Dates from Hell

Kim Harrison, Author, Lynsay Sands, Author, Lori Handeland, Author . Avon $6.99 (404p) ISBN 978-0-06-085409-6

Failing to capitalize on what should be a sure-fire concept, this quartet of paranormal romance novellas falls prey to the usual suspects: lack of cohesion, formulaic characters and flimsy plots. Harrison kicks off the book with a prelude to her Hollows series, an exposition-heavy tale of confusing office/vampire politics, in which a vampiric homicide detective looks for a way to get ahead at the office apart from letting the boss into her jugular. Harrison's over-the-top atmospherics make for a jarring transition to the light touch of the second novella, Sands's farcical story of young researcher-cum-shapeshifter Claire, who attends her high school reunion as two different people: herself, accompanying schoolyard dreamboat Kyle, and hunky Hollywood actor Brad Cruise, a favor to her dateless best friend Jill. Nestled in between Sands's slapstick and Handeland's passable closer—about a tough-as-nails demon hunter out to save a virginal literary agent—is the collection's one gem: Armstrong's tale of a bold and sassy half-demon peacekeeper who finds herself falling for a werewolf thief. Unlike her compatriots, Armstrong works well with the space constraint, giving her story an open-ended, promising conclusion. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/30/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
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