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Ami's Hoard

To Read is To Live

Charmed and Dangerous (Anthology)

Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy - Jordan Castillo Price, Ginn Hale, K.J. Charles

Took me a week to finish this anthology. It ranges from "I loved it" to "I don't bloody care" about it.

The Trouble With Hexes by Astrid Amara

Least Favorite
The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet



Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford : 2.75 stars
Started: Sept 21, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 21, 2015

It offers standard urban-fantasy actions, all right, but I never felt connected to the characters. Roku has tragic past (with him losing his partner and two daughters) but it felt like the tragedy is just a 'background' and doesn't do anything to his character. The partner is still a huge mystery for me, and I have no idea why he's drawn to Roku (especially the writing is only for Roku's perspective). In fact, the only characters here I liked is Roku's Captain. With similar vibe to Lou Harper's (stronger UF element compared to romance), this one was not as satisfying for me.


Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale : 2.75 stars
Started: Sept 21, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 21, 2015

I know that Ginn Hale has a LOT of fans -- but I always struggle connecting to Hale's writing. Duly noted, I was able to finish her stories in Hell Cop anthology, but afterwards, I always feel distant to her stories. Resulting in my DNF'ing them early on. It's the case of me not the author.

This is another story in the anthology that I read perfunctorily manner. In addition, I felt like I was suddenly put in the middle of an on-going story, and I never like that feeling. Especially in urban fantasy/paranormal stories. I guess I'm a lazy reader, I like being ease into the different world by the author *shrugs*


A Queer Trade by K.J. Charles : 4 stars
Started: Sept 16, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 16, 2015

Oh, this is delightful! I think I had more fun reading short story in comparison to the last story of Charles that I read.

Crispin is a practitioner who is on a mission to look for magical papers of his departed Master, only to found those papers have been sold by his inheritors. This brought Crispin to Ned Hall, a waste-man (who buys waste papers and sell them for other purposes). It feels like an 'finding an item" kind of adventure. There is time limitation in which Crispin and Ned need to find those papers before the magical words on the papers are making havoc. And making havoc they do!! I was very much amused when I read about the rising deads *lol*.

In addition to the quick partnership, the 'fun' at the market, some actions and magic, Charles also wrote Ned Hall as a black man, with a occupation uncommon in a romance story. I found those aspects to be wonderful indeed :). Oh, and I LOVED Ned's endearment for Crispin.

PS: The story is set in Charles' Magpies universe, and we have Esther Gold (Stephan's justiciar partner and friend) makes an appearance. However, you don't need to read those novels beforehand to enjoy this.


Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling : 4 stars
Started: Sept 18, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 19, 2015

Kimberling revisits her characters from Irregulars, NIAD (NATO’s Irregular Affairs Division) agents Keith Curry and his goblin boyfriend Gunther in this short story. I don't know if reading their initial story will be necessary (but you should read that anthology anyway!) because this one has pretty straight mystery rather than progress on their relationship (except for the update that Keith has finally moved in with Gunther).

Gunther is the 8th NIAD agents 'attacked' by pixie-dust effects, and Keith finds out what really causing it. It gives focus on Keith and the chance for him to shine. Loved the 'temporary' partnership with the leprechaun. And I truly hope they keep the cat ^^.

I definitely wouldn't mind if Kimberling returns to this couple from time to time :)


Everyone's Afraid Of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price : 2.25 stars
Started: Sept 19, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 19, 2015

It's not that I didn't like it. It's just that I didn't care (much like Andrea Speed's story that I read first). I guess this snippet of Jacob and Victor from JCP's most popular series, PsyCop will satisfy hardcore PsyCop fans better. Unfortunately, I think I have fallen out of love with the couple, the series, and JCP's writing *cringe*

So yeah, this didn't make me feel anything and I read it it in perfunctorily manner because I wanted to reach the ending. If you ask me what this story is all about, I won't remember.


The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L. Hawk : 3.5 stars
Started: Sept 20, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 20, 2015

I thought the combination of witches, familiars, and non-magical officer like hexmen was interesting set-up. I enjoyed that part most definitely. However, the 'mystery' was just okay, and it was solved quickly. It didn't have the complex and complete world-built feel like Lou Harper's story. Plus everything between Dominic and Roox also happened pretty fast in a kind of 'soulmate / soulbond' kind of manner (which not always a favorite trope of mine)


The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet : 2 stars
Started: Sept 21, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 21, 2015

When I read this story, I had this song "One of these doesn't belong to the other" in my head -- because truly, the tone of this one just didn't fit with the other eight I read. Which is sad, since I used to enjoy Cochet's stories. I think THIRDS ruined everything for me. I still claimed that I loved book #1 of that series but then it went downhill and I started to see the weaknesses of Cochet's characters and writing. Not to mention I despised the silliness and the incompetence of the THIRDS team.

Unfortunately, this one has a resemblance to it. Motor mouth Riley, with arrogant Khalon. And every time I read the word my prince or mate, my eyes twitched. Uhm, No. JUST NO. You know what, maybe I should stay away from Cochet's stories for awhile.


One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper : 3.75 stars
Started: Sept 14, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 14, 2015

For a short/novella length story, I thought Lou Harper's One Hex Too Many is able to deliver a strong mystery plot and a well-built universe filled with magic (including dark ones), hexes, and even demon. I did think that this is predominantly mystery rather than romance though, so I wonder if a more prone-to-romance reader will enjoy this.

As for me, I grew up with Agatha Christie stories. I love mystery -- this I was pretty satisfied with this one. Harper writes down the investigation process and it moves forward with an answer that doesn't come out of empty air. I was pretty intrigued with Mike Mulligan as well as his new younger partner Hugh Fox. I wonder if this is a start of a new series because there was still a lot of things that were not explained about both Mike's and Fox's past.


Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed : 2.25 stars
Started: Sept 15, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 15, 2015

While it was another wacky offering in the Josh of the Damned universe -- we got zombie rats this time -- but again, I didn't see any improvements whatsoever in terms of plot, characterizations, or the romantic relationship. I skimmed this story pretty fast because IMHO, I just didn't see this series going anywhere. It is a pale comparison to her "Infected" series, heck even The Little Death is better.

Sure, some readers might appreciate the humor and the imagination. But for me, the series lost its appeal a long time ago. In addition, I wonder if readers who never read the series will be able to enjoy this short *shrugs*


The Trouble With Hexes by Astrid Amara: 4.25 stars
Started: Sept 15, 2015 --- Finished: Sept 16, 2015

This is only the third story I read from the whole book, but I can guarantee that this is one of my favorites of the whole collection. Within the limitation of the length, Astrid Amara is able to offer a solid story about love and second chances while dealing with an evil hex.

I have always love second chance story (*sigh*) and to me it was clear how much Tim and Vincent love each other. The lingering feeling is still there. Despite the direness of the situation, with Tim withering away because of the hex, I also felt that this story was very romantic. It makes me wish that I know them before the story starts; I want to be there from the beginning. I want to read about them playing with Bogart. And I want to be there when everything falls apart.

Nonetheless, I thought the conflict that set them apart was believable and despite that it might have the touch of martyrdom when it comes to Vincent's hexbreaking and saving people, I guess I could understand both of their's perspective. Vincent couldn't stop healing people but Tim couldn't also let his lover exhaust himself in the process. I'm glad that they are working things out after Tim gets hexed himself. Oh, and the mystery is pretty good -- though I had a feeling about the villain early on but I enjoyed the investigation process as well.