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Two shapeshifter stories
on 3 June 2008
'When He Was Bad' consists of two novellas featuring shapeshifters - a werewolf in the first story and a werejaguar in the second.
'Miss Congeniality' is another of Laurenston's stories about the shapeshifter groups, this time wolves of the Van Holtz pack. The Van Holtzes are rich and important people and are consequently much in demand at fundraisers for the local University. Dr Irene Conridge is a child prodigy Professor at the university, a lady who feels little emotion and whose relationships with men have been mostly pointless. When she bumps into Niles Van Holtz, Van, as he's known, she assumes he's nothing special, just another handsome womaniser from a rich family. However when Irene gets herself in trouble, being attacked by a pack of hyenas, Van wades in to rescue her - in his wolf form. Irene actually already knew about shapeshifters because her flatmate Jackie is a jackal, and this means that when Van realises he has to mark Irene for her own safety she's reluctant. However Van gets his way and they assume their lives will continue as normal - separately - after this.
But Van begins to discover the truth of his family's claims about marking and Irene also finds that despite Van being completely different to her, he can bring out the best in her and they can laugh together. When Irene is threatened by people who want to make use of some of her exceptional knowledge, she needs the assistance of the Van Holtzes and the other shapeshifters to keep her safe.
This was a reasonable story although the plot felt rather thin at times and most of the action consisted of sex scenes between Van and Irene, rather more than strictly necessary. It was difficult to warm to Irene because of her cold nature and this reader wondered, along with her, what Van saw in her. It was a passable read but nothing special at all.
The second story in this book, 'Wicked Ways' by Cynthia Eden, was notably better. What struck me, after finishing this story, was that it didn't feel like a novella or short story but had enough going on to feel like a full-length book. The characters also felt rounded and well portrayed and the plot had a fair amount of depth.
When Miranda Shaw finds herself under attack from a man she's met over the Internet she's rescued by her new neighbour, Cain Lawson. Her date was decidedly odd, mainly because he tried to drink her blood from her neck, but her rescuer didn't seem entirely human either. Miranda soon discovers that Cain is something different and that he's a former FBI agent - and that the man who attacked her has killed other women and might well try for her again. Miranda is pleasantly feisty and decides to help Cain and her cousin Sam, the local deputy, to catch the vampire. But Miranda doesn't know everything about supernatural creatures and it might be harder to keep herself safe than she thought.
The relationship between Miranda and Cain is one of instant attraction/lust but Cain has to overcome his reticence about human women disliking his animal state. Miranda seems fairly self-confident and centred in this story, she is just slightly prone to doing her own thing at the wrong times. The story was overall very enjoyable and Cynthia Eden's writing style is good with excellent pacing and some varied characters.
In conclusion the best story by far is the second story but 'Miss Congeniality' also makes for a reasonable read and this book is worthwhile for whiling away a rainy afternoon.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008