Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, and R.C. Ryan

Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, and R.C. Ryan
Publisher: Jove
Genre: Futuristic Mystery / Paranormal Romance Down the Rabbit Hole Cover
ISBN: 9780515155471
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
J.D. Robb Reading Order

You’re late for a very important date…

Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head.

Don’t be afraid to follow them…


“Wonderment in Death” (In Death, Book 41.5) by J.D. Robb
At first glance, the deaths of Marcus and Darlene Fitzwilliams is an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide. But when Eve Dallas takes on the case as a favor to a friend, the very down-to-earth lieutenant finds herself navigating a world of spirits, mediums, and poisonous tea parties to hunt down a killer who has twisted Lewis Carroll’s classic for his own deadly purposes.

J.D. Robb has blended Alice in Wonderland with the In Death-verse in a most wonderfully imaginative way. “Wonderment in Death” is a fast-moving hunt for a mad killer who targets his grief-stricken prey both for profit and pleasure. It is fascinating to see Eve navigate a case that’s riddled with Alice in Wonderland allusions. It’s completely at odds with her character, but she handles it like a pro (with the help of Roarke, Peabody, Louise, and others, of course). The story itself is twisted, yet highly entertaining, and I loved that even in novella format, Ms. Robb seamlessly weaves in Eve’s personal connections. There’s a lot to love about “Wonderment in Death.” Fans of the In Death series are in for a real treat!

“Alice and the Earl in Wonderland” by Mary Blayney
The new Earl of Weston is desperate to save his estate, but more importantly, he wants to win the hand of Miss Alice Kemp. Fortunately for him, a magical coin sends Weston and Alice tumbling through time to the wonderland that is 2005 London. If Weston plays his cards right, he’ll find the answers that can save both his estate and his love life.

“Alice and the Earl in Wonderland” is a sweet story of two lovers who get a new outlook on life when they time travel two hundred years into the future. Author Mary Blayney makes the romance work by showing the already solid connection between Weston and Alice. Love isn’t their problem – society’s strict rules are. Alice’s parents are divorced, which is scandalous in 1805, and she doesn’t wish to have Weston ostracized by his association with her. Both she and Weston learn a lot as they visit the twenty-first century, their newfound knowledge helping them solve their problems. I liked “Alice and the Earl in Wonderland,” but I wish I could have connected to the characters better. Most of the story is watching Weston and Alice marvel at life in 2005, which doesn’t leave much room for character development. Still, I look forward to reading “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure” (in the Dead of Night anthology) so I can see what happened to the characters who switched places with Weston and Alice during their time travel adventure.

“iLove” by Elaine Fox
Macy is in love with her boyfriend, Jeremy, but she believes he’s more in love with his phone than with her. She finally hits her limit and dumps him, but before he can go after her, Jeremy finds himself sucked into his phone, where he must win back Macy’s love through a dating app if he hopes to find a way out into the real world again.

“iLove” was an interesting, incredibly relevant story that emphasizes the importance of human connection. People are attached to their smartphones more and more, and I loved how Elaine Fox took that on in her story. Jeremy is a genuinely good guy, but he isn’t the best of boyfriends, more absorbed in his phone than in the woman he is dating – it’s easy to see why Macy is frustrated with him. There’s a slight Alice in Wonderland connection in this one, but mostly “iLove” is a story of second chances and the power of human contact. It’s interesting, unique, and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Fox’s work.

“A True Heart” by Mary Kay McComas
Costume shopping goes incredibly wrong – or right, depending on your point of view – for Elise when a supernatural being takes her on a doozy of a tour through her life. “A True Heart” is a fast-paced, intriguing story that perhaps owes more to A Christmas Carol than Alice in Wonderland. Elise has been badly hurt in the past, and because of this she’s formed a hard shell around her heart. Because author Mary Kay McComas shows how deeply vulnerable Elise is, she’s a very likeable, interesting, flawed heroine. When her supernatural guide takes her through various changes and scenes from her life, Elise begins to get a clearer picture of herself and how the walls she’s built have affected not only her life, but the lives of those around her. There’s a bittersweet quality to most of “A True Heart,” but I found it touching. There’s heartbreak, healing, and promise in this tale and though it can be a bit bizarre in parts, this works for the story overall. “A True Heart” is has a lot of emotion packed into one novella, and I finished the story a well-satisfied reader.

“Fallen” by R.C. Ryan
Softhearted Beth Campbell is determined to win her aunt’s approval and a place in her newly-merged company by convincing a Scottish recluse to sell his land to her client. But when she hits her head while en-route to the Highlands, Beth finds herself in a world of magic and intrigue…and falling for a sexy Highland warrior.

“Fallen” is a fairytale for adults that is sure to charm readers. I adored Beth and Colin and was easily swept away by the magic R.C. Ryan weaves into this lovely romance. Beth is out of sorts when she finds herself in eighteenth century Scotland, at the home of a laird who tempts her like no other man has before. Her attraction to Colin Gordon is instant, but there’s something deeply wrong with his home. People are flashing in and out of animal form, there’s a plot to kill Colin that Beth must thwart, and her grandmother’s legend of the Beast of the Highlands seems to be unfolding before her very eyes. There’s so much to unpack and enjoy about “Fallen” that I wish the story were longer. Beth and Colin’s romance is both sensual and sweet, but it’s also a bit rushed and the ending felt hurried. I wish I could have learned more about the curse upon Colin and it would have been great if we could have explored the magical side of the story further as well. Still, as it stands “Fallen” is an excellent story I thoroughly enjoyed.

Down the Rabbit Hole contains a wide range of tales, so there’s something for everyone. Aside from “Wonderment in Death,” the Alice in Wonderland connections in the anthology are tenuous at best. This is a pity, because Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale is rife with fantastical elements that would have been fun to see played up more. In Death fans will want Down the Rabbit Hole for “Wonderment in Death” alone, and the story is definitely worth it. But whether or not you’re a J.D. Robb fan, the anthology as a whole is unique and well worth the read.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.