Out of Control by Alexandra Ivy
Ph.D student Angela Locke has a crush on her sexy professor, Dr. Nikolo Bartrev. When she learns he’s actually a Sentinel with extraordinary powers, she joins forces with him to catch a psychopath. But soon, their hottest pursuit is of each other… Alexandra Ivy.
This is the opening novella to Ivy’s new Sentinel series. She has developed a very intriguing world that has both humans and high-bloods. High-bloods are humans with some genetic differences that manifest themselves in different paranormal and physical abilities. Sometimes they also look physically different. Some of them stay in compounds with guards and medical staff but most can pass as human so they live in the regular population. The high-bloods that stay in compounds do so because they want the companionship of like people or because they are a danger to themselves or others.
I enjoyed Ivy’s world-building and thought she did a good job for a novella length to provide a complete story. Angela and Niko were both attracted to each other before the story starts but Niko had a lot of ground to make up after Angela discovered that not only was he a Sentinel but he was using her as bait. I liked how she didn’t just accept that she was different or that Niko’s reasons for his actions justified them. Watching them start to work together and trust each other as the novella progressed was entertaining. I am going to keep my eye on this series.
I give Out of Control a B.
Ties That Bind by Nina Bangs
Cassie Tyler agrees to sub for her friend at the funeral home where she works. But she gets more than she bargained for when a group of men attack her and a vampire comes to her rescue. . .
Bangs provided an interesting take on vampires, zombies, and other preternatural creatures. This is much darker than her usual paranormal writing but brought back the deadly scary beauty that was common for vampiric image with Bela Lugosi’s interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1931. Bangs added a lot of elements into this particular world and as fascinating as I found them, I think her overall story suffered from the lack of length.
I felt that several key plot developments were discovered off scene and then told by one character instead of shown to the reader. I also thought the characterization also suffered from the shorter word-count. Cassie is a dichotic character. She started off scared of her own shadow and the same night she demonstrated her familiarity with pistols and knives for self-defense. She also insisted on accompanying the vampires back to the scene of her attack knowing she was walking into a battle. Ethan’s characterization also seemed inconsistent when it came to what he and Cassie were able to safely do together. To me, Bang’s intriguing world was not enough to outweigh the inconsistent characterization.
I give Ties That Bind a C-.
In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall
Immortal Richart d’Alençon can’t forget the woman who rewarded him with a sensuous kiss after he saved her from a trio of vampires. While Richart knows that loving a human can only bring trouble, the taste of forbidden lust is too great to resist. . .
Duvall’s novella is part of her ongoing Immortal Guardians series. As such, it assumed a certain level of reader familiarity with that particular world but she also provided some information for the new reader. I enjoyed the twist that Duvall included in her risks of becoming a vampire. My only disconnect was with the references to previously established couples, their place in guardian society, and their additional powers.
Richart and Jenna’s interaction was a lovely slow growing relationship. They spent time getting to know each other, which is unusual for a novella. I also liked how Jenna’s son was not a precocious young thing but a focused college student who wanted his mom’s happiness. I also enjoyed the big reveal scene of Richart’s vampirism. I tried one of Duvall’s novels earlier and it didn’t work for me but this novella made me want to go back and give them another try.
I give In Still Darkness a B.
High Stakes by Hannah Jayne
Fashionista vampire — and UDA regular — Nina LaShay stars in this novella set in the high stakes fashion world of Manhattan, New York. Nina is set to take on the fashion world with her Drop Dead Clothing label — but when her rival drops dead instead, Nina’s on the hook for more than just her cutting edge couture.
Jayne’s version of vampires and supernatural creatures were very different from the other three stories in this anthology. This novella is part of her Underworld Detection Agency series but it really did not require prior knowledge of that particular world because the action was limited to a very small area.
I found that this story reminded me of a Reality TV competition. I am not a reality TV fan but I thought the premise was amusing. Dead bodies, ruined designs, drama, and intrigue were in plentiful supply. Unfortunately, I had the same reaction to this story as I have to most reality TV shows. It just didn’t work for me. I had to force myself to keep reading to find out who the villain was. If you are a fan of the Reality TV show set-up you will probably find it entertaining.
I give High Stakes a D
Overall, this anthology was a mixed bag. I didn’t find any stories that I absolutely loved but on the other hand I didn’t have any stories that I absolutely loathed. The one story that completely didn’t work for me wasn’t poorly written, I just don’t enjoy that particular set-up.
I give Predatory a C