Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, Mina Khan
Date of Publication: September 29, 2015
Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.
MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine
Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he’s been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won’t let him turn it down. He owes her that much … since his partner’s a ghost, and he’s the one who killed her. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.
FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden
PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and…a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…
DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Megan Hart
When the devil starts the music, you’d better get ready to dance.
Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success…everything she’s ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil’s bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil’s started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.
THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson
Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her? An all-new novella set in the Sentinels of New Orleans multiverse.
HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy, a Twelve Kingdoms novella
A dark fairytale retelling of a princess robbed of rank, husband and even her name.
Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix….With broken vows, anguish and dark secrets between them, Cavan and Nix struggle to find the magic to restore what’s gone terribly wrong… if it ever can be.
THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan, a Djinn World novella
A paranormal Cinderella story with a young witch as the heroine and a wicked, sexy djinn instead of a fairy godmother….Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl?
Dark Secrets—A Paranormal Noir Anthology
I had the honor to read the ARC for Dark Secrets—A Paranormal Noir Anthology. I will admit—I’m a big fan of Megan Hart. Years ago, I found one of her erotic romance novels and a love for the sub-genre began. So, when posed with the option of reviewing an anthology in which she had a story, I knew I’d be disappointed if I let my busy life make me say no. And with that, I have now been introduced to five other talented authors: Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy and Mina Khan.
Anthologies are special—a collection of short stories or novelettes with a common theme. I enjoy reading anthologies—in part—for this reason. Sometimes the theme is completely obvious and there’s no question what the common thread will be. Other times, you have to read the stories in order to decipher what that commonality is.
Dark Secrets—A Paranormal Noir Anthology appears on its surface to announce its theme. Paranormal Noir, right? But I beg to differ. Yes, each story has its paranormal element. A ghost. A vampire. Faeries. A djinn. Magic. The devil—for crying out loud. But after reading the six stories, I found the thread woven between all the stories dealt with more than just the preternatural. Each story dove into the concept of free will. Each hero and heroine had to make difficult choices as to whether to succumb to the darkness or find a better way. Whether that was intentional by the six authors, I know not. But it was beautifully knitted through these very unique tales.
Marion, Missing by Rachel Caine
This story delves into the darkest depths of human beings to where despicable atrocities can be rendered. Warren Valentine is a private investigator wallowing in guilt and grief over the loss of his partner, Tilde Sands. She’d been killed in a heinous manner while investigating a case. His guilt is causing him to close down the PI office until he gets a visit from Tilde’s relatives asking for his assistance in finding their granddaughter, who has gone missing. Initially, he refuses the case. He’s closing down shop. But a visit from Tilde’s ghost forces the detective on the case he feels will be the end of him—for real.
Throughout the story, the author drags us through the darkness of a human soul as we find out what Tilde had been investigating before her death. Warren’s love for his partner and his need to end the horribleness of the crimes makes him a powerful hero. Does he solve the crime or join Tilde in the other world? I will not say. My only wish is that there had been a prologue giving the reader some glimpse into Tilde and Warren before the actual story takes place. But the story is written well and gravely intriguing.
Femme Fatale by Cynthia Eden
Though I am not the largest paranormal reader, I am a fan of vamps. This story involves a private investigator—Mick Swayne and a vampire—Savannah. Savannah sought out Mick to help in solving the murders of two men completely drained of blood and dumped at Navy Pier—or so we are led to believe. Clearly, it seems like a vampire has gone haywire. But do the humans believe in vamps? This story is filled with all sorts of twists and turns—introducing the rogue vamp—Kale Vargas, who has had an intimate relationship with the heroine, and a mortal bartender—Will Mato.
Mick and Savannah’s attraction to each other is immediate and palpable. We learn that Savannah turns to Mick for a reason—more than just seeking his help in solving the murders. However, the relationship between Kale and Savannah is not explored enough for the reader to really feel their prior connection or its importance to this story. And Will Mato initially seems superfluous—a little background on him would have been beneficial in making his character more pronounced. With the complexity of the relationships between the characters, this story could easily be worked into a full length novel. The writing is good and fast paced, which makes for an easy read, but as a reader, I wanted a little more.
Dance with the Devil by Megan Hart
Kathleen Murphy is a famous best-selling author. She flounders in self-hatred and disgust. Her marriage fell apart. She has a distant relationship with her daughter. She drowns in alcohol. She believes she sold her soul to the devil for her fame and fortune—doing his biding for fear of losing herself completely. But did she sell her soul? And if so, for what exactly?
Jake enters her life—though initially rebuffed because Kathleen can’t seem to bring herself to allow Jake to be exposed to the devil and his deeds. But soon happiness begins to make its appearance and Kathleen doesn’t know what to do about the devil and his meddling. Can she break free from the devil and be happy? I truly enjoyed this tale as we sometimes find ourselves in certain situations thinking we are there for one reason-did the devil make us do it?- and find out—in fact—we are there because of something else entirely.
The Consort by Suzanne Johnson
Liandra, daughter of Caeme the Metalworker, becomes the consort of Prince Florian—who is looking to take over the throne with his vicious ways. Being traded to Florian by her father for a foal, Lia slips through the faerie veil into the human world of New Orleans in order to escape the torture of Florian. But never having been in the human world leaves her scared and lonely and hunted—as no one makes Prince Florian look the fool.
Faulkner Hearne is the owner of the Hunt Club in New Orleans and has blended into the human world. Underneath the outward appearance of his club, Faulk runs the Fae Hunters, which brings back faerie escapees to the Fae world. And now he’s on the hunt for Prince Florian’s consort, Lia—who he eventually recognizes as the girl that intrigued him before he left the fae world. Will he return Lia to Florian or protect her at all costs?
This was one of the more fascinating stories as I don’t have much experience in the faerie world. It was beautifully described so that the reader could easily visualize it. This was more of a picturesque story than anything else for me. I enjoyed reading about this world, its people and the magic of it.
Heart’s Blood by Jeffe Kennedy
All is not as it seems on the shores of Erie and Prince Cavan knows it so. An arranged marriage between kingdoms, Prince Cavan needs to consummate his marriage to Princess Natilde. What’s so hard about that? He can’t stand the princess and her hateful demeanor, yet he’s drawn to her servant, Nix and her magical horse Falada, that escorted Natilde to Erie.
On the journey to Erie, Nix—the real princess—is beaten and battered by a woman posing as a servant. This woman impersonates Natilde and forces her to live a life of peasantry. But the new Natilde’s jealousy over Cavan’s obvious attraction and concern of Nix causes her to reveal her true self.
This story was well written—the emotions of Nix and Cavan so greatly portrayed. I enjoyed the storyline and the character development. Some of the most real characters in this collection of stories. I did feel that the woman posing as Natilde was somewhat one dimensional and we never really understand what drives her to do the things she did. How did she come about meeting Nix? Was there a deeper reason for her doing what she did to Nix? Her intentions would have been most welcome to round out the story. But otherwise, quite the tale.
The Djinn in the Mirror by Mina Khan
I’ll be honest—I had to look up the term djinn. I wasn’t familiar with it at all. As I learned, it has its origin in Islamic mythology—dealing with spirits that are capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing people for either good or not.
Ashmael is the Djinn damned to be stuck in the mirror by Dahlia’s ancestors. He’s been there a long time and only Dahlia can release him. She’s introduced to Ashmael by her djinn friend, Rasputin—a cat, who is trying to save her from the evils of her step-father, Edgar and his witchery ways.
Dahlia can’t seem to explain the attraction she has to Ashmael, but for the first time in her life she feels alive, which is why she releases Ashmael with hopes that he will willingly help her get away from her step-father. Having been locked in the mirror for all those years, Ashmael first must find his family in the Djinn world and make a mends for his absence—but his attraction to Dahlia is compelling and he finds himself torn. Will he make it back to Dahlia before her step-father’s magic ruins her?
Though I found a few small inconsistencies in the story’s facts about the characters, the author told a tale of magic in all its forms with true romantic elements.
Dark Secrets—A Paranormal Noir Anthology is worth the read—whether a fan of paranormal or not. Though please be warned, some of these stories are not for the faint of heart. There is action, romance, sex, history and mystery. A great combination of stories from a great combination of authors for 4 Silver Buckles!
About the Authors:
Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than 45 novels that span the categories of horror, suspense, urban fantasy, science fiction, media tie-in, historical, and young adult. She’s also the author of more than 100 short stories.
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.
Megan Hart is a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author who writes in many genres including mainstream fiction, erotic fiction, science fiction, romance, fantasy and horror.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, winner of the 2015 Holt Medallion and the 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner for romantic suspense. Her new Wildlife Wardens romantic suspense series begins in 2016 with Wild Man’s Bluff.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, the fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms, and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under. The first of the Twelve Kingdoms books, The Mark of the Tala, has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Award-winning author Mina Khan grew up in Bangladesh on stories of djinns, ghosts and monsters. These childhood fancies now color her fiction. She daydreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic, mayhem and mischief and writes them down as stories. She is the author of the Djinn World Chronicles, including The Djinn’s Dilemma and A Tale of Two Djinns, as well as Wildfire, a paranormal mystery with cowboys and dragons.