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3.9 out of 5 stars
On the Prowl (Berkey Book)
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 19 August 2007
Got to take the rough with the smooth as they say and that's certainly true of anthologies. I guess most people will be picking this book up because it has a story by an author they like. Personally, I'm a Patricia Briggs and Karen Chance fan but I'd never read anything by Eileen Wilks or Sunny.

It's very difficult to give the book an overall rating - three stars makes a reasonable compromise - so I've rated each short story on its own.

-- Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs - 5 stars --

I've read everything by Patricia Briggs which is in print and have enjoyed them all. The Mercy Thompson universe, which is where this book is set, is a wonderful and somehow very real creation. The story is an offshoot of 'Moon Called' although you don't really need to have read it for the story to work.

Charles is the eldest son of Bran, the 'Marrok' or leader of the Werewolves living in North America, and he acts as his father's enforcer. He is sent to Chicago to find out why the Alpha of one of the City's two packs has been turning people without their consent and selling them.

In the course of his investigations he discovers Anna, a fairly new werewolf, who he realises has a very special talent - she's an Omega wolf, naturally able to quell the violent urges of her pack mates, but she's been viciously abused by her pack.

It's one of the interesting features of this author that she writes about serious issues like abuse with a sensitivity, and an emphasis on the positive action that people take in confronting and then moving beyond these horrific events, which makes you think the books are less dark than they actually are.

At heart this is a love story, but one where commitment comes almost before the relationship because as Anna and Charles get to know one another (and so do their wolves) their bond deepens very rapidly.

It's fascinating to see Charles come alive. He's quite a distant character in Moon Called, but even in that book he shows a caring side in his interaction with Mercy in Montana. Here is gets to display those wonderful protective Alpha instincts.

There are also some lovely moments with the seemingly omniscient Bran. He's a such an interesting character, so much power yet he makes so little display of it. (I may also be slightly bias as he's Welsh!)

The main disappointment was how short the story was. I would have loved more - and would happily have sacrificed some of the space given over to some of the other stories in this book.

Overall - short, but beautifully written, wonderfully pitched characters and simple, but well thought out plot. Can't wait for the next stories for these characters (and for Mercy herself.)

-- Inhuman by Eileen Wilks - 3 stars --

I'm still not sure what to make of this one. The world in which it takes place was interesting and the characters were likeable and had a believable relationship.

It follows Kai, a telepath, and her friend Nathan, who is a policeman. Nathan is also not human or at least wasn't when he started out life. They live in a sort of post-magical apocolypic world. Where talented humans are not entirely welcome. A series of horrible murders begin and Kai and Nathan find themselves draw into the chase.

For me, the plot didn't really work. The initial murders, investigations and then going on the run were fine, but the story lost me towards the end by going all high drama and fey queens. The explanations got rather convoluted and I simply didn't buy the motivations that shaped the decisions relating to Dell.

Overall - it was solidly written, readable, but nothing special.

-- Buying Trouble by Karen Chance - 5 stars --

Ah, Karen Chance - her books are always guaranteed to be funny, have a plot that moves at ludrioucs speed and be filled with crazy characters and lots of action (of all sorts.)

This may be a short story, but she still managed to pack it all in.

The story follows Claire, a projective null who can dull magic, on a voyage of discovery when she is whisked away by a magic rune and a rather attractive Lord of the Light Fey when things go spectacularly wrong at the auction house where she works.

She ends up in the Faerie, but unfortunately in the bit controlled by the enemies of her companion, Heidar. There then follows a wet, frenetic chase and Claire makes some very surprising discoveries about herself.

The story is very amusing. Claire is a great lead character - likeable, tough but still vulnerable. Heidar is adorable - probably the most 'leading man' of any of Chance's male characters (I love Mircea and especially Pritkin, but the geas and being generally psychotic do count against!)

There is a chapter or so where things get slightly fairytale princess, but it's soon back to sarcasm and our world.

Overall - I loved it. The story made me smile, I really liked the characters and would like to read more about them.

-- Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny - 2 stars --

Hmm... well... I guess if you like this author this would be okay, but it just isn't my thing.

I don't have a problem with sex scenes in a book, but this was just too graphic without a discernible plot to break up the... er... action.

I will say that the world of the Monere was interesting and the book wasn't badly written, but the motivations of the characters, including the lead character, Mona Lisa, made no sense to me - again, if you've read other books set in this universe I guess this wouldn't have been a problem.

Overall - Not my cup of tea.

For On the Prowl overall - reading this book confirmed that I like what I like, but didn't entice me to check out anything else by the other two writers (in fact for Sunny it simply served to label her work 'avoid in future'.) Still it's a good way to test out some different authors.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2007
This book is a collection of four short stories by some of the most notable paranormal romance writers of the moment.

"ALPHA AND OMEGA" by Patricia Briggs
This story is part of the "Moon Called" series (with follow-up "Blood Bound") that I consider to be the best paranormal romance series currently being written. Patricia Briggs' skills in writing an interesting plot, varied characters and a fascinating supernatural element are all included in this short story although within the significant limitations imposed by a story of just 72 pages.

Anna has been a werewolf for three years, she was Changed against her will and since then her life has been submission, beatings and even being passed round various male members of the pack. When she reaches the final straw after a visit from one of the more powerful werewolves she calls the Marrok, or head of the werewolves in America, to tell him about an attack on a young man, Alan Frazier (who we met in "Moon Called"). Bran, the Marrok, tells Anna he will send someone to investigate and sends Charles Cornick, his son.

As soon as Charles meets Anna he realises she is something special, an Omega, which is a kind of werewolf that acts as a calming influence on other werewolves. However he finds that Anna has no idea about her status or about being a werewolf at all and he starts to teach her about the werewolf rules. It soon becomes apparent that there has to be a showdown with Anna's Chicago pack and yet someone seems to also be trying to attack Anna.

Although I very much enjoyed this book I did sometimes find the pacing a little off. There was quite a lot of buildup to the showdown which itself happened surprisingly quickly and the aftermath was also quickly dealt with. The earlier parts of the story seemed to be told at more length with more detail. However overall it was still a very enjoyable read for those who love Briggs' full-length novels.

"INHUMAN" by Eileen Wilks
This is the longest story in the collection and features Kai, a woman with a secret gift for sensing thoughts and desires. Since a big event called 'The Turning' some years before people's magical skills have become more apparent and out into the open and Kai consequently finds herself, and other magical people, occasionally feared. She knows that there's something unusual about her neighbour Nathan Hunter but it's not until some people are killed in a strange way that she and Nathan really begin to communicate. Nathan isn't just unusual he's actually not human and as the story continues he slowly reveals what he is and why he is on Earth. However the more that Kai finds out about him, the more she discovers about herself and eventually she has to flee her home to avoid arrest. When in hiding with Nathan she finally discovers who has been doing the killings and yet has to face her biggest danger from two different hugely powerful beings.

"Inhuman" was a really interesting read and part of the enjoyment was in the way that Nathan and Kai's true natures are gradually revealed to the reader. The world of magical beings became more and more complicated but fortunately it all seemed to work well in the story. Both Nathan and Kai were appealing characters, especially the way in which Nathan explained some of his past actions and didn't seek to conceal his true nature. It was an enjoyable story that felt quite meaty despite its short story length.

"BUYING TROUBLE" by Karen Chance
This was an excellent story with touches of humour and real variety - it was never clear where the plot was going but it was fantastically enjoyable the whole way through.

Claire works for an auction house which deals with magical items - her job is to protect the items and the people around them as she is a 'null,' a person who is able to damp down magical ability in others. However she knows that 'nulls' are highly prized by the Fey because they can be converted into weapons - with the unfortunate side-effect of the null's death. When she spots a Fey in the auction house she tries to escape but finds herself handcuffed to the auction platform and discovers she is one of the lots for sale and that in the audience is her brother, who wishes her dead. When trying to avoid the Fey and her brother she finds herself suddenly whisked to a different world with the Fey and being chased by another clan of Fey. The Fey, Heidar, and she, have to escape and Claire finds her null abilities seem to be rather more powerful than she had thought - except on Heidar. Eventually they hide themselves in a barn but it is there, when Claire finds herself up close and personal with Heidar, that she receives her biggest shock of all. She always knew she had a different father to her brothers but it becomes clear exactly what the father is.

There's a surprising amount of humour in this story. Heidar is a great character, amazingly phlegmatic as Claire proves to be rather more than he had initially thought, Claire is also a well-written character who finds herself having to come to terms with her parentage and what it means. The action is based both in America and the land of the Fey and although it's a short story it doesn't feel rushed or incomplete in any way. It's an excellent introduction to the work of Karen Chance and a very enjoyable story which works perfectly on its own.

This is the shortest story in this series and its enjoyment rather depends on the reader having read the other Mona Lisa books. Although we are given the backstory in rather big chunks there is a lot to take on board in such a short tale and it felt rather rushed to me. Equally the actual story in this story was lacking - rather than an actual plot with a beginning, middle and end, "Mona Lisa Betwining" read more like a few linking chapters between books. Mona Lisa is discovering that some of her actions in previous books have had more long-lasting effects on her, plus she's still trying to impart some of her human morals on those around her. In a short story we have detailed sex scenes between Mona Lisa and two different men, Mona Lisa meets the brother of one of her ex-lovers who brings to light a significant problem that Mona Lisa has, she finds herself exhibiting a scary new bloodlust, but that's about it. The story isn't really wrapped up, it just requires the reader to carry on to the next book and, in that, is different from the other three stories in this anthology which all worked entirely on their own.

In summary, this is an excellent collection with "Mona Lisa Betwining" as the weakest story but still well written. It's a great read for fans of paranormal romances and has a higher standard of writing than is often seen in this genre.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book, [...] © Helen Hancox 2007
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2007
The problem I find with anthologies is you tend to buy them for one (or maybe two) stories. Therefore I shall admit my bias straight off and say I bought On the Prowl for the Patricia Briggs story.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs.
Set in the Mercy Thompson universe (Moon Called, Blood Bound). Alpha and Omega follows Charles (the son of werewolf king Bran) when he comes to Chicago to deal with unrest in the Chicago pack. Although this story takes place during Moon Called it's not necessary to have read Moon Called to enjoy this story.

Not surprisingly I really liked this. It's also a story I've dipped back into whilst reading the other three. My favourite part being when Anna initially calls Bran for help. In a way this serves as an introduction to Anna and Charles who will be getting their own series of books in 2008, so there is something of a feeling that there is more to come. If I had any quibbles it would be that on p69 Anna smells Boyd's blood but Boyd wasn't involved in the fighting. So surely it should be Justin's blood? Rate - 4/5

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks.
As I'm not familiar with the Universe this is set in, I found it unsatisfying. I feel strongly that even if a short story is set in an ongoing series, it should be able to stand on its own. However, I felt like I'd come in part way through the action, the characters were talking about things I knew nothing about. The situation is ultimately resolved by magical means so I didn't feel like it had really been dealt with. The heroine wasn't that interesting, but Nathan was well written, I could have read more about him and how he saw the world. One for the fans who'll have a better idea of what's going on and might enjoy it more. Rate - 2.5/5

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance.
This was my second favourite. I thought the story had real humour and the characters were engaging. It had a bit of a slow start, but following the gamelans escape, the story had much more pace. Claire's transformation scene was very well done, and Heidar has a way with the witty remark. Claire had an appealing voice and I could happily read more about her. Based on this short story I'd definitely check out Karen Chance's backlist. Rate - 3.5/5

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
I have only read Book 1 of the Mona Lisa series. And if you're in the same position you may want to give this one a miss - because it's got huge spoilers in it regarding the death of a character.

There is very little plot here. There's quite a bit of exposition bringing you up to date with what's happened - kind of like a 'Previously in the Mona Lisa Universe...'. It's more of a filler between books and is probably only interesting if you're a fan of the series. Nothing really happens, and it happens for about 60 pages.

Also, similarities between the Mona Lisa world and both Laurell K.Hamilton's Merry Gentry and Anne Bishop's Black Jewels stories are slightly grating to say the least. 0/5

Disregrading Mona Lisa Betwining I'm giving the anthology a four overall. Worth checking out. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 December 2010
Other reviews have covered the details of this anthologies, so I won't repeat them. As with any anthology, I bought this because I was interested in one of the authors (Patricia Briggs), not least because her story serves as an intro to the Alpha and Omega books. And, yes, if you are interested in Patricia Briggs, particularly given the favourable write-up in Lynn Viehl's recent book, Dreamveil, this book does give a good intro to her work on the 'fang and furry' challenged.

The stories by Eileen Wilks and Karen Chance are also good. 'Inhuman' by Eileen Wilks is an interesting story because beneath the fantasy content is the very real face of prejudice towards things that are misunderstood. 'Buying Trouble'by Karen Chance is an amusing story with an fantastic twist for the heroine, Claire.

The reason why this anthology drops two stars is the fourth story, 'Mona Lisa Betwinning' by Sunny. This is reminiscent of the 'Anita Blake' and 'Merry Gentry' stories: sex, more sex and even more sex, with the barest semblance of a plot to try to tie them together.

If you want to try some of Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks or Karen Chance's work, then it is worth buying this anthology. If you like a good story, don't even bother with the last one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2011
I reluctantly bought this to get the first of the Alpha and Omega stories but was pleasantly surprised. I would always say full length novels are better written and more developed but if you like the A&O or the Dory series this is definately worth buying.

Alpha and Omega - Patricia Briggs 4*
While I still prefer the Mercy Thompson to the A&O books (more humour and Mercy is a more quirky lead female) this short story was pacy, well written, with convincing characters. Overall a great opening to the Alpha and Omega series.

Inhuman - Eileen Wilks. 3*
Not sure about this one. I've not read this series at all and I wasn't totally convinced by the characters or world but it was a pleasant read and good enough for me to think I might try a full length novel from a library.

Buying Trouble - Karen Chance. 4*
Good fun, fast pace, great characters as always: the lead female is Claire - the projective null who is a minor character in the Cassie Palmer books. It also fits into a missing timeline with the first of the Dory series - Midnight's Daughter (Claire is Dory's missing housemate). From that point of view this is definately worth reading as the plot 'arc' links across quite cleverly.

Mona Lisa Betwining - Sunny 0*
Quite dreadful unless you like soft porn interrupted with a pointless narrative. As far as I could see this is a series of sex scenes with the lead character periodically exclaiming "Stop! We can't do it like that because... lets try ... instead". Frankly a waste of time but ensured that 'Sunny' was on my 'never again' list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 15 December 2010
I really enjoy a supernatural read, and when I saw this anthology featured a story by Karen Chance, I was sold. I'd not read anything by the other three authors, but this book made me want to look them up!

The book features four novellas, all of which slot into series' by the included authors. However, although they'll likely make you want to read the other books, it's not necessary. On the whole, they work as standalone stories too.

I was immediately hooked on Patricia Briggs' writing as I started reading her story, Alpha and Omega. This tale about werewolves had me interested straight away. The characters are very strong and the protagonist very likeable. I instantly wanted to know more about her, and how she'd ended up in her situation. The story was engaging throughout and it definitely made me want to read more of her stuff.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks was a tad more difficult to get into, because there's a great deal of mystery surrounding the main character. Naturally this is resolved come the end of the story, but it caused me not to engage with her so fully. I did really like the main male character and the sizzling tension between them, but I was a little disappointed with the ending to the tale.

Karen Chance's offering, Buying Trouble, had me sitting there nodding my head. Having devoured everything else of hers, this was a piece of a puzzle that slotted right in. It's not needed to add to the story and it also works as a standalone, but if you've read everything else, this novella simply tells you more about some of the more minor characters in Chance's other series. Really tense, action-packed and enjoyable.

Mona Lisa Betwining for me was the weakest of the four stories. I'm not saying it was bad, it certainly wasn't. I just felt this was a story that didn't work as well as a standalone because there was so much information missing that it was difficult to get a grasp on the world and the people in it. There was some very hot sex in it, which was a definite bonus! I enjoyed the story, but felt the world and the main character was a little too complex for the brevity of this tale. Having said that, I'd definitely seek out more by the same author, as the writing itself was top notch.

In summary, I'd recommend On the Prowl to fans of supernatural books. If you haven't read any of these authors, it's a great introduction and means you get a taster of their work before buying any more books. I'm inclined to say I'll be seeking out more of their included authors' work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
On The Prowl is a paranormal romance anthology with some fab authors. I already love Patricia Briggs and Karen Chance but it was a good way to try out a couple of new authors Eileen Wilks & Sunny I'm definitely planning on trying more of Eileen's books but I'm just not sure about the Children of the Moon series by Sunny. Overall I'd say the anthology is well worth reading if only for the Patricia Briggs and Karen Chance stories but would recommend it if you're a fan of any of the authors included.

Alpha and Omega - Patricia Briggs 4/5 Stars
I'm really enjoying Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series so I was keen to try her Alpha and Omega series which is set in the same world. I didn't realise that we've already one of the main characters in this series - it's actually Samuel's brother Charles. I'm not going to go into detail about the plot of the story as I don't want to give any spoilers but if you've already read Moon Called then you'll realise that this is a spin off from that book & I found it really interesting to get to see Charles' side of the story. Anna is an interesting character, turned into a werewolf against her will she hasn't had a very good experience with the other wolves in her pack. I think it will be interesting to see how her character develops throughout the series as she comes to terms with what she has become and settles into the world she was forced into. This was my favorite story in the anthology and I'm looking forward to getting to know Anna and Charles better in Cry Wolf, the next book in the series.

Inhuman - Eileen Wilks 3/4 Stars
Again I won't go into the plot but I enjoyed this short story featuring Kai and Nathan. Eileen Wilks has created an interesting world but I think I'd probably have a better understanding of how that world works if I'd read the previous books in the series - I will definitely be checking them out though. Kai and Nathan's story is left wide open to continue in Night Season and I'd like to find out more about them both but will probably start from the beginning of the series to get the full background information.

Buying Trouble - Karen Chance 4/5 Stars
This was my second favorite story in the anthology and one I was looking forward to reading as I'm a big fan of Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer series. Claire is a great character & I believe she is Dory's roommate from the Dorina Basarab series but you don't need to have read any of those books to enjoy the story. I loved Heidar, he's probably up there with my favorite leading men from Karen's books. I would love to see more of these two so I'm hoping they will make appearances in the Dorina Basarab series which I'm going to have to start reading very soon. Some of the scenes in this story had me laughing out loud & I'd say this would make a very good introduction to Karen's work if you've not read any of her books before.

Mona Lisa Betwining - Sunny 2/5 Stars
This was my least favorite story in the anthology and I actually found it a very confusing read. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I'd already read the previous books in the series but for someone new to the world Sunny has created there was a lot of information to take in and I really struggled with it. Mona Lisa Betwining didn't really have much of a plot to it and I have a feeling that the back story included some major spoilers for the previous books. I'm not sure if I'll continue reading this series or not, I've heard good things about it but this story just didn't convince me. I might try out the first book if I come across it at the library but I'm not going to rush out and buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
Unfortunately, I read this story after I read the first book in the Alpha and Omega series so I knew some of the story but it was still a great read. I really like Charles and Anna and enjoyed reading about how they met and how Charles' wolf reacts to Anna when he first meets her. A definite must read.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
I liked Kai and Nathan and the short was fun and exciting. I went straight to Amazon and added the Lupi series to my wishlist. This short actually fits in the middle of the series. I'm really excited about reading more involving Kai and Nathan, their relationship was a great read and I can't wait to see it develop.

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
I've read Karen Chance before so I knew I'd like the writing. I liked Claire and I liked Heidar. I would really enjoy reading more about them and the dragons, I liked Karen Chance's take on Dragons, making them more like weres so they have a human form as well.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
This started of well but very quickly went downhill. The writing was horrendous, the charcaters were not likable and the sex scenes were cringeworthy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2010
Like many readers, I bought this book for the Patricia Briggs short story, I was not disappointed. The Patricia Briggs story was well written, I love the characters, it is a great prequal to later books. The story also stayed with me as I kept thinking about what I would do if I were in the same situation.

I also enjoyed the other three stories, I love urban fantasy, the storys were all very different, but complementary. Yes, the last story was extremely sexually explicit, as other reviewers have complained, but the scenes were very well written, and if you like reading about kinky sex the last story would not disappoint. If you dont, buy the book for the other three stories and dont read the last, in my opinion the book is worth buying for the Patricia Briggs and the other three stories are excellent and welcome bonuses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2010
You definitely should read the Patricia Briggs story in here before reading Hunting Ground and Cry Wolf as it fills in soooooo many holes!

The good thing about this book was that I have now decided to give Eileen Wilks a try - however I wasn't as keen on the last story - and FYI it was pretty hardcore with some of the adult content! Be warned - don't get this for anyone too young!

Otherwise a good read and nice intro to other books. The Karen chance book seems to bridge a gap between the latest Dorina Basarb book and the one before too... possibly giving us a lead into a spin off series with this character....??
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