Kim Harrison
Lynsay Sands
Kelley Armstrong
Lori Handeland
Dates From Hell

Review brought to you by OBS Staff member Heidi

Dates From Hell is an anthology, of four different stories filled with hellish dates, as the title implies.  I’ll first break this down to each individual story.

Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison

This story is about Ivy and takes place before the first of the hollows series.  Ivy is working for Inderland Security, aka the IS, in the homicide division, living in Piscary’s building in an apartment she shares with Kisten.

Ivy’s partner in the IS, Art, is a dead vampire and one that will do whatever it takes to get Ivy’s blood and body.  When the murder case they’re working on leads to her discovering that Art set the whole thing up, Ivy devises a plan to take him down.  She enlists Kisten’s help and sets it all in motion.

When it’s all said and done, she decides she no longer wants the promotion she’s been seeking and instead wants a demotion to a job that always disgusted her, runner.  She is horrified to see who she was partnered with, a witch, of all things.
This story gives you a bigger view into Ivy’s life and the challenges she faces.  I thought it was OK…not great, but not horrible either.

The Claire Switch Project by Lynsay Sands

Claire works in a lab, with her boss, Kyle, the guy she’s had a crush on since she was twelve.  They have been testing out a destabilizer that makes whatever is shot with it have chameleon characteristics…where they can blend into their background.  So far, they have been testing it on animals only.  But the other guy working with them, John, has been getting impatient and wanting to test on humans.

So, when he finds an opportunity to push the human testing ahead, he does.  He tricks Claire to get in front of the laser beam at just the right moment and it eventually knocks her unconscious.  She wakes up to Kyle tending to her.

Kyle insists that she comes home with him for the weekend, so he can make sure there are no ill effects from the destabilizer.  While there her and Kyle’s sister, Jill, discover that Claire can shape-shift.

Both Jill and Kyle ask Claire to go to their school reunion with them.  Kyle not knowing of her new abilities, wants her to go as herself and Jill wants her to go as a male movie star to make her look good.  She agrees to both and spends the night changing between the two dates.

This story was another one that was just mediocre to me…cute, but not amazing.  Kyle and Claire’s relationship was sweet, but overall the story, with the having to keep up with two dates and not being able to was a bit predictable and has been done a million times.

Chaotic by Kelley Armstrong

Hope is a half-demon, who didn’t know what she was until recently.  She was thankful when fellow half-demon, Tristan, took her under his wing.  He sets her up in a job using her skills catching criminals and working on a paper, both jobs for the interracial council, whose goal is to protect and police all supernatural creatures.

Hope got tickets to a gala at the museum from Tristan and went with a date that bored her.  Shortly after being there for a while she realizes that she had been thrown into a job, catching Karl Mateson, a werewolf, and thief.

After Tristan arrives and gets into a confrontation with Mateson, Hope discovers that everything Tristan has told her is a lie.  He isn’t a half-demon and he doesn’t work for the council.  As for catching Mateson?  That’s just to fulfill Tristan’s personal vendetta.

Now Mateson and Hope have to work together to escape the museum alive.

I really liked this story.  I never saw it coming that Tristan was the bad guy and I loved seeing Mateson’s caring side.  I read this story all at once and it left me wanting more.

Dead Man Dating by Lori Handeland

Kit is on a first date with Eric.  She finds herself acting very much outside of her norm, the sexual tension between them is high.  He suggests them going to her place and she agrees.  But they don’t make it to her place.  Instead, he leans her up against a wall in an alley to have his way with her.

Kit sees a man watching them and tells Eric who doesn’t care about the man.  She tells him no, but he keeps going.  The man watching them, Chavez, takes exception to Eric not stopping.  He pulls him off her and pulls out a gun and shoots, but Eric is gone by the time Kit opens her eyes; there is no body; no blood.  And Chavez is gone as well, but Kit finds him and confronts him about killing her date.

Chavez kidnaps her at gunpoint and directs her to take them to her house and she does.  He informs her that Eric isn’t dead that he is a demon, one that feeds off sex and that’s why she had no control when it came to him.  Chavez is a demon hunter, who stays with her to protect her.

I thought this story was pretty good, but I did find the way to end Kit’s demon troubles to be foreseeable.  I did love when Chavez came back to confess his love for her.

Overall Thoughts:

I am not your typical anthology reader; in fact I avoid them like the plague.  But I’ve been reading Kim Harrison’s Hollow’s series and decided to give this anthology a try.  It was decent; I found the first two stories to be a bit boring.  I thought Chaotic by Kelley  Armstrong was definitely the best of the book and that Dead man dating by Lori Handeland was pretty good as well.  I found the other two, Undead in the Garden of Evil by Kim Harrison and The Claire Switch Project by Lynsay Sands to be lacking.  This is not one that I’d rush out to buy.  If you want to read it, I’d check your local library before spending the money on it.