As You Were by Alice Janell: Medic Laura and alpha-male soldier Tony set their passion on fire after a close emergency call. Explicit, but too abrupt and lacking in tension for my tastes.
Five-Alarm Fire by Sabrina York: When Luke is set up with good girl Trish by his nosy but well-meaning neighbor, he tells himself he'll go through with the date just to keep her from prying in his love life again. What he finds, however, is that Trish isn't as good of a good girl as he initially thought. Cheesy storyline, but ultimately very hot and intense.
Renegade by Brindle Chase: Kara's undercover assignment goes awry, but thankfully sexy SWAT leader Michael "Renegade" Delaney comes to the rescue... and he intends to do more to her than save her life. Loved the deadly steeliness in Michael's character, but the story was just "meh."
Painted by Leah Ridgewood: Feisty Latina Rosalia is sick of her rich, white-boy playboy of a neighbor, Justin, but when he touches her in places she'd forgotten were tender, she opens her eyes up to his heroic qualities (he IS a paramedic, after all) and their obvious chemistry. Really well written with an elaborate storyline, but the sex is mediocre.
Besieged by Elle James: Special Forces officer Max is ready to settle, but Kate—who just happens to be the Ambassador's daughter—isn't hinting at wanting anything more than the purely carnal arrangement they have going now. A grand act of heroism will determine his fate, as it just might save Kate's life... that is, if he succeeds. Sweepingly romantic and intense in its elongated sex scene, this one is satisfying, but unmistakably corny.
Pumping Iron by Christine D'Abo: Lila, who's just now recovering from an accident, has always had fantasies about her intimidatingly gorgeous physical trainer, Kyle. When she finally, in an act of vulnerability, confesses her attraction to him, the dominant ex-UMF player in him makes certain to work her body like it's never been worked before. SUPER hot, kinky, and vivid in its detail and sex—loved this one!
Diving Deep by Jenny Lyn: Katie has the seemingly perfect arrangement with super sexy Navy SEAL Jake: an intense fling whenever he's home every few months, and nothing more to it that would tie her down. But when she starts developing something more than lust for him, she realizes she can't do it anymore, and is surprised to discover Jake has been considering this even harder than she has. If you like a cheery tone and happily-ever-afters, you'll adore this story; it has the perfect balance between a well formulated plot and explosive sex.
Heated Negotiations by Macy Man: When Donovan of the Special Response Team comes face-to-face with Paige—with whom he is yet to tie up loose ends—a stormy encounter ensues. The spontaneous sex is reeeeaallly hot but the progression of the story is kind of confusing.
Once Upon a Time in Mukdahan by Sidney Bristol: Emery is saved from hostage-holding traffickers in Mukdahan by the man she's in love with, SEAL Matt, but unfortunately he's just the kind of man who pushes those who love him away. When both of them are stuck in turmoil and their survival status is unstable, secrets are spilled, and a love neither knew capable, blooms.
Big Guns by Michael Bracken: Big, brutish Special Agent Howie is THE man of our unnamed narrator's naughty fantasies. When, on her bartending gig, she finds herself in the middle of his undercover assignment, he not only saves her life, but also teaches her exactly what fantasies are made of. I liked the sensuality of this story, and how it leaves a lot to the imagination.
Natural Appetites by Adele Dubois: Mickey's kind act of courage earns him an onslaught of admiration from the community he's saved from major grief, including Amanda, a beautiful chef at an organic restaurant. Indebted by his heroism, Amanda makes it her mission to seduce him with her all-natural cooking, but it turns out she doesn't even need the food to capture this smitten paramedic's heart. The cheesiness goes overboard here, especially with the insta-love, but I found the backstory promising and the love scenes hot and sensual.
SEAL Destiny by Sharon Hamilton: Special Operator Chief Luke finds the woman of his dreams in a pretty young thing whose eye he manages to catch at the beach. What he wants to be a sizzling one-night stand turns into something more complicated when he realizes the extent of his feelings for her. This one is REALLY hot—a scorching quickie.
Mountain Man by Tamsin Flowers: Stranded during a mission, Mountain Rescuer Jake must wait for the next helicopter to arrive with the unassuming Melody in tow. As they spend the night together, they get the chance to get really close; the position of their encounter makes this one a hot read.
The Star by Tahira Iqbal: Still in mourning over her brother's death, Estella is startled when approached by her late sibling's best military comrade—not only because he seems to be grieving just as much as she is, but also due to the electricity she feels at his every touch. The sorrowful tone is lyrical; Iqbal's style is gorgeous! The sex is kind of abrupt, with very little building tension, but I found this one romantic and sexy nonetheless.
Pitch Black by Delilah Devlin: Danny is the ultimate primal male—"tempered by combat, forged in tragic loss"—and when he wants something, he gets it. What he currently wants is for his girlfriend Jenna to transfer to a less risky field in the guard, but she insists she doesn't need his safekeeping. But considering she's working in a male-dominated concentration, she needs to bend a little, and Danny will be sure to convince her of that. As always, Delilah Devlin doesn't disappoint. The sex is hot, the story is real, and the style keeps you reading—a perfect 10!
Pros: Really, really well selected stories with variety and substance // I pretty much liked all the stories, which rarely happens for me with anthologies // Alpha-heroes! Need I say more?
Cons: Some storylines are confusing // Some flat sex scenes
Verdict: Every story in Devlin's latest erotic romance anthology has a mind—and man—of its own. These exhilarating, heated shorts—some with danger and adrenaline, others with tenderness and emotional chaos—are quick to warm hearts and indulge lustful cravings. High-Octane Heroes is overall a phenomenal anthology about every woman's greatest fantasy: a guy who'll go to the wall for his heroine every single time.
Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read; highly recommended.
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Cleis!).