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Review: High-Octane Heroes Anthology by Various Authors + #Giveaway

High Octane Heroes: Erotic Romance for Women - Delilah Devlin, Megan Mitcham, Alice Janell, Sabrina York, Brindle Chase, Leah Ridgewood, Michael Bracken, Elle James, Christine d’Abo, Jenny Lyn, Adele Dubois, Sidney Bristol, Sharon Hamilton, Tamsin Flowers, Tahira Iqbal

Here's the short short version:

Overall there was a nice variety of occupations and scenarios. What I really love about the Cleis Press anthologies, so far, is not only the number of stories you get but also the quality writing and editing. It's great that not all stories are pure fluff. Some have more story content and/or character development than others which is usually hard to pull off in a few pages, but there is something for everyone. I've had this book for a while and I read it twice, in its entirety before I wrote this review. I am hooked, and I intend to read any and all anthologies from the Erotic Romance for Women line in the future.

If you want to read my more detailed review of each story, keep reading. I'm relatively sure I've kept it spoiler free.

One more thing:

There's also a giveaway for one print copy on my blog. Ends 11/25.

**** Detailed Review ****

 

 

#1 As You Were by Alice Janelle – Rating: 3/5

Elements: Military, M/F

An Army medic and her lover risk going against fraternization policies to engage in a little post mission R&R. - Short, maybe a bit rushed, and steamy. I liked that Laura and Tony weren’t merely friends with benefits (which is usually the case in those situations). I can’t say I agree with breaking the rules, but nevertheless they had good chemistry behind closed doors.

#2 Five-Alarm Fire by Sabrina York – Rating: 5/5

Elements: Paramedic, M/F

A matchmaking patient and her false alarms lead paramedic Luke Patterson to his perfect match. - This story was sweet and oh so hot. I loved that Trish wasn’t a heroine who played games. She finally got her wish and a date with Luke, and she wasn’t shy about letting him know just how badly she wanted him. Apparently for months. Some mind blowing sex [par for the course with Ms York] and a very sweet ending. I thought it was cute that they did the dating thing backwards.

#3 Renegade by Brindle Chase – Rating: 3/5

Elements: Cops, M/F, Suspense, Interracial

A sexy SWAT team leader saves a rookie during a bungled undercover assignment. - This was a great example of how diverse this anthology is. Renegade was an action-packed short for all the romantic suspense audience. Even though this was only a few pages long, it felt much longer. There was definitely more action than “interaction” [if you catch my drift] between the hero and heroine, but what there was of it, it was pretty hot. I enjoyed Renegade’s caveman tactics.

#4 Painted by Leah Ridgewood – Rating: 2/5

Elements: Paramedic, M/F, Interracial

A feisty Latina learns not to judge a book by its cover. - Not a bad story, but it didn’t do much for me. I got the feeling that cultural differences, as well as the social status, between the hero and heroine was played up too much. There is a reason why Latinas are often described as being feisty. In this case, Rosalia came across as petulant rather than feisty. She believed the landlord’s nephew was a spoilt, rich boy with lousy taste in women. She somehow manages to capture his interest and the rest is history. I didn’t buy the chemistry fully. Nevertheless it was still light and fluffy.

#5 Besieged by Elle James – Rating: 4/5

Elements: Elements: Military, M/F, Suspense

A Special Forces soldier rescues his lover from an embassy takeover. - A good story with a nice balance of romance and action. I really liked this couple that came across as very level-headed and mature. They knew what they wanted and just seemed like a normal couple. The action portion of the story was just enough to give us a taste of Maxwell’s desperation. What Kate did was crazy but kind of sweet. The bit with her father at the end was very sweet.

#6 Pumping Iron by Christine D’Abo – Rating: 5/5

Elements: Personal trainer (UFC fighter), M/F

Rehab and a new outlook on life give a woman the strength to confess to her personal trainer how she really feels. - I’m not entirely sure how this story fit in with the overall theme of the book, unless you look at it from the stand point that the hero saved the heroine’s self esteem and helped her get her life back. Either way, I’m used to this author’s writing and I generally love her stories. I love strong heroines who aren’t afraid to express their feelings or ask for what they want; fear of rejection be damned. I got exactly that with Lila. Kyle’s character could be best described as intense. Not a man of many words, a bit intimidating and he definitely called the shots. The best way to describe them would be that she was soft where he was hard. As in personality. Well, fine, other things too. Point is, I believed the chemistry. I love how creatively sexy Ms D’Abo can get with her sex scenes. I won’t look at a push-up in the same way ever again.

#7 Diving Deep by Jenny Lyn – Rating: 4/5

Elements: Military, M/F

Falling for the brother’s best friend was easy, but watching her Navy SEAL deploy all the time was anything but. - Great story with likable characters. I giggled at Katie’s highly unusual method of escaping the family gathering to have some privacy. I also rather enjoyed the way she was discovered by the hero, Jake. Again, this story had a heroine who wasn’t afraid to speak up, even if it meant losing the man she’d come to love. They handled their relationship maturely and in the end, the romance of the whole moment was very satisfying.

#8 Heated Negotiations by Macy Man – Rating: 3.5/5

Elements: Cops, M/F

The elite leader of the SRT has a pleasurable fight on his hands when trying to persuade the sexy but stubborn negotiator to accept his terms. - I liked the cocky leader of the Special Response Team (SRT), Donovan Wolfe, and his rather unconventional method of winning the sexy but stubborn negotiator over to his side. These were two headstrong characters and complete alphas in their respective fields. Reading about them was like watching two rams on the Discovery Channel. Imagine what the sex was like [wipes brow].

#9 Once Upon a Time in Mukdahan by Sidney Bristol – Rating: 5/5

Elements: Military, Suspense, M/F, Friends-to-lovers

A former Navy SEAL rescues his childhood friend from kidnappers. Can she save him back? - Another great story that got the balance between action and romance just right. Although the story opened right in the middle of drama, it was briefly and believably described how the hero and heroine ended up in their predicament. I also liked the element of danger that served to nudge their friendship into the something more territory. I really liked this couple. Emery for her sweetness and compassion, and Matt because he needed some TLC and reassurance that he was more than man enough for her despite his disability. It was lovely how she showed him that she could see beyond his scars. [I need a tissue].

#10 Big Guns by Michael Bracken – Rating: 3/5

Elements: FBI, Suspense, M/F

There’s more to the hired muscle than meets the eye. Will real life live up to the fantasy? - I thought the book blurb kind of gave away the twist of this story, however this was still a good read. I liked that the heroine remained unnamed. Add to that the fact that it was told in the first person, and you could easily take her place.

#11 Natural Appetites by Adele Dubois – Rating: 5/5

Elements: Paramedic, M/F

A paramedic saves a young boy’s life, not knowing how that one deed would affect so many lives, including his own. - This was probably my favorite story in terms of pacing and memorability. The characters were introduced with enough information to feel a connection. Michael was former military turned paramedic and hadn’t had much luck with girlfriends because of his job. I felt his frustration over losing his current girlfriend but not really feeling too badly about it [she wasn't good enough for him anyway. Good riddance]. Then there was Amanda, a twenty-two year old virgin, very mature for her age and an “old soul”. She was more than just a chef in this story. She saw her employers as extended family because she had no one else. That connection came across very well throughout the story. After the initial meeting, their relationship develops off page for a week before they take things to the next level. I loved how he integrated his friends and colleagues into the larger family. A very sweet and romantic story.

#12 SEAL Destiny by Sharon Hamilton – Rating: 2/5

Elements: Military, M/F

A SEAL who’s seen too much loss returns home and finds some temporary relief in the arms of a stranger. - I felt detached from this one. I suppose it was because the previous eleven stories were all (more) romantic, and the couples had a connection. This story came across as pure fantasy or a one night stand. There was hardly any dialogue except to define the boundaries for their afternoon delights; communication was handled via looks and gestures which left me a little bored. The hero was believable in his capacity, but the heroine (in the scene on the beach) came across as really young. I know Ms Hamilton has an entire SEAL series out, and I do intend to still read them.

#13 Mountain Man by Tamsin Flowers – Rating: 2/5

Elements: M/F, New Adult-ish

A dramatic rescue leads to a heated night in the cold mountains. - [I wasn't sure if it was Tamsin or Tasmin since the name in the table of contents doesn't match the name printed in the actual chapter. Oopsie. Well, now I know.] This one was just okay. Told in the first person POV from the heroine, her thoughts and Behavior made me think she was quite young. I thought the hero was a bit of a jerk. First he chastised her, then he made her cry. Then they shared body heat and …. Anyway, the ending revealed a twist that was strange. It must have been a snap decision on the hero’s part. If he had been anything but a High-Octane Hero, my alarm bells would have been ringing.

#14 The Star by Tahira Iqbal – Rating: 4/5

Elements: Military, M/F

An American Air Force pilot and a grieving British woman find solace in each other’s arms. - I enjoyed the setup of this couple; having learned about one another via the letters of the man who was the reason for their meeting in the first place. Although this wasn’t a romance per se, I came away with the feeling that maybe the connection they made that day was enough to let them try for something more in the future. [I know, I am a sap].

#15 Pitch Black by Delilah Devlin – Rating: 4/5

Elements: Cops, M/F

A prison guard rushes to save his lover during a blackout and uses the night’s events to teach her a lesson. - It probably wasn’t intentional, but I couldn’t help but notice how this last story brought the book full circle. Just like the first story, we have a couple who work in the same field and face danger together. But this one felt more raw; it was certainly more descriptive in terms of what may or may not occur in a prison when chaos reigns. The dramatic portion was a good setup for the lesson Danny intended to impart on Jenna which was hot! I liked how they communicated as a couple.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Source: http://msromanticreads.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/review-high-octane-heroes-anthology-by-various-authors-giveaway