6 romance authors unleash their dark side and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. These stories all focus on things darker than most romances and all have well fleshed out characters and even a few steamy moments going on between all of the scares. I could read stories like these all day, every day. Too bad I have bills and a job and there aren’t enough of these sorts of tales to feed that kind of need anyway . . .
On to the stories.
Company by Roan Parrish
A lonely teen spends his summer obsessively reading a vampire comic. It seems he’s a fallen a little in love with the fictional vampire character named Michel. One early morning he just so happens to bump into his obsession in the flesh! I think I would’ve passed out dead but Nick is made of stronger stuff and the two strike up an awkward sort of friendship that brings Nick comfort. When Nick returns to school, he begins a real relationship with a genuine boy who seems to like him quite a bit but Michel is always there lurking about in the corners with menace in his eyes . . . That’ll put a damper on any romantic interludes.
Is Michel real? Will Michel and/or Nick sabotage Nick’s chance for happiness and first love?
I’m not telling. This was a great way to start off the collection. It’s a creepy little story and I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to ruin it. 4 Stars
Love Me True by Kris Ripper
“There’s nothing better after a truly shitty day than coming home, locking my boyfriend’s wrists in padded handcuffs, gagging him, and whaling on him with a paddle. Nothing is better than that feeling, that rush.”
Well, then! Now that’s the way to start off a story.
Palmer spends his days in a job he loathes and most of his nights at the black jack table and/or screwing his true love Jon. You can’t have everything but at least Palmer has Jon. The two are deeply in love but Jon has some devastatingly dark passions. Passions he wants to share with Palmer . . .
I watch far too much true crime tv, more probably than any sane person should, and because of this I forecasted this one very early on and it didn’t surprise me. The relationship, the lust, the love, and the devastation were all nice and juicy though, just like my favorite true crime shows. 3 ½ Stars
The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
I think this story is my favorite. It is so horrific and yet so dignified and proper all at the same time, possibly due to the setting, the language and the spunky, fearless protagonist. Whatever it was, it all worked for me. It was nuts and I loved it. The story is complete in and of itself but I would love to see this character and this twisted world made into a full length book.
Much to Johanna’s dismay, Arabella, the love of her life, has been committed to Mr Fogg’s Asylum for the Weak-Minded by her dastardly relatives. Arabella is not certifiable; her relatives are just greedy and want her inheritance. As you can imagine, Mr. Fogg’s Asylum is not a nice place. People die under their care after they’ve been horribly abused. Johanna cannot wait another day and takes action after learning a secret that she can use as leverage to free Arabella before something completely dreadful happens to her.
This secret leads Johanna into a lawless land of horrors where violence, disfigurement, murder and worse terrors await all who step through a hidden door . . .
This story is freaking fantastic and you must read it! It is disturbing, it has moments of dark humor, many twisty turns, and a brave “I’ll do it all my own damn self” type of heroine and my eyeballs were glued to all of its words. Five stars.
His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Steve is one of a few pledges for a frat house. He’s really not into the whole frat-life thing but endures the pain and humiliation because it’s what his father demands – or he’ll cut off funds.
"New Orleans lured me then lied to me. My father spoke as if the city had been a sweetheart of his. He loved his alma mater more than my mother. I find the entire state stifling like the shacks at summer camp, when I discovered, surrounded by other boys, how much I wanted to push one into a dark room, form a knot with our limbs, take kisses. "
Before leaving for university, Steve’s dad gave him a flask and promised it would help him make friends but he must NEVER drink from it himself. It has some magical quality that fills it with whatever the drinker wishes. This is college. You can imagine just how popular this thing could make a guy! But all but one of his new frat “friends” are assholes who use and abuse him. His self-esteem is low and he’s sickened by the things he’s done, especially when a sweet boy starts showing interest in him. So armed with his magical flask, he’s forced to take his life back . . .
This is angsty, awful, lusty and sweet all rolled into one short little story definitely worth your time. 4 ½ Stars
Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
This is one weird little tale.
Staff Sergeant Jason Essex of the United States Marine Corps is assigned a strange mission. He is given very strict instructions to monitor an enclosure for eight weeks. The enclosure holds an “entity” that must not ever be spoken to. Jason is told that it looks like a human being but it isn’t and that it lies.
There's a man in there dark and pale and something is wrong with his eyes.
At first, he follows directions but as time goes by loneliness and curiosity set in and he begins to bend the rules. That’s when the freaky dreams begin . . .
The story is told in letters, reports, recordings, journal entries and Reddit and Google searches that get increasingly stranger as he spends more time with the “entity” that starts looking like his former crush. This story is unique, eerie, and a little sexy too. 4 Stars
Beauties by J.A. Rock
“At a presentation celebrating the public opening of Carnificiality, Lester Usole watched Dr. Anne Cullom fuck a pair of twin Beauties.”
In this here world, Beauties are Artificial Beings (AB’s) created for pleasure and abuse. Sick people pay good money for those things but Lester isn’t a sick person. He programs and raises AB infants and is at the ceremony for work and quite sickened by what he’s shown. It’s here he first meets Ira, an AB so dangerous, so violent that he cannot be sold to the public. He is covered in bruises and Lester makes a brash decision to take him home, keep him safe and study him.
Poor misguided Lester. He truly has no idea what he has just brought home.
This story was disturbing on so many levels. It isn’t sexually explicit, despite the opening sentence, but it bothered me deeply as only the best horror tales can. 4 Stars