Title: Lead Me Into Darkness
Authors: Santino Hassell, J.R. Gray, Kris Ripper, J.C. Lillis, Roan Parrish
Release Date: October 31, 2015
Genre(s): Halloween, contemporary romance
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
All-Hallows-Eve brings out the wicked in even the most reserved among us… and the lure of romance is the keenest incentive to follow a beloved into the unknown. Lead Me Into Darkness is a compilation of original tales of queer paranormal romance by five of the hottest authors of contemporary romance.
Take You Farther by Santino Hassell
Brian Watts’ boyfriend is a newly turned vampire, and he’s shouldering the blame. Watts would do anything–including offering up a vein, stripping for cash, and demanding answers from other creatures of the night–to redeem himself and save the man he loves.
If you have read the STYGIAN book(s), you’ll probably get more from the story. While there is enough background to get the gist of the plot, this short definitely has the feel of a “filler” story. And because it was a bit of a filler story, it left things somewhat unresolved for me. 2 flames out of 5 3 stars out of 5
Memory Hill by J.C. Lillis
Billy Hartigan’s been dead for ten years, and it’s really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to “unfinished business,” he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy’s old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol–and his visits might hold the key to Billy’s release from Memory Hill.
Loved this story. Plot is well executed and pulls the reader along by revealing just enough background at the right time. The main character is empathetic, believable, and engaging. The intertwined components of Billy’s past and Todd’s future help balance out what could be an incredibly sad story. Instead the humor and frustration help balance the tears and makes for one potent story about love, second chances and redemption. 2 flames out of 5 5 stars out of 5
Grave Circumstances by J.R. Gray
Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse’s been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won’t soon forget.
Not my favorite. I felt this was lacking context, and I think it was that missing context that left me more confused about the story than engaged. I spent the first part of the story trying to figure out the era (modern), the Satanists in the graveyard were weird and not in a spooky weird way, and I was never clear on just what everyone’s secrets were. I will say, Jesse and George’s moment alone at the end of the book had me fanning my face. Whoo! 4 flames out of 5 2 stars out of 5
Boyfriends in the Boneyard by Kris Ripper
In a perfect world, Truman Jennings would be spending Halloween with both his husband and his boyfriend; alas, in this one he’s on a ghost tour with his husband, and his boyfriend is probably watching scary movies and eating pizza rolls.
The cemetery is appropriately creepy, their tour guide weaves a good yarn, and Hugh’s in a very odd (but utterly delightful) mood. When Hugh leads him away from the group Truman doesn’t know what to think, but considering his husband’s filthy, kinky mind, he’s more than willing to find out.
As usual, Hugh has both tricks and treats up his sleeve.
Only way to describe this short tale is humorous and sweet. 3 flames out of 5 3 stars out of 5
Mayfair by Roan Parrish
Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it’s hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They’ve been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil’s Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined
Not my cuppa tea. 3 stars out of 5
Overall, Recommended if you like short stories with a bit of darkness, humor, and love between the lines. A decent compilation for Halloween.