The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance is actually a collection of 24 short stories, all of which fall into the paranormal romance category some way or another. Not all of them fit the bill exactly, because I’m pretty sure romance stories are supposed to have a happy ending, regardless of the paranormal qualifier in front. Most of the stories are either hit or miss, with some terribly dismal ones and others that were exceptionally good.
“The Temptation of Robin Green” – This one was a miss in my opinion, if only because I’m not entirely sure how it fits into the romance category when it lacks the requisite happy ending. At any rate, Robin Green is a brilliant, virgin scientist who gives it all up for a man who changes into a seal skin and is only using her to impregnate her and escape back to the ocean. Such an uplifting way to start off! Happy endings for everyone! You don’t need to be best friends with a unicorn when you can have sex with a seal man!
“Succubus Seduction” – This was one of the better entries in the series, and it is also one of the more explicit ones, which is to be expected given that it is about a succubae. Anyway, this one is about a succubae who fails at her mission to seduce a man and is subsequently turned into a human. And then she and the man in question get to have lots of hot sex anyway.
“Paranormal Romance Blues” was rather forgettable. This one involved a woman going to a vampire bar and crossing paths with some type of vampire law enforcement and a couple of cases of mistaken identities intended to shake up the reader… Or the characters. I’m not sure which.
“John Doe” – This was one of the more entertaining ones in terms of lore and monster effects. The language in this one is evocative, making it one of the more memorable pieces in the entire book.
“Taking Hold” – One of three werewolf stories, this one was the better one plot wise. In it, the plucky heroine teams up with a lone wolf to save a boy who is lost in a blizzard.
“How To Date a Superhero” – This one takes places in an alternate universe where superheros are quite common. They do autograph signings in between stopping the bad guys! There’s a bit of a mix-up as to who the hero is in love with, but the heroine keeps having strange visions of the future of the two of them hooking up. Kinky hijinks ensue!
“Daniel” – Oh, look, another vampire sort story. This one is about a lawyer, who inadvertently becomes the target of a very powerful vampire, and she hooks up with Daniel in the meantime. Because all vampires are deadly sexy in this universe.
“Light Through Fog” – This was one of the best stories in the anthology, a nifty little piece about parallel universes. If you pick this book up for only one story in it, this would be the one.
“The Tuesday Enchantress” – This one is another modern day alternate setting, but is remarkable in that this one takes place entirely from the perspective of the hero. Whether or not this tactic works will have to be left up to the individual reader.
“Trinity Blue” – I don’t have much to say about this one. The hero has tattoos that come off his body and can go do things. The premise is neat, but the story is unremarkable otherwise.
“Grace of Small Magics” – It’s like The Hunger Games! Only shorter! And with adult contestants and whole clans of magical beings at risk!
“Once a Demon” – More vampires! Consorting with demons this time, it would seem. This one is also memorable in that I’m not entirely sure which portion of it was supposed to constitute the romance. However, this was a slight hint of infidelity throughout the story, but.. you know, infidelity is okay when reincarnated soulmates are involved… right? Right?
“Night Vision” – Sophia is probably my favorite heroine out of the 24. She actually does things. She is rather amazing. And the hero needs her to save him rather than the other way around.
“Pele’s Tears” – Tales involving ancient goddesses are usually okay in my book just because. But I find it difficult to believe that the space time continuum was altered that badly without any serious repercussions.
“Pack” – Another werewolf tale. This one is all about how werewolves can smell their mate and know that that person is to be their mate for life. Then they get filled with such animal instinct that they just want to jump each other in the middle of the woods like animals despite the fact that your family is now the pack. Oh, and you know, she totally got over the fact that she was turned against her will, and is forced to live with the pack until she learns to control her animal instincts.
“When Gargoyles Fly” – This one would have been much better as a full length novel. I feel like there is so much missed potential in this story. Anyway, some artist discovers quite inadvertently that she has the magic necessary to create living creatures, like gargoyles, from stone and the big bad wants to use her to create the gargoyles enemies, who also happen to be set on destroying men.
“The Lighthouse Keeper and His Wife” – Oh look, another tale about reincarnated soulmates! At least this one doesn’t involve infidelity. Although, this one gets bonus points, because the power of love literally saved the day from the evil Poseidon, and taught me it’s okay to be transported into another time if your life sucked anyway and your soulmate is trapped in that era regardless.
“Blood Song” – There were zombies, and vampires, and sound healing so powerful that it actually brought a vampire back to life. Oh, and a fortune teller.
“The Princess and the Peas” – Now for something completely different, fairies! Evil, bastard like fairies. I liked this one if only because the paranormal aspect did not involve one half of the couple. Not really, because Lucinda was only part fairy, and Ian was just an ordinary mortal who loved her enough to go live in fairy land with her.
“At Second Bite” – Reincarnated soulmates and vampires in one story! This author clearly did the research as to what was sexy that year. There’s not really much more to say about this one that doesn’t spoil it, but I give it bonus points for originality in regards to the reincarnated soulmates issue.
“Blue Crush” – Mermaids! Djinn! A short plot that doesn’t seem to go anywhere since it’s part of a series!
“The Wager” – Okay, I’ll admit, the concept and execution are intriguing, but other than that, this retelling of Avalon just wasn’t that interesting.
“In Sheep’s Clothing” – The final werewolf story, and the other one that didn’t make me cringe. Although, this one was also on the kinky side, what with him wanting to become a werewolf and all. This is the part where I should make a bad doggy style joke.
“The Dream Catcher” – The final story in the anthology was the one I liked the least. In this story, society has developed so that sex is taboo, people reproduce through little test tubes and women are trained to ignore their sexual desires. In fact, people who have an active sex drive are considered to be the weird ones in this universe. Now, normally, I’d be all for a plot like this, but unfortunately, by having the heroine give into her “natural” urges, the author seems to imply that those who have little interest in sex are unnatural. This, regrettably has some real world connotations as well, for the poor, underrepresented asexual community. Now, I understand this is a romance anthology, and that for most people that means sex, and lots of it, but I could have done without the blatant disrespect towards real-life asexuals towards the end of the book. There were ways to have handled the situation without alienating any asexual readers by reminding them that our society views them as abnormal most of the time, and in that regard, the author failed, terribly. If I were judging the entire anthology based on this story alone, I would not in good conscience be able to recommend it to anyone, but as such, luckily there are other stories that can pull the book as a whole out of the mire.