance development would have been evident. As it was I thought the romance took a backseat to the bounty hunter plot.
I give Perfect Mate a C-

The Hunter’s Cabin by Jean Johnson
Jean Johnson is a new-to-me author. The Hunter’s Cabin appears to take place between full-length stories in this particular series. I found myself intrigued by the hints of the world that Johnson used in this novella. The various powers, the fact that this was an escape, the intrigue and politics, not to mention the forbidden aspect of the attraction between Vee and Kiereseth. I enjoyed the interaction between Vee and Kiereseth and how they each had their own strengths that were needed to survive during their escape. As a result of reading this novella I am planning on reading the first installment The Knot.
I give The Hunter’s Cabin a B+

No Surprise More Magical by Hanna Martine
After my fellow Pushers started talking about Liquid Lies, Martine’s first story in her Elementals series, I had to give it a try. I thoroughly loved the world-building, the characters, and how the first book completely altered the world order as it was known by the Ofarians. David’s arranged marriage to Kelsey (one he dreamed of) was dissolved as part of the aftermath of Liquid Lies. As part of his job to discover Ofarian traitors he was paired up with Kelsey to foil an assassination plot. During their high tension adventures they acted on their mutual physical attraction and gradually started talking about their feelings. I enjoyed seeing them work through mutual guilt and heal their broken hearts.
I give No Surprise More Magical an A-

Overall this anthology was more of a mixed bag than I expected. I was disappointed in two of the stories that I had highly anticipated. Both suffered from a lack of romance, one was not helped by the anti-climatic last battle, and the other would have benefited from a focus on the romance instead of the nefarious plots. I will continue to read Knight and Ashley I just hope their magic returns. I found a new-to-me author, Johnson, with an interesting world and characters that I look forward to enjoying in the future and I really liked the final novella by Martine. The story order meant that for me, Unbound finished on a strong note.

I give Unbound a B/B-

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By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

2 replies on “Review – Unbound by Angela Knight, Jennifer Ashley, Jean Johnson, Hanna Martine”

I want this anthology for the Jean Johnson and Jennifer Ashley stories, but for now, the book is just too expensive. I love both their books, and I would recommend Jean Johnson’s – Theirs not to reason why – series to you.

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