Published by Swerve on September 5th 2017
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A frightfully good time! Dive into these Halloween novellas from bestselling authors Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel and Tara Sivec. Featuring stories set in the worlds of their popular series.
Tijan’s Fallen Crest crew are back for a weekend of mischief that takes a sinister turn; all four couples from J. Daniels’ Alabama Summer series gear up for Halloween in their own sexy ways, with a special surprise at the end; Helena Hunting’s characters from Shacking Up plan a Halloween gala that features a few ghouls and witches; Bella Jewel brings the chills and thrills in her suspenseful take on Halloween night; and Tara Sivec gathers the Holiday family together one last time as they try to make this ghostly holiday one to remember—or one they’d rather forget…
Cozy up with a mug of hot cider on a dark night and fall under the spell of this Halloween anthology!
Eye Candy is an entertaining Halloween themed anthology. This review covers So Much More by J. Daniels, Getting Down by Helena Hunting, and The Pumpkin Was Stuffed by Tara Sivec.
So Much More by J. Daniels
It’s been awhile since I’ve read most of the books in the Alabama Summer series, so it was nice to be reminded of how much I love those Bama Boys. The novella takes place on Halloween, and each chapter is about a different couple and written from the man’s point of view.
There seems to be a common theme: each man realizing he hasn’t shown his woman the depth of his love. There are many tender moments, but a heck of a lot of laughs as well. It’s difficult to pick which story is my favorite, but the gathering of all the characters at the big Halloween party is a hilarious highlight. This was a joy to read.
Getting Down by Helena Hunting
You don’t need to have read Helena Hunting’s Shacking Up to sit back and enjoy this short story, but it certainly appeased my appetite for more Ruby and Bane. Their relationship may be a bit too oversexed for me here, but they are the complete opposite of Amalie and her uptight fiancé, Armstrong.
Amalie is Ruby’s best friend, and the story follows them planning a Halloween ball for the rich and snooty. I love their friendship. Ruby is quirkier than ever, even as she deals with small cracks in Bane’s armor of self-assurance. Meanwhile, Amalie tries to suppress her bad girl nature to meet Armstrong’s boring expectations.
There’s humor galore in each chapter, and I get the feeling we’ve only touched the surface of Amie and Armstrong’s screwed up relationship. She really does deserve her own story. Lucky for us, she’s getting one! My pump is well primed for more of Amie’s adventures in Hooking Up.
The Pumpkin Was Stuffed by Tara Sivec
Jump aboard the crazy train for a one-way trip to visit Noel’s certifiably insane family. Noel’s dad is obsessed with winning the yearly Halloween house decorating contest at any cost. Noel’s mom can’t stop talking about her sex life. Noel’s best friend is a bridezilla planning a Holloween-themed wedding. Flamboyant Aunt Bobbie is full of pill-popping, booze-induced antics. Meanwhile, Noel and Sam are expecting their first child.
The humor is way over the top, but as long as you’re prepared for that and are simply looking for a fun read, this novella will fit the bill.
**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.**
Excerpts from Eye Candy
“Mason was in Los Angeles for a football game. He was playing tonight, and then he’d travel to Cain on Friday. We’d have a full weekend together.
I almost groaned. It’d been two weeks since I had last seen him, and I wanted him here now, but . . . one more day. I kept telling myself that, trying not to count the hours on the clock. One more day. Actually, half a day. Maybe I could get super drunk tonight and that’d make the time go faster? No. Even as I half-entertained the thought, I knew I couldn’t.
There’d be booze, Heather, Taylor, Courtney, Grace, and me. Plus pumpkins and carving tools, and I knew Logan would show up somehow. It wasn’t a recipe to get blitzed out of my mind. I’d need to stay alert tonight.
I looked back, realizing that Heather had moved on without me. “Yeah?”
She waved to the wheelbarrow she was holding, filled with pumpkins. “I got enough of these things for tonight and the party tomorrow. Come on, let’s head out.”
We had been tasked with collecting them not just for carving tonight, but also for a party that Logan was throwing on Friday night. He was partially doing it in Mason’s honor, but also because it was Halloween and it was our last year of college. Logan was finding any excuse to throw a party this year. If I sneezed and the snot came out gold, he would throw a party to celebrate it.
I shook my head, making my way down the row to where Heather was paying for all the pumpkins. The penis one was on top.
“Really?” I looked at it. The thick root was sticking straight up. It had been pointing toward the air before, but now it was curved back against the pumpkin.
She grinned. “He’s happy to see you. I wanted to make you feel special.”
“A pumpkin has a boner for me. Special doesn’t describe how I feel.” But I was grinning too.
SO MUCH MORE by J. Daniels
“Oh my God, look at that.” She points at what’s supposed to look like bodies wrapped in blood-stained sheets. There’s a group of them stacked together on the ground near an overturned wagon.
I think I hear something—a moan or a word I can’t make out. When we get closer, the body on the bottom of the pile begins to jerk and scream for help.
“Jesus,” I grunt.
Tessa gasps and squeezes my hand.
“Isn’t this supposed to be for kids?” I ask, brow furrowed as I watch the guy’s legs smack against the dirt. “Nolan would freak out seeing this.”
“Yeah, seriously. There were a lot of kids in that line.” Looking over at me with wide eyes, she shrugs. “Maybe this is the scariest thing we see?”
A chainsaw starts in the distance, startling Tessa. She stops on the path as several women scream, and squeezes my hand to the point of pain when a young boy runs toward us with his mother close behind.”
“What the fuck?” I squint through the fog.
When the boy gets closer, I can see how frightened he looks—like Chase when he has those night terrors.
Eyes wide with panic, mouth open and ready to scream, a steady stream of tears spilling down his face.
Jesus. This could scar him for life.
“Sweetheart, it’s okay! It’s not real!” the mother yells as the two of them run past us. “They aren’t really burning people alive! I promise!”
Tessa and I share a look.
“Um, why don’t we walk a little faster,” she suggests, tugging on my hand. “Come on.”
The path bends around a tree, and we move quicker now, Tessa not even bothering to look at the haunted displays around us. She clings to me with her arms squeezing my waist and her head smashed against my ribs, keeping her eyes focused ahead”
GETTING DOWN by Helena Hunting
One eyebrow quirks as he asks, “You two playing dress-up?”
I grin. I assume it must look incredibly evil considering the makeup I’m currently sporting but am not allowed to see yet. “We’re practicing for Halloween.”
His mouth tilts in a smirk. “Fuck yes you are.”
Oh yeah. I’m getting so lucky later. I don’t think I’m changing out of this costume, as difficult as it might be to sit in all night considering the massive wings attached to my back. I’ll make it work. Bancroft is very well acquainted with my love of all things Halloween and horror.
“What’s happening in there?” Armstrong elbows Bancroft in the ribs so he can poke his head in the door.
He edges inside the bathroom and his eyes go wide as they move over Amie. I suppose I can understand why. I’ve managed to get her into a pair of red satin booty shorts and a tight T-shirt. Her bra is very, very visible through the thin fabric. Her amazing legs are on display. Her hair is pulled up into two pigtails. If I wasn’t 100 percent sure she wasn’t even close to Bancroft’s type, I might be inclined to make her cover up. But he’s not into leggy blondes. He’s into somewhat petite brunettes. He also likes the sass, which I have an abundance of.
“What’re you wearing?” Armstrong asks. He sounds very much like he’s sucked on a helium balloon for shits and giggles.
Amie looks down at herself, as if she doesn’t understand his concern. She does. Fully. We talked about how he wouldn’t approve of this costume at all before they arrived. Which is the exact reason I suggested she continue to wear it.
I’m not actively trying to interfere in my best friend’s relationship, but I’m not fully convinced he’s the perfect fit for her, either. He’s far too trust – fund – pickle – up – ass.
UNSAFE HAVEN by Bella Jewel
“Oh my,” Kaity says when I pull the black and purple dress over my head. “That’s . . . sexy.”
I look down, realizing it must have shrunk in the last year, or I must have grown, because it’s a lot shorter than I remember. The purple satin just covers my backside. Oh my God. I tug at it, trying to get it down further, but it isn’t going to move. “It was longer than this last time, I swear.”
“Well,” Marlie says, raising her brows, “Oliver is going to be a happy man tonight.”
“I should change? Right?” I say frantically, tugging the dress.
“Absolutely not!” Marlie cries. “You’re going to wear that dress with pride and knock the socks off that man.”
I tug again, but to no avail. The dress is not moving.
I have nothing else to change into, so I have no choice but to wear it. Sighing, I pull on the long black tights, thanking God they’ll stop my panties from flashing, at the very least. I put on a pair of slim boots, pull on my black, tattered wings, and then let my hair down to flow around my shoulders and down my back. Then I get to work applying dark makeup. When I’m done, I spin around.
Kaity is wearing her sheet, which makes me grin. And Marlie is all decked out in a super cool witch costume. Both their eyes fall on me and widen. “Holy crap. I knew you were pretty, woman, but I didn’t know you could do hot, too. Oliver is going to lose his mind when he lays eyes on you,” Marlie says.
I look down and then back up again. “Is it too much?”
“Hell to the no,” Kaity says, coming over and grabbing my arm. “Let’s go before you change your mind.”
THE PUMPKIN WAS STUFFED by Tara Sivec
“It’s a Halloween wedding, and you’re wearing a costume,” Scheva growls.
“You said this was a meeting to discuss any final changes to the outfits. Well, I’m making a final change. I’m NOT wearing the costume you picked out for me,” Noel argues.
“You will wear it and you will like it!”
“You made me a cardboard box you expect me to wear, painted like an oven, with a picture of a baby inside that rests right over my stomach. YOU’RE COOKING A BABY!” Noel screams.
“IT’S A BUN IN THE OVEN, AND IT’S CUTE!”
“IT’S NOT A BUN IN THE OVEN. IT’S AN ACTUAL BABY IN THE OVEN. BABIES DO NOT GO IN OVENS!”
“DON’T PISS ME OFF OR I’LL MAKE YOU WEAR THAT FLUORESCENT-GREEN TAFFETA MATERNITY PROM DRESS WITH THE GIANT PUFFY SLEEVES I FOUND AT GOODWILL!”
“You wouldn’t!” Noel fires back, attempting to push herself up from the couch, her belly getting in the way and making her fall back to the cushions five times. I sit next to her and do nothing but watch.
I could be a gentleman and help her up from the couch, but then I’d just be convicted of aiding and abetting when Noel finally gets to her feet, charges Scheva, and chokes her to death.
Noel finally manages to push herself up from the couch and waddles over to Scheva, getting right in her face.
“I’m NOT dressing up as an oven.”
“Yes, you are. I already bought Sam’s chef costume so you two match, and it’s too late to change the entire theme of your matching costumes,” Scheva argues.
“I’m dressing up as a slutty witch, or a slutty kitten, or a slutty devil, just like I do every year, and you’re not going to stop me!”