I bought this anthology as a fan of 3 of the authors already, so it's tough when some of the work just isn't that good. Most of the ideas in this have been done to death, so it just leaves the execution to make the stories stand out. Not all of them do.
The first story in the mix is "Getting Slayed" by Anya Bast. Jeweline is a spoiled princess stuck in a chastity belt until someone slays the dragon and wins her hand. Tired of being a virgin, she decides to take matters into her own hands and kill the dragon herself, only to discover he's really a gorgeous guy under a curse. Jeweline is far from saccharine and the set-up is fun and hot. Bast serves the story well, and this one is by far my favorite of the bunch.
Story #2 is Charlotte Boyett-Compo's "Sting of the Wind." I'll admit upfront I'm not a fan of this particular author. I've read other work by her and found it melodramatic and overwrought. This was just more of the same, about a woman who's the human assistant to a vampire and his do-gooding corporation. Not my style.
Lena Matthews' "Temperature Rising" is an interracial romance between Danner and his best friend's little sister. It's typical Matthews' style, with little actual plot but plenty of steamy action. It delivers exactly what it promises.
My surprise read of the bunch was "Virtuosity" by Kris Starr. This was one of the authors I'd never read before, and I was surprised to find a slightly melancholy story of loss as a widow struggles to move on from her husband's death. It's set in the future, and the widow in question is a skilled starship captain, but even as she begins to explore her options by trying out the pleasure programs on the Holosuite, there's a sense of universality about her characters emotions that makes it not only relatable but a poignant read.
The story that disappointed me the most was "Shadows Stir" by NJ Walters. I'm a huge fan of the author, but the more I read of her, the more I think I'm more a fan of her contemporary work than her paranormal. This is a story of love at first sight/know your true mate without any logical reason/save the future of a dying race through magic children kind of story. It's not my thing, and unfortunately, not even an author I love could sell it to me.
The anthology doesn't end well with Ravyn Wilde's "Passionflower." This scifi is about a woman who gets kidnapped by an alien for mating purposes, chosen *specifically* because she's plus-sized and can thus accommodate his larger size and greater strength. Turns out, he also has extra endowments, which push the story so far into the realm of the absurd that I can only laugh at any attempt to take this story seriously. Oh, and the alien's name is M'ike. Because, of course, an apostrophe automatically makes a name exotic.
Not a keeper for me, not even for the stories I did enjoy.