Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

Fantasy in Death (In Death, #30) Fan­ta­sy in Death by J.D. Robb

My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
Fan­ta­sy in Death is an inter­est­ing take on the death-by-gam­ing plot that has pre­vi­ous­ly been done by a cou­ple of fan­ta­sy and sci­ence fic­tion authors, most notably in Niv­en and Barnes’ Dream Park series. I doubt that most of Rob­b’s read­ers will be famil­iar with the oth­er books, as they’re prob­a­bly com­ing from the romance world (cross­ing over from her Nora Roberts titles) instead of the sci­ence fic­tion genre. Con­tin­ue read­ing “Review: Fan­ta­sy in Death by J.D. Robb”

Review: Suite 606 by J.D. Robb (and company)

Suite 606 Suite 606 by J.D. Robb

My review

rat­ing: 1 of 5 stars
I only read the sto­ry by J.D. Robb. I glanced at the oth­er three, but they’re pri­mar­i­ly romance sto­ries, which do NOT inter­est me.

The whole point of these lit­tle antholo­gies is to intro­duce read­ers who enjoy an estab­lished author’s work to oth­er, sim­i­lar authors, right? 

I know that J.D. Robb is a pen name for Nora Roberts. I know that the sto­ries she pub­lish­es as NR are romances. If I saw an anthol­o­gy anchored by an NR sto­ry, I’d expect it to be full of romances.

How­ev­er, I don’t read the NR stuff. I only read her JDR books, which have a lit­tle roman­tic spice about the main char­ac­ter, Eve Dal­las, and her hus­band Roarke, with occa­sion­al glimpses into Eve’s part­ner, Peabody’s, rela­tion­ship with her guy, McNab. That’s it, though. Nei­ther of those sets of rela­tion­ships are the focal point of the plots. The mystery/crime is the main thing, and while they’re set in the future with the advan­tages of tech­nol­o­gy we don’t yet have, they’re essen­tial­ly police pro­ce­du­rals. (I don’t con­sid­er them SF, quite, because all the tech seems to be extrap­o­lat­ed from what we have now, and quite plau­si­ble. And, of course, the tech isn’t the point of the sto­ries, either.)

So why not put sim­i­lar sto­ries in an anthol­o­gy anchored by a JDR sto­ry? Why why why? Mis­lead­ing and dis­ap­point­ing read­ers is NOT the way to gar­ner any pos­i­tive buzz for the less­er-known authors, and the back­lash can lead to less enthu­si­asm from estab­lished read­ers (like me) for the estab­lished author’s work.

View all my reviews.

Review: Bump in the Night by J.D. Robb, et al.

cover of Bump in the Night
This para­nor­mal romance anthol­o­gy con­tains four novel­las. I’d nev­er heard of three of the authors, but I haven’t real­ly looked to see what else they’ve writ­ten, either.1 They may be well-known to romance fans. I fell into read­ing J.D. Rob­b’s books because of the sci­ence fiction/mystery angle, and did­n’t ini­tial­ly know that J.D. Robb is a pseu­do­nym for well-known romance author Nora Roberts.2 Her romances may be great, but I’m not inter­est­ed in them. I’m actu­al­ly get­ting pret­ty damned tired of the para­nor­mal romance thing, but since any­body who writes them seems to be able to get a book con­tract, I doubt they’ll stop flood­ing the mar­ket any time soon. I try to stick to the ones that have more plot than romance, but some­times it’s hard to tell where a book will fall. Lau­rell Hamil­ton, for instance, began writ­ing real­ly good dark fan­ta­sy books that got a lit­tle sexy, and now she’s writ­ing romance nov­els that hap­pen to have vam­pires and were­crit­ters in them.3

It’s often said that we read fic­tion to get more of some­thing that’s miss­ing in our lives. I’m gift­ed with a part­ner who is one of the most roman­tic, lov­ing peo­ple in this world, and, to be blunt, we have a great, um, pri­vate life, which may explain why I don’t find romances or erot­i­ca much of a draw. I don’t have many mys­ter­ies or much out-and-out adven­ture in my life (thank­ful­ly!), so I enjoy read­ing about them in fic­tion­al char­ac­ters’ lives—especially if they take place in set­tings com­plete­ly unlike my own world.

Any­way, on to the review.

The book opens with “Haunt­ed in Death” by J.D. Robb, which her read­ers will imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize as an Eve Dal­las sto­ry4 Robb/Roberts is a pro, and the sto­ry is a decent read. But! Is it just me, or are the Eve-Roarke fights and rec­on­cil­i­a­tions get­ting more and more bor­ing? They’re always about the same thing!

“Pop­py’s Coin” by Mary Blayney was my favorite of this anthol­o­gy. Yes, it was obvi­ous from the cou­ple’s first encounter how the rela­tion­ship would go, but that’s the way it is with the entire romance genre, isn’t it? I might actu­al­ly look for more of Blayney’s work at some point. After look­ing at her web site, I don’t think I’ll be read­ing any of her nov­els. I learned that there’s anoth­er anthol­o­gy fea­tur­ing these same four authors, Dead of Night, and that the pub­lish­er has con­tract­ed them for a third vol­ume, as yet unnamed. Blayney’s piece in the sec­ond col­lec­tion seems to be con­nect­ed with “Pop­py’s Coin,” so I’ll prob­a­bly take a look at it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, hav­ing read this one sto­ry and the descrip­tions of her nov­els, it seems that she’s stuck in some­thing of a rut. I can’t say more with­out giv­ing spoil­ers for this sto­ry, so I’ll leave it to you to vis­it her site if you want to know more.

Ruth Ryan Lan­gan’s “The Pas­sen­ger” was okay, I guess. Maybe. Some­thing about the male pro­tag­o­nist set my teeth on edge right away, and I would have kicked his oh-so-self-assured butt out of my abode as soon as he referred to him­self by his famous moniker. Then again, I’d also tell the female lead to put on her big girl panties and get on her with life, as she comes across as way too emo for my tastes. Lan­gan needs to remem­ber to “show, not tell.” I might have giv­en her a bit of a pass in a short sto­ry, but this is a novel­la. She had plen­ty of word-count in which to show us some­thing pos­i­tive about her char­ac­ters, instead of label­ing them.

I near­ly stopped read­ing the book when I got to “Mel­low Lemon Yel­low” by Mary Kay McCo­mas. I was total­ly dis­in­ter­est­ed in read­ing about anoth­er whiny chick, right after Lan­gan’s sto­ry. I did­n’t feel any con­nec­tion at all. I fin­ished out of sheer dogged­ness, and will prob­a­bly for­get the sto­ry and the author very quick­ly. I can hope, anyway.

If you’re a com­pletist, as I am, and you read the In Death books, you’ll want to read this vol­ume. If I col­lect­ed the nov­els5, I’d buy this one used if at all pos­si­ble. As it is, I’m glad I checked it out of the library instead of invest­ing any mon­ey in it.

1 Well, I had­n’t done so before I began writ­ing this review. I looked up their web sites to link to them, obviously.

2 Well-known to romance fans, any­way. I had­n’t heard of her before read­ing the Robb books. Come to think of it, the first thing I read by Robb was anoth­er anthol­o­gy, Out of This World, which I picked up because of the Ani­ta Blake novel­la in it. That was before I real­ized that all such novel­las are real­ly the first chunk of Hamil­ton’s next nov­el, and if I read them it spoils some of the plea­sure I’d oth­er­wise find in that novel.

3 I con­sid­er the Ani­ta Blake books to be her first nov­els. That hor­rid Night­seer thing is just a bad tran­scrip­tion of some­body’s role­play­ing cam­paign. If I were Hamil­ton, I would have acquired and destroyed every copy in exis­tence, then prayed that the world would for­get about it.

4 They’re all enti­tled “(some­thing) in Death.”

5 I don’t, as I don’t antic­i­pate ever want­i­ng to re-read them.


I just fin­ished read­ing Born in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts). It’s the lat­est in the Eve Dal­las series and a good read. I took a break from The Star Scroll, part of Melanie Rawn’s Drag­on Prince series, to read the Robb book. The series is good, and I enjoy Rawn’s writ­ing, but I went straight into this series after read­ing the first two books of her Exiles of Ambrai series, so I need­ed a break and took one when the library called to say that BiD was available.

I have to say, though, that I’m more than slight­ly put out over the Exiles of Ambrai series. I got these books through some­one on Freecy­cle, and I could have sworn that I made sure I had all the books of the series before I began read­ing them. I read book one, The Ruins of Ambrai, and went imme­di­ate­ly into book 2, The Mage­born Trai­tor. They were won­der­ful! Then I could­n’t actu­al­ly put my hands on book three. No prob­lem, I thought. I should be able to buy it, right? Vol­umes one and two were put out in 1994 and 1997, respec­tive­ly. Sure­ly book three, The Cap­tal’s Tow­er has been out for years by now!

Um, no. And it does­n’t real­ly seem very like­ly that it will be out. I real­ize it isn’t some­thing Rawn did on pur­pose or would have cho­sen, but dammit, I want the rest of the sto­ry NOW! This is why I usu­al­ly try so hard not to read series that haven’t been ful­ly pub­lished! I mean, the Eve Dal­las series isn’t a series in the same sense as the Exiles series is–each book stands alone. There are some issues that were car­ried over from one book to the next, espe­cial­ly in ear­li­er nov­els. But you could pick up any of them and be sat­is­fied by the book itself. The Exiles sto­ry has been left hang­ing. The arc is unfin­ished. Fan­ta­sy trilo­gies are dif­fer­ent than detective/mystery series. They just are.