Crimson Beat by Elle J Rossi was probably one of my two favorites in the compilation. It was fast paced and sexy with strong characters and wonderful details about the setting. I could actually see Nashville and the bar that Josie owns and she first runs into Keller again. The chemistry between them practically made the pages simmer! The action is swift paced and nearly non-stop which makes the story fly by. All in all, a wonderful short story that made me want to read more with Josie, Keller, Sage, and the rest of the gang.
Beltane Fires by Livia Ellis was another of the strong stories in A Celtic Tapestry. It featured a great setting, had an interesting premise and solid characters but I would have liked more details on why Cormac ended up there when he was running. I think that was the only weak point in the story which isn't bad given the strict word count short stories in compilations tend to be under. I thought the chemistry between Cormac and Sorcha was well written and I liked that it featured an older woman as the romantic lead because you don't see that often. All in all, a great story.
Blade's Magic by Carolyn Wolfe seemed a little more fantasy than the others which made it stand out. It contains magical world hopping along with two strong leads in Max and Danie. Max's father and the siren Aileann were impressively creepy in their evilness and the cast of characters in Danie's coven and Max's extended family were strong. Often supporting characters in short stories get shorted but not in Blade's Magic. It was a fun and compelling story that I really enjoyed.
Shore's Edge by Tara S. Wood is very close to tied with Crimson Beat for my favorite story in A Celtic Tapestry. I am a bit of a sucker for strong female leads in historical romance and defiant daughter Saoirse does not disappoint. But there is still a bit of vulnerability to her that keeps her from seeming unreal. Ronan the Selkie is sexy, strong, and really, who doesn't love a shifter? Plus, he's willing to help out Saoirse - even if he does make a bargain to do so - while being honorable and protective. The plot is strong, the action fast, and the characters interesting - an excellent short story that makes me want to read more set in Wood's world.
I found The Picnic by Elodie Parkes to be disappointing. The dialogue was stilted and inane, the supposed attraction between Morgan and Ava didn't really work for me, and the "magical" elements seemed like an afterthought. Morgan is ostensibly some kind of forest spirit or god but it's never fully explained. The threat to the forest is easily dealt with using Morgan's and his family's magic which makes the rest of the story feel sort of pointless and Ava's efforts meaningless. The Picnic just didn't work for me at all.
Shadows in the Dark by Miranda Stork was another fun story. Rebecca, who doubts magic, reluctantly goes along with her friend Louisa's plan to try to see her past life - a life she doesn't believe actually ever happened - but of course, it works. Rebecca finds herself in Viking times - only to see herself be murdered! Then the haunting begins. Turns out Rebecca is stuck in a cycle where every time she is reborn, the two men who love her show up and one of them kills her because he can't have her. But which one is her true love and which is the one who kills her? It's a great story with twists and turns and back and forth. A wonderful read.
In Magic in Memphis by Hunter S. Jones colleagues Victoria and James have an illicit affair. There is very little chemistry depicted despite their seemingly overwhelming desire to hop into bed together. Victoria comes across as weak and desperate which is never good in a female lead in my opinion. James portrayal is not much better since he comes across as a cheater and not as an even remotely decent guy. Then, all of a sudden (and it is sudden) oh look, we have a great love story. Um, no, it didn't work for me at all.
Brigids Flame by Laura DeLuca fell flat for me for a couple of reasons. First, the hero's treatment of the heroine is abominable and yet she takes it. Second, I have a thing about cheating on your significant other - it's not acceptable. Ever. So I can't see a guy who does so as a guy I want to root for. Author River treats his girlfriend Brie, who gave up everything to help him in his career, horribly. This is followed by his having a woe is me pity party and then an encounter with the goddess Brigid - who he proceeds to sleep with (hello, cheating!). Yes, technically it all works out in the end but I just didn't buy it and I didn't enjoy it.
Overall, A Celtic Tapestry had some great gems and introduced me to a couple of authors I will definitely read again.
The wheel of the year turns, bringing the joy of spring, the warmth of summer, the richness of autumn, and the merriment of winter. But eight Celtic festivals link these seasons together, bringing with them romance, lust, danger, and even magic. From a city under threat from night-time creatures at Ostara, to a selkie caught by the light of the Lughnasadh moon, to a writer caught in the flames of a fiery goddess at Imbolc.
Eight authors have come together to give their own twist on these festivals, weaving each story with a blend of myth, magic, and contemporary telling…to create A Celtic Tapestry.