is one of two anthologies of short stories benefiting the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-tas, and its sister anthology Summer Breeze
doesn’t come close to its sizzling fire! Some readers prefer novels to short stories, but I find anthologies a wonderful way to discover authors. It was a distinct pleasure to read new-to-me authors BJ Thornton and Debra Anastasia, as well as enter different worlds created by more familiar authors Lisa Sanchez, Robin DeJarnett, Jessica McQuinn, and Kasi Alexander.New Flame
by BJ Thornton is perfect for this charity anthology because it features breast cancer survivor Shae. She’s been through a harrowing journey of treatment, and is determined to reclaim her body, wrestling it back from cancer’s death grip. What better way to do that than get a fabulous tattoo? Listen to the description of this amazing tattoo:
“The uppermost tip of a wing grazed her delicate collarbone, and the detail arched down over her mastectomy scar. He had inked another wing on the back of her shoulder. The two met under her right arm to make a female figure that stretched down her side. But from the front or the back, Shae would simply have wings hugging a hurt place.”
Wow. Lucky for Shae, her tattoo artist Harley is just what the doctor ordered. After sharing so much time creating the warrior masterpiece on her skin, he asks her out to dinner, and their romance takes flight. I really enjoyed their interesting banter—I never knew what to expect from either character. Like the butterfly tattoo Shae initially wanted, Harley is able to help her emerge from her hoodie cocoon, spreading her wings to fly. Truly a beautiful story.
Check out my interview with BJ here
Next is Starstruck
by Lisa Sanchez. Amberly gets a flat tire and handsome boy “T” stops to help her out. She’s been unlucky in love but has a blind date that evening, and he’s so smoking gorgeous she wishes he could be her date. They’re changing the tire when a brilliant meteor crashes nearby. Deciding to check out the crash site, T encourages Amberly to make a wish on the “fallen star”. That’s when the meteor explodes, covering them in green goo and turning the story into an other-worldly romance.
I liked how we got both Amberly and T’s perspectives, and T’s mysterious identity makes for a great ending. Lisa’s writing is sexy and fun.
Next up is Shackled
by Debra Anastasia. My friends know that I have a thing
for men in shackles *blushes* so I was eager to read this story and it did not disappoint! I have Debra’s novel Crushed Seraphim
waiting for me on my Nook and I can’t wait to get to it after sampling her awesome writing in this story. I loved it!
Aeliea is a bitchy real-life princess who gets whatever she wants and kills whoever she wants, especially when she’s PMSing (hee hee). She’s about to order the death of an innocent woman when the woman’s grown son steps forward, sacrificing himself to take her place. Markus definitely catches Aeliea’s eye:
“He locked his deep green eyes on Aelia. He was tall and well-muscled. His hair was too long and disheveled, but his jaw was strong and his confidence was huge. The hate in his eyes glowed.”
Aeliea orders Markus to be shackled and brought to the castle as her new boy toy. Her threats to kill him mean nothing to him, and she’s shocked he won’t bow down to her. The sexual tension is thick, though Aeliea won’t stoop to consider a commoner and Markus would rather die than touch her. My favorite stories involve characters growing and changing, and when Markus says “You know you don’t have to be like this. You could change. If you could find even one drop of sensitivity…” I got excited. Can Aeliea develop some empathy for those she rules? If anyone can teach her how to love, it’s Markus.Concessions
by Robin DeJarnett is next on tap. Her romantic suspense novel Whirlwind
was fantastic and I couldn’t wait to read her foray into paranormal romance. The story features Lindsey, a bored young adult concessions worker at a movie theater in Las Vegas. The typical customers for matinees are local Goths who dress head-to-toe in black despite the intense heat of the city. One such Goth is Clyde, who takes Lindsey back to the control room and begins kissing her. His kisses make her remember that he’s really Devon, sexy vampire, gradually turning her into a vampire as well. His gentle bite mixes their blood and erases her memory until their next rendezvous.
I love the idea of Goths as hidden vampires, and once again Robin weaves an interesting story around family relationships, creepy bad guys, and sweet romance.
Do you want some men in uniform? I know I do! Jessica McQuinn delivers them to you in her playful revenge story Big Guns
. It’s the end of a long training day for a SWAT team and they head to a bar in Santa Monica to blow off some steam. Team leader Flynn orders cocky newbie AJ to buy a round of drinks for the group. AJ disrespectfully mouths off that he’ll be the leader soon and can get any woman he wants in the bar. To teach him a lesson, Flynn and Clark cook up a plan for Clark’s girlfriend Brea (also secretly SWAT) to seduce AJ then take him down a notch.Big Guns
was fun and sexy, with a steamy romance between Clark and Brea and some poignant moments thrown in as well. Who doesn’t want to see an arrogant maverick get what’s coming to him?
Finally Kasi Alexander explores some spicy kink in her story It’s Only Kinky the First Time
. Rutger invites Jessie to a fetish event in Denver. Knowing close to nothing about the BDSM lifestyle, Jessie takes the plunge and flies there from Michigan. Luckily Rutger is sweet and charming, handsomely dominant but respectful. He gradually introduces her to the community, making sure she is okay to proceed with each step. He moves so slowly he practically has Jessie begging for his touch!
It struck me how clear and direct the communication can be in a fetish relationship. Rutger has Jessie read a book before she meets him, and actually has a list of potential BDSM activities he reviews with her at dinner, checking her consent to try each one. Some vanilla types might think asking “Is it okay if I kiss you now?” can pour cold water over a sizzling romantic moment, but I think it’s pretty cool to make sure each partner is consenting to physical touch. Lord knows miscommunication runs rampant in romantic relationships.
I highly recommend Heat Wave
as an engrossing, fun summer read, and a wonderful way to meet new authors.