I am hoping for more super hero romance fiction in 2013, so imagine my delight when I saw this anthology with over five hundred pages and four stories! With two new stories and two previously published ones, Holding Out For a Hero has a nice mix of stories and brings some heat as well.
Christine Bell and Ella Dane – Scarlett Fever
“Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice-“ He paused as someone sucked in a hard breath. “Plunketville, Oklahoma”
The rest of the list passed in a blur as the enormity of that last one sunk in. He was stuck with Scarlett Fever, the flaming thorn in his side, for the next year.
In Plunketville, Oklahoma.
God help him.
New graduates from Superhero training Scarlett Fever and the Blade of Justice don’t want to work together on their first assignment. Definitely not together, and stuck in the sweltering Oklahoma summer heat in a tiny town where air conditioning seems to be non-existent.
This was my favorite story in this book, and I found myself both intrigued by the organization and training of heroes, as well as delighted by these characters. The plot moves right along and we are treated to a fun novella. The point of view allowed us to get into the hero’s (Blade of Justice) motivations and really understand his actions as much, if not more than, the female hero (Scarlett) which was a refreshing change for this genre where usually I see more of the female’s perspective.
My disappointment was that I didn’t feel like the chemistry between the main characters ever really took off. I felt like so much was going on that strong emotion and better character development got left out in favor of more action. That said- this is still one of the best short length superhero romances I’ve ever read.
Tamara Morgan – Playing with Fire
This is a previously published novella by Tamara Morgan, and while I remembered it fondly apparently I enjoyed the idea of it a lot more than I did the actual novel. I reviewed this book (link) back in September here at Smexybooks, and there were a number of problems that added up to a less than enjoyable reading experience. Between the regrettable nickname for the heroine from her high school days to the overall plot and development of this story it really didn’t pan out for me.
Nico Rosso – Ironheart
“Little bit of stubble’s a powerful aphrodisiac. That and those shoulders of yours. How could I say no?”
I loved the pacing and the voice of this story. We aren’t given information dumps, and we don’t get details on every aspect of superhero life in this author’s world, and it works. SnapDragon and the Anvil are exes – that is she up and flew away from him one day and hasn’t been seen again until today. Now they need to join together and fight some evil – all while burning the town down with their molten chemistry and attraction.
My favorite thing about this story is that these aren’t traditional good guys. Oh, they have special abilities and they do some good but they also destroyed some (abandoned) property and were selfish at times. I liked that they weren’t the squeaky clean garden variety heroes. My least favorite thing was that I wanted more detail and description of just about everything. I often struggled to figure out what the heck things were supposed to look like. I realize this is a personal preference thing – I like my details to be filled in and to be able to easily picture the scenes especially for fights.
The bottom line? I definitely left this story wanting more and crossing my fingers that Rosso will return to this world to share more about his superheores and tell more stories. Definitely a good action packed read and a series I’d pick up in future should there be more!
Adriene-Luc Sanders- From the Ashes
I am not my father, but I am indeed my father’s son – and we are villains in a world without heroes.
This is a (previously published) story told in the first person about an aberrant who possesses special powers, but is living at the moment undercover as a human. Always on some mission from his evil leader of a father, “Spark” has seen and done some truly terrible things. But he can’t help it – it is just how aberrants are. They are different from humans, and feared by them as well. While undercover as a student at a college he begins to fall for his ethics professor, a man who seems to have secrets of his own. The question is- what will happen?
The end result of this story I figured out as soon as the love interest walked onto the page. That was a disappointment, but this is a short story so the plot twists and layers of depth are always of course limited by space. That really wasn’t my problem so much as the emotion, or rather the lack of emotional development that took place in this story in order to get us there and having me believe that this pair has a real chance at a future together.
Despite being told in the first person I never figured out what motivated Spark to try to be more than a killer and a villain of the worst kind. I never understood why he didn’t turn away from his father sooner or on his own, and finally if he was so heartless why did this new romance change his entire life in a few days? I was excited to see a M/M superhero read but I was really disappointed in the execution of this one. So much time in the head of this Spark guy – and I really grew to dislike him and just want the book to be over.
If this was a prequel of some sort to the series, perhaps the quick version of the story of how these two men got together in the first place, then I would judge it less harshly. As it stands, I just can’t recommend it as a novella.
I found it interesting that the two strongest stories, the stories I’d recommend this book for, are the ones that are new material. The previously published two actually bring this book down quite a bit and I wish that the new material had been released as just a pair instead of including more authors. That said – the price is right on this collection and I would recommend checking this out to anyone interested in hero type stories. None had an exceptionally strong romance, but all had interesting takes and were unique in their own ways.
Overall grade: C+