I enjoyed the anthology On the Prowl, and I also like Kim Harrison's books, so when I saw this book on the shelves at my library, I thought I'd give it a try.
Tanya Huff's story "Music Hath Charms" opens the anthology, and I enjoyed it very much, which was not unexpected, as she's a favorite author of mine. After that, though, the stories were a fairly mixed bunch. I think that it takes a skillful writer to put together a short story in which there is a mandatory romantic element that feels believable and right, while at the same time crafting a well-written fantasy story. At least it feels that way after reading one after the other. Many of them seemed more wish-fulfillment fantasies than actual well-crafted tales.
The first three stories of the book were my favorites: Tanya Huff's, as I mentioned, along with "Minotaur in Stone" by Marjorie Liu (an interesting premise and some vivid imagery, but again, I didn't quite buy the abrupt intense love of the two main characters for each other) and "Demon Lover" by Cheyenne McCray (a slightly predicable but intriguing tale of a succubus and one of his victims).
Of the others that worked for me, I enjoyed Kim Harrison's story, although it relied a bit too much on a twist that, as I reread it, made me feel as though she'd cheated a bit to pull it off. I also enjoyed "Brother's Keeper" by Lilith Saintcrow, which sets up an intriguing murder mystery in which the victim is the main character's brother. But there's no conclusion to the story - it's as though the author submitted the opening chapter to a novel, and suddenly it all ends. We never even find out whodunnit. It was frustrating, but the character is in such an unusual predicament that I'd certainly pick up the novel to find out what happens! I scrolled through the author's books on Amazon, but I didn't see any featuring Selene, the main character in this story. I saw several series, though - are there any fans out there who'd recommend them?
All in all, I am glad I got this from the library. I'd have been disappointed had I shelled out the money to buy it.
Hotter Than Hell, edited by Kim Harrison (Harper, 2008)
Also reviewed by:
The Good, the Bad, the Unread: "While all of the stories are well-written and none are truly awful, many of the stories are forgettable or unsatisfying."
Janicu's Book Blog: "I feel somewhat disappointed in a lot of the stories in this anthology. In most of them I found too much of the sexual attraction, not enough to make me believe in the relationship."
Riley's Reviews: "I will say, this has to be one of the first anthologies in which I genuinely liked every story -- each was a winner for me in its own way."