Hex Life by Various Authors

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery by Various Authors, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

These are tales of wickedness… stories of evil and cunning, written by today’s women you should fear. Includes tales from Kelley Armstong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon, writing in their own bestselling universes.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery will take the classic tropes of tales of witchcraft and infuse them with fresh, feminist perspective and present-day concerns–even if they’re set in the past. These witches might be monstrous, or they might be heroes, depending on their own definitions. Even the kind hostess with the candy cottage thought of herself as the hero of her own story. After all, a woman’s gotta eat.

Bring out your dread.

We’re fed the idea of the wicked witch, all dressed in black, her haggard face glaring evilly back at you, from a very young age. But what if all witches weren’t evil? What if they did what they did for a good reason? Of course, not all witches are altruistic, but what if some of them were? That’s where Hex Life comes into play. Within the collection, you’ll find all kinds of witches with all kinds of motives. Are you brave enough to take a chance?

Witches have been a favorite subject of mine for a long time. Despite the Wicked Witch of the West and all of the evil witches Disney has given us over the years, I was still drawn to them. So, when I stumbled across this anthology, I knew it was something I needed to read. I’m happy I did because it did not disappoint me in any way. The witches in Hex Life are as varied and unique as the authors writing them.

An Invitation to a Burning by Kat Howard. You go into this thinking one thing and discover it’s quite something else. An excellent way to kick off the anthology.

Widow’s Walk by Angela Slatter. This was probably my favorite of the group because it focuses around three older women, all witches, and the community they live in. It’s sort of like what would happen if Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmothers grew to be old and bitter, but still cared for the innocent.

Black Magic Momma by Kelley Armstrong. I love her Women of the Otherworld series and getting a bit of Eve’s origin story was a nice surprise.

The Night Nurse by Sarah Langan. This was one heck of a creepy story, but I loved it. As an overwhelmed mother, I could relate to it on a personal level. However, the ending was a bit of a surprise.

The Memory of Trees by Mary SanGiovanni. An odd and, for me, a confusing, story about nature battling back against technology.

Apparently after the 2003 raid of two of the viagra buy australia pharmacists brick and mortar practice, authorities said customers paid much more than normal retail cost for the drugs, but could get them without undergoing proper examinations. The majority of men today prefer to purchase Kamagra tablets from any of pharmaceutical store. viagra without prescription online continue reading this web-site now Of cheap generic cialis course, if illegal drugs are not your thing, then medication alternative is the right call to be freed of impotence. Eat at least 1 gram of protein per a pound of your cheap viagra icks.org bodyweight. Home by Rachel Caine. I’ve always wanted to read her Morganville Vampires series so this was a nice little introduction to her writing style and some of the characters. Definitely makes me want to delve into the series more now. A bit of humor and a lot of fun.

The Deer Wife by Jennifer McMahaon. The only romantic story in the bunch, very sweet and different from your usual fare. There is a heart-stopping moment near the end that nearly made me cry, too.

The Dancer by Kristen Dearborn. I love a story with supernatural powers. I think this was less witchy and more Firestarter, but one of the best stories in the collection in my opinion. I really felt for the young girl in this as her family was creepy and abusive.

Bless Your Heart by Hillary Monahan. Nothing makes me happier than a good revenge story. Especially when the revenge is so well deserved. Bonus points for mom going to such great lengths to defend her son who is being buillied for no other reason than because he’s gay. A bit of a warning though because this one gets rather gross rather fast.

The Debt by Ania Ahlborn. This was an odd, yet intriguing story. It was very fairy tale-like in its structure, but dark and foreboding as well. The end caught me off guard, to be honest.

Toil & Trouble by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Madaug Kenyon. This one started strong and lost me about halfway through. I generally enjoy the Dark-Hunters books so I’m not sure what went wrong with this story. I’ll blame it on me though.

Last Stop on Route Nine by Tananarive Due. This wavered between alternate universes and ghost story but was wholly frightening as well. The heavy overtones of racism only added to the oppressive and scary atmosphere. One of the best in the collection.

Where Relics Go to Dream and Die by Rachel Autumn Deering. I finished this story and was left utterly confused. I’m not sure what really happened in the end, but still somehow enjoyed it. Weird, I know, but that happens to me sometimes.

This Skin by Amber Benson. What a creepy, frightening story! It’s tough being a teenager, but it has to be even tougher to be one who’s homicidal. Really enjoyed this one a lot, despite the creep factor.

Haint Me Too by Chesya Burke. Historical fiction is a huge draw for me, so finding a witchy story sed during the times of sharecroppers intrigued me. It also enraged me because of the way Shae and her family are treated by the white people in the story.

The Nekrolog by Helen Marshall. I went back and forth on this story. It was long and interesting, but I also got confused a time or two. There are a couple of point-of-view and time period changes that threw me off. But overall, it was a decent story.

Gold Among the Black by Alma Katsu. I’m a sucker for a poor waif living in a castle as staff kind of story. Every girl deserves her prince (or princess), right? Jesper was the best part of the story and I’m glad that Greta got what she deserved in the end.

How to Become a Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss. Tied with Widow’s Walk for the number one position, honestly. A unique and fun spin on Snow White that left me smiling at the end. There were so many little things about this story that made me happy. It was the perfect story to end the collection with because it left me feeling good.

Overall, the authors came together to create an exciting and varied collection of stories. They hit many time periods and genres that there’s sure to be something for everyone in this anthology. While there were a few names that drew me to this collection – Kelley Armstrong and Sherrilyn Kenyon for example – I also discovered many new-to-me authors that I’m excited to explore.

The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald

The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald
Publisher: Titan Books/ Hard Case Crime
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (218 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, Fetish
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Two identical twin sisters – one a sexually repressed defense attorney, the other a former libertine now living a respectable life in suburbia – are about to have their darkest secrets revealed, to the men in their lives and to themselves. As one sister prepares for the thorniest trial of her career and the other fends off ominous advances from a construction worker laboring on the house next door, both find themselves pushed to the edge, and confronted by discoveries about themselves and their lovers that shock and disturb them.

Two sisters embark on inner journeys that will dredge up the inner most secrets of their lives.

Leda and Lillian are two sisters that seem at first glance to be complete polar opposites. One is a successful attorney seemingly content with her life; the other is a former porn star who has settled down in the middle of suburbia.

In September 2008, Richmond International Raceway announced on a Friday afternoon that it was moving a Saturday generika cialis night Sprint Cup race to Sunday afternoon because of a tropical-storm forecast. Sex, of course, varies & the exhilaration & stress may non prescription viagra well pump out additional adrenaline. When you get a Sildenafil citrate pills, you should keep in mind that after a hearty breakfast or lunch, its effect may come later, and copious drinking cheap generic levitra in general can bring the drug to an end. It is clear that nerve signals from the gut area is not just responsible for digestion but is at least partially implicated in many discount viagra brain disorders has lead scientists to understand what Taoists and Yogis have been saying for thousands of years. Leda and her husband Stas have just moved into their new house. When domestic bliss is interrupted by facilities issues, the handyman working for their neighbor comes to the rescue. Only…is it what it seems or is he really using their house problems to stalk Leda? Pregnant with a young child, Leda becomes increasingly afraid of Jack. Her husband, Stas is equally thrilling and terrifying. Leda is hiding some secrets from her very sexy younger husband and Jack has just figured out who she used to be. Should she tell Stas about her past, but even more importantly, about Jack? What will he do? It seems like her Russian husband has a few skeletons in his own closet.

This first part of the book was rife with bitterness and complex emotions that one would have moving into a new house. Neither husband nor wife know everything about the other and as Leda becomes more and more terrified everything is magnified for her. The sex with her husband, the fear of what he will do to her when he finds out about her very naughty video. When Jack winds up missing, she is almost certain Stas had something to do with it. Every nerve ending is thrilled with the concept of loving such a dangerous man. But…did he really do it?

The second half of the book is about Lillian, Leda’s very repressed sister. Lil is married to Darren, but their marriage has been reduced to timing their marital activities to try to conceive. It breaks her heart that Leda is already has one child and is expecting another when she can’t even get pregnant. Completely bound by her own expectations, Lillian is very uptight and angry. When she finds Leda’s porn video hidden in Darren’s things, she loses it. Confronting him only adds another layer of ice on the glacier.

The matter is made more complex by the current case Lillian is working on. Abel is a blind developer accused of taking a bribe. His assistant Nan is always present and there is something between the two of them that strikes a chord in Lillian. Abel is a married man, but she can see Nan always there…until she isn’t. Nan is devoted to Abel in a way that he can barely understand. A professional submissive, Nan will do anything for him and in doing so could either damn him to prison or save him completely. If only he hadn’t cast her away. Lillian learns more about Nan and is drawn to it, even as she is repulsed by the sexuality of it.

Lillian begins a journey into Nan’s world, wanting to satisfy a compulsion that started when she watched Leda’s video. What is the fascination with BDSM? Why would a woman want to be submissive and subjected to the things that go on at the Nutcracker, the local dungeon? Lillian is about to embark on a soul wrenching voyage into her own inner darkness, but doing so will allow her to embrace her own demons and finally be able to set herself free.

These two stories wound themselves together seamlessly and I could not get enough. The old style cover brought to mind stories of the 1970s, as did some of the language. Not much mind you. Just when I felt myself drifting back in time, a modern phrase would remind me “when” I was. The complex relationship between sisters is also highlighted here. Love…hate…jealousy…bitterness. It’s all there, ripped open and gasping for air. Leda with her family while Lillian weeps alone in her cold marriage bed—it’s reality. We always want what the other has, even when it makes us feel petty and spiteful. That is the hidden gem inside of this amazing book. Elissa Wald scrapes across every emotion and makes it real. The book is classified as erotic, but there really isn’t much in the way of actual sex scenes. It is the heightened sexual tension and the discovery of the darker, meatier sides of married women as vibrant beings that puts the spark in this tale. Just don’t forget the dangerous men that share their beds. That would be very remiss indeed and you might have to be punished.

If you are looking for a different kind of read that will want to make you cuff yourself to the bed, then you have to try The Secret Lives of Married Women.