Jaid Black is one of the noms de plume of Tina Engler, the founder of Ellora’s Cave. This should give any prospective reader an idea of what to expect.
"The Best of Jaid Black" consists of three novellas. I read only two, since the synopsis of the third didn’t interest me. So I’ll leave "The obsession" out of this.
Tremors: Marie is on an extended holiday in Sweden. On the way back from a museum opening, where she had met a mysterious man who left her feeling uneasy, especially since she’s told that he was a murderer. She has a flat tyre and tries to make her way through the forest back to civilization. In that forest she meets the very man, Fredrik, again. He takes her to his home and basically forces her to stay with him for a week. After that week, he will allow her to leave, if she still wants to.
Vanished: Lynne is driving in a lonely mountain area, has an accident and is found by Jesse who takes her to his cabin and nurses her back to health. It turns out that Jesse is an escaped convict, imprisoned for some pretty gruesome crimes.
Tremors: I’m a big fan of cabin romance stories, so this one was right up my alley.
Well, the initial situation is a bit forced, since it doesn’t make any sense to anybody with a bit of common sense. If you drive along a lonely road and your car breaks down, if you have no idea where exactly you are, if you don’t know how far and what direction the next village/house/dwelling lies, if it is the middle of the night and you can’t see a thing, wouldn’t you just go back along the road you came from to get back to where you started? Well, Marie – in evening attire – decides to head straight into a forest on a path that looks hardly ever used.
S P O I L E R S:
If you were ready to overlook this and just take the story as it was, it was a really good read. Fredrik, whose reputation was far from pleasant, turned out to be a very nice bloke, if somewhat on the stalker side. The fact that he burnt Marie’s clothes in order to make her stay would have had me livid in real life, but in the story I just thought it was hilarious. Between him and Marie was a really good connection, they just clicked.
The fact that his status as a monster in human form was totally exaggerated didn’t come as a big surprise. Marie saw through that pretty quickly. And this is exactly why I couldn’t quite understand her reaction to when she found out that he had staged her car breakdown (how he did that was never explained) and her subsequent flight. At that stage of their relationship I would have addressed this directly with him instead of running away.
Apart from all those little flaws It was an enjoyable read. What made it even exotic were the few bits and pieces of Swedish that were thrown in. I have no idea whether they were authentic – I sure hope so, but I know from experience that when authors throw in German language bits into their stories they usually turn out to be false.
If you liked that story I recommend you also read "Secluded" by Lisa Marie Rice, a novella included in the Secrets anthology no. 9 from Red Sage.
Vanished: Another cabin romance. This time the heroine has an accident and is being rescued by an escaped convict who carries her to his cabin, even though he is in shackles, and brings her back to health. That alone should gave given her some idea about his personality, but it didn’t. He was in death row as a supposed serial killer of women and has set up camp in the lonely mountain cabin. When she thinks he wants to rape and kill her (an assumption not totally out of the blue, but nevertheless quite premature) she behaves in such a stupid way that you could only cringe in embarrassment. I have no idea how one would react in such a situation, but her behaviour was absolutely humiliating. I could have done without that.
After she finally got over that episode she was alright, though. Jesse turns out to be a nice guy as well and – of course – innocent.
The story was a good read.
Both novellas totally centered on the hero and heroine without any interference from others. I like those kinds of stories, so I was quite happy with them both. I had read one short story by her before. "Hunter’s oath" in the anthology "Playing easy to get" is a story set in the underground Viking world. I thought I’d give her another try and wasn’t disappointed.