The Charmed anthology brings together four stylistically different authors under one common theme: romance at Halloween.  Jayne Ann Krentz (writing as Jayne Castle, her futuristic romance pseudonym) takes us into the future to the novella that began her Harmony series of books, Lori Foster gives a passionate spin to treasure hunting and ghosts with a story that's part of her Winston brothers novellas, Julie Beard travels back in time to King Arthur and Eileen Wilks has a slightly gothic flair to a paranormal contemporary with djinn and witches.

Of the four stories I definitely enjoyed Castle's the best.  I've been a fan of her Harmony books for several years now, but had not read this particular novella.  There's less cohesion to the world, with more flair for the dramatic then usually found in the books, but the couple Sam Gage and Virginia Burch are sizzling.  It was fun to see the guy so uncertain about where he stands with a woman and wanting love, not just sex.  Virginia, also wanting love, but willing to settle for the sex if need be, is feisty and stubborn, but their respect for each other is apparent. 

Foster's was the hottest of the four and gives the phrase 'grand passion' a literal meaning.  I loved Allison. Hands down she was entertaining.  Casually arguing with a ghost while trying to keep her wayward--and explicit--thoughts to herself and battle the flirtations of her long time crush sparked some interesting comments.  Chase was very aggressive at first, but its understandable given the amount of frustration he must have been feeling.  There was an unnecessary thread, involving an ex of Allison's, that was just kind of there as added 'danger' at the end, but overall this was a fun and often amusing story.

I enjoyed Beard's story the least of all the stories included.  It was too pat, too predictable.  It started out really well, with a crazy fortune-telling lady and misfortune and Woden's Curse, but devolved into a standard romance rather quickly.  Tristan is entirely too nice and understanding for a guy in King Arthur's time, Katherine takes her time traveling really well (as well as the marauding Saxons) and the development of their relationship is pretty much off screen so to speak.  Various mystics tell them both, about each other before they meet so they're already pre-disposed to falling in love.  There is a clever trickery of words used, but even then the romance that develops from that is just so-so.

Wilks' story was a little confusing, and involved more psychological thinking then I usually like in a romance, but it was pretty basic.  Dora and John, two seemingly dependable and staid people, are hiding secrets from each other.  Which turns out to be an issue since Dora's secret puts her at risk because of John's secret and both together just makes them combustible.  There was more wordplay trickery involved in here, which was funny but not discussed overmuch.  The ending is a little abrupt with the consequences of their actions occurring and then lovely discussion begins, but it was fun.  Plus I like romances involving djinns.

Overall this collection was entertaining and fun, but other then Jayne Castle I don't believe I'd read any of the other authors separate works based upon what I read here.

Book Blurb for Charmed

Everything is possible and nothing is as it seems in four enchanting tales brimming with romance, passion, and a touch of wonder. From a marriage of convenience between a psychic archeologist and her bodyguard in a galaxy far, far away to ancient Britain and a dashing knight wounded in the service of King Arthur, from a house haunted by two mischievous ghosts to a woman torn between her fiance and a seductive djinn, you'll be bewitched, beguiled, and bedazzled as four of today's most popular authors cast their most potent love spells.

Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2009 3.25