I had never read anything by any of the authors in this anthology apart from Jess Haines, and apart from Jess's story, I'm not likely to seek them out after reading their efforts in NOCTURNAL. All in all, this is a very disjointed collection containing a hardcore erotic story, two paranormal romances, and an urban fantasy.
The Phoenix Project by Jacquelyn Frank was by far the most sexually explicit thing I have ever read. The story is 130 pages long and I would say that at least 120 of those pages were sex scenes. The story itself, what little there was, was actually pretty interesting. In a dystopian world, people are abducted from their homes, imprisoned, and used a lab rats until they die. Amara and Nick are genetically altered and thrown into a room together naked. They quickly discover an almost painfully animalistic need to mate, along with a few erotic alterations to their bodies. Lots, and lots, and lots of shockingly detailed graphic sex follows. Hardcore erotica is really not the kind of thing I enjoy reading, so I'm feeling somewhat at a loss as to how to rate this one... ?/5 bats
By comparison, Crystal Dreams by Kate Douglas (100 pages), about inter-dimensional demons and the immortal warriors devoted to destroying them, was tame, although it also contains several long graphic sex scenes. When demons target a magic shop owner, the warrior vows to protect her and falls in lust, sorry love, along the way. The world building was intriguing, but mostly wasting in this tale. Worse, neither character was particularly strong. Darius was tired as the stoic warrior who succumbs to a pretty face, and Mari wasn't half as sparkling as the crystals she sold...2/5 bats
Spark of Temptation by Jess Haines (102 pages) was the reason I wanted to read this anthology and it didn't disappoint. Focusing on two supporting characters from Jess's excellent urban fantasy debut Hunted By The Others, this story picks up at the end of the previous book while Shiarra is still recovering in the hospital and shows us how her investigating partner Sara and the mage Arnold got together. This is a solid urban fantasy in a complex world of recently revealed Others (non-humans), with likable characters, paranormal peril, and one super sexy vampire. Unlike the other three stories in NOCTURNAL, this one is subtly sexy without any actual sex...4/5 bats
The last story, My Soul to Take by Clare Willis (starts on 333) involves a doctor in a psychiatric ward and her possible possessed suicidal patient. It can be difficult to establish a credible romance in short stories, but I almost feel like this story didn't even try. Within seconds of meeting each other the characters are making out declaring their love only pages later. There is also a side plot where the doctor tries to reconnect with her sister after years of estrangement following the suicide of their mother, but again it fell flat...2/5 bats
Sexual Content: From obscenely graphic erotica in one story, only references to sex in another, and everything in between.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
I am a 20-something book lover with an obsession for all things urban fantasy. I cut my teeth on the paranormal genre withBuffyandTwilightbefore discoveringPatricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. Suffice … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
"The Phoenix Project" by Jacquelyn Frank. Held captive, Amara is subjected to bizarre experiments that test the limits of her sanity. But nothing prepares her for being locked away - naked - with a sexy ex-cop...after they've been pumped full of drugs that increase their sexual appetites to animalistic intensity..."Crystal Dreams" by Kate Douglas - When Lemurian Guard Darius chases a demon spirit to Earth, he faces a lethal battle between good and evil. His ally is Mari, a breathtakingly beautiful human who unknowingly holds the key to victory. But before the war is over, Darius' desire for his mortal companion threatens to erupt - and could cost Mari her life..."Spark of Temptation" by Jess Haines - Blackmailed into taking a treacherous case, P.I. Sara Halloway is thrust into a demon war. Sara seeks guidance from a charismatic mage, but their hunger for one another soon becomes a deadly distraction...and the danger surrounding them only makes their urges more powerful..."My Soul to Take" by Clare Willis - New Orleans native Dr. Maggie Dillon thought she left her past behind her - until she's enraptured by a handsome patient who has been possessed by a malevolent spirit. To find a cure, Colby revisits her magical roots - and unleashes a primal lust too vital to ignore...