Inked consists of four Novellas from four popular paranormal science fiction/romance writers (Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, and Eileen Wilks). Each story has its own unique flavor but they all tell a tale involving tattoos, hence the name Inked. I really enjoyed three of the four novellas. I actually think these types of books are a great way to introduce yourself to new authors since it gives you a little taste of their style without committing to a novel. If you like this type of genre then you will probably enjoy this novella collection as there are some great stories within.
Novella 1: “Skin Deep” by Karen Chance.
This is the one I actually didn’t like. The main character Lia was quite a nice character. She is a sorcerer of some type whose magic is undependable due to an injury. She is helping some colleagues deactivate some magical equipment when a magical tattoo jumps onto her body and takes residence. Soon after that she learns her boyfriend, Cyrus, a werewolf is in trouble and she rushes to his rescue. He is in some elaborate sewer system in Las Vegas which is a great place to live unless is rains which is doing this particular day. From there the story gets sort of hung up on finding Cyrus in the maze of sewers and the story starts to drag. Will Lia be able to find Cyrus before it is too late and who is trying to kill him? You will have to read it to find out. I found it hard to get through this story even though I am a fan of Karen Chance’s work and have read some of her novels. She is sort of a hit and miss author. She either does a fantastic job and the book is phenomenal or it’s a nightmare to get through. This story was a miss for me, good premise but bad follow through.
Novella 2: “Armor of Roses” by Marjorie M. Liu.
I really liked this one so much so that I am getting her novels so I can read more about this character. Maxine Kiss, the main character, has a secret. During the day she is covered with tattoos that protect her like armor, she cannot be killed. At night the tattoos come off her body and are four demons that can do everything from bring her food, to protect her, to send her back in time. These tattoos pass themselves from mother to daughter therefore the demons make sure that their host has a daughter and protects that daughter for when the demons leave their host for another the mother finds death almost immediately. In this novella, Maxine sets out to solve a mystery from her grandmother’s time and it involves WWII and the Germans and a demon that cannot be exorcised the way Maxine would normally exorcise a demon. This is an intriguing story and I am not going to tell you what happens, but you definitely have to check this one out. Liu has a great style and gives us excellent characters in such a short space. Her story flowed well and kept me captivated. Evidently, Maxine is from her series but you don’t have to have read it to read this story. Like I said I am getting the first book in her series because I liked this novella so much.
Novella 3: Etched in Silver by Yasmine Galenorn
This story was a real romance story as Galenorn’s novels are more the lighter romance novel type books. I have read her novels before and she is a little on the romance side for me and her novels got repetitive for me. That said, this short story was nice and very readable for me. This novella fits in with her novel series but again you don’t have to have read the series to get the story. You will recognize the characters if you have read the series but there is nothing you feel you are missing if you haven’t read them. Camille and her sisters are half fey and half human and because of that their powers mess up, a lot. They have joined what amounts to the fey law force but they are the joke of the force. They keep getting assignments which they are destined to fail so that they can be kicked out. Camille’s powers don’t always work or work the way they should, her sister Delilah is a shape shifter who shifts into a tabby house cat instead of something more elegant or useful, and the youngest sister is an acrobat that can suddenly lose her balance. This story is about Camille. Camille is after a mark and she visits a bar nightly where her mark is supposed to show up. She unfortunately draws the attention of a seduction elf (who can make you want them, magically). Can she resists the elf’s temptation and find her mark and keep herself from being fired? And when she finds her mark will her magic work long enough so that she can bring him in? You will just have to read and find out. This novella was well written, moved well, and had fairly interesting characters. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t the worst story of the bunch either.
Novella 4: “Human Nature” by Eileen Wilks
This novella fits in with Eileen Wilks novels: World of the Lupi. Evidently it fits in between two of the novels and probably explains some things that happen between the end of one novel and the beginning of another. I would think you might be a little lost if you have never read her series. You can still follow the story but the interaction of the characters might be a little off for you if you don’t know what has happened previously. This story involves the death of a werewolf who has tattoo on his neck when he dies that wasn’t there when he was alive. Lily is a cop who belongs to the FBI in the supernatural division which deals with all things supernatural which are just coming out into the light. She is mate bonded to Rule, the prince of one of the largest Lupi or werewolf clans. But unlike other romances where the bond happens and the pair fall instantly in love, it isn’t the case with Rule and Lily. They have been testing the bond to see how far they can bend it and Lily still hasn’t learn to believe in the magic that caused the bond or to trust Rule which makes their relationship difficult. In this story, a friend of Rule gets murdered. First, they have to determine if it is by magical means because if it is then Lily can investigate instead of the local police who are biased against the Lupi and are likely to let the murderer go on principle. Then they have to figure out who would hurt Rule’s friend and there are plenty of suspects including the head of Human’s First who advocate the extinction of the Lupi. Can Lily and Rule find the murderer and the reason for such a horrible act? You will have to read to find out. Wilks is another hit and miss author for me. She has some decent characters but sometimes her novels can drag. This story was good. It moved well and showed a lot of Lily’s and Rule’s characters but not so much to bore a follower of the novels but enough that if you haven’t read the novels you can pick up what’s going on. It was a good way to round out the book.
Overall, I enjoyed Inked and the stories I found within. If you like these authors then you will like their contributions and if you like the paranormal genre then this is a good way to maybe find some new authors you might enjoy.