Review: Unconventional in San Diego Anthology

I saw unicorns and San Diego so I jumped at this one when it was offered up in the clubhouse.

I'm not gonna lie, I was disappointed at the lack of San Diego-ness overall, but I wasn't disappointed in the anthology. There were some real gems here and I think you'll be pretty happy to visit Unconventional in San Diego too.

‘Fate’s Bridge’ by Carol Lynne - 2.5 Hearts

Is it possible for a soul to be reborn inside another? What would you do if you discovered someone harboring a soul you recognized as one from a deceased loved one? For vampire Roman Gschwind, the scenario becomes a reality when he meets Bodi Rain. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Roman must share Bodi with another vampire if he has any chance of rekindling the love that he’d lost so long ago.

My overall feeling on this one was a resounding “meh”. There was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. Roman is in love with his soulmate Julian who passed away many moons ago and his bro-vamp Alexi tells him that Julian has been reborn in the bod of Bodi who has come into Unconventional where Alexi tends bar. Roman loiters in the hopes of seeing him but Bodi doesn’t return. Shenanigans go down and Alexia and Roman have to come together to save Bodi from a random, rogue vamp attack. Bodi gets turned into a vampire in the process and his reaction is, “S’cool bro”. Apparently being turned makes the turners and the turnee bone like their dicks are going to be confiscated tomorrow so they gotta make the most of tonight. Rather than fill the story with actual story the conflict was glossed over with the “meh” and the “S’cool bro” so that the uncontrollable boning could continue. Along the way they fell in love, not sure where it happened, but I knew it because the book told me, but I couldn’t tell you how or why so I wasn’t feeling it.

‘Coming in Third’ by Amber Kell - 4 Hearts

Love sometimes comes in threes. With his mother plotting to have him wed, Niall decides to sneak out of the fae palace and fulfill one of his greatest fantasies. At the Unconventional bar, he finds a pair of lion shifters looking to spice up their love life. Unable to resist the strong attraction between them, Niall lets the persuasive pair take him home. Jovan and Luka have been searching for their third for years.
When Niall stumbles into the bar, their shifter instincts tell them the innocent fae could be their long sought mate. After a sensual night together, they’re certain the beautiful man was fated to be theirs. His guards fetch him from the shifters’ bed and Niall is taken away from the pair. Upset about Niall’s return to the palace and a possible arranged marriage, the lion shifters battle to decide their future—should they go and fetch their mate or let it only be the one-night stand Niall promised them? Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of M/M/M ménage.

This was a fun fairytale flavored menage/shifter story. The author is kind enough to give us two alpha-type lion shifters (Jovan and Luka) and a fae third (Niall) who is looking to fulfill a fantasy of a menage before he has to fulfill his duty with an arranged marriage. The characters were charming and I liked that Niall was no pushover. He may not have been a big bad ass physically, but he was tough, loyal and knew how to get what he wanted. Jovan and Luka had very different personalities and reading about how they fared after Niall left was really quite sweet. Niall was their third and the whole “mate” and “mine” thing worked because they acknowledged the physical but didn’t throw down the eternal love card like a lot of shifter stories do. That’s where stories lose me, I buy the lust, not the love, but am very open to the characters heading that direction. I want the journey and when I don’t get it I feel cheated. For a short story this was paced really well. I didn’t have to read declarations of undying love to know that it would come eventually.

‘The Unicorn Said Yes’ by T.A. Chase - 3 Hearts

When an innocent human virgin meets the king of the unicorn herd, it’s not just legends that come true. Ivan Brusilov goes to Unconventional to get a drink and let off some steam. Little does he realize he’ll be meeting his destiny when he walks in.
Carney Ferguson goes to the paranormal bar to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday. Maybe he’s looking for some fun as well, considering he’s still a virgin. He doesn’t like admitting it, but when he meets Ivan, he discovers that being a virgin can bring opportunities that being experienced might not. As the unicorn king and the virgin begin to fall in love, there are darker forces working behind the scenes to take advantage of the unicorn legends for their own evil purpose. Neither Ivan nor Carney are safe alone, but together, they just might be strong enough to keep Ivan alive.

I was super excited to read this one for obvious reasons. I mean the dude is a unicorn shifter FFS. It was a sweet story too and I liked how the author used the unicorn/virgin legend to get these guys their story. It gave the whole shifter thing a unique, yet classic, spin that totally worked. I liked both Ivan and Carney even though Carney felt a little off to me at times and I had trouble getting a grip on his character. He read as cliché sometimes but there were glimpses of depth at others and I think the length of the story may have been a little short for me to fully connect with him. The ending wrapped up too quickly and again I think it was just a lot of story and back story for the overall length. I wouldn’t want anything taken out though so maybe just more in general? I see that as a win.

‘Blood on the Moon’ by Jambrea Jo Jones - 4 Hearts

Be careful what you wish for, especially when you’re a witch. Montague Ramey wanted something to happen in his life. He thought when he found out he was a witch that his life would become more exciting, but it was the same thing every day. His coven was nice and boring, as was his job with the television station anchoring the news. The only excitement he got was going to the local bar, but there weren’t very many men who wanted to play. That was, until the moon turned red and his life changed.
After Kishar Nichelson’s motorcycle stalled on the highway with no traffic in sight, he stumbled into a small town around midnight, the red moon guiding his way. On the run and weak, Kishar needed to figure out where he was and who was after him before lack of sex killed him. Can a witch and an incubus solve the mystery before one of them dies? The blood on the moon wasn’t the only thing they had to worry about. Meddling family, close calls with death and a missing witch are enough to keep anyone busy, but can Kishar and Montague still find time for love?

I liked this one a lot. We meet Montague Ramey briefly in The Unicorn Said Yes and in Blood on the Moon we get his story. Montague, do NOT call him Monty, is a somewhat unconventional witch. His coven isn’t what you would expect. Montague was adopted and didn’t even know he was a witch until he hit puberty. His parents were awesome and moved the family to an area with a coven that could help teach Montague the ways of the witch-folk. He meets/rescues Kishar on the night of a blood moon which are typically harbingers of all manner of bad things to Montague. Kishar is a good-guy incubus who refuses to hurt the people he needs to feed from but comes from a family of bad-guy incubuseseses, incubi, whatever. They are assholes and that’s what we need to focus on. Kishar and Montague are great together and the mission they embark on to save the coven is paced and balanced well. It’s an insta love/lust/meant to be story but the author pulled it all together well because the characters were likable and I wanted them to get their HEA.

‘A Sliver of Sunset’ by Devon Rhodes - 4 Hearts

From one-night stand to nurse and patient—is it crazy to expect more? Angelo has somehow developed leukemia—the only paranormal ever known to do so—and the doctors are mystified as to the cause. The cure requires him to repress his shifter side with a chemical inhibitor and be entirely human while he goes through chemotherapy, which contributes to some interesting situations he never would have foreseen—things like ‘misplacing’ his favorite bar, Unconventional, and getting picked up by a human without realizing it’s his mate.
Dominic can’t believe his luck when bravely striking up a conversation with the hottest guy he’s ever seen leads to the best sex he’s ever had. When he wakes up—no surprise—Angelo is gone. A week later, he’s shocked when he walks in to meet a new oncology patient to find Angelo fighting for his life and dependent upon his care. Will their timing ever improve, or will Angelo’s time run out before they get a chance?

This was a completely different take on the shifter story and I really, really liked it. Angelo and Dominic have a HAWT (HAWT is much hotter than your regular run-of-the-mill hot) one night stand. They really shouldn’t have even met, but Angelo is taking inhibitors to suppress his shifter side and can’t ‘see’ Unconventional, the paranormal bar where he was originally headed. And of course, what should have been kinda sad ended up being the best thing ever. We don’t know that yet, we have to read the story of Angelo and Domenic and myself? I enjoyed every word. I liked how the story was about a completely different kind of battle than what we usually read about. There were no packs vs. covens or ancient wrongs being righted. This was a story about a man fighting for his life and there is no logical reason for Angelo to even be ill. But he has leukemia and Dominic is there for him every step of the way. It read like an extended meet/cute in that these guys got to know each other as Angelo struggled. Oh sure, they boned at the beginning, but that was a tease-y little nugget that stayed in the back of my mind because I knew all along how HAWT they could be together and made me anxious to read about how it would all play out.

**a copy of this book was provided for an  honest review**

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1 comment:

  1. Mixed bag of books and a mixed bag of reviews, but I'm tempted.