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From Afar: Anthology season is here

Author Veronica Scott.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Veronica Scott

Special to the Daily Record

It’s that time of year again — anthologies blow in like fall leaves! Of course, anthologies come out all year long, but, for some reason, there are always quite a large number released in the time frame from late September to the end of December.

I’ve got a representative sample for you today, starting with my personal favorite: “Pets in Space 6.” I was one of the co-founders of this science fiction romance anthology five years ago and, although we’ve handed the project off to a new person, I still wrote a story for the 2021 collection. My novella is “Star Cruise: Time Loop,” which is a groundhog day type tale, featuring an alien turtle as the pet! Of course, there’s romance, action and adventure. Here’s the official blurb for the anthology: “Join the incredible authors in this year’s ‘Pets in Space 6’ for another out-of-this-world adventure. This award-winning, USA TODAY-bestselling anthology is packed full of your favorite ‘Pets in Space.’ Featuring 11 original, never-before-released stories from some of today’s bestselling science fiction romance and fantasy authors, ‘Pets in Space 6’ continues their vital support of Hero-Dogs.org, the non-profit charity that improves quality of life for veterans of the U.S. military and first-responders with disabilities.” (“Pets in Space” is a limited edition anthology that is available for a short time only.)

Moving on to paranormal romance, a number of my favorite authors just recently made the USA Today bestseller list for “Hearts Unleashed,” which the blurb describes in this way: “Unleash your heart, indulge your senses and satisfy your cravings with this fantastic collection of supernatural fiction featuring sensual heroes and sassy heroines, crafted by some of your favorite bestselling and award-winning authors.” More than 20 authors wrote stories for this anthology, so the range of adventures is quite broad. It includes “Dragon Mate” by Elle Boon, which received a great deal of praise from reviewers, and Theresa Hissong with her story, “Sacred Shift,” about a pack of panthers. C.D. Corri is another of my favorites.

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This season the paranormal cozy mystery authors go into high gear, and some of the best names in this genre banded together for “Moons, Magic and Mystery.” The series is described this way: “A harvest moon. A hidden clue. What’s an amateur sleuth to do? Witches, psychics, and supernatural sidekicks. Sixteen magical mysteries await! Solve cryptic cases, unravel celestial clues, and investigate lunar legends in this exciting collection of paranormal cozy mystery short stories from your favorite witchy authors. If you’re looking for page-turning mysteries to keep you entertained this Hallow’s Eve, your search is over! This enchanting anthology includes 800+ pages of humorous magical mystery.”

I love Molly Fitz and Jane Hinchey, who each have a story in the collection, and can’t wait to read the rest. Part of the fun of anthologies to me is discovering new-to-me authors in the genre and then going off to prowl their backlists.

“Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology” might seem a bit far afield from my normal reads, but I like reading stories by Ana Cuvay, who has an entry about an interplanetary rancher in the book, and I’m also looking forward to reading, “Cowboys & Zombies” by Cindy Tanner, because I’m a huge dystopian romance fan. And, actually, I do enjoy cowboy romances in general. Here’s the anthology’s description: “Get ready to fall in love with sensual tales filled with the earthy scent of horses, cows, and crisp, clean sweat; the sight of sun-leathered skin and crow’s feet; the feel of work-hardened thighs and arms; and the sound of a deep-voiced drawl.” I mean, who can resist this, right?

Speaking of dystopian, I have “Out of the Ruins: The Apocalyptic Anthology” on my kindle. This recent release has some very heavy hitters in science fiction, including Emily St. John Mandell and Clive Barker. This isn’t romance. Here’s the blurb: “WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE FROM THE FIRE? In the moments when it all comes crashing down, what will we value the most, and how will we save it? Digging through the layers of ruined cities beneath your feet, living in the bombed-out husk of a city, hiding from the monsters on the other side of the wall, can we turn the cataclysm into an opportunity?”

These kinds of stories are among my favorite subgenre of science fiction, so I’m excited to work through the “to-be-read list” and get to it. Hopefully I will find new authors to follow.

“Rainbow Desire” was a recent LGBTQ+ anthology with this description: “Rainbow Desire is a celebration of life and love in its kaleidoscope of exotic rainbow colors. The stories within the book also reflect its vibrant shades of romance from light and dark. I hope you will enjoy the wealth of narratives in this glorious LGBTQ+ anthology.”

From the reviews, the stories appear to be a good mix of experiences. I’m already familiar with Alice Renaud from her engaging stories of mermen, so I expect to enjoy her story. I think it is paranormal, although the majority of the book wouldn’t be.

But for me the happiest part of this season, aside from “Pets in Space 6,” of course, is always the Regency romance Christmas anthologies, and this year’s offerings don’t disappoint. First is “A Victorian Family Christmas” with three tales. One is by Carla Kelly, who has long been one of my favorite historical romance authors. I’m currently reading her story in the collection, “A Father for Christmas,” and enjoying it very much.

Next I’m going to dive into “A Yuletide Kiss,” which features three of the best Regency romance authors in the genre and a trope I adore — all the stories revolve around the travelers at a country inn. Years ago Mary Jo Putney wrote one of my all-time favorite Christmas Regency stories, and I’ve been a devoted reader of hers ever since. I know I’ll enjoy the other two authors as well.

Also waiting on my kindle is “Kissing Under the Mistletoe:” It is described this way: “From the Scottish highlands, to the bustle and tussle of London, to a hotel on the outskirts of town, three unforgettable authors bring the joy of Christmas romance in ‘Kissing Under the Mistletoe.’”

Saving my other favorite Regency trope for last, “I’ve got Mistletoe Christmas:” The blurb reads: “‘The Duke of Greystoke’s Christmas Revelry’ is famous throughout the British Isles for its plays, dancing, magical grotto… not to mention scandals leading to the marriage licenses he hands out like confetti. But not everyone welcomes a visit from Cupid. Lady Cressida, the duke’s daughter, is too busy managing the entertainments — and besides, her own father has called her dowdy. Her cousin, Lady Isabelle Wilkshire, is directing Cinderella and has no interest in marriage. Lady Caroline Whitmore is already (unhappily) married; the fact that she and her estranged husband have to pretend to be together just makes her dread the party all the more. But not as much as Miss Louisa Harcourt, whose mother bluntly tells her that this is her last chance to escape the horrors of being an old maid. A house party so large that mothers lose track of their charges leads to a delightful, seductive quartet of stories that you will savor for the Season!”

I want to be invited to a Regency holiday house party and waltz with the duke!

Wishing you many hours of happy reading!

USA Today bestselling author Veronica Scott is the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her books. She had a long career at NASA/JPL, where the Mars rovers were built, among other exciting projects. Scott is seven-time winner of the SFR (Science-Fiction Romance) Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. One of her favorite achievements is that she read the part of “Star Trek Crew Member” in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.” For more information, visit her blog at veronicascott.wordpress.com or find her on social media.

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