Overall Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
This anthology features stories by Carol Lynne, Amber Kell, TA Chase, Jambrea Jo Jones, and Devon Rhodes; the stories are tied together by a common setting, a paranormal club/bar in San Diego named Unconventional.
Fate’s Bridge by Carol Lynne – 2.75 stars
Vampire Roman Gschwind discovers the soul of his lost love inside the body of another. Having promised not to turn his love, he has no choice but to allow his brother Alexi to do so in order to save his life. But now he must decide if he’s willing to share his love with another vampire in order to rekindle what he lost?
This one started well, but quickly became disjointed for me. This story has quite a lot of M/M/M sex and very little buildup of sexual tension beforehand, which made it a bit flat for me. There wasn’t a lot of character development, especially of Alexi, and that combined with lower levels of UST than I prefer kept me from forming a connection to the characters. Reincarnation is an interesting theme, so I was looking forward to that aspect. Julian and Roman’s story was touching, and the ending gave it such a bittersweet twist that it made me teary. But I think the story suffered because of length and moving too fast, especially at the beginning.
Coming in Third by Amber Kell – 3.5 stars
Niall is a fae prince who’s fifth in line for the throne, and his mother wants him wed. When Niall sneaks out of the palace to fulfill a fantasy of having two men, he winds up at Unconventional faced with a pair of lion shifters looking to spice up their love life. After a night with him, Jovan and Luka’s shifter instincts tell them the innocent fae could be their long sought mate—the one fated to be theirs. But Niall’s guards cart him back to the palace and a possible arranged marriage. Will the shifters go after him or let it be the one-night stand Niall had offered?
For those who might be bothered by it, be aware that this one has some abuse (past/off page) both from Niall’s domineering, controlling mother and the guards who string him up and whip him at his mother’s instructions. Niall is a magical fae, but the bindings his guards use strip away his magic. This is a case of an established couple bringing in a third who had been search for exactly such a situation, hence no jealousy or angst. I loved that Niall glowed when sated, and that despite being small, he was strong both physically and mentally (the former because of his magic). A cute story with some interesting world details and a satisfying ending. Some humor in this one. Also some rather weird metaphor use, some of which worked for me and others which totally didn’t.
The Unicorn Said Yes by T.A. Chase – 3 stars
Ivan Brusilov, king of the unicorns, goes to Unconventional for a drink and meets Carney Ferguson—a twenty-five year old human virgin. Turns out that innocence, and hence virgins, are irresistible to unicorns! But there are darker forces at work and neither Ivan nor Carney are safe and things are not as they seem.
This was cute at first but got to be confusing at parts. There was an awful lot of telling vs showing and some repetitiveness. I found it strange that they were both so into the Kinsey scale enough to have known their exact number ratings. I enjoyed Carney’s brother Jordan quite a bit. Many things about the way the story as a whole was told didn’t work so well for me, but the premise was quite unique and interesting and the tension and intrigue in the latter half was well done.
‘Blood on the Moon’ by Jambrea Jo Jones – 3.75 stars
Montague Ramey is a witch seeking exciting in his boring everyday life. Then came the night the moon turned red and his life changed. Kishar Nichelson’s is an incubus whose motorcycle ended up in a ditch on the road at midnight under the red moon and then stalled out on him. Someone’s after him, but he can’t remember what happened exactly and he’s weak from lack of sex that its hard for him to think. Can a witch and an incubus find love and solve a mystery on the night of the blood moon?
Montague is a rather sad, mousy man at the start of this story. And not really very appealing. This story, like the one before, had lots of telling vs showing at the start, but I liked how it tied in some characters from prior stories. There was a contradiction that bothered me and took me out of the story early on–him wishing out loud for something exciting to happen in one sentence and cowering from having even said it out loud in the next. Huh? BUT… Kishar, on the other hand, was quite interesting from the start. An incubus who chooses to feed his need for sex with other paranormals rather than harm the delicate, fragile humans. And once the two are together, it starts to work for me. The head-hopping made it a bit hard to follow at parts, but I enjoyed seeing both characters grow and change once they found each other. Overall, it was a bit playful with some nice action and a sweet HEA.
A Sliver of Sunset by Devon Rhodes – 4.25 stars
Angelo is the only paranormal known to ever have leukemia, and the doctors are mystified as to the cause. To cure himself, he must repress his shifter side with a chemical inhibitor so he can go through chemotherapy as a human. Dominic hooked up with hottest guy and spent a night having the best sex ever, but wakes to find his lover gone. A week later, he meet a new oncology patient to find the same man fighting for his life and dependent upon his care.
This is by far my favorite story in this anthology. Angelo intrigued me from when I read about him in one of the earlier stories, and I hoped we’d get more about him. Glad I was right. More than any of the other stories, this one gave a sense of being set in San Diego (where I lived for some years in the past). This anchor story of the collection also did an excellent job of tying all the stories together. I won’t give away exactly what sort of paranormal Angelo is, since that’s a fun part of the story to learn as you go. I don’t usually like to read stories in which one of the MC has cancer (or any possibly fatal disease), but this was an exception. This is well-written, well-paced and all-around enjoyable read.
The cover is appealing; picturing the cityscape and two hot guys in sunglasses, so it has a definite San Diego feel and caught my eye. However, I don’t think it gave me much of a feel for the stories within as nothing about it says paranormal.
ebook, 198 pages
Published July 11th 2015 by Pride Publishing
other editions (1)
Unconventional in San Diego