Bad Boys Southern StyleIt’s very rare for me to love all of the stories in a multiple author anthology, but this one hit the mark in every way. It has all of the bells and whistles; heroines that I liked, heroes I adored and plotlines that sizzled with sensual tension. This book was an enjoyable read and one that I can see myself reading again and again.
Love Potion #9 by Joann Ross is the first story by this author that I had read and I was pleasantly surprised. From the opening scene of Morganna the witch casting a spell, to the wonderfully satisfying ending, I was transfixed. Superbly written, it is the sensual tale of Roxi Dupree, a witch with a commitment problem and a three date rule and Sloan Hawthorne, a Southern bad boy who put the sex in sexual. Roxi is the type of heroine that I like – full of sass, intelligence and humor. A commitment-phobe, she’s tired of her dream lover and ready to work off some sexual tension and who better to hit the sheets with than Savannah’s screen-writing bad boy Sloan. Haunted by dreams of Roxie, Sloan enlists the aid of her best friend Emma to meet this seductive witch and exorcise some sexual demons of his own. Sloan is a memorable hero and Roxi’s equal, strong and determined, full of that bad boy sizzle. This story was enough to put me on the hunt for more of Joann Ross’ books.
Next up was Midnight Plane to Georgia by E.C. Sheedy. I’ve read a couple of this author’s stories in other Bad Boy anthologies, so I was more familiar with her than Ross (although, I admit, only after looking her up). Tracy Mae Allson has “yessed” herself into a rut; an apartment she doesn’t like, a dead-end job, and well-meaning but interfering friends. This people-pleaser just can’t say no and she’s finally had enough. Grabbing the opportunity to help her uncle get a B&B together on the other side of the country, she’s all set to put her life in order and stop being a doormat. At the airport lounge she locks eyes with a stranger across the room and feels a jolt, but in the crowd she loses track of him, which is just as well – a man was the last thing she needed right now. Tracy had a plan – six months to a year at her Uncle’s B&B, time to decide what she wanted in life, find out exactly who she was, and build a back-bone. “No” was her new catchword. Workaholic Colson Jones doesn’t have time for a personal life, just drive-by sex between jobs, but the connection he felt when he saw Tracy couldn’t be ignored, so he traded with her seatmate while she slept just so he could meet her. A cancelled business meeting gives him some extra time and he decides that a week in her uncle’s B&B was the perfect opportunity to get some much needed work done on his book and enjoy the company of a beautiful woman at the same time. It’s not that Colson doesn’t believe in relationships, it’s just that his business requires him to travel a lot and long distance relationships don’t work. But that was before he met Tracy, before he found himself painting walls and cleaning up messes. And when he falls in love can he get Tracy to revert to her “yessing” ways? While this was the weaker of the three stories, it was well worth the reading time.
Fall from Grace by Jill Shalvis was an absolute delight, easily the best story in this collection. Janie Mills fled South Central Los Angeles after witnessing a shocking crime. Enacting her own witness protection program, she changed her name, settled in Grace, Georgia and kept a low-profile as the town librarian. Everything was great, except for the advances of Clayton, Grace’s local lothario and leading citizen . She just can’t understand why all the women drool over him. She lets Clayton into the library late one stormy night only to find herself running from him when the lights go out. She fights back, hitting her attacker with a cumbersome dictionary, proving that the pen is mightier than the sword, only it wasn’t Clayton she’d KO’d but a handsome stranger. When he wakes up demanding answers, her natural survival instincts kick in and she puts up a fight. P.I. Ryan Peterson never expected to be leveled by a comely librarian wielding a lethal book, nor would he have ever thought subduing such a small woman would be so much trouble. And when Clayton ends up dead, not only has Ryan lost a client, but he appoints himself Janie’s protector. She’s naturally reluctant to trust, determined to keep a distance, and visibly upset that her serene new world had exploded, possibly exposing herself to the danger from her past. Jill’s humor is evident throughout, along with plenty of sexual tension to heat up a room. I have to add that action sequences often confuse me, but I had no difficulty following each head butt and elbow jab as Janie tried to get away from Ryan – how Jill manages to convey humor, tension and absorbing action is a mystery to me.