I’ve got to admit that my newest “Guilty Pleasure” has no connection to LKH or her wonderful characters, but to a relatively new series by Sherrilyn Kenyon revolving around her sexy, bad Dark-Hunters. Ever since I was introduced to the first book in this series, Fantasy Lover, I’ve practically run to the bookstore every time I hear she has a new one out. Ms. Kenyon has an ability to uniquely blend humor, drama, intrigue, mythical mischief, sizzling hot bods, and a lot of fun into a delightfully decadent plot that’s sure to please even the most discriminating literary palate. Her little snippet in this collection of short stories was no exception. ‘Phantom Lover’ is our first introduction to the Dark-Hunters mystical brethren, the Dream-Hunters. V’Aiden is our dreamcicle hot bod up to bat in this story and he’s out to rescue creatively oppressed Erin McDaniels from some mythical demi-gods set on stealing her creative juices by invading her dreams and literally becoming her worst nightmare. Even though this story is cut short from the usual Dark-Hunter interlude, Ms. Kenyon does find time to throw a curve ball in the plotline that even I didn’t see coming. This was truly the highlight of the collection, in my humble (ok not so humble) opinion. The anthology actually kicks off with a rather quaint, if vaguely familiar fairy tale- eque feature by Amanda Ashley entitled, ‘Darkfest’. The story involves one dark, all powerful sorcerer and one innocent, beautiful peasant maid. Ok, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt by mentioning the peasant girl is blind so as to throw some token individualism into the mix. Still the plot was reminiscent of Christine Feehan’s ‘Scarletti Curse’, Jan Zimlich’s ‘Shadow Prince’, or better still, a good old fashioned ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Personally I think the plot lacked a really strong, menacing villain character. I mean how can “Love conquer All” if the lead male’s heroic prowess is basically bored almost senseless by the lack-luster opposition. All in all, it was cute, sweet, but not one of the better works I’ve seen come out of this author. The third story in the collection by Maggie Shayne entitled, ‘Under her Spell’, was the pleasant surprise of the anthology for me. This story is steeped in the workings of the Wiccan faith, and being the good (yes, I’m using that term lightly) little protestant girl that I am, I figured I’d have to avert my eyes for some of its contents. However as I got into this story of a Wiccan priestess who becomes a “creative consultant” for a TV series that showcases witches and gets involved with her boss, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the insights of spiritual warfare from the pagan perspective. I guess you learn something new everyday. I also got the strangest impression from the contents of this story, that the author isn’t a big fan of real life TV series, ‘Charmed’ which I found rather amusing. I’m now looking forward to reading her vampire collection that I still have in my stack of “To-Reads” sitting by my bed. The final story in the collection by Ronda Thompson entitled, ‘A Wulf’s Curse’, was again familiar with another story I’d recently read. This story involves a young, innocent running away from a neglectful uncle who wishes to marry her off to a known wife-beater. She steals away on a circus caravan wagon and meets the resident “Beast Tamer” whose only hope in keeping his humanity in tact is to never fall in love. I found this to be an interesting twist to typical werewolf lore. The plot line reminded me of Susan Krinard’s most recent wolf novel, ‘To Catch a Wolf’, but there were still enough differences to make it an enjoyable read. I don’t think I have to tell you that the anthology was well worth the $6.99 just for the Kenyon section, but the other stories were entertaining too. I’d recommend them for that hour or so before bed when there’s nothing interesting on the TV and/or you aren’t otherwise engrossed in a full-length saga. Cheers and good reading, folks!