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Here there be steampunk and monsters in Meljean Brooks collaboration

cover art for Burning Up Anthology
cover art for Burning Up Anthology
Cover art:Vladmir Wrangel, Kellie L. Folkert, Ferrin (all Shutterstock)

steampunk paranormal romance

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BURNING UP offers a fun collection (for the most part) of paranormal goodness. For instance, Meljean Brook’s steampunk novella, "Here There Be Monsters". Ivy is a Blacksmith a young woman living in a slightly skewed version of our world during the Victorian age, a world where the mysterious Horde was just beaten back by “The Iron Duke”, but things aren’t quite normal in Ivy’s world, she is desperate to leave London and so approaches Mad Machen, a pirate captain, who she has little idea has been pining away for her love, all these years. He promises to take her anywhere she wants to go—for a price. Her, in his bed.

Well, Ivy’s not about to agree to that, and so she runs.

Two years later, Mad Machen and crew find Ivy in a Norwegian town, tending to the town’s automatons, and he kidnaps forces her to build a steel kracken and to sleep in his bed. She isn’t fond of either prospect. But all she can really refuse is what he’ll do to her in his bed, by bargaining with her last few coins to keep her virginity. But, as they travel back to England, Ivy begins to realize that she’s falling in love with the tough ole pirate (as if the fact that she’s more than once offered to help him with his squeaky old mechanical leg isn’t enough?), just as Machen becomes soft enough to decide to let her go.

Will they come to their senses and admit they’re *ahem* made for each other? It is a hot story, and an intriguing world, filled with steam-powered machines, automatons, nanobots, old rickety pirate ships (she even throws in zombies)--heck, what's not to love there?

"Blood &Roses" by Angela Knight. Angela Knight’s story is the tale of a vampire concubine, Amaris, caught in a war between vampires and sinister creatures. Worse yet, her own father aids a vampire who has taken her sister hostage, and wishes to use her as a sacrifice to unleash an even greater foe on the world. In so doing, he takes another hostage, a vampire minion, loyal to the king, whom he thinks he can bend to his will—through Amaris’ charms. He doesn’t realize Amaris has a thought about what use the king’s vampire might be of to her and her family. I truly enjoyed this unique vampire tale. The worldbuilding she did, alone, was wonderful. Paranormal, yes, but with a huge dollop of fantasy mixed in. It reminded me of the likes of Richard Corben’s comic series, the Den Saga (among others), and I look forward to finding more work by this author. Of this collection I found these two titles to be the enjoyable standouts. If for nothing else, I encourage paranormal lovers to try the collection out for these two stories. You’ll not be sorry.

The collection also features "Shifting Sea" by Virginia Kantra. An historical romance fantasy (and prequel to her Children of the Sea saga) about Jack, a retired military veteran and Morwenna, a Child of the Sea. They fall in love/lust fast and Morwenna finds herself wondering if she can stay on land with Jack permanently. But will he still accept her when he finds out the truth? A storm, and a sabotage, will test that love. Another great story in the collection, and one that has me interested to finally try out the series.

Finally, Nalini Singh contributes the novella "Whispers of Sin", which I gather is a prequel to her Psy-Changeling series.

All in all, BURNING UP is a fine collection of paranormal tales. If you’re interested to try the stories out, BURNING UP, can be purchased through all the usual venues (Amazon, Amazon.co.uk, Barnesandnoble.com) Do check it out!

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review copy sent to me by Velvet of VVB32Reads and Ms. Brooks.