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Title: Dame Onyx Treasures: Love Among The Monsters
Author: Margaret L. Carter
ISBN: 978-1-61160-670-6
Price: $3.99 (eBook); $16.95 (paperback); about 251 pp.
Genres: Paranormal romance, fantasy, and horror
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Where available: www.amazon.com, www.whiskeycreekpress.com, and www.bn.com
Rating: 5 Balloons

Dame Onyx Treasures: Love Among The Monsters features novella “Fantasia Quest,” along with seven short stories, all of them real treats.

I really enjoyed “Fantasia Quest.” Invited to beta test a state-of-the-art virtual reality game, protag Carrie accepts, hoping it will lead to a job with the company that invented the VR system. Her current job holds too many painful memories of her fiancé who died in a car wreck. She finds herself attracted to her game partner, but shies away from him because of the traumatic loss of her fiancé. That changes when the two of them get trapped in the game. After I started reading, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Margaret Carter integrated graphic imagery into “Fantasia Quest” – a singing sward, cannibal creeping plants, and winged monsters. What’s more, her characterization made me care about each character. Example: protag Carrie was deathly afraid of heights, but she puts her fear aside to rescue the man she loves; Carter makes every word believable. This tale will appeal to gamers, SF fans, and people who roam the virtual reality worlds.

The other tales made worthy reads, too. In “The Unvanished Hitchhiker,” an unsuspecting driver picks up a hitchhiker and discovers that the passenger is a ghost. Meantime, a bereaved mother waits every Halloween night, hoping her lost daughter will come home again. “Little Cat Feet” belongs to a talking cat that leads an abused teenager to a safe harbor. “Mistress of the Shadow Hounds” impressed me as a vintage romance, but with extraterrestrials who would break through portals to get to our world and destroy it. Loved it. Each page was rife with tension and suspense. “Birthday Gift” celebrates a young girl’s 16th birthday, when she reconnects with her shapeshifting mother to learn a family secret. In “The Wrong Hands,” a thief-for-hire steals from her former mentor so she could save her brother’s life. But the man she steals from happens to be a powerful sorcerer. The “Beast Lord’s Captive” portrays a young mage who goes on a quest to rescue a noblewoman kidnapped by a monster, except that the victim does not want to be rescued. In “Mercy,” a vampire woman tries to save her newborn infant.

This book is a must-read for anyone who loves paranormal romance, fantasy, or horror. I strongly recommend it.

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