Charmed and Dangerous
Authors: Jordan Castillo Price, Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Jordan L. Hawk, Charlie Cochet, Lou Harper, Andrea Speed, Astrid Amara, K.J. Charles
Title: Charmed and Dangerous
Series: An Anthology
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.
I liked the premise of the anthology, that the monsters get to be heroes, and I thought every single story gave a unique glimpse into that idea. I've given short reviews for each individual story and my overall rating for the anthology is the average of those reviews.
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford -- Four Petals
When Roku needs a new partner the man he gets isn't at all what he's expecting and neither is their first case. I liked the overall story and thought it was very well written, but I thought there needed to be a little more explanation of the world and the magic in it for me to really get into the plot. The romance was also really sudden without enough build up for me to find it fully believable.
Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale -- Five Petals
This is my favorite of the anthology. The world Hale created was so distinct and the magic so unusual and interesting that I couldn't help wanting more. This story could very easily become a novel, there was so much content. I also liked the romance, which came on fast and then simmered to a point that I could tell they were aiming for forever together.
A Queer Trade by KJ Charles -- Four Petals
I found this story to be very strange, but also very interesting. Blood magic is illegal, but Crispin is completely ignorant of that fact despite practicing that type of magic. When his master dies suddenly and the family that buys his master's house starts selling all the papers, Crispin is forced to find it all before the evil spells on them start doing others harm. He's not entirely successful, but his efforts lead him into a romance that I liked reading.
Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling -- Five Petals
I thought this story was so much fun to read. The details Kimberling put into her characters from how a goblin could be human in form but not in action to the strange people convening underneath the Lincoln Memorial was amazing. I also thought the magical creatures were well-crafted. This is another story that could easily be made into a longer novel that I very much want to read.
Everyone's Afraid of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price -- Three Petals
To understand just about everything that happens in this story you need to read the rest of the Psycop series. Victor and Jacob are sidetracked from heading to a Halloween party for a very shaky reason and find themselves in the strangest haunted house I've ever heard of. The descriptions of the settings and the people were wonderful, but when I compare how limited the plot was to the rest of the stories in this anthology I can't help feeling like this one fell short.
The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L. Hawk -- Four Petals
This story was short, but the length worked with the plot. Dominic works as a hexman, a man who writes the spells so witches can imbue them with magic, and although he would like to be a witch he knows he doesn't have the power for it. That changes when Rook, a crow familiar, appears needing Dominic's help. I particularly liked that the romance took its time, which balanced the simple plot perfectly.
The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet -- Two Petals
This was definitely the weakest story in the anthology. The plot was never fully explained, nor was the romantic relationship given any depth. One moment Riley is working at a coffee shop, the next he's mated to a magical tiger. I didn't think any of the story was properly fleshed out and the romance went from being enemies to lovers with absolutely no real reason for the change given.
One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper -- Three Petals
I liked this story, but I thought there were some holes in the plot that made it difficult to read. I thought Mike gave too little explanation to support the conclusions he reached while in the process of investigating a violent murder. I also thought the ending was rushed and the romance wasn't given any structure to give it any form of plausibility.
Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed -- Four Petals
I found this story to be a hilarious romp. I laughed the entire time I was reading it, which was a nice change from the rest of the more serious anthology. I haven't read the rest of the series, but really enjoyed this anyway and I don't feel like I missed any of the jokes or plot despite that. The only drawback I had was how short it was. It didn't have any real plot, but rather was a vignette from Speed's larger series, which didn't quite fit in with the depth in the rest of the anthology.
The Trouble with Hexes by Astrid Amara -- Five Petals
Because he's suffering from a terrible hex, Tim knows he has to go see his ex-boyfriend Vincent, a curse breaker, for help. As the investigation into who cursed Tim goes on, their romance rekindles in a slow burn sort of way that made me believe that their love hadn't ever been lost, just momentarily misplaced. I also really liked the magic in the story and the way the curse was described. My only complaint was that I figured out who the villain is very early on, so I missed out on the shock value of the big reveal at the end, but I enjoyed absolutely everything else in this story.
I liked some stories in this anthology better than others, which is to be expected, but overall I thought they were very well-crafted with depth to the plot and the magic that I really enjoyed. I definitely recommend this book.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.