Hot Blooded by Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly & Angela Knight
(Jove, $7.99, R) ISBN 0-515-13696-4
Vampires, Carpathians, werewolves, shapshifters and all manner of immortal beings inhabit Hot Blooded, a steamy anthology of paranormal romance. And even if you aren’t a fan of this genre, you may be converted by one of these seductive, charming sexy-as-sin alpha males who live to love and to protect their soulmates at the expense of their own lives.

Christine Feehan’s “Dark Hunger” presents an ancient Carpathian male and a jaguar shapeshifter who meet in the depths of a South American rain forest. He is being held prisoner by vampire-influenced men who have developed a poison for Carpathians and are trying it out on him. She is rescuing endangered species used for experiments for the same men, and can’t believe her eyes when she finds him in one of the cages. Their connection is immediate, intense and dangerous, because they have a lot of bad guys to beat before it’s really safe to give into their overwhelming passion. (This story made me an instant fan of Feehan’s, and the day after I read it, requested every one of the books the library owns.)

Jenny is a cryptozoologist hunting werewolves in Maggie Shayne’s “Awaiting Moonrise.” Samuel LeRoque is the local doctor whose improper seduction of her in one of his exam rooms sets her on fire, even after she discovers that he is the werewolf she’s been seeking. But just as she find out about his real nature, she realizes the danger he’s in. Another member of the research team is also looking for a werewolf, and he has a far more sinister agenda.

Marianne is a baker in a small Vermont town in Emma Holly’s “The Night Owl.” Bastien is an umpyr, part shapeshifter, part blood drinker, who loves her but is too shy to let her know. But when her treacherous ex-partner Amanda runs her off the road one night, nearly killing her and stealing her grandmother’s recipe book, Bastien know he must change her into an umpyr - or watch her die. But immortals can no longer eat many foods — and to Marianne, being a successful pastry chef is everything.

In Angela Knight’s “Seduction’s Gift,” it’s been twelve years since Gwen’s seen the handsome, powerful hero she fell for at sixteen. But when she pulls him over for speeding, there’s no doubt that their sexual chemistry has grown over the years. Lancelot is a vampire who embraces his magical heritage just as intensely as Gwen rejects hers. His mission is to have powerful, life-changing sex with her three times, so she will go through the Change and receive her Gift, becoming a witch. But even with Lance’s incredible sexual potency, Gwen resists him until she realizes that her Gift is the only way to save a girl from a psychopath.

While these stories vary greatly in tone, they all fulfill the Hot Blooded promise of the title. The men are fierce, sensual and protective of their mates, who are in turn strong women able to stand up to the challenges of their alpha males. No one is going to control these women unless they choose to be controlled — and most don’t! Sex scenes are fiery, intense, lushly sensual and passionate, and there are plenty of them.

And while the hero and heroine are the main focus of each story, they are surrounded and enhanced by groups of minor characters that are equally well fleshed out. Sexy immortals with sensuality and devotion — not to mention their gorgeous and talented bodies — make this hot new collection a real keeper, to be savored not just once. And it may also create new fans of these talented writers, as well.

--Joni Richards Bodart

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