Like Tooth and Claw is an anthology of shapeshifter erotica edited by Joy Crelin and Cecilia Tan. It contains stories by Marie Carlson, Helen Dring, Lee Harrington, Alex Monagan, Julie Cox and Amanda Ferry. The introduction by Joy Crelin is exemplary writing that is both thought-provoking and successful at hooking the reader to explore the stories within. The tales are a mix of all kinds of shifters and the connections are anything from m/f to m/m to f/f and diverse ethnicities.
Hunter, Prey by Marie Carlson
Aisha is a strong, independent woman in her late thirties who knows what she wants. One Halloween, while bar-hopping, she finds just that in a gorgeous stranger named Finn. They have their way with each other over the course of the night and get on with their lives. Neither can forget the other until Aisha is bitten by a mountain lion while hunting and once again visited by Finn. He brings her to the woods to tell her something unbelievable that will change both of their lives forever.
My thoughts: The attraction between the characters is immediate and something that the reader can feel and be a part of. The sex is hot and rough, with bites and bruises to go around. Hunter, Prey is an excellent example of shapeshifter romance, full of raw animalistic eroticism.
Eagle Eyed by Helen Dring
A lover remembers her time with Amelia, a shapeshifter who since the age of fourteen spends most of her time as an eagle. Amelia flies in the window of her lover, the narrator, who is never known by name, to sleep with her, whether as eagle or human. They cherish their time together, the narrator wishing sometimes to lock Amelia up, to keep her close, to protect her. Both of them always desiring more.
My thoughts: Eagle Eyed is a tale that is haunting and poetic, magical and captivating. It will entrance you, make you sad and give you hope, which is very impressive for a story spanning only about five pages long.
Tonight We Work in Silk by Lee Harrington
Tabetha or Lady Kaja, the African Queen, as she’s known to her clients is a dominatrix unsatisfied with her sex life. She contemplates going to a hard-core club named Hellfire for some fun exploits, though her friend and fellow Dom Lydia, the Tigress, tries to discourage her. She goes anyway and meets another sex-worker who binds his clients with ropes of hemp. Intrigued with him and his practice and hoping to see him again, she whiles away her days working out. One day she gets an email, supposedly from him to meet at the Hellfire club. What happens next will change everything for them both.
My thoughts: I haven’t read many BDSM stories, though I have heard of the art of binding. It was in intriguing look into the practice. This was one of those stories that encourage the reader to keep reading in order to find out where the story is headed. I almost forgot until near the end that this was a shifter story and the ending may just surprise you.
Northern Sea by Alex Monagan
A man alone in a monastery by the sea goes out to gather oysters for a meal and to take a swim. A seal that seems far too intelligent to be just a seal frolics with him in the water and becomes a man who can’t speak but knows how to pleasure him and appease his loneliness. The man goes into a nearby deserted village in search of food and clothing and encounters an old woman. She feeds him, gives him some of her dead husband’s clothes and tells him some amazing stories. Tales about seals who can become men and mate with human females who will then yearn for them, eventually joining them in the sea. The stories scare him and he avoids his seal lover in fear of becoming one as well, until his lover awakens him to the potential of a new life.
My thoughts: I’ve always been drawn to mermaids and sea tales such as this. The sea holds so many mysteries to us mere humans. Could something like this exist and choose a human as its own? I eagerly explored the possibilities while reading this and found myself not only intrigued but utterly spellbound. The sex was plentiful and steamy and well balanced with an equally entertaining storyline.
Waylaid by Julie Cox
Joey is a trucker, tired from the drive and looking for a drink when he comes upon a road-side bar in Louisiana. He meets Aubrey who leads him to safety when the whole crowd in the bar turns into snakes and alligators. Aubrey is not all human herself and wants to share her magic with him, if he’ll just give her the chance.
My thoughts: Snake and alligator shifters are pretty rare, so that was an interesting aspect to this story. Also the fact that Joey is given a choice as to whether or not he wants to be a shifter. In most shifter stories, people aren’t given a choice; it’s taken away from them. Aubrey was a refreshing character since the shifter is usually a male. So you see, this tale was full of surprises. It was an overall captivating read.
Lioness by Amanda Ferry
Alanna and Quinn are were-lionesses who meet in the park one day, drawn to each other’s scents. Alanna is part of a pride and Quinn is a nomad. They become lovers and discuss their futures together, with or without cubs
My thoughts: This short story is all about animalistic instinct and lust. The concept of pride wives is an interesting one. The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering. Not a bad story, though I would have loved to seen the idea explored a bit further.
Werewolves have recently become popular figures in romance, especially the steamy subgenre of "paranormal romance." Independent publisher Circlet Press, known for specializing in blends of the erotic with the fantastic, pushes that mainstream idea one step further, beyond romance into the erotic, and beyond wolves to other were-creatures. With Like Tooth and Claw, Circlet looks into the fantasy potential of other intriguing animals.
The six stories in Like Tooth and Claw feature a wide variety of shapeshifters, from seal-like selkies to lions, but editor Joy Crelin says one theme remains constant, and it isn't just sex. "It's self-discovery. Through their transformations into animals that walk, crawl, swim, or fly, the characters always end up learning what it means to be human."
Like Tooth and Claw is available for purchase from Circlet.com, Amazon's Kindle Store, BarnesandNoble.com, Fictionwise, and other online retailers.