Review: Guns and Roses: A Murder She Writes Anthology

Thursday, March 22

Title: Guns and Roses Anthology*
Author: Roxanne St. Claire, Laura Griffin, Allison Brennan, Lorelei James, et al
Series:  N/A
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Murder She Writes Press
Format: Trade paperback & E-book
Date/Year:  February 21, 2012
Reviewed by:  DD

*This book was provided to the reviewer by an author featured in the anthology in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Murder She Writes presents a one-of-a-kind romantic suspense anthology with ten all-new, never-before-published short stories and novellas that promise thrills, chills, romance, intrigue, passion, danger, murder...and love. Penned by New York Times and award winning authors, some stories in this exclusive collection will make you laugh out loud while others will force you to sleep with the lights on.

My Musings:


Pick Your Poison by Roxanne St. Claire

I am so excited about another Bullet Catcher installment!!!!  I'm sad its not a whole novel. 

Roxanne St Claire manages to have the most kick ass heroes and heroines yet somehow they are steeped in tenderness and goodness.  Also, we always get a lesson in chemistry (the scientific as well as the sexual kind, naturally) or science along the way . The sex scenes explicit, or not, are always hot, unexpectedly creative, and filled with lust and emotion.

Callie is a sweet but smart as hell farm girl who grows and sells a rare genetically engineered black cherry rose. Her great Grandma has passed down this rose recipe to Callie and she is one of the only farmers in the country who grow them.  After a strange woman  buys two dozen roses and follows her to pick them, the witch comes back in the wee hours of the morning and steals the whole crop. Mad as a wet hen, she is mourning her loss of crop and cash when she catches Benjamin Youngblood rifling through her receipt can. In her shop front. Benjamin is on his last chance with the Bullet Catchers and his investigation into the threats against the governor of Florida leads him right to Callie's farm and her stolen roses. 

This story is short but perfect. Another glaring example of why Roxanne st Claire is the reigning queen of romantic suspense (IMHO) I give it 5 stars. 

~~~**~~~

Nightfall by Laura Griffin

I haven't read a Laura Griffin novel before but I might give her a further try.  First of all are flowers a theme here ..(guns and roses well duh)?  

I love the first line.  It's funny and makes you want to keep reading. Basically her day has gone to poo because of a piece of Blackberry pie. That would happen to me too, so I can relate.

Holly is a florist and she REALLY needs to deliver a load of roses to a shi-shi-foo-foo wedding. Of course, things go straight to hell in a hand-basket when she has a little ol' fender bender.   Hijinks, with a mistaken identity because of her old dodge shaggin' wagon van ensue. The hero is OF COURSE a law enforcement/ex military type named Colin. And he's on an op that is being interrupted by a beautiful woman with a bunch of roses in her van. 

I know that the point of having a romantic suspense type story is to have some suspense. But, I just really didn't care about what was going on with that. I was kinda bored by it.  I cared about when Holly and Colin were gonna get it on. The bad guys could have had on tutus and I  wouldn't have really  cared.  

My other issue is that although I know novellas are supposed to be short, this one seemed like it was just missing a middle part of the story for me.  I liked Holly a lot and I wish Colin would have gone against the grain and let his attraction to her rule him instead of the job on the first night. 

But Anyhoo, the story was good it was just missing something for me.  I give it 3.50  stars. 

~~~**~~~

Above Reproach by Allison Brennan

The first thing I love about this story is the first person  point of view.  I have said multiple times in reviews that it is not an easy feat to pull off.  It's pretty rare in a romance novel.  But that is just a side dish to the story itself. I was literally trying to keep from hurrying in my reading.  I wanted to find out who was doing this!!!

Selena is a tough but compassionate cop who was date raped when she was nineteen. A high profile attorney is her main suspect for a series of brutal rapes in the Sacramento area. He knows that Selena knows he is guilty and he goads her every step of the way. When the latest victim dies from her injuries the stakes are higher. Now Selena is hunting not only a rapist but a murderer. Then the twist happens. On the edge of my seat them BAM.  I can't believe it!!!!!!!  I'm reading, can't wait to find out what happens, and then scccrrraaaaatch.........it ends.  Are you f*****g kidding me with that? Arggghhhhhh.  

Kudos to Brennan for her teaser. It was awesome.  And I suppose others would say that it did have a conclusion. It just wasn't definite enough for me. 

I give this one 4.75 stars. (If the ending had gone a little further I'd give it 5, or 2 for just pissing me off...I don't know.  I'm indecisive and this is inconclusive)

~~~**~~~

Dead Flowers by Lori Armstrong

This story got several giggles from me. And a few tears.  It was written in first person, like Above Reproach

Reading this I'm reminded of the cliche PI office in an old black and white movie with the women in beautiful suits and the men in fedoras with the shadow of fan blades strobing across the room. OK, I'm getting carried away. Anyhoo Julie Collins is a PI who begins to suspect that her badass boyfriend may be cheating on her. She and her partner own and do all the work in their agency and she is confronted with slimy cheaters every day.  So needless to say, when her suspicions get the best of her she freaks in a most entertaining way. 

Ms. Armstrong (Ms. James, I mean?) can take you on a roller coaster of emotions in a very short time. And there is nothing I love more than being manic depressive.

Bravo. I give it 5 stars

~~~**~~~

Blood and Roses by Sylvia Day

Hmm. The first problem is I don't really get the significance of the title with the story. Where does it come from?

Anastasia is an insurance fraud investigator from a small town called Whispering Falls. Her family is full of criminals adept and quite experienced and at home with the theft trade. Her one and only true love is hometown boy Jake who is a U.S. Marshall. Both forever in love with each other, Anastasia leaves Jake soon after High School because she does not want him to sacrifice his principals. She comes back into town bringing drama,  but even after a decade Jake cannot turn his back on his brand of trouble. 

I like the main characters a lot.  My problem is the love scenes.  Glaring cliches and a bite of Domination that really isn't needed, and seems to come waaaay out of left field, gave me a few eye rolling moments. Although this was a short story it was REALLY short and it just didn't flow for me. 

Because the true love between Jake and Ana was sweet and endearing ill give this one 3 stars.

~~~**~~~

Rebel Rose by Karin Tabke

This one starts with a Cop named Cash at a Frat House Crime Scene. Another cop named Sorell is there with him, and the whole circus promises to be mucked up with the mishandling of evidence. 

Sorell is a dim witted  lunk of a man, who isn't even with it enough to try and NOT contaminate a crime scene. Rebel is the friend of a girl that has been murdered, and she is a spitfire. She spent the night in the closet of the room where her friend was murdered, yet she was passed out. Detective Cash Cantrell hosts a second curtain call for what Rebel drank the night before upon meeting her in the closet.  Despite that, Cash is immediately attracted to her, but she's really young.  

Rebel, or actually Rebel Yell, which is her first and middle name, is full of vernacular that includes "pappy, muh name" instead of "my name", and "hissy fit with a tail on it" which is pretty darn funny. Rebel Yell Culpepper is the star of this show for sure. The mystery is pretty good too. I didn't really love Detective Cassius Cantrell, he was overshadowed to me.

The story was a little detailed with police procedure, but anyone that has read Karin Tabke knows that is what you get with one of her stories.  I give it 3.50 Stars.

~~~**~~~

A Punishing Night by Sophie Littlefield

I don't want to come out and say there was nothing I like about this story. There were some very good points. It dips into what can happen when hazing goes astray on a campus. She also speaks of racism again those of Middle Eastern descent, like the main character Officer Joe Bashir.  There is also a side issue of Joe's family and them dealing with their ailing father.

I commend Littlefield for focusing on those social issues. This story is very intelligently written and Littlefield is obviously one savvy lady. My problem is that I don't know why this is the stage where she wanted to present this plethora of social issues. I didn't really get it. And I sorta don't really understand what all happened in the story.  It was all over the place for me.

I don't want to rate it DNF, because I did. How about HTF? (Hard to Finish)

~~~**~~~

The Housewife Assassin's Bloody Valentine by Josie Brown

My first thought upon beginning this story is that this author is uber smart.

The premise of this story is that Donna, a Female Undercover Operative is going to help a drug smuggler break out of prison, where he will be freed, hand over all his knowledge, and live in witness protection for the rest of his life. Donna of course wants to help break up the ring, but her real motivation is personal. This ring of a**holes was responsible for taking her husband from her and her children five years ago.  Instead of the traditional Revenge , she is making it her sole mission pull the group out from the root and make sure it never grows back.  Things of course, do not quite go as originally planned.

Donna works with Jack who is also an operative and whom she has loved for the last five years since her husband was lost to her. He has been a father to her children. He knows her, accepts, her and worships her body which is just darn essential for a good hero.  I would love to see the inner workings of this relationship in a full length novel.

Despite the length, this story has a MEGA MAJOR twist.  I was very impressed by it over all. I give it 4.50 stars.

~~~**~~~

King of Hearts by Lorelei James

I cannot say enough times how much I love Lorelei James. Eight pages into this story and I was crying. The McKays and Wests are the family that everyone loves, and it's difficult to see one of them struggling, even if they are only fictional characters.

Cam McKay is the first on the scene of a gruesome murder suicide in their sleepy town of Sundance, Wyoming. The deceased couple is one that he attended high school with and he can't get over how horrible it is. When he finds out that the husband was a victim of PTSD from serving in Iraq, he wonders if he could snap one day and harm his own family due to their similar backgrounds and experiences. It is affecting him deeply and he is very disturbed by the whole ordeal. His wife Domini, and then ultimately his sweet baby girl Liesel, give him the Divine confirmation that he could never turn on his own.

Once again, Lorelei James manages to surprise and delight me with her deep understanding of the human condition. Even in a story this short she really gets in there.  My only complaint is that I wish it was longer. But alas, that is why they call it a short story. I give it 5 stars.

~~~**~~~

Bobbie Faye's Wacked Out, No Good, Really Sucky Hot Mess of a Wedding by Tony McGee Causey

Oh how I loved this story. Two wonderful guys in the same story and NOT a threesome! Well I'll be, who would've thunk it!  MULTIPLE Hilarious LOL moments. I wish I was Bobbie Faye.  She is freaking awesome. This is one rootin' tootin' gun totin' girl. She can't get a wedding dress or a wedding venue in the greater New Orleans area due to her gun waving at any person in the service industry that dares to cross her. 

As the title implies, this is really a snot show (that's not what i wanted to say, but i have a quota of curse words and don't want to surpass.)  You've got great friends, awesome men, and bad guys turned good turned bad everywhere.  My favorite line courtesy of Cam. .."you never cry. You shoot things.".  I did get turned around as there were a myriad of characters to learn in a short turn around. Very small complaint and pretty insignificant really. Trevor is amazing doing the sweetest things ever.

Another tale of true acceptance and a man who just loves the hell out of his woman for all that she is. Truly Beautiful.  5 stars.


Ratings:

Overall:  4.5 stars (Overall this was a great diverse gathering of authors and stories. I enjoyed it immensely)

Sensuality level: 4 (For some graphic sex and a little Dominance. There were some heavy scenes and some sweet scenes. No two stories were alike. But this anthology wasn't about the lovin-not physical anyway. To me is was more about happiness and acceptance, which may explain the Valentine's theme)

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6 Comments:

Anne March 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM  

I'm a fan of many of the participating authors so I'm glad to read such great reviews. I meant to get it during All Romance Ebook's March 17th 50% off sale, but forgot. Immediately put it on my wishlist so I won't forget during the next sale.

Sylvia Day March 22, 2012 at 3:24 PM  

I can explain the title. :) What brings Ana and Jake back together is her family's (her blood) theft of the rose diamonds (roses). So, Blood and Roses reignite their romance.

Thank you for the review! We had so much fun working on this anthology. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it!

Ivy March 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM  

I really enjoy the authors in this anthology & bought it when it came out. No, haven't read it yet. I haven't read Littlefield or Griffin and am now reluctant to read the former..
Toni McGee Causey I flat out love. The first Bobbi Faye had me laughing until my stomach hurt and I was crying. I have the others in the series but sadly haven't gotten round to them yet. I will though, soon as I get caught up.
Have you read her other Bobbi Faye's?

librarypat March 23, 2012 at 1:49 AM  

A good group of authors and a good blog. I like anthologies and this sounds like one I'll have to get/ Thanks for the review.

DD,  March 24, 2012 at 3:05 PM  

Ivy, No I haven't read the other Bobbie Faye's. But now I want to for sure.

Ivy March 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM  

hope you enjoy it as I did.

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