"Winner Takes All" by Laura Baumbach
Malcolm Crane is a vampire that has
been playing the ultimate game with another of his kind.
When he wins the game and kills William Pray, Malcolm lets
William know that he will be going after his prize soon –
William’s mortal son.
Hunter Pray is a photojournalist who
has seen some strange and dangerous sights in his life, but
the most dangerous so far is the dark man that seems to be
following him around town. Strangely, Hunter can’t seem to
get enough of him and he now watches for him. Hunter has
also tried to take his picture to no avail.
Once they actually meet, Hunter is
going to learn that there is a lot to his world that is
unknown to mortals. The game has gained a sensual turn and
is going to be played out to its final ending. Will that
that be the end of Hunter’s life or the beginning of another
"Winner Takes All" had me going for the
majority of the book because I could not see Malcolm as
anything but the anti-hero. Even Hunter’s reaction on
learning the truth about his parents' deaths was not what I
expected. I found that I did not give Ms. Baumbach enough
credit to know exactly what her characters wanted and
needed. I’m surprised to say I did enjoy "Winner Takes All"
when I finished it and discovered a side of both Malcolm and
Hunter that I didn’t see at first. I really should know
better than to assume something at the beginning story of
anthology by an author I enjoy.
"Gift of the Raven" by Angela Fiddler
Luke is a vampire who has no need to
conquer the world or even his little city. He is
comfortable enough with his nice house and his garden.
Until recently, he had a relationship with his fledging that
gave him someone to love and talk to. However, Corbin did
something that forced Luke to turn him out and that
relationship has almost become a burden now.
Corbin (Cory) has his own reasons for
pursuing Luke and getting himself changed into a vampire.
One thing he never expected was to begin to feel anything
personal for Luke. When the danger that Corbin had been
hiding from, yet had been expecting to find him, shows up in
their town, Corbin knows he has to make sure Luke is out of
the picture for his own safety.
What neither Corbin nor Luke has taken
into consideration is that when a soul truly loves someone
else, it won’t be denied no matter what is now in the
picture. When Luke makes the choice to fight for Corbin, it
is Corbin’s own actions that win the day and pulls forth the
deep love that has always existed between them.
"Gift of the Raven" has two vampires
who normally would not have wanted to fight at all, having
to go against the power hungry and just plain natural power
in a battle that will determine many things. I was
surprised at just how deeply Corbin’s feelings for Luke
really went after reading his earlier actions. Fighting for
your turf is a normal thing for vampires but Ms. Fiddler
took it to another level in "Gift of the Raven". The second
great story in a row and I seriously cannot wait to read the
"Wolfe’s Recluse" by Jet Mykles
Matthew has not been out of his
apartment since the night he saw his lover being killed by a
creature of the night, a vampire. Never imagining that such
a thing even existed, Matt was scared to such an extreme
that he just cannot force himself out of the apartment much
and never at night now. Matt finished his college degree
and with the help of his instructors, he gained a
programming job that he can do from his home. Now a problem
has come up – his boss wants to take him out to dinner.
Wolfe Larsen has specific reasons for
hiring Matt and now wanting to see him in person for the
first time. Now that a huge project has been completed and
their client will be happy, Wolfe decided to take his main
programmer to a celebration dinner, only to be refused.
Wolfe has worked for two years to try and get Matt to rejoin
the world by going along with the odd hours and conditions
Matt requested as part of his employment.
Unusual circumstances have brought
Wolfe and Matt together as employer/employee and even
stranger ones have caused Matt to basically hide from the
world. Wolfe knows what needs to happen to help Matt heal.
He came to truly care for Matt after years of discussions
and friendship. Will Wolfe’s solution help Matt and give
Wolfe a chance to show his love or will the truth drive a
wedge between them that cannot be overcome?
"Wolfe’s Recluse" shows the extreme
lengths that a nice guy will go to, to make things right.
Wolfe feels that he was to blame for a night of destruction
that ended with many deaths. Matt lost more than his lover
that night; in a way, he lost his freedom and innocence. I
could understand why Matt was so scared that he was becoming
a hermit in his apartment. I loved Wolfe for his actions
and the reason behind them. When Matt and Wolfe came
together it was fireworks caused by extreme attraction.
"Wolfe’s Recluse" was gripping in a way that showed the good
guys could still come out on top.
Blood Claim is an
anthology of three extremely wonderful writers. All three
stories involved vampires of course but that was the limit
of the connection. In one, I found an anti-hero who found
this heart; in another I discovered that love can overcome
the ultimate power; and in the last, I found that just
because you are a creature of the night, does not mean that
you can’t be a good guy and act as such. All three showed
just what love can do to overcome major obstacles. Vampire
lovers will not want miss having Blood Claim
in their libraries. In my opinion, each story is worthy of
being a solo book in itself, which should tell you a lot
about the anthology.