Sight Unseen by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, & J.A. Rock
June 6, 2017
Open Ink Press
Reviewed by Tori
What stories would you tell if you could? Where would your mind take you, if you let it?Five top voices in romance dare you to explore the distant corners of their imaginations as they test the limits of storytelling and break the boundaries of what they thought possible. But there’s a twist—the author of each story is a secret. They’re each plumbing the depths of the human heart in ways they’ve never attempted. Taking you high, bringing you low, until you will be hardpressed to guess who wrote what. Can you tell? Want us to?
Too bad our lips are sealed…for now. (Goodreads)
Sight Unseen is a compilation of five romance novellas; each written by a well-known author. The catch is none of them signed their name to their story. Each author was given the chance to write out of their comfort zone, freeing themselves and the readers from any preconceived notions or expectations. Each story is approximately 8 chapters long and deals with a variety of topics. As a fan of each author, I found myself paying far more attention than normal to see if I could detect who wrote what.
Lost That Feeling
Alma is an amnesic witch who spelled her memory loss after she was captured and sent to prison during a failed rebellion against the King. Months later, she is being rescued by her supposed partners in the rebellion. Now she has to figure out who they are, who she is, and why she sought to erase her memories in the first place.
Lost That Feeling is a well plotted fantasy with an interesting use of amnesia in both the development of the heroine and the romance. Engaging narrative and a smooth pace keeps the reader hooked though the story ends abruptly and the romance is more an element and doesn’t even make itself known till the very end.
“Never cast on yourself…you’ll never see yourself clearly.”
A Clear View of You
Kate Marsh is trying to earn money towards her Ph.D. working as a psychic even though she is a firm disbeliever of anything magical or the supernatural. A man seeking her services offers her $50,000 to help him locate an item that has passed into her mother’s hands; a well-known mystical being. Unfortunately, Kate is on the outs with her mother and believes her to be nothing more than a charlatan and a cult leader. As Kate helps North reclaim his item and begins to work through her animosity towards magic and her mother, she learns a thing or two about the world and her place in it.
A Clean View of You is an interesting urban fantasy story that follows a young woman through a sort of coming age that deals with her personal growth and discovery. Strong and amusing character driven dialogue goes far in setting up the story and romance though I personally felt the story was too cluttered for such a short time span. The reluctant romance builds slow and ends more on a promise than an actual done deal.
“Don’t hate the player…hate the game.”
Wren Masters loves her hometown and her father but when it becomes clear her father’s motorcycle club is engaging in illegal activities, she has to decide if she will turn the other cheek or turn them in. Luckily, the club’s accountant, Brad, steps in to help her with her decision and its consequences.
Free was my favorite of this collection. A modern romance contemporary that focuses on a tough young woman who feels her entire whole world is limited to the small town she lives and the choices she has to make when her life implodes. An impressive full bodied story with a well plotted backstory and yummy tension fuel romance. I like that the author chose to take us all the way to the end and leave us secure in Wren and Bead’s future.
Chariot of Desire
The 70s were a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll but one popular band hits a roadblock when their lead singer decides to clean up his act by joining a religious cult that forbids sex, drugs, and singing about them. Can the band survive the change or is it time to go their separate ways?
Chariot of Desire was the weakest of the anthology for me. Set in the 80’s, this contemporary shows us a selfish rock star whose wake up call and subsequent reply places unfair demands on the other two members of his band. The head hopping and time jumping was abrupt and the story drifts along seemingly unsure the exact direction the author was trying to go. The romance was non-existent and the story ends on an ambiguous note.
“I miss the seventies.”
The Heart is a Universe
Vitalis, the Chosen One, has known her whole life she was destined to sacrifice herself to save her planet but as she gets closer to the date of her death, the more she questions the whole ritual and the reasons behind it. A marriage proposal from the planet’s most eligible ruler, Eleian, interrupts her escape plan and creates even more questions. Most importantly…why would a man who could have anyone, marry a woman who only has 16 days to live?
The Heart is a Universe is pure sci-fi fantasy that draws freely from mythology to create an layered and complex world. The limited time frame doesn’t distract or shackle the author; the evolution of Vitalis and Eleian’s romance is sexy and bittersweet in it’s development and blends perfectly with the external conflict. A few unexpected twists amp up the tension as we count down towards D-day with this couple. The ending was not what I expected and left me with a question or two but overall an interesting conclusion.
“I’m not looking for a worshipper.”
“I do not recall saying that I planned to worship you, my lady. But I am willing when we are alone and unclothed. “
Though I have my suspicions, I was unable to determine without a doubt who wrote what which really got me thinking. How much more comfortable and accepting are we of some stories because we know who wrote them and how does that translate into our reviews?
Engaging and imaginative, this collection delivers on its objective though there was a sense of disconnect to a couple of the stories. Some leaned more towards their sub-genre then to romance, ending far too soon for the romance to be considered more than just an element to enhance the story. Regardless, this fast, quick, and easy read certainly entertains.
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This anthology has such an intriguing premise; I’d like to read it.