Grade – B-
Hotness Level – Blaze
Kink Level – no kink
Genre – Contemporary
Reviewed by Anne
Sizzle by Jennifer Crusie
Emily is a successful marketing guru who makes a lot of money for the company she works for, but is also known for running over budget on her accounts. Richard is brought in to partner with her and keep the financial side of her accounts in line. They are immediately attacted to each other, but Richard's habit of not listening to Emily, during professional or personal moments, has Emily on her guard professionally and keeping her distance personally. Richard seems clueless as to his... shall I call them bad habits?
I had some problems with this story that kept it from being a better read for me. There were moments where Richard was so oblivious to what Emily was saying that it bordered on non-consent (sexually) for me. It never was rape or even close, but there were moments it was uncomfortable for me to read. Partway through the story a reference to renting a VCR took me back to my childhood and made me realize this was an old story. That was disappointing for me.
I did really enjoy the banter back and forth between Richard and Emily, and I really liked Emily's strength of character. She really liked Richard, but she wasn't going to allow him to NOT listen to her. Her insistence on his improvement made his deplorable behavior tolerable. It's difficult to believe he's really changed his ways at the end of the story, but I do believe Emily will continue to put him in his place.
Too Fast To Fall by Victoria Dahl
Jenny Stone has a need. A need for speed. And that need for speed keeps getting her pulled over by Deputy Nate Hendricks. I have to admit that this is true for me:
Victoria Dahl + police officer = win
Jenny and Nate have some really nice chemistry together. There is a lot going on in this short story, but I think Victoria Dahl pulled it off nicely. Jenny was a nice mix of self confident and dealing with past issues that have given her a tendency to run. I loved Nate's honestly with Jenny. Things that could have been hidden and created BIG SECRETS were not. They were dealt with, and it was messy, but not annoying like a big misunderstanding is. Add in some good secondary characters and this story was a big win for me.
Alone With You by Shannon Stacey
Jake and Darcy have a one night stand they both think will develop into something more, until Jake loses Darcy's number and she thinks he never meant to call her at all. This makes things quite awkward when they end up working together on an isolated project for a mutual friend/employer. This story gets bonus points from me for being the only one that really had a strong Valentine's Day collection. I expected that from all three stories in a collection called "Be Mine" but really only Alone With You had more than a token reference.
This story had the things I love about Shannon Stacey's writing, but it was kind of a miss for me. There was a running joke (Big Ass Steak) and Kowalskis (Kevin and Beth from the second book) and funny and true good friends. I really enjoyed Jake and Darcy playing trivia, too. But I think the two of them together didn't always feel right. It felt a little rushed and a little up and down. They're not getting along. They've got horny pants. They're in love. It's over! Oh no! But they're in love! Ok, back together with the horny pants. In the end it was just ok for me.