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Review: Hotter Than Hell

Hot­ter Than Hell, the lat­est “Hell” anthol­o­gy is edit­ed and has an intro­duc­tion by Kim Har­ri­son. I don’t know if the sex­i­er trend is her choice, a response to mar­ket demands, or some­thing else again.

The anthol­o­gy is thick­er than most, with longer pieces–short novellas?–by each of the 13 authors. I read a copy from the library, but it’s one of the few antholo­gies that I’d con­sid­er worth the $7.99 cov­er price.

I’ve read every­thing I could get my hands on by Tanya Huff, but none of that pre­pared me for “Music Hath Charms.” One of the things I like about her is that her char­ac­ters are gen­er­al­ly “real peo­ple” in terms of hav­ing sex lives and such, while not being dri­ven pri­mar­i­ly by them. This sto­ry, though def­i­nite­ly para­nor­mal, is about sex and pow­er. It’s good, although it was­n’t a com­fort­able read for me.

I haven’t read near­ly as much by Mar­jorie M. Liu, so I had no real expec­ta­tions when I start­ed “Mino­taur in Stone.” The main char­ac­ter was­n’t some­one to whom I could eas­i­ly relate, but I felt that Liu did a great job of devel­op­ing her in the short for­mat.

“Demon Lover” by Cheyenne McCray was one of my least favorite pieces. I’m just not a McCray fan. I found the incubus char­ac­ter too clichéd, and could­n’t respect the mor­tal woman.

one of L.A. Banks’ Vam­pire Huntress nov­els a few years back because a house­mate bought it, but I did­n’t read fur­ther because it just did­n’t do any­thing for me. I went ahead with “Equinox,” though, because I fig­ured it was worth my time to give her anoth­er try (and some authors are bet­ter in one for­mat than anoth­er, of course). I did­n’t find it believ­able, and while this prob­a­bly sounds sil­ly, I found the premise dis­re­spect­ful to Artemis.

I should have skipped “Ride a Dark Horse” by Susan Kri­nard, since I haven’t enjoyed what I’ve read by her in the past. I was bored, though. Once again, I’m just not a romance read­er. I can enjoy sto­ries about shapeshifters and vam­pires and the like, but ask me to believe that a suc­cess­ful, intel­li­gent woman meets a caballero and pledges to love him eter­nal­ly after a few bouts of hot sex? Not on your life.

Keri Arthur’s “To Die For” starts out with two co-work­ers who have felt attrac­tion for each oth­er for some time, but the woman has been resist­ing temp­ta­tion fierce­ly. That’s fine. What hap­pened from there was­n’t, hon­est­ly. Again, I could­n’t believe it.

“Curse of the Drag­on’s Tears” by Hei­di Betts was some­what bet­ter. Yes, I liked the set­ting, a ruined Scot­tish keep. The Gyp­sy-cursed laird did bring Angel to mind, but that cer­tain­ly was­n’t the first piece of fic­tion to use such a theme. I liked the fact that the “curse” had very dif­fer­ent effects than most such things, while still pay­ing homage to an old fairy tale.

I real­ly found Lilith Saint­crow’s “Broth­er’s Keep­er” uncom­fort­able, and while I recent­ly put one of her Dante Valen­tine books on my “to read” list, I may take it off if this sto­ry is typ­i­cal. The main char­ac­ter is way, way more con­flict­ed about sex than Lau­rell Hamil­ton’s Ani­ta Blake ever was in her ear­ly nov­els, but she has (to me) even less rea­son to be that way, and there’s hon­est­ly no excuse for how she treats her part­ner.

“(Like a) Vir­gin of the Spring” by Susan Size­more and Denise Lit­tle was great fun, espe­cial­ly when I start­ed not­ing the Arthuri­an ref­er­ences. It put me in mind of a cou­ple of Con­nie Willis’ nov­els, in a good way.

Car­rie Vaughn’s “Life is the Teacher” returns to D.C., and two char­ac­ters from Kit­ty Goes to Wash­ing­ton. It’s good to fol­low up on what hap­pened to Emma, and this is the first time we’ve had a close look at vam­pires in her uni­verse. Not a bad sto­ry at all.

I don’t know that I’ve read any­thing by Lin­da Win­stead Jones before. “Moon­light Becomes You” isn’t a bad intro­duc­tion, although again, I’m not a romance read­er, and the instant eter­nal love thing is hard for me to take. I liked the lit­tle plot twist, though.

Kim Har­ri­son is back in the Hol­lows world for “Dirty Mag­ic,” but this time nei­ther Rachel nor Ivey are in the sto­ry. Hope, a ban­shee we met briefly in one of her nov­els, is the main char­ac­ter this time. Again, it isn’t a com­fort­able sto­ry, and I was­n’t hap­py with the end­ing. It felt “true,” though, in the sense that I could believe in what the char­ac­ters did and why.

Over­all, yes, I can rec­om­mend this anthol­o­gy!

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