I signed on with Black Velvet Seductions (a romance publishing company) a couple of months back…
Of course, the first thing you do when you land a gig with a new publisher is get to know your co-workers. (Seriously, I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s just common sense. If our publisher sinks, we all go down. If we all work to promote our publisher, we all win!)
So I picked up a copy of ‘Mystic Desire’, an anthology of supernatural tales that features most of BVS’ authors.
Okay, some of these stories REALLY made me blush. But the diversity of subject matter/writing styles makes this book an EPIC collection!!!
So here, my dear readers, is my story-by-story review of ‘Mystic Desire’…
The Sweetest Magic of All by Alice Renaud – Witches are the backbone of many supernatural tales; everyone knows this. So to tackle such tried-and-true subject matter leaves one at risk of seeming trite… but Alice Renaud is anything but trite! Her heroine Sapphire is a genuinely sweet, vulnerable character, and her saga is truly one to savor.
Bewitching the Wolf by Zia Westfield – Like witches, werewolves are also the stock of supernatural fiction. If you’re gonna tackle the werewolf myth, you’d better know what you’re doing. Zia Westfield knows exactly what she’s doing! (I especially enjoyed her character Oggie, the drunken leprechaun. Very often, it’s the supporting cast that makes the story.)
An Awareness of Evil by Dee S. Knight – Psychics. A modern addition to supernatural archetypes, and a powerful one. This story would make a great ‘true crime’ TV special! Its twist ending is straight-up Alfred Hitchcock.
Love that Binds by Carol Schoenig – Sometimes it’s the unanswered questions that are the most intriguing. Is Ianthee a witch? Is she not? Honestly, do we really need to answer that question? The over-arching air of un-explained mystery really makes this one stand out.
Dream Catcher by Callie Carmen – This tale shines by virtue of its very unique subject matter: The Native American ‘dream catcher’ myth. Normally when you think ‘supernatural fiction’, you think werewolves, vampires, etc… but Callie took a completely different tack on the genre, and she nailed it. What really makes Callie’s tale stand out – even more so than her subject matter – is her writing style. Supernatural stories usually do – and should – have an ethereal, dream-like feel about them; they come across as kind of off-kilter. ‘Dream Catcher’, on the other hand, feels very, very real… like this is a story that might actually have happened.
Life Saving by Anne Krist – I have to admit, this story was my favorite. Not because Anne is any more – or less – talented than the other BVS writers, but because her story was reminiscent of another writer whose work I have always held near and dear. Her tale is straight outta Ray Bradbury’s playbook! (And anyone who knows me knows that’s high praise!)
Unconditional Lust by Breanna Hayse – This one vividly captures the tension of sailing the high seas, and the fear of being pulled into the depths by unseen monsters. Except these monsters have an agenda, and they’re here to tell you that there are worse fates to suffer than death…
The Mortal Vampire by Suzanne Smith – What can I say? Real vampires are not supposed to ‘sparkle’! Suzanne’s vampire doesn’t sparkle; he’s terrifying, and intense. Suzanne’s writing is right up there with Anne Rice and Bram Stoker’s, in my book.
Love from the Mist by Patricia Elliot – Water Sprites? Who thinks of a water sprite when asked to write a supernatural tale? Patricia did, apparently, and thus her contribution is truly unique. Her tale begins with a pulse-pounding action scene, and ends on a sweet note. It’s a breath-taking narrative, one that earns ‘bonus points’ by virtue of its sheer originality.
Love’s Ghost by R.M. Olivia – The sad, mournful characters really brought this story to life; it has echoes of Edgar Allan Poe all over it. (And I don’t compare writers to Poe lightly; you gotta earn that praise from me!)
Love Knows No Apocalypse by Patricia Elliott – George Romero, eat your heart out! This one’s an imaginative, character-driven story set in a familiar dystopian setting. It’s challenging to bring your leading lady to life when her supporting cast consists of brain-munching zombies, but Patricia figured out how. She’s quite an original voice on the modern writing scene!
Calling All Angels by Lora Logan – A tale of celestial beings set in a deceptively picturesque setting… and therein lies the story’s brilliance; it’s the odd juxtaposition of characters and scenery that makes the story shine. (‘Calling All Angels’ reminded me of the years during which I lived in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.)
The Anniversary by Richard Savage – Certainly the most edgy tale in the entire collection. It made me uncomfortable, and yet totally captured my interest! Richard delves deep into the admittedly-skewed psychology of his characters, and succeeds in telling a very, very unnerving story! I really liked that he didn’t reveal what was really going on until the very, very end; that lingering plot-tease kept me on the edge of my seat.
Through the Veil by Jan Selbourne – Is this a ghost story? Historical fiction? Hell, do we really need to answer those questions? Sometimes using deliberate ambiguity is the best way to tell a story. One doesn’t always need to have one’s curiosity satisfied; sometimes, ya just gotta meet the story on its own terms!
And that’s my review. S’all I have to say. But I will end my review with this comment: Many of the world’s publishing companies have guidelines that are so strict that they leave no room for individual creativity; their books are so market-driven that they’re… sterile.
Stifling, market-driven guidelines suppress individual creativity, and inevitably make for forgettable fiction.
Black Velvet Seductions…? Here are their guidelines: Gotta be a love story. Gotta have a happy ending. No perverts, please, and other’n that…
TELL US AN AWESOME STORY!!!
Those broad guidelines are, in my opinion, why Black Velvet Seductions produces excellent literature. I am grateful beyond words to have been invited into their circle. Thank all of you wonderful writers for taking me on board; I am honored to work alongside such fine storytellers.
Here’s to a bright future for us all!
To order ‘Mystic Desire’, use this link for Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Desire-Breanna-Hayse-ebook/dp/B07WPQX7HQ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=mystic+desire&qid=1598052789&sr=8-1
Or this one for Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mystic-desire-alice-renaud/1133817315?ean=9781912768578