by Anthology

February 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21111-1
Reviewer Graphic Button New American Library
Trade Paperback

From other worlds to the Sherwood Forest, six of romance and fantasy’s most popular authors have teamed up to create Irresistible Forces, an anthology that shows how love can bloom in the most unusual circumstances.

I chose the book because it contained stories from Mary Jo Putney and Jo Beverley, historical romance authors that I enjoy. I was not as familiar with some of the fantasy-based authors, like Catherine Asaro and Lois McMaster Bujold, but always willing to try something new. While I was certainly not disappointed, I also realize that I was missing some important information when reading these stories. Some of them were parts of larger story arcs and may be of interest to true-blue fantasy fans, but I felt like a gate-crasher. Or like an uninvited wedding guest - to the nuptial celebration of Lord Miles Vorkosigan.....

The wedding is the scene for Winterfair Gifts by Lois McMaster Bujold. In this story filled with intrigue, we see that even the most unlikely beings can find love in unexpected places. This short story is tightly crafted, containing a completeness that even I appreciated. There is humor, danger and some sadness all wrapped in one interesting tale.

Mary Jo Putney’s The Alchemical Marriage puts powerful mages together for the sake of Queen and country - Elizabeth and England. Set in the early days of the Spanish Armada, weather mage Adam Macrae is asked to call up a tempest to force the attacking fleet from the Channel. Such a task is too much for Adam to attempt alone, but he is teamed with Isabel De Cortes, who has her own brand of magic. The characters in this story were very appealing and the action was non-stop.

In another story from the Ruby Dynasty, Catherine Asaro shows us the power of love and sacrifice in Stained Glass Heart. Young Vryl Valdoria would rather be a farmer, spending his days with his beloved Lily, than a prince of the realm, called upon to make a dynastic marriage that will bring peace and prosperity to his people. This is a touching tale with a few twists in the road to love.

In one of the most interesting stories, Jennifer Roberson brings together two legendary heroes - Merlin and Robin Hood - in the enchanting Shadows in the Woods. When Robin and Marian encounter Merlin, newly freed from his woodland prison, they did not expect to join him on a quest for Excalibur. Following the magician to Avalon, the legendary couple will play a key role in putting the enchanted realm to rest, now that their King has been vanquished. Since I love both Arthurian and Robin Hood legends, this story was a treat from start to finish.

Space will not permit me to describe all of the stories contained in Irresistible Forces, but each and every one of them is a winner. Well-written, often in a genre unlike the “norm” for the authors, it is nice to see them stretch their creativity. For those of you with an urge to try something unusual, leave your mind open and enjoy Irresistible Forces.

Reviewed in February 2004 by Paula.

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