Black Velvet Seductions’ greatest strength is this: Their incredibly diverse cast of writers. Do you like sweet romances? Got ‘em. Do you like erotica? Got it. Paranormal? Got those, too. Thrillers? Contemporary? Historical? Yes, yes, and YES!!!
Like the previous anthology ‘Mystic Desire’, ‘Desire Me Again’ highlights BVS’ broad range of content and writing styles. The BVS writers are second to none, and I’m honored to be one of them. (And no, I won’t be reviewing my own contribution. I mean, c’mon… I may have an ego, but it ain’t THAT big!)
So, my dear readers, here we go…
Temperance by Gibby Campbell – BDSM isn’t generally ‘my thing’. But Gibby writes in such a way as to make the sexually bizarre feel completely normal. Add Tarot cards into the mix, and suddenly you have a supernatural element. I like that Gibby offers no commentary on her characters’ skewed psychology, and casts no moral aspersions upon them. They simply are what they are, and she allows the story to tell itself.
Second Chance by Dee S. Knight – Rape is a horrible thing, truly an abomination in this world we live in. But it’s also a sad fact that this repugnant act has altered millions of lives. Dee unflinchingly faces this reality in her stark, realistic story, but what makes it truly beautiful is that she approaches the topic with a note of hope. It’s not about what happened to her heroine, it’s about how she rises above it. This was surely a difficult story to write, but Dee absolutely nailed it.
Lost & Found: A Soldier’s Return by R.M. Olivia – Like Dee S. Knight, R.M Olivia tackles a very delicate subject: Post-combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As someone who grew up in a military city and often saw this phenomenon up close and personal, I can personally attest that R.M. Olivia did a brilliant job with this tale. It’s gut-wrenching, but it’s also sweet and heart-warming. This story, probably more so than any other in the collection, feels very, very real.
A Convict’s Prayer by Jan Selbourne – This one wins the award for being my favorite. Sweet, tense, and thoroughly researched, this brilliant piece of historical fiction has echoes of ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’ all over it, at least in tone and style. I also like that it was so ‘clean’; you could give this story to a little girl to read. All too often, I think, romance writers exclude younger audiences… and we shouldn’t, because stories about relationships interest readers of all ages. Emotional interaction defines the human condition, and we should never forget that.
The Handcuff Proposal by Patricia Elliott – Everyone hits the occasional crossroad in their life. You know, that pivotal moment in which one decision will send your life in one direction, and another decision will put it upon a completely different trajectory. Most of us make the correct decision at least half the time. ‘The Handcuff Proposal’, on the other hand, is the story of a young woman who makes the wrong decision at every… single… crossroad. As such, it’s more than a little amusing. I’m a huge fan of Patricia’s shorts ‘Love from the Mist’ and ‘Love Knows no Apocalypse’, and this story was a worthy successor.
Flight to the Stars by Zia Westfield – I had high hopes for this one (since Zia’s short ‘Bewitching the Wolf’ is a beloved favorite of mine) and this story did not disappoint. It’s a supernatural tale with a distinct note of humor. What I love about Zia’s writing is how she likes to sneak in the tongue-in-cheek, funny character. ‘Bewitching the Wolf’ had Oggie the drunken leprechaun, and ‘Flight to the Stars’ has Sal the smart-mouthed duck. (Yes, I said ‘duck’. You just gotta read it.)
Together at Last by Carol Schoenig – This story was beautiful. It features two elderly characters who lost each other as young people, and reconnected decades later. Most romance stories feature virile men with rock-hard abs, and nubile women with luscious bodies. But love spans the entire human lifetime, all the way up to the end. Most of us forget that, at least when we’re younger. Carol plucked a wonderfully touching tale from the twilight years of the human experience, and her story will bring tears to your eyes.
Xpose by Annabel Allan – Once again, BSDM is NOT my thing!!! But Annabel writes such content in a way that explains it clearly to the ‘un-initiated’, and makes it feel like a perfectly normal setting. There is a distinct ‘thriller’ note to this story, which makes it exciting. What I love most about Annabel’s writing is her easy, flowing style. It’s well-composed prose that’s evocative while also being very easy to read.
The Holiday Mermaid by Alice Renaud – Anyone who knows me knows that, in my mind, Alice Renaud can do no wrong as a writer… and she doesn’t. Rowena Regor is a mermaid who comes from the most xenophobic, controlling clan of the mer-folk world. As always, what I love most about Alice’s writing is how balanced it is. Many romance authors over-develop their female characters and under-develop their male leads. They also often hyper-sexualize their male leads, and don’t quite do the same for their female leads. Alice’s stories are so balanced that they appeal to both male and female readers. Romance readers often joke about ‘book boyfriends’ but Alice’s stories also offer a ‘book girlfriend’, which gives her stories a very, very broad appeal.
So that’s it. ‘Desire Me Again’ has something for EVERYONE, old and young, male and female, those with milder tastes and those with a penchant for the exotic. BVS doesn’t guide their anthology contributors; they simply unleash them…
And therein lies the utter brilliance of Black Velvet Seductions.
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