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I bought this mainly for the Allyson James tale, which is a maxi-novella (contradiction in terms, I know, but it was almost like a full-length tale, as there was so much going on), which turned out to be a 5* tale. It is officially book 2.5 in ther Stormwalker series, and whilst I am not going to go into full details of the tale, we get to see pretty much all of the characters that make this series - Janet and Mick, of course (complete with steamy sex in the midst of danger and possible death, but entirely befitting the tale, i.e. sex-magic), Nash and Maya (I think some sense has finally been literally knocked into him), Cassandra and Pamela, Coyote, the magic mirror and the newish Ansel the Nightwalker. The tale is of a double-hex and has a twist in it that I didn't anticipate, but it was fast-paced, believable, and yes, romantic and sexy.

The Ilona Andrews tale is Magic Dreams (book 4.5), and is that of Pack Enforcer Jim, and were-tigress Dali, who have to confront an evil spirit that has hexed Jim, who is dying. Dali has loved Jim for ages, but she has impaired vision and is accident-prone, so has never even thought that he might show the slightest interest in her. In the end, her true love and the sacrifices she is prepared to make to save the man she loves earn her her man and her HEA. Oh, and clearly Jim has been taking lessons from the romantic Callan who appeared in Magic Slays. It's a 4*, as it didn't IMHO, have the same depth as the AJ tale and the characters weren't that sympathetic/engaging.

Yasmine Galenorn I've never been able to get into, but I did try with this tale, though unfortunately, as I've not read any of the connected/same World books, I couldn't get into it, so I can't rate it. There's mention of the half human/half fae d'Artigo sisters, but the female lead is a Finnish house sprite who has to journey to the frozen Northlands to confront the crazed shadow of her former lover and break the curse that is keeping her from marrying the man that she loves. Hopes this blurb helps YG's fan.

Jeannie.C.Stein is a new author for me. Again, this tale is part of a series, featuring bounty-hunter-turned-vampire, Anna, who works with two human partners (who don't know that she's not human) to capture fugitives. However, in this case she is asked by three witches to save their friend Stephen, who has been captured by the 'powers that be', as the witches had helped Anna defeat and kill a black (evil) witch - which the powers saw as a crime that needed punishing. Anna saves the day and gets the guy, basically. However, there was some wise-cracking humour it in and enough intrigue to it, on top of a brief mention of how and what caused Anna to be turned (some readers might wish to avoid, as she is raped and beaten), that make me want to check out the rest of the series. I think that this is either book 5.5 or 6.5 in the series. 4*
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There's magic afoot in these four novellas from writers of both fantasy and romance, but luckily their heroines know just how to handle a curse or two - and even cast a few themselves.

*Magic Dreams* - Ilona Andrews
Dali is not your average shape shifter. First she's a white tiger, as rare as she is magical. Second, she can cast spells - true most of them fail, but you try getting your calligraphy straight when you're under pressure. Third, she's so short-sighted as to be practically blind. Fourth, she's a vegetarian, and fifth, she can't stand the sight of blood.

She's also in love with her alpha - the super badass Jim - so when his very soul is in danger, she'll fight anything to save him. Be they poachers, demons or her own well-meaning mother.

After first meeting Dali in Magic Strikes, fans of the 'Kate Daniels' series should enjoy this. Dali is a great character - gutsy, brave, smart and completely human with her low self esteem issues - and she's a perfect match for the mysterious Jim. In fact it's nice to see him in need of a rescue for a change. For newcomers to this world this should give you a perfect taste of what the Andrews team have to offer. If you haven't picked up Magic Bites yet, what are you waiting for?

*Ice Shards* - Yasmine Galenorn
Six hundred years ago house sprite Iris was stripped of her powers, cast out of the temple that was her life and banished from her people. All for a crime she isn't even sure she committed. But whatever happened that night left behind a terrible curse, and it's keeping her from the man she loves. Now, finally, is the time to break it.

Personally, I'm not a fan of this series. I've tried reading some of it before, but it didn't work for me. So, needless to say, I didn't really enjoy this one. I wasn't sure why Iris' friends went but not her supposed lover. Nor do I get why it took her so long to return, and I was surprised at how feeble she was in the snow, considering her origins. Well, I kind of thought she was a bit feeble all round, actually. As for the whole resolution of the curse and memory loss, it all seemed just a wee bit convenient. I did like Howl, though, even if he was super helpful for an Elemental.

Fans of the series should hopefully enjoy - you get the standard Camille moments with attendant male (in this case Smokey) anyway. It just wasn't for me.

*Double Hexed* - Allyson James
Janet Begay knew it was going to be a bad day when a plumbing problem ended in blood. Lots and lots of blood, coming out of the taps. Luckily she's got more than a few magical friends to help out. Until the curse really gets going and starts bringing out the worst in all of them. After all who wants to be trapped in a small hotel with an overemotional witch, a super possessive dragon, a powerless god and a magic mirror stuck on show tunes?

But then Janet's own magic begins to stir, and she knows they haven't seen the worst of it yet.

This is my first taste of James' Stormwalker series, but I know it won't be my last. Mixing humour with peril in an intricate plot this is a great little novella. I love that mirror.

*Blood Debt* - Jeanne C. Stein
As a bounty-hunter and vampire, there are plenty of things in Anna's past that she regrets - but not tracking down and killing an evil black witch, no matter that she was injured at the time. Unfortunately for Anna others don't see things the same way and now she has three witches on her doorstep and an innocent man in danger. And all because to some a life can only be repaid with a life.

This was my first taste of Stein's work and it was okay. It didn't really grab me, and without knowing all the nuances of this world, I did feel like I was missing things. Add to that the 'Chosen One' mantle and it was doomed never to work for me. Hopefully existing fans will think otherwise.

This was an anthology of two halves for me, with two great stories and two less good ones. But since I bought this for the Ilona Andrews story and no real interests in the others, the Allyson James tale was a definite bonus. If you're a fan of any of these authors/series then there should definitely be something in here for you.
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Magic! It's pretty much a requirement for urban fantasy, whether it's subtle and ethereal, or big and flashy. And "women with magic" is also the unifying theme for "Hexed," a collection of four novellas by Ilona Andrews, Yasmin Galenorn, Allyson James and Jeanne C. Stein -- two are excellent, and two are pretty good but not brilliant.

In Andrews' "Magic Dreams," four shapeshifters are missing and werecat alpha Jim is mysteriously suffering from amnesia. So awkward weretiger Dali Harimau sets out to not only find a cure for what is slowly killing Jim, but discover what has been causing the trouble -- and uncovers a secret horror that she cannot possibly defeat except with her brains.

Galenorn's "Ice Shards" focuses on Iris Kuusi, a Finnish house sprite/ex-priestess of some ice goddess. Long ago, Iris was accused of killing her lover and binding his spirit to a shadow, so she was stripped of her powers and her fertility. Now she's returning to the scene of the crime, hoping to find out if she actually DID kill him -- and to either accept punishment or be free to marry her fiance.

Then comes James' "Double Hexed," in which Stormwalker Janet Begay and her buddies find themselves stuck in a hotel which has apparently been hit with a megahex -- faucets running blood, electrical failures, and even the loss of Coyote's magic. And finally there's Stein's "Blood Debt," in which vampire bounty hunter Anna Strong is called upon to kill an evil witch, but ends up in over her head.

Quite honestly, you should buy this book right now. Why? Because Ilona Andrews' story is absolutely brilliant, weaving together urban fantasy settings with Asian folklore (including yokai and Indonesian fairy tales), and also giving us a solid story of an "ugly duckling" whose brains must be used to save the man she loves. It's funny, wrenching, and its ending reminds me of JRR Tolkien's "The Hobbit."

As for the other stories, they're a mixed bag. Galenorn's story has a predictable twist, but it's a very nice story that fleshes out a side character well, and explores her traumatic history. James' story is pretty entertaining but it drags a bit at first, with one crisis piling on top of another, but it picks up in the second half. Stein's is a bit fluffy, but a decent piece of work with a likable heroine, and a pretty good introduction to her world.

"Hexed" is a pretty decent collection of novellas -- Andrews' is easily the best of the pack, and the others are a pretty decent read as well.
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on 29 December 2012
Four short stories: all very different paranormal/UF, not really romance. I only knew one of these authors - Ilona Andrews, and bought it for the Dali/Jim story. To be honest, I don't generally like anthologies; short stories only tend to engage me if I know the series.

1. Ilona Andrews - Magic Dreams 4*
Readers of the Kate Daniels series will enjoy this: I won't go into detail as the story is well covered in other reviews. Suffice to say the story is mainly focused on Dali, a short sighted vegetarian were tiger. Jim, the alpha in charge of pack security, contacts her for help with an aggressive spell. It has a different voice to the Kate and Andrea books and Dali's mother is a fantastic new character.

2. Yasmin Galenorn- Ice Shards 1*
I nearly gave up on the whole anthology while reading this and questionned why I bothered to read UF. This was labelled as #9 so perhaps followers of the series will feel differently. However, for me there was no character engagementl, frequent repetition, huge amounts of mythological detail that bore no relevance to what was basically a simple relatively predictable 'quest'. Now I have nothing against those in principle, I quite liked Eragon, and loved Lord of the Rings, but this was dull, in particular the combination of slightly formal/archaic style interlinked with spurious American idioms and swear words irritated me. I couldn't engage with the world, cared nothing for the characters and couldn't wait for it to end. (Kelley Armstrong fans might like this-no weres, but lots of detail.)

3. Allyson James - Double Hexed 2*
The characters here were more engaging than in Ice Shards, but their plight - stuck in a hexed house - became annoying as each informed me they were trapped and powerless, then reminded the reader they were still trapped and powerless a few pages later. By the time they got 'double hexed' I was counting the pages. Happily the final third picked up the pace and the resolution was engaging. I could imagine this story being fun for existing fans as the protagonists were acting out of character (we know this since James reminded us every few pages). However, for a newbie, I just didn't care enough; the sex was explicit, spurious, irritating and ultimately I was glad it was all over. Some serious editing needed in the middle. (Reminded me of The Hollows- Kim Harrison.)

4. Jeanne C Stein - Blood Debt 3*+
Interestingly this story got the weakest comments in many of the Goodreads reviews I had read. Whilst I found the use of the present tense irritating I was engaged and this was my second favourite. What worked for me was that Stein dumped her extraneous characters (and even setting) over the first couple of couple of pages and focused on two key individuals for the rest of the short story. The dilemma/narrative was not totally convincing, but because the story was based on characters and a small sequence (which merely hinted at a much bigger narrative), she maintained my interest and made me want to find out more. Having said that since there were only really 2.5 characters, an ethereal plane which consisted of a few clouds, random bits of furniture and slightly abstract sex, I can see that some readers might find this unsatisfying.

Overall? I'd still buy this if I was a fan of one of the writers, but I'm not sure the mix worked: however, if you like variety then perhaps this is the anthology for you.
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on 28 November 2011
Hexed consisted of 4 short stories. The reviewers before this have done a great job of explaining them so please read. I love Ilona Andrews and Dali and Jim are great. I'd give Ilona 5 stars every time and 100% recommend her books. I'd never read any of the other authors before and to be honest eventhough I only read this book lately I can barely even remember the other stories. For me, they just didn't reach her standard, hence only 3 stars. But I bought the book for Dali's story and for this alone it was worth it.
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on 19 July 2011
Agree with the previous reviewer in terms of overall ranking. I wasn't familiar with most of the authors whose contributions are in this anthology but I enjoyed all 4 tales and particulary the Jim/Dali tale from ilona Andrews. Has tempted me to try some of the other writers full length novels too.
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on 4 September 2015
Still as good as ever
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on 26 January 2017
Good book
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