Top critical review
Wild times on at least two beaches
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2021
Three short stories from Kelley Armstrong, Jeaniene Frost, and Melissa Marr reflecting some fantastical events when the girls have a Girls' Night Out with too many bodies to count.
"Goddess of Summer Love", Cursed Luck #1.5
"Daiquiris and Daggers", Faery Bargains #2.5
"A Grave Girls' Getaway", Night Huntress #7.6
Kelley Armstrong's "Goddess of Summer Love"
Do read Cursed Luck , 1, first, as it makes this short story more enjoyable. (It has only been a couple weeks since Cursed Luck.)
This was a fun read that's really all about Vanessa, her past, her relationships with her siblings — especially Marius, and her assessment of her fellow gods as well as the multiple stories humans have concocted about them.
Never one to shirk, Armstrong includes Kennedy and Aiden's relationship starts and his relationship with his parents. Of course there's the grand opening of Kennedy's new store and the mystery of the disappearances of Dolly and Lisa Lake as well.
Armstrong uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Vanessa's perspective, and we learn all about her desire to be seen as a person. I did crack up with her comments about being seen as an "old" person. She's also keen on matchmaking, and this weekend her sights are set on just that . . . or not.
We also get a good bit of Vanessa's backstory — hoo, boy. Not in a good way. More backstory comes with Lisa and her sister's lives with their holy roller parents. Jeez.
Armstrong also does a nice job of creating a weakness for these magic workers.
The Olympians include . . .
Vanessa, a.k.a. Aphrodite or Venus, the so-called goddess of love, adores matchmaking. Marius, a.k.a. Ares, is the god of battle luck. The worst of Marius' children is Havoc, the goddess of discord who hates Vanessa.
Zeus and Hera's children include Hector, a.k.a. Hephaestus, who is a very abusive man and Vanessa's ex; Athene; Paulo, a.k.a. Apollo; Artie, a.k.a. Artemis, is Paulo's twin who loved to hunt; Denny, a.k.a. Dionysus, would swoop in with presents; Marius, who wanted to be friends; and, Mercy, a.k.a. Mercury or Hermes, the trickster goddess.
Unstable, Massachusetts, has . .
. . . welcomed the paranormal for years. Kennedy Bennett is a curse breaker — her specialty is joker jinxes and is one of a long line of curse weavers. She's recently moved home to Unstable, Massachusetts, from Boston after events in Cursed Luck . Her sisters are Ani, the oldest who loves to organize, and Hope, who loves being the exasperating, embarrassing younger sister and is interested in Rian. All three sisters are descendants of Mercy. Ani and Hope took over the family business, Unhex Me Here.
The prim and proper Aiden Connolly (based in Boston) is the scion of a wealthy family of luck workers with his own business. Rian is Aiden's younger, irresponsible brother who is the face of the family business, Connolly Enterprises, whom their disinterested parents expect Aiden to police. Both brothers are many greats-grandsons of Marius'.
Jonathan is a librarian in Unstable who spends a lot of time with Ani. Salazar is the chief of police. Old Man Cooper makes more money over the summer than when he planted crops. Mitch, the local IT guy, and Jackie Keeling, who's a medium specializing in retrocognition (and probably a very distant relative of Athene) are a couple. Jackie's aunt Ricci was the tour guide that night back in 1969. Ms Dowling will be this time's tour guide.
Lisa Lake is the teenager who disappeared in 1969 and remains an unsolved mystery. Her parents are avid churchgoers. Dolly had been a milkmaid.
Melissa Marr's "Daiquiris and Daggers"
Poor Geneviève. She had a power spike and used too much. Now she's struggling with a lack of her power in this paranormal fantasy. And her sweetie has organized a Girls' Weekend for her.
Marr uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Geneviève's perspective and raises more questions for me in this world she's created. It's actually rather confusing and makes me appreciate those authors who provide the extra information about the characters and their pasts. Yeah, it can be repetitive for readers who read through the series in one go, but for first time readers in a series . . .
Whoa, I think I love Eli too! "He understood me. He saw me as an equal. And he never tried to change me." How can you not love the guy? I do think I missed something, as the start of the story says Geneviève is freaking out about the wedding, and then she's suddenly married by the end of the book . . .?
The drink concoctions Alice comes up with are interesting. Leave out the blood, and I'd enjoy them. That spa though . . . no, I don't think so. That was so freaky!! And definitely not the place I'd go for eats, drinks, OR therapy!
Geneviève Crowe of Stonehaven, a.k.a. Bonbon and Death Maiden, a witch and necromancer based in New Orleans who freelances for the NOPD and the queen of the draugr. Her father had been a walking corpse and her Jewish mother a witch, which makes Geneviève half-dead and half-witch. She's bonded to the self-exiled Prince Eli of Stonecroft, the heir to the fae throne and freaking about marrying him.
The widowed Alice Chaddock, a.k.a. Allie, wealthy in her own right, is her assistant who tried to murder Geneviève last year. I reckon I'll have to read the Faery Bargain series, if only to understand why Alice would be working as an assistant, why she tried murder . . . Harper is Geneviève's current fight buddy. Christy Zehr is Eli's bar manager and one of Geneviève's closest friends. Sera is another friend. Tres.
Tomes and Tea is the bookstore in which Geneviève has a half-share. Jesse, Christy's boyfriend, is her partner in the shop.
Uncle Marcus is the king of Elphame who has an unexpected desire. The Fae Royal Service are security guards and include Roisin, Eli's former training mate.
Lady Beatrice, who rules the fanged monsters of New Orleans, is Geneviève's dead grandmother who, um, lives in the Outs, once known as Slidell. The fifteen-year-old-looking Eleanor is Lady B's assistant. Mama Lauren loves to garden and is Geneviève's mother.
The spa in San Diego . . .
William of Diego is the regent. Misty is a spa guide.
Millicent Johnson was 18 and dead . . . and infected with draugr venom. Her parents want her in a T-Cell House. Bill's Tavern. Iggy is a dead Hexen whom Geneviève restored to life. Draugr are blood drinkers of Icelandic folklore. Mr Woods is trying to buy a book Tea and Tomes will NOT sell. Chester is powerful and maintains balances, assassinates, and educates.
Jeaniene Frost's "A Grave Girls' Getaway"
It's a paranormal fantasy in which, between fear and guilt, Cat needs to understand her daughter, and it's gonna be a hard road to hoe. As Frost uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Cat's perspective, we know all her thoughts and emotions.
It helps explain why Bones reckons Cat needs some time away to relax, but the girl is so used to rescuing people. And falls into a nasty predicament that could kill everyone she loves. It does lead to Cat getting high, and is it ever funny! Then there's Denise as she embraces her ability to shapeshift.
Poor Cat. She and Denise discover that they're getting older and clubbing just ain't what it used to be, lol.
I love the lesson Cat's learned here:
"Just be who you are. . . . Not who you think you should be. Who you are is enough . . . It will always be enough."
Catherine "Cat" Crawfield Russell, a.k.a. Red Reaper, a vampire who doesn't drink human blood. She's married to Crispin "Bones" Russell, a master vampire, has recently acquired telekinetic abilities. They live in hiding in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. Ten-year-old Katie is their newly discovered, unique daughter, who had been trained to kill and loves to dance.
Justina is Cat's mother, and she's married to Tate. Cat's uncle, Don Williams, is a ghost and floats around.
Charles "Spade" is Bones' best friend. Denise, his wife who was branded by a shapeshifting demon, is Cat's best friend. Nathaniel is a relative of Denise's. The perverted and rebellious vampire, Ian, is Bones' sire who's been illegally practicing magic. Veritas, a half-vampire, half-demigod, is his new wife, and they're on an extended honeymoon. Ashael is Veritas' half-brother and a mostly not evil demon as well as half-demigod. He's a sneaky one . . . Demons are the walking embodiment of magic.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, California is . . .
. . . right on the beach.
The Coven . . .
. . . worships a sea goddess. Morgana is the evil vampire/witch leader.
The Cover and Title
The cover is deep in blues with a city skyline in the background and a suspension bridge crossing from the left to the right. There's a tree on the left behind the bridge, and the lighter blue sky is reflected in the still waters of the river, waves crashing ashore in front of the woman (with her back to us) wearing blue jeans and a black tank top. She has long black hair blowing in the breeze with an empty scabbard on her back. In her left hand is a green bottle of wine and the right carries a sword pointing to the ground. At the very top is an info blurb in pale yellow with the three authors' names in white, crossing the woman's upper back. The title starts at her butt with a fancy serif font in a gradated white to yellow.
The title is those negative experiences Geneviève and Cat have with a Hex on the Beach. I don't really see Vanessa's experience as being on the beach.