cover image The Beast Within

The Beast Within

Erin McCarthy, Bianca D'Arc, and Jennifer Lyon, Brava, $14 paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7582-4735-3

Only "Redeeming the Wizard" by Lyon (aka Jennifer Apodaca) stands out in this paranormal romance anthology. Anchor author McCarthy (Hard and Fast) opens with "The Howling," featuring a young woman who dreams about a bride devoured by werewolves. Deceit, betrayal, and hot sex aren't enough to overcome the lack of world-building and humor. In "Smoke on the Water," D'Arc (Inferno) partners a government agent with a woman immune to a zombifying disease and sends them to track down and stop its crazed creator. Whatever heat they generate is mitigated by the decided unsexiness of the shambling undead. Lyon (Soul Magic) rescues the anthology with complex characterization and vivid descriptive imagery. The compelling romance between a woman trying to save her kidnapped grandmother and the reclusive wizard she blames for her parents' death is worth the price of admission all by itself. (Sept.)