SPOILERS POSSIBLE SPOILERS POSSIBLE SPOILERS POSSIBLE
The problem I find with anthologies is you tend to buy them for one (or maybe two) stories. Which almost predisposes you to like one more than the others. Therefore I shall admit my bias straight off and say I bought On the Prowl for the Patricia Briggs story.
I also feel strongly that even if a story is set in an ongoing series that it should be able to stand on its own.
I'll grade each of the stories individually and then the grade at the end will be for the book as a whole.
First up we have Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs. Set in the Mercy Thompson universe (Moon Called, Blood Bound). It follows Charles (the son of werewolf king Bran) when he comes to Chicago to deal with unrest in the Chicago pack. Although this story takes place during Moon Called I don't think it's necessary to have read Moon Called to enjoy the story.
Not surprisingly I really liked this. It's also a story I've dipped back into whilst reading the other three. My favourite part being when Anna initially calls Bran for help. In a way this serves as an introduction to Anna and Charles who will be getting their own series of books in 2008, so there is something of a feeling that there is more to come. If I had any quibbles it would be that on p69 Anna smells Boyd's blood but Boyd wasn't involved in the fighting. So surely it should be Justin's blood? It's possible I missed something here, though having gone back and read it a couple of times I don't think I have. I'm torn between giving this an A-, a B+ or no grade because I'm too much of a fan to be objective.
Inhuman by Eileen Wilks.
As I'm not familiar with the Universe this is set in, I found it unsatisfying. I felt like I'd come in part way through the story, the characters were talking about things I knew nothing about. Also the situation is resolved by magical means so I didn't feel like it had really been dealt with. Terrible things happened but it felt like the perpetrator got away with it because they were misunderstood. The heroine wasn't that interesting, but Nathan (the hero) was well written, I could have read more about him and how he saw the world. Grade C.
Buying Trouble by Karen Chance.
This was my second favourite. I thought the story had real humour and the characters were well written. It had a bit of a slow start, but once the gamelan (favourite bit) got loose, the story had much more pace. Claire's transformation scene was very well done, and Heidar has a way with the witty remark. Claire had an engaging voice and I could happily read more about her. (I'm not certain but I think I started to read a Karen Chance book before, and got annoyed because she 'pulled out' of a love scene before it was completed. She was all build up and no follow through. In a way this happens again here, but it's more forgivable in this story because there's a very good reason for it. Based on this short story I'm going to dig out that book and give it another go.) Grade B+
Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Okay, I probably have to issue a warning here. I may go into a bit of a rant. Sunny fans may want to skip this.
First of all, the word 'literally/literal' is used four times. FOUR TIMES! That's three times too many for a novel, let alone a short story.
Now, I have only read Book 1 of the Mona Lisa series. And if you're in the same position you may want to give this story a miss. Because it's got huge spoilers in it regarding the death of a character.
This isn't a short story, there is very little plot here. There's quite a bit of exposition bringing you up to date with what's happened - kind of like a 'Previously in the Mona Lisa Universe...'. It's more of a filler between books and is probably only interesting if you're a fan of the series. Nothing really happens, and it happens for about 60 pages.
It's also slightly (okay, a lot) like reading the bastard child of Anita Blake (my beast moved inside of me), Merry Gentry (sleeping with multiple partners), and the Black Jewels Trilogy (Demon Dead, High lord of Hell).
Not one I shall be re-reading. Ungraded because I obviously lost my objectivity along the way. :)