January 16, 2010

Book Review: Must Love Hellhounds by Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook

Another book review.... by ~S

Ri-i-i-ght, so I've been told that I might need to provide a little more introduction to my fabulous (adjective added by me) meanderings about books. While I am really a character driven reader and could-in some ways-care less about the plot (yes, we're back to my need for witty banter), I am willing to try and give the people what they want. So this week's book is Must Love Hellhounds, a compilation including novellas by Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, and Ilona Andrews. Except for Harris' offering, these stories are all Urban Romantasy and based in the worlds already established by the authors as far as I can tell. Harris' story is fantasy and had the weakest connection to her other novels. My overall opinion is favorable, and I am not sorry I spent some of my book budget to purchase this book.

Now let's be serious. . . I bought this collection for the story by Andrews, Magic Mourns, as I love-love-love her stories. I was unsure what to expect but was very happy to have a story that came in after Magic Strikes and was about Raphael and Andrea taking care of a supernatural problem while Kate is recovering. While the story felt somewhat contrived, I enjoyed learning a bit more about both Raphael and Andrea. Was it mind blowing? Would I have cared so much if I weren't a fan of the Kate Daniels books? No. Was I far more interested in Kate's recuperative reading choices and who could dispose of Persephone's apples? Was I okay with using this as a quick fix until Magic Bleeds comes out? Oh yes and I was even grateful. It's just too bad that Andrews couldn't have written an Edge story and this story and then connected with maybe Mark Del Franco and Linnea Sinclair rather than Harris and Singh to round this compilation out. 

My second choice was Brook's Blind Spot where the leads attempt to solve a kidnapping. In the past I had avoided her books since they keep being described as erotic. I have to admit I am opposed to books considered erotic. Don't get me wrong. . . I don't prudishly care that they're on bookshelves. I just know I don't care to find the leads using the "c" word or discussing their love interest's rosebud of an asshole (authors-you know who you are). Nor do I need multiple pages of thrusting, completion, and descriptions (often fruit based) of nipples. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised. The sexual situations didn't overtake the story, the characters, or act as the major motivation for the action. Plus, in this story, I (finally) developed a deep affection for Sir Pup, the actual hellhound. I'll also point out that I enjoyed this story enough that I am considering trying one of Brook's Guardian novels - even though I am usually opposed to angel/vampire/demon stories (sorry Singh). 

Now to discuss the remaining stories... 

I wasn't too excited to read them, but hey, they were in the book, and it was on my book stack conveniently located next to my bed. I started with Harris' story, The Britlingens Go to Hell, because the description on the back cover appealed to me more than the remaining story. The good news for me was that this was not a story propelled by the success of Sookie Stackhouse (Surprise, surprise—I strongly dislike the books and the TV series although I do like Harris' Harper Connelly books). It was also nice that the story focused on the problems of traveling in hell to retrieve a stolen object. The romance was limited to learning who Clovache is "knocking helmets" with and learning Batanya connects with their supernaturally endowed client, Crick. The bad news: it was kind of boring, Lucifer wasn't exactly the Prince of Evil, and hell could have been anywhere - perhaps some bad S&M club? I was simply unmoved. 

This stayed the case as I read Singh's story, Angel's Judgment. I had never read her novels and was pretty sure I wasn't interested in a story about angels and vampires. Yeah for me, I was right. I didn't care. Now, I'm not saying it was a bad story or that the search for the mysterious killer was poorly thought out. Mostly, I just didn't like any of the characters enough to care how the story resolved. The story could have been any story about a rogue vampire and sexy hunters. The hunky hero gets together with the spunky heroine.  What a shock.

So, my overall judgment?

A 50% love of hellhounds is not half bad.

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425229599
ISBN-13: 978-0425229590
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches

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