by Charlotte Boycott-Compo, Kate Hill, and Patricia Rasey

July 2002
ISBN: 1-58697-046-1
Reviewer Graphic Button RFI West
Mass Market Paperback

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Imagine, if you will, a collaboration between Jayne Ann Krentz and Rod Serling! I have to believe that something like this book would have resulted from the merging of sensual romance and the Twilight Zone.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo leads off this anthology with her story Taken By The Wind. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Brenna Collins accidentally becomes a witness to a killing - one of many committed by a brutal serial killer who believes that his victims should lose their ability to see their fate! I'm not going into more detail because I don't want to spoil such a brilliantly inventive plot - this hair-raising suspense story is frightening enough! The developments in Brenna's life from then on and her slowly unraveling ties to this inhuman monster are played out against the authorities' attempts to find him - one cop in particular is hot on the trail, Kylan Cree! The terrifying inevitability of Brenna's fate and the enormously shocking twist at the conclusion of this tale make it a real treasure - not to be read in the dark!!

Kate Hill takes us on a slightly different journey into the dark side of romance when she presents us with a case of Love on the Wild Side. The time? The not-too-distant future. The premise? The Ultra Corps, the finest in military and law enforcement personnel, dedicated public servants who volunteer to be enhanced, mechanically and pharmacologically, to become almost super-human. The problem? What happens when these guys burn out? Alyssa Remington is a psychologist who refuses to accept that these officers should be treated as rogue animals and put down! Her beliefs bring her to a solitary confinement cell where one Luke Wilder, danger personified, is being held. Alyssa must reconcile her personal reaction to Luke with her professional need to help him, and along the way we stumble into questions about humanity, honor and passion. Luke is a driven man - but what is the force behind his compulsions, and where is he headed? This is a quietly chilling story that forces the reader into uncomfortable situations that require uncompromising honesty. Very definitely a "couldn't-stop-until-the-end" tale.

The last story in this anthology is by Patricia A. Rasey, and is entitled Fear The Dark! If you're like me, Indiana Jones, and millions of others who HATE snakes, then be warned - this slithery suspense tale coils around your heart like an icy wind and raises lots of goose bumps! What does the police department do when women begin turning up dead - from snake bites? Well, they start by checking out people who keep rare venomous snakes. Good plan, but complicated by the fact that the lead investigating officer is still in love with his ex-wife, a forensics tech who is working 24-7 on the case! It gets even harder when Detective Jack Carter has to agree with Cara Carter's plan to "get closer to..." their prime suspect, who just happens to be a very attractive playboy with a passion for snakes! Jack and Cara still ignite flames when they're near each other, but their on-again, off-again romance is overshadowed by the horrible crimes, and the truly dreadful deaths! The reader is forced right into the mind of the victim moments before her death - expect moments of sheer terror when you read this story. Ms. Rasey has done for closets what Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" did for showers! Even though the ending is satisfying, no one really emerges whole from this heart-stopping adventure. It's a perfect finale for this trio of outstandingly dark romances. Read this book if you dare, but leave the lights on... and don't, please don't, go into the closet!!!

Reviewed in January 2002 by Celia.