Title: Masks Off Anthology
Author: Various Authors
Cover artist: Alessia Brio
Publisher: Torquere Press
Amazon Buy Link:Masks Off!
Length 175 pages/54000 words
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius:
Summary: Shifters, masquerade balls and revealing one’s true nature can make for a very fun read, or not.
Picture a masquerade ball: the masks, the mystery, the seduction, the reveal! Now imagine men who wear another mask every day, as shifters. This anthology offers seven stories about what lies beneath disguises, literal and figurative.
BA Tortuga marries the heat and splendor of New Orleans with a werewolf when Landry comes to town in Different Masks. In Missouri Dalton’s Foxtrot, Remy starts this year’s Masquerade miserable, but with help from an old flame, things start looking up. Believe Me, Beloved by Charlie Cochet gives us Robert Bradley, who dreams of singing on the radio, and when attends the masked ball of handsome station owner Gabriel Chase, Robert has no clue his dream is about to take an unexpected turn.
In As You Wish by Rob Rosen, James must tie his employer, Charles, up to a metal cot, naked, in the basement and return the next morning to untie him, no questions asked, but he gets more than he bargained for. It’s time for the annual Crane Masquerade Ball in Katherine Halle’s Alpha Prime, hosted by Stephen Crane, the new Alpha Prime, who’s hunting a mate. Everyone is expected to attend, including Christian, a vet student who detests Stephen with a passion…
Elizabeth Brooks bring us What You Are, where Cory relaxes his vigilance at a masquerade ball after two years agonizing that someone will unearth his two secrets. A single whisper leaves him wondering if he’ll ever find someone who can accept him for what he is. Finally, in Annual Full Moon Werewolf Ball by Sean Michael, a chance encounter a year ago changed Gramm’s life. When he runs into Damien, he finally gets his chance to confront his demons, but things are not what they seem.
Humorous, hot, suspenseful, and seductive: we hope you enjoy unveiling the men of Masks Off!
If I see a theme of masquerade in romances I can be easily seduced by it. - I always have found the idea of meeting one’s true love on the masquerade to be appealing and romantic for some reason. I mean, if this is the only attractive theme in the novel, I may not pick it up, but in the shorter story – absolutely. And the blurb in this anthology just sounded like so much fun. Another big reason why I wanted this one was because I really love Charlie Cochet’s writing and even if I would end up hating every other stories in this collection, I was still pretty confident that I would like hers.
As you can see from the blurb it also promised shifters and revealing one’s true nature, and I do like shifters, but a word of warning, especially when I read about werewolves, as much as I like them, a simple “we are the mates and belong to each other” just does not do it for me anymore. I do not mind the mating bond, but I vastly prefer it at least go hand to hand with love, and some getting to know each other, before the guys realize that they are mates, *not* after. The reason why I am telling you this is because at least one story in this anthology was not a hit with me not because it was badly written, but because it just felt so very usual fare. If you do not mind the usual fare, you will enjoy that story. Now, two other stories were your usual fare and I did not like the writing at all, so with those two I cannot be sure. Now, without further ado, lets briefly go through the stories.
“Different Masks” by BA Tortuga is the first story in this anthology. “Annual Full Moon Werewolf Ball” by Sean Michael is the last story in this anthology. I put these stories together because I was reminded why I do not read these writers. “You are my mate, I need you now and forever and I am never letting you go” is what I took from them, and as I said, if you enjoy stories which revolve around regular werewolf mating for life with no twists and turns, you may enjoy these. Although I also did not enjoy the writing at all, I thought the characters had no depth whatsoever, I realize that those are short stories and the writers are limited by page space, but I thought some other writers in this collection did better in that department. – 2 stars for these ones.
“Foxtrot” by Missouri Dalton. I really enjoyed this story. - The shifter featured as the main character is not a wolf, or werewolf, and I am going to let you discover on your own who this guy is. I just thought it was lovely – the longing for something better, the music he loses himself in, the fact that while the story ends pretty happily, I could not be sure whether it will last for a long time or not, or whether they both are just on the rebound. I loved how the “safe and needed” sounds so very appealing at the end of the story, more than anything over the top in the romance department. 4.5 stars.
“Believe Me, Beloved” by Charlie Cochet. As I mentioned above this story was one of the main reasons why I requested this anthology for review. I liked it but not nearly as much as I expected to. I thought that the description of the masquerade in the beginning was definitely most glamorous in the whole collection.- I liked the darker tone the story took, I liked the main characters, and I liked how the ending did not tie everything in the neat bow, but I don’t know, I guess I wanted more – 4 stars.
“As You Wish” by Rob Rosen – Oh I loved this one. I thought it was a great fairy tale like take on werewolves. It kind of reminded me of a darkish “Beauty and the Beast” . It is not a direct remake by all means and you may not even be reminded of this story when you read it, but some things in this one just had that feel for me. – 4.75 stars
“Alpha Prime” by Katherine Halle. – This one was probably the biggest disappointment for me, because I thought it was well written , but all emotional attention at the end was directed at the fact that they were mates and I was so hoping that some attention would have been given not just to them being mates and right for each other *because* they were mates, but them being right for each other because of something else happening in the story. I cannot talk about it because it would be a spoiler. – 3 stars.
“What You Are” by Elisabeth Brooks. – What a breath of fresh air in the werewolf lore this story was for me. I would have loved this story only due to the fact that here werewolves do *not* mate for life. They fall in love and stay together with somebody they love. But I really liked those few quirks the author added to her shifters and how they appeared. - I was also very amused that shifting in her world is not painful at all. Aren’ t you tired from werewolves shifting in a lot of pain? I know I am . My heart absolutely broke for Cory in this one and I was very happy with the ending. – 4 stars.
So I calculated average rating and rounded it to 3.5 stars