Book Review

Wild and Steamy by MelJean Brook, Jill Myles and Carolyn Crane

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Title: Wild & Steamy
Author: MelJean Brook, Jill Myles and Carolyn Crane
Publication Info: MelJean Brook, Jill Myles and Carolyn Crane 2011
ISBN: Varies
Genre: Paranormal

Book CoverAhem. Squee commences… NOW.

OMG OMG THIS IS AWESOME. GO BUY IT.

What, that isn’t enough for you? Fine.

I have to come clean ad admit I have not read “The Iron Duke.” I respect the opinions of those who have loved it every which way enough to recommend it to people who I know will love it (and they have). I know that it is likely something I will enjoy when I do read it. But my brain is overloaded at present and has been for awhile, and I know it is exactly the wrong time to introduce said brain, which can be picky, to deep, nuanced, complex and thought-provoking world building.

Which MelJean Brook is really good at, damn her again.

So I haven’t read it. Yes, I suck. But this short story takes place in that same world, and within a handful of chapters and some incredibly deft and elegant writing, I was given a working understanding of a complex universe, treated to a truly emotional story, and gifted with an evening’s read that rocked my goddam world.

Newberry and his wife, Temperance, who is desperately sick, are in London. They’re both uninfected by the bugs which everyone else has floating around in their bloodstreams (ew ew ew that made my skin start itch crawling). The story opens from his wife’s point of view, as she’s alone, miserable, betrayed by her husband and thinking that her life at present is pretty dim. A neighbor has been hired to sit with her while her husband is out performing his job as a constable, and the neighbor is a fascinating and horrifying person with – and ok, look, I have to stop now. I’m going to give too much away. Just buy the book and read this story.

Then read the story by Jill Myles, too. It’s not steampunk, but it is holy crap hot were. It’s like a taste of all the best things about paranormal romance that I like, a sampler, if you will. A really good sampler where pretty much every piece you select is above average if not down right ecstasy.

Myles’ story, “Vixen,” is about a were-fox who lives in the boonies so as to resist her instincts, which, because she’s a female were-fox, are to get down and funky dirty with as many men as possible. She has, to put it mildly, hella big sexual appetites, so her method of controlling them is to shut them off and to shut herself off from everyone. Her mother interferes, because that’s what mothers do, by sending two were-cats to watch over her because some neighbor got a bug up his ass (not the Brooks kind of bug) to go hunting. For foxes. Assmunch.

Miko is torn between her attraction for the two men, her desire to not yield to any sexual temptation, and her compulsion to get down and funky dirty with both of them already – especially when they demonstrate that they’re willing and able and, hello, RIGHT HERE.

I loved several things about this story: I loved Miko’s perspective on her were-ness, I loved the differences in the physical and mental characteristics of the two heroes, I loved Miko’s frank analysis of her sexuality and her sexual proclivities, and the fact that she didn’t castigate herself as a big ol hobag for being exactly as she is. She doesn’t reject her sexuality because she believes it makes her depraved. I had a lot of respect for her, and for Myles, for that.

And It Was HOT, y’all. For real hot. Myles does a banging job of building the tension in realistic and frustrating ways.

Finally, “Kitten-tiger and the Monk,” by Carolyn Crane. I confess, I didn’t like this story as much as I liked the other two because Crane starts both of her characters, particularly the heroine, in a place of great negativity. The heroine, Sophia, has done some dastardly, devious and shitful things. She can remove a person’s memories going back up to 24 hours and replace those memories with whatever she wants, and she does it on a regular basis, both to serve her own needs, and those of her (not exactly noble) employers. Sophia is connected to organized crime and some really shady business, and the one bright spot in her life was Robert, who has the ability to interact with, control and shape the molecules that make up any building or structure.

Several years back, Sophia betrayed Robert and left him, and now she’s back in his presence because she’s learned he can tell her where the Monk is, a dangerous man who has the power to basically “reboot” people so they can start over with no memory of what they’d been or done before. Criminals have been rehabilitated by the Monk. Sophia wants him to obliterate her mind altogether because she’s being crushed with the guilt of what she’s done, not just to Robert, but to him most of all.

I don’t know if I can put this in stronger language. GO BUY THIS ANTHOLOGY RIGHT NOW. It’s marvelous. It’s wunderbar. If you like paranormal, shifters or emotionally tense stories, this will rock. If you like steampunk, or you’ve been curious about it, this will rock. And if you like carefully built and exceptionally crafted novellas, this will rock.

Got it? Ok. Now go read.


This book is available from Kindle | BN: nook | AllRomance | Goodreads | Smashwords

 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Joanne says:

    I Love, love, love when a secondary character,  like Constable Newberry from The Iron Duke, get their own story.

    And $2.99 for an anthology. Oh yeah, sold.

  2. 2
    Alex says:

    The power of your reviews:  I don’t really like paranormal, have never read any of these authors before and have no money left for books this month.  Yet I’ve just gone and bought it.  £2.09 – bargain!

  3. 3
    Carin says:

    I bought this one the other day and it’s at the top of my TBR pile.  (First I must work through my obsession with Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones series which I JUST discovered.)

    I bought this anthology for the Meljean Brooks story alone.  I’m so excited to hear the other two are well worth reading, too!

  4. 4
    Liz Talley says:

    I think I enjoyed your review as much as I could enjoy the book. I don’t typically read about things that can bite me, but the excitement in your review (not to mention the language you put together – pretty sure I’m going to be using “shitful” today :)) makes me want to buy this and read it. Guess I’ll have to now. I love the power of a good review as much as I hate the power of a negative one. Damn it, where’s my kindle?

  5. 5
    Klio says:

    Typical tribal tattoos + shapeshifter story = me not even considering this anthology (I’d’ve thought: very contemporary…hipster shapeshifters…nothing here for me…). But then divide it by this enthusiastic review and I think I don’t have any choice but to give it a try! I’ve always liked steampunk stories. And I may be won over to shapeshifter stories after all :)

  6. 6
    headgirl says:

    See what I love about SBTB is that I read your review and think ooh a new TBR then I read Carin’s comment and discover yet another new author – TBR pile gets higher! thanks

  7. 7
    MarieC says:

    Three of my favorite authors for $2.99?!? Sold!

    Ditto what Joanne said!  I liked Constable Newberry and am happy he gets a story!

  8. 8
    Carin says:

    @headgirl – Cat & Bones put me back on a para-normal kick!  I’d been off for a long time, just got tired of it, but oh how I’m loving this series.  Start with Halfway to the Grave, and enjoy!

  9. 9
    darlynne says:

    An A from SB Sarah? I am powerless to resist.

  10. 10
    CarrieS says:

    OMG.  I totally love Constable Newbury.  He makes me type like a thirteen year old.  YOU, SB Sarah, got a book about CN and I got stuck with the worst short story anthology EVER.  I am bitter.  I must go read Wild and Steamy to assuage my woes.

  11. 11
    Asia M says:

    That sounds… tempting to say the least! :D I’ve got a homework to pick a paranormal romance book by an author who hasn’t yet be translated in French, so this might be the one! I’ll be sure to check if the person I’m doing this for has similar tastes as you… :P

  12. 12

    Totally agree! This anthology was great. I also had problems with Crane’s story, but that’s because of the heroine’s role in the novels of the Disillusionists trilogy. She’s not a very likeable character, so I felt pretty conflicted about her.

    If you want more Meljean Brook goodies from the The Iron Duke world but don’t have much time, check out the prequel “Here There Be Monsters” in the Burning UP anthology. It is AWESOME!

  13. 13
    hapax says:

    Once again, a book I’d LOVE to purchase for my library patrons (we have so many Meljean Brooks fans)—but I can’t, because it’s an e-book exclusive.

    I have nothing against e-books, but it would be nice if authors bothered to remember that we’re in a frickin’ recession, and not all of their fans have hundreds of dollars to throw away on fancy electronic gadgets.

    Is it so hard to give my library patrons the option of a printed book?  Lulu or a similar service would be fine. 

    And dearest SBs, could you put E-BOOK ONLY or a similar tag right on top, so I don’t get all excited then disappointed?

  14. 14
    Meljean says:

    Hi hapax!

    Just a quick clarification—the reason we hadn’t put it out in print is because it would end up being about $12-15 for a 150-page book … which, recession or not, seemed ridiculous to us. I would never, ever ask a reader to pay that much for such a short book, and I would have never expected a library to pay it, either.

    But I realize that not everyone can afford or is willing to purchase an e-reader (if I hadn’t received mine as a gift, I probably still wouldn’t have one, either) which is why I’ve mentioned on my site that I’ll be happy to walk anyone through the installation of the free Kindle/nook/other apps on their phone or computer.

    I will admit that I didn’t think of libraries buying the print version—I knew that many had e-lending options now, so I thought that the ebook would be sufficient. We’ll look into a print version now, so that if institutions like libraries do want a copy for their shelves, they can purchase it if they like.

  15. 15
    Meljean says:

    Ack, Sarah—my comment re: a print version ended up in spam moderation.

  16. 16
    cleo says:

    I bought this last night based on your mini review in the Hot and Steamy thread and wow. So good.  Thanks for the rec.  I read the first two stories last night and by the end I was a limp, grinning pile of protoplasm.  OMG.  This morning I realized that the mystery in the Brook story wasn’t completely resolved, at least not for me, but I was feeling so swoony and happy about the constable and his wife that I didn’t care that much. 

    And wow, the Myles story is pretty much the perfect erotic short story.  Not sure how she managed to take two things that usually make me roll my eyes (shifters and MMF menage) and blend them into such a great story.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    Hey @hapax: funny you should mention it—I was just thinking this morning that because this was a self-published anthology, I didn’t think it would be possible for libraries to stock it, neither in e or print editions.

    Are some library positions on self-published works changing? I thought, and I could be wrong, that self-pub books weren’t part of most public libraries. If so, awesome with sauce. I’m curious how different libraries will manage the influx of self-published works that would be requested by patrons.

  18. 18
    cleo says:

    Let me add that I too love Constable Newberry.  He’s my favorite hero in Brook’s steampunk series so far – I far prefer him to the more old-skool heroes in the two previous stories.

    And I agree about the Crane story.  I liked it but I didn’t love it like the other two.  It’s well written and compelling, but it was a lot of angst to wade through after reading two such feel good stories first.  I think I need to re-read it again to appreciate it, perhaps when I am not so swoony and giggly and wanting to savor my “good romance” glow.

  19. 19
    Emily says:

    @SB Sarah
    Please don’t tell me you given up reading the Iron Duke. Its really good. I recommend it.
    Also I think you said you read Here Be Monsters which features the same world. It was a story inside an anthonlogy.
    I am glad this story is good.
    Its reminds me of Devil’s Cub. Its really good, but its even better if you have read These Old Shades. The begining makes sense to those who have read both, but if only read Devil’s Cub the beginning is “slow.’

  20. 20
    Brandi says:

    This actually sounds interesting.

    But I’d dock a grade, or at least half of one, for the stupid generic cover that practically insures people will overlook it in the bookstore.

  21. 21
    Carin says:

    Huh.  I liked the cover. 

    And SB Sarah, you’d better read The Iron Duke as soon as your brain clears, because I just saw that Jane at Dear Author gave the sequel coming out this fall (Nov?) 5 stars on Goodreads…

  22. 22

    I like the cover. It’s kind of generic pnr but how do you convey steampunk, oddball UF, and shifter menage with one image?

    So I read this today and loved the Crane and Brook stories. The romance, world, characters—everything is unique. I’m familiar with both series, which helps I think. The exciting part is that these authors aren’t doing anything that’s been done before. I’m a fan.

    The Miles story isn’t as innovative IMO but it probably stands alone better. All in all, well done.

  23. 23
    cbackson says:

    Oh goodness, I think that this is going to have to be my reward for having to work all of one of the few sunny Saturdays we’ve had in the PNW this year…

  24. 24
    Readsalot81 says:

    I know I started bugging the authors when July 25th rolled around thanks to this website! And then was bummed when it was delayed a week, but you know what? Totally worth it!!! :D

    I have books by all the authors and I’m a big fan of all the short stories in this one, though, CC’s is probably my personal preference.

    I don’t have an e-reader right now.. . I DO NOT DO NOT like reading books on a screen. Sorry. Have tried it numerous times, it bugs the shit out of me. That being said, I was in a frenzy.. where can I buy this book since I don’t have an e-reader.. WAHH :| (Or Adobe for that matter) And many thanks to Carolyn Crane for assuring me yes, I can read it.. just go here, here or here.  And I did, yay smashwords :)

    Yeah, I still have 83 problems w/ e-readers.

  25. 25
    Kelly S. says:

    I loved the Iron Duke & Here There Be Monsters so I am very much looking forward to read Newberry’s story in Wild & Steamy.  Frankly, it was the only story that interested me in the anthology but will give the shape-shifters one a try.  I will say MMF & paranormals really aren’t my thing like a few of the other commentors have mentioned it isn’t in their alley normally either.

    mother44 – THANK GOD I am not the mother of 44 kids. Yeesh!

  26. 26
    rooruu says:

    AND you can buy it for Kindle in Australia.  Yay!  Great to be able to read such a positive review and then buy it straightaway (esp for the Meljean Brook story, I like that steampunk Iron Duke world) without getting the Not Available knockback.

  27. 27
    kylie says:

    Hmm, I want to read the anthology, but I am irked to the extreme that I cannot acquire any of the other books in the Iron Duke series electronically ( awesome job publishers, this is an excellent way to encourage law breaking).

    For that alone I am grateful that this one is self published (no stupid limitations on which countries Amazon (or any other e retailer) will sell to) so I can actually purchase it.

    I can (and have) rant on this for ages, but ultimately it comes down to the simple equation of if the book is not available as an e-book for Australia (where I currently live, I move a bit) but is overseas I will not be buying that author in any format. Period.  Given that paperbacks in Australia routinely sell at $20 (yeah really) I see no reason to reward anyone in that chain for failing to think and expecting me to cough up an extra $15 or so for the privilege.

    I love my e-reader- and it has enabled me to read many authors whose books do not appear on the limited shelves here, but quite honestly, the book industry has had a decade plus to watch what happened to the music and film industry, and they appear to have learned nothing.

    I have download wild & steamy and look forward to reading it-just wish that more was available

  28. 28
    Holly says:

    This is the reason why I check SBTB every day – I almost always find a fabulous book, new author or just love reading the comments.  Sarah – thanks for the recommendation – I’ve read the first two stories already. Totally Awesome.

  29. 29

    Love, love, love this anthology!

    I didn’t care much for the third story but that’s just me – I couldn’t get into the characters’ world so it sort of fell flat. But I highly recommend the book for those looking for a fast, wonderful dunk in some fantastic worlds with fantastic characters.

    :)

  30. 30
    Dancing_Angel says:

    Can’t you download an e-book reader for your computer?  I read my library books that way.  I thought the Kindle App was free.

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