by Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee, Catherine Asaro

November 2003
ISBN: 0-373-21833-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Mass Market Paperback

As an introduction to their new LUNA imprint, Harlequin has released an anthology of romantic fantasy. Charmed Destinies features the talents of three popular authors, Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee and Catherine Asaro.

Counting Crows is Mercedes Lackey's contribution to the anthology. Those readers who read fantasy will be quite familiar with Lackey's style of writing. Her back list can be overwhleming if you plan on going out to read them all. Ms. Lackey isn't afraid to rough up her main characters, but she manages to have them triumph over the evil that is plaguing them. Lady Gwynhefar has been married to a man she doesn't know. From the moment she arrives at her new home, she realizes that she must make the best of a terrible situation. Her only true friend is Sir Atremus, an older knight who has befriended her. She will survive her life, but what price will be asked of her?

Lackey's story has strong characters and a solid story line. The plot moves fast. Tension swirls around the castle as power builds and decisions are made. There is nothing to disappoint in this story of magic and love.

Drusilla's Dream by Rachel Lee is a mixture of futuristic components and fantasy story lines. Drusilla works at night, inputting information into a computer. While her hands work, she daydreams about a magical world where she is a princess on a quest for her father. One night, in the middle of her daydream, a stranger appears. Miles, resembles the tech department supervisor. Together they follow the trail to end the quest, defeating evil and finding love.

This is the weakest of the three stories. The dialogue feels forced. The pacing is disjointed and hard to follow. An interesting story line and strong characters weren't able to save this story.

After reading Moonglow, I've gone on a hunt to find Catherine Asaro's back list. I also can not wait for her next book in the series. Ms. Asaro has created a world full of wonder and magic. Iris Larkspur has found the heir to the throne of Aronsdale. Unfortunately, Jarid is blind, deaf and mute because of a spell cast when he was a young child. Can Iris' magic and love heal the tortured soul of the young prince? Will their love for each other be enough to save their land? It may, because the young couple's magic has never been seen before in their land.

Creating a blind, deaf and mute hero who can still have such presence and ability takes a special talent. Ms. Asaro does it with a sure touch and sensitivity not only to Jarid but to Iris as well. Iris' confidence in herself and her place in the world grows as the story progresses. Iris' strengths blend with Jarid's to make a convincing relationship without too much neediness on both sides.

Harlequin's first venture into the realm of romantic fantasy is a sucess. Mercedes Lackey's book, The Fairy Godmother is the launch book for LUNA and will out in January. I will definitely be adding that book to my Lackey collection. The next book in Catherine Asaro's series about Aronsdale, featuring Muller and Chime, will be out in February from LUNA. It's my recommedation that if you are unsure about reading romantic fantasy, you should try these books.

Whether it is journeys to other worlds in the universe or quests in worlds full of magic and mystery, Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee and Catherine Asaro will entertain and enthrall every reader who picks up this book.

Reviewed in November 2003 by Jenni.