"The Phoenix Project" by Jacquelyn Frank
Amara was kidnapped from a workhouse and is now in a living nightmare where the prisoners are experimented upon for God knows what. Pain and suffering is a daily reality for Amara and those held captive with her. Seeing a new male in the building proves to be the beginning to Amara's new life. Nick Gregory is a Federated States cop who got too close to what the scientists were doing and now he is one of the captives. When he is forced to mate with Amara, the results will show just who is the most powerful, the experimented on or the scientists who dared to fool around with Mother Nature's best creation.
"The Phoenix Project" proves that no one is above justice. As I turned the pages, I wanted Amara and Nick to find a way out and maybe even help the others and kill the project. I got more than my wishes answered by the time I finished. I loved how Nick not only protected Amara but how they both just knew how to work together and show the others what Alpha means. The love that developed between Amara and Nick was the perfect counterbalance to the horror they faced. While the immediate story is over, it left me with many questions that have me hoping to see more of this world down the road. "The Phoenix Project" takes science fiction elements and combines them with romance in such a way that leaves you satisfied, yet wanting more. A wonderful start to this anthology.
"Crystal Dreams" by Kate Douglas
Mari Schwartz, well her official name is Marigold Moonbeam Schwartz, so you can see why she goes as Mari. Right now she is off to run her mother's magic shop. Not that Mari believes her mother's claims that they are witches, but the shop does well. Darius of Kronus is a Lemurian guard who is protecting the entry into his world when he sees demons escaping into Earth. Following his orders to the limit, Darius goes after them. Mari and Darius' meeting is a bit explosive but that is only a hint at what awaits them as they fight to rid Earth of demons, and to figure out why the magic shop has become a welcome beacon for them. Can an Earthling and a Lemurian find a way to defeat demons and protect their love?
"Crystal Dreams" proves that your soul mate doesn't have to be from your own realm. I saw that Mari and Darius had more going against them both in the area of love and fighting the demons. However, it became clear to me really fast that both Mari and Darius were more than willing to sacrifice themselves for the other, and that type of sacrifice should always be rewarded. I found the adventure and the magic to be a great combination to go along with Mari and Darius' story. Ms. Douglas gave us a wonderful glimpse into yet another couple from her new series Demonslayers.
"Spark of Temptation" by Jess Haines
Sara Halloway is a P.I. who has been blackmailed into working for a vampire to find out who is asking questions at his club, and why. Sara just wants to get the job done and discovers that her quick answers are only the tip of the iceberg.
Arnold is a mage who wants to protect Sara, and maybe get to spend some personal time with her. Danger seems to follow every move of this assignment, and becomes a job that turns out to be much greater than was expected. However, Sara and Arnold know just how to not only defeat a group that threatens the peace in several circles, but also how to protect the passion that is springing up between them.
"Spark of Temptation" shows Sara that not all mages are the same. I loved Sara's spunkiness and Arnold's determination to prove that they belonged together. Sara and Arnold's adventure was action packed and had me wondering just what would happen next in several spots. That they could defeat powerful enemies while discovering a future together wove in perfectly with the adventure. I loved that the vampires were not the `bad' parties just because of what they were. Another world I hope to see expanded upon. Yet another great story that is making this book a keeper.
"My Soul to Take" by Clare Willis
Dr. Maggie Dillon is the chief resident just coming on shift and is told jokingly that a new patient is possessed. Maggie is unsure how to take that but as she reads the notes on this patient, she finds he isn't unknown to her. Derek Fielding is a folk musician, a very successful one. Normally a very easygoing guy, lately Derek has been acting nothing like himself and with this attempt to take his own life, his family is worried. Maggie can't put her finger on the problem but she knows that it isn't normal depression. Together, Maggie and Derek find the answers to what has attacked him even after he leaves the hospital. Deciding that she can't help Derek herself, Maggie calls in the big guns from her past in New Orleans. Derek and Maggie risk everything to defeat this evil from within.
"My Soul to Take" has Maggie and Derek defeating a foe from the past. I could understand Maggie's needing to try science first before going on to other ways. Just as I could feel Derek's desperation to make sure no one else suffered from the spirit that threatened take over his life. I could tell it was the passion between them that allowed both Maggie and Derek to seek the answers no matter where they came from. And that in turn gave them a future of joy rather than sorrow. A fantastic last story from a truly wonderful collection of stories.
Nocturnal combined not only a slate of great authors but even better stories. There was not one I found to be less than the others. Through them I traveled from the near past to contemporary times to somewhere in the future. It didn't matter if it was a nasty spirit, demons, or mad scientists, they were all defeated by the same thing - true love. Nocturnal is a must read for any paranormal lover, and one you will want to read more than once. It gives you shivers and cheers from the beginning to the last page.
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed