I'll be honest, I only requested this because of C.L. Wilson. I loved her Tarien Soul series and she hasn't released another book since the finale of that series in 2010. I feel like I've been eagerly anticipating her next book forever! Then I saw this, not only a new original short story, but a sneak peak at her full-length novel, The Winter King due out 29 July 2014!! I had to get it.
Thankfully her story was the first one in the anthology, so I didn't have to skip to it. "Upon a Midnight" was a nice, sweet story about a woman finding peace from her past and her guardian angel learning exactly what it means to be made for someone.
Upon a Midnight by C.L. Wilson
Kat has some seriously emotional baggage that's being carried around with her. Though she loved her parents, and was loved in turn by them, her father kept them on the run and her life with them was about upheaval. When they died in an accident, she was sent to live with her horrible grandparents - seriously, these two....I was so mad at them, at what they did to Kat. She bears the scares, deep and painful still, of these experiences and they affect her every day life. On top of all that, Kat worries that she may finally be going crazy - just like her father.
Micah - have I ever mentioned how much I love that name? - is Kat's guardian angel. He was made to protect her, because Kat's so much more than she ever imagined. And it's imperative that she be able to do the task she was destined for. Unfortunately, her history may just make that impossible.
I loved Kat. I loved how, even with her past, she didn't let it ruin her. She forged ahead, determined to still help others. I really admired her. Micah was perfect, but what I loved most about him was his support of Kat. His purpose is to protect her while she completes the task, however when she believes she won't be able to do it, he doesn't demand or insist, he supports. I love that.
My only, tiny, niggle with the story is how quickly Kat was able to deal with her issues. There's so much intense emotional history that it's hard for me to quite believe that she was able to put it all behind her so easily. I was so happy that she was that this didn't bother me a lot, but I think I would have liked more time spent on her healing from the trauma of her past.
Let It Snow by Erica Ridley
Full disclosure - I did not finish this story. In fact I only got about two percent into it. My problems completely stemmed from the world that couldn't decide what it wanted to be. You had characters sending out pleas to gods - plural - and planning to go to midnight mass for Christmas Eve. That made me pause and wonder, but I went with it and kept reading.
You have a main character that carries a sword, talks of magic, and mentions how he purchased a pirate ship - and then you find out a few paragraphs later that airplanes are still flying the friendly skies. Wha--?? M'kay, then. Moving on.
That's when I come to the point where the "hero" of the story is beseiged by six bounty hunters. I'm just going to add the quote and my exact notes from when I read it:
...when a pair of bounty hunters used silver bullets to announce their presence. Four more bounty hunters fell in behind them.
Lance had his sword in hand and through the chest of the closest attacker before the hunter had a chance to pull the trigger a second time. Two razor-edged claymores appeared in Sancho's mitts from out of nowhere, and for several adrenaline-filled minutes, the only sounds were the clang of swords, the sharp report of gunfire, and a series of wet thuds as the bodies of the would-be assassins hit the ground and stayed there.
Bounty-hunters "announcing" their presence by firing a gun - how inept are they that they can't hit an unaware target?
SIX bounty-hunters, presumably with guns, can't take out two lonely guys with only SWORDS?
Sancho (Lance's friend) can apparently wield TWO CLAYMORES at a time - do you have any idea how BIG these freaking swords are? They're HUGE. They're meant to be handled TWO-HANDED.
Then the bounty hunters are apparently still firing their guns and still can't hit our hero.
Snowman by Elyssa Wilds
I admit, I had little patience by the time I started this novella. Then it seemed like maybe I'd be in for a treat, because it started off interesting enough - even if I wanted to smack the heroine for idiocy in a snow-storm, at least she recognized that she'd been stupid. But then we get to the part where other female characters can't even be bothered to be given a name. It just rubbed me the wrong way.
After that, I'm not sure if I just lost what little interest I had, or what, but I started skimming and all I saw was 'blah, blah, blah'.
I knew it was time to give up here too.
OH! And the preview for The Winter King? LOVE. I'm SOOO excited!!