Fantasy, bear shifters, and a whole lot of magic is what you get in the
appropriately titled THE SECRET SHE
KEEPS. These four long novellas can be read in any order, as they
are not interconnected.
SHADOW OF TRUTH by Shannon K. Butcher
What if your childhood imaginary friend was real? That's what video
game designer Winnifred Archer finds out when she meets Garet
Hartwell. SHADOW OF TRUTH is a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy,
and the author's vivid descriptions fill the pages with vibrant images.
Shannon K. Butcher clearly and concisely establishes her world, and I
was immediately sucked in even though fantasy is not usually my thing.
The romance is based on the fated mates concept; Garet and
Winnifred's relationship seems more of a lust-fueled partnership to
unite their forces against evil than true love, but they certainly have
sexual chemistry to spare!
BAD ASS BEAR by Kathy Lyons
She loves him, he loves her, so what's stopping them? Boy, are you in
for a treat! Now I know for a fact that Kathy Lyons is my favourite
shifter romance author! BAD ASS BEAR reads like a complete
standalone, while still tied to the Grizzlies Gone Wild series. Not one to
shy away from complex situations, Ms. Lyons surprised me again in
tackling some interesting issues, therefore lifting shifter romance yet to
another level. BAD ASS BEAR is intense, emotional, tender, and
completely mind-blowing where the conflict is concerned. There are
some wonderful laugh-out-loud moments, and the banter between
Gary and Margaret is priceless! Kathy Lyons never ceases to awe me
with her boundless creativity, always taking things just a little further
than anyone else, and in such a flawless fashion.
Gary and Margaret are both wonderful characters; their relationship
from the start is so loving and feels so authentic. It was truly gratifying
to watch the romance unfold; they are so attuned to each other, they
really care. Two very different difficult situations are handled very
realistically, and one is truly scary. Some secondary characters are
simply wonderful: Gary's father, Ray, and the unflappable Vic. And BAD
ASS BEAR is so beautifully written, it's all so awesome. Kathy Lyons has
cornered the market on intelligent shifter romances.
NOWHERE TO HIDE by Terri L. Austin
After three years on the run, Hailey Evans knew that someone was
watching her, but this time it wasn't her enemies: Vane Aldridge, a
sorcerer and telekinetic, is on her side. It takes some serious writing
skills to parachute a reader into an unknown world and make it seem
instantly familiar. The foreboding atmosphere, stunning visuals, and
clever dialogues contribute to make this novella a smashing success. I
loved Hailey's voice and spirit, and Vane was just as impressive. I tend
to shun magic-themed stories because I feel authors often underuse
what lies at their disposition, which is not the case here. Ms. Austin's
world is exciting, the magic intriguing, and the romance is delightful
and entirely believable precisely because of the author's terrific use of
the characters' supernatural powers. NOWHERE TO HIDE is absolutely
SHARDS OF LIGHT by Anna Argent
SHARDS OF LIGHT was a bit of a letdown following the fireworks of the
previous stories. I felt too much time was spent on talking, reminiscing
about the past, and basically being in Dex and Lark's heads. It felt very
static, there was precious little action per se until the very end.
SHARDS OF LIGHT felt either as a prequel or the first installment of a
series in establishing the world and introducing various characters. The
magical concept is interesting, the villain quite innovative, the author
descriptions shine throughout, but the slower pace clashed with the
other three stories, and left me a tad deflated.
The beauty of anthologies such as this one is having yet another story
by a favorite author, in my case Kathy Lyons with yet another
outstanding story, and discovering new authors. I consider THE SECRET SHE KEEPS a winner
because I discovered Terri L. Austin's exceptional talent in a genre that
is often a miss for me.
Four novellas filled with passion, magic and deep, dark
Shadow of Truth by Shannon K. Butcher
Socially awkward nerd and video game designer Winnifred
Archer has a rich fantasy life. So, when a badass,
sword-wielding warrior decides he wants her, she’s not sure
whether or not he’s real. She’s not equipped her to handle a
man like him, or the things he wants from her, but she must
find a way to face her fears and fight by his side or she
will lose everyone she loves.
Bad Ass Bear by Kathy Lyons
Hiding from the secret that ended her last relationship,
flight attendant Margaret Taylor settled for the next best
thing to love: a friends-only status with her handsome,
paraplegic neighbor, Gary Baldner. But Gary has a secret,
too. It’s about to break free, upend their worlds, and bring
them both perfect happiness.
Nowhere to Hide by Terri L. Austin
Running for her life, Hailey managed to escape from the
psychotic billionaire who imprisoned and tortured her. Now
using her secret clairvoyant powers, she’s trying to stay
one step ahead of certain death. Sexy sorcerer, Vane, has a
duty to take down Hailey’s enemy, even if it means using her
Shards of Light by Anna Argent
When Lark witnesses a bizarre murder, a decade-old secret
resurfaces and forces her to find her old flame. Dex is no
longer the easygoing guy she knew. He’s dark, deadly and
involved with a secret society that believes magic is real
and hunts down those who abuse it. As their passion
reignites, Dex must find a way to keep the darkness in his
life from touching Lark or he will end up just like the
things he hunts.