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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Distinct Styles
I really liked this book, despite the fact that I normally can't stand anthologies. All three stories were well fleshed-out, and I found the world-building enthralling.
Counting Crows: I actually bought the book for this story, since Lackey is the only author I knew. If you're reading it for the romance, it fails. On the other hand, the character development is...
Published on December 12, 2003 by Amazon Customer

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only one of three is a keeper...
Of the three authors who contributed to this book, I have only encountered Mercedes Lackey's works before. This book is a sort of experiment where all three authors try their hands at the romantic fantasy genre.
Mercedes Lackey's "Counting Crows" is the first story in the book. In it, Gwynn is wedded to a man she has never seen before, in order to ensure...
Published on January 31, 2004 by M. Cookson


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only one of three is a keeper..., January 31, 2004
By 
M. Cookson (Colorado Springs) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
Of the three authors who contributed to this book, I have only encountered Mercedes Lackey's works before. This book is a sort of experiment where all three authors try their hands at the romantic fantasy genre.
Mercedes Lackey's "Counting Crows" is the first story in the book. In it, Gwynn is wedded to a man she has never seen before, in order to ensure the safety of her father's lands. She goes to her husband hoping that he will be a man she can learn to love and finds instead that he is a brutal man who rapes her and beats her. While Gwynn brings order to her new household and decides whether to use her magic against her husband, she falls in love with one of her husband's knights, Sir Atremus. The story was an okay fantasy story, but a miserable romantic fantasy story. Gwynn was the most fleshed out of the characters, but she was too perfect to be truly interesting. I found myself more interested in Robin. Gwynn's husband was Bad, with only the hint of a backstory, not enough to make him more than a cardboard Bad Guy. Atremus was useless, which actually wasn't too bad, since I kept forgetting he existed. Gwynn may have fallen in love with him, but I didn't know enough about him to feel anything for him. Gwynn and Atremus apparently had long conversations that led to deepening feelings for each other, but Lackey just glossed over most of them. Since I know that in Lackey is capable of creating great romantic plots, this story was really disappointing and not good enough to be a keeper no matter what genre it's labeled as.
Rachel Lee's "Drusilla's Dream" was the second story in the book. I enjoyed the characters, and this story could have been very good, but the way Lee chose to write it made it, in my opinion, the worst story in the book. Technically, most of the story takes place during Drusilla's night shift job, while she's typing data into her computer. As she types, she's on autopilot, daydreaming about a world where she is a princess on a quest to find the Key of Morgania. Details from her job work her way into her daydream, such as the janitor, who becomes a powerful wizard, and Miles, her supervisor at work and the Behemoth tamer in her dreams. Although reality and dreams get really mixed up, and there's evidence that Miles is aware of Drusilla's dreams, I had a hard time seeing her dreams as evidence that she and Miles were falling in love. Unlike Lackey's story, which didn't feel like a romance, this did, but, unfortunately, it was a badly written one. If the entire story had been set in Drusilla's world, without any hint that there was a real world, it would have been a good, but very odd, story. I don't mind odd, though.
Catherine Asaro's "Moonglow" was the best of the three. Jarid is the heir to the throne until his parents are killed in an ambush. The entire kingdom believes he is dead, but he in reality he is still alive, deaf, mute, and blind. Iris, who believes she has no real magic, finds him. It's decided that Iris must marry Jarid, and much of the story covers how Jarid and Iris get to know one another. My explanation sounds ver cheesy, but I'm trying not to reveal too much. It's an excellent fantasy and romance, and I'm looking forward to the first book in this series. Asaro writes better romantic short fiction than many romance authors. I may keep the book just for this story. It's fascinating reading how Iris and Jarid fall in love even though Jarid can barely communicate and can't see or hear anything around him.
Overall, it's a weak book, but, if you can get it cheap, I would recommend it just for the last story.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half star collection, December 29, 2003
By 
Barb Caffrey "writer-for-hire" (In a Midwest State (of mind), USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
"Charmed Destinies" is an interesting, but flawed, experiment. The three authors in question, Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Lee, and Catherine Asaro, do a workmanlike job exploring various aspects of the romantic fantasy genre.
The "lesser light" of the group, Rachel Lee, was the most interesting author. Her story, "Drusilla's Dream," was the best of the three by a wide margin. This was an unusual take on an urban fantasy, and I liked it very much. It was funny, interesting, and moving. There were a few very minor plotholes; for example, if Miles, her hero, had his eyes on Drusilla the whole time, the first time he sees her outside the shared daydream/computer storyline should be explained differently. Which is why this story doesn't get five stars; instead, it gets four. But a very strong four. And I'll be looking for more stuff from Ms. Lee.
I'm already a regular reader of Ms. Lackey, and I enjoyed her story, "Counting Crows." This was a period romance based in the medieval era of our Earth, and was nicely executed, even though in some respects, this was more a story about a brother and sister avoiding disaster than a romance; the romantic element was definitely secondary. But I liked Sir Atremus, and I enjoyed Gwynhwyfar's attraction to him. And the "spin," where it took a long time for the two of them to hook up, was an interesting one. Three and a half stars for this story.
I liked Ms. Asaro's premise for "Moonglow." This was an altogether new fantasy world, and the idea was very good. I liked the shape-magic. However, the execution of this story left a lot to be desired. The dialect used for Iris was not consistently applied, and I thought the story's ending a bit rushed. In addition, the fact that major mages could be out in the open where no one could pick up how powerful they are doesn't make any sense; the other, lesser mages should be able to pick up the power, even if it's never used.
That was a major plothole.
In addition, Ms. Asaro has some very unusual and offputting word choices. For example, she uses the word "coronate" in the following fashion: "We cannot coronate him tomorrow." Considering the rest is more or less in American idiomatic English, this threw me right out of the reader's trance.
So, despite the very strong and engaging plot premise, the story fell flat because the characters didn't engage me very much, and the execution of the writing was flawed. Two stars at best for this story, only because I liked the character of the foster father, Stone.
Overall: three and a half stars. Not bad at all, worth the money, and if the new Harlequin Luna line is much like this stuff, it should sell quite nicely.
Barb Caffrey
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Distinct Styles, December 12, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Connecticut, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
I really liked this book, despite the fact that I normally can't stand anthologies. All three stories were well fleshed-out, and I found the world-building enthralling.
Counting Crows: I actually bought the book for this story, since Lackey is the only author I knew. If you're reading it for the romance, it fails. On the other hand, the character development is wonderful (aside from the interaction in the "romance"), and the surroundings are vivid and compelling. Overall, I loved it.
Drusilla's Dream: This is the only one that I disliked. Most of that is probably personal. I found it a bit too silly, and cliched (which it made fun of itself for). I also found it choppy, and it was occasionally hard to tell whether the characters were in the "real" world or in Drusilla's fantasy.
Moonglow: I adored this story. Despite how short it was, I felt I really got to know the characters, even the secondary ones. The world building was very intricate, with great attention to detail. I found it occasionally frustrating when things were hinted-at, but never elaborated, but the world and the character's circumstances did a great job of backing up the romance. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid intro to new romantic fantasy line..., November 17, 2003
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been extremely excited for months about the new "Luna" series being put out by Harlequin Books starting in next year (luna-books.com which will be up January 2004) . Female fronted fantasy crossed with romance! Yes!
The three short "romantic fantasy" novels offered here vary widely in tone and story and each has its own appeal:
"Counting Crows" by Mercedes Lackey... If you love other fantasy works by this author, you won't be disappointed here. As an avid romance reader, however, this story fell far short for me. The story and characters are wonderfully and beautifully developed but I can't call a story truly romantic when we get to read about the heroine being raped (and passive or not, it's still rape) and beaten throughout the story but we never get any truly romantic scenes between our heroine and the man she loves. The interplay between the heroine and her knight is sweet and gentle but honestly, his passivity left me wanting to wring his neck. There doesn't need to be an overt sexual element for a love story to work but the way their relationship was developed left me feeling that they were quite platonic. Still, despite that it failed for me as a romance, the story is a deftly and intricately created work of fantasy that delivers as a magical medieval tale.
"Drusilla's Dream" by Rachel Lee... A decidely humorous and quirky story of two characters who interact in real life and in their dreams. I'm unfamiliar with this author's other works so I don't know how comparable it is --but reading this definetly makes me want to check her out further. A light but very romantic and sweet read that will please romance lovers.
"Moonglow" by Catherine Asaro... As a favorite author of mine, I couldn't wait to read this story. This work of fantasy is a change of pace from the more sci-fi flavor of her other books and I didn't know what to expect. But I was very pleased with the story and found it my favorite of three. I only wish it had been longer! The world she creates is vivid and beautiful but she doesn't scrimp on character development or relationship building between our two protagonists. She has always had a certain romance crossover appeal in her sci-fi books and it was nice to see that she could bring romance to the forefront of the story without losing any of the depth in the world she created for them to blossom in. I felt as this story truly exemplified what i believe "romantic fantasy" should be and can't wait to read the full length novel she has written for the Luna line in February 2004.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three good short stories, February 16, 2004
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
Each of these three short stories were very good, and I had a hard time putting the book down! The first story in the book, "Counting Crows" by Mercedes Lackey, was the darkest of the three romances. Lady Gwynnhwyfar and her maid, Robin, travel to the borderlands to meet Gwynn's new husband - a man she has never met before in her life. Once Gwynn arrives, however, she discovers that Duke Bretagne is hardly the ideal husband - he is brutal, vicious, and disgusting. After cruelly raping her on their wedding night, Gwynn is determined to use her magical powers to better her situation. Meanwhile, her old childhood crush, Sir Atremus, lives in Clawcrag Keep as well, a knight who is now crippled thanks to Bretagne's blasé treatment of his knights. Lady Gwynn and Sir Atremus establish a quick friendship, but nothing can ever come of it - unless Gwynn's magical powers can truly change her life.
I loved "Counting Crows," even though it was a rather dark romance, not of the light and fluffy variety. Bretagne's treatment of Lady Gwynn is disgraceful, and more than once I almost set the book aside because I could no longer bear to see the heroine treated in such a way, while her love is in the same castle with her, knowing what she is going through, yet pretty much powerless to do anything about it. Whoever typed the descriptions on the back of the book did a horrible job - not only did they butcher Gwynnhwyfar's name (it was spelled Gwynhefar), but Sir Artemus is called "Sir Elloran." There is no Sir Elloran in the book, and I kept wondering when Sir Elloran was going to make his appearance, meanwhile wondering why Sir Artemus was getting closer to Gwynn when she was supposed to fall in love with Elloran! It took me a while to figure this out, because I'm slow like that :) An excellent story, though, and probably quite true to life - I am sure there were a great many loveless marriages in medieval times.
The next story is "Drusilla's Dream" by Rachel Lee. Every night Drusilla goes to the same boring job and secretly daydreams while she enters in boring data. This particular night, however, cute Miles Kennedy, her boss, keeps popping into her fantasy. Things aren't going the way Drusilla wants them to go in her fantasy, either - the hero in her story (Miles, of course!) never reacts quite in the way she would expect him to. What's really going on in Drusilla's dream? This story was a fun little story and definitely lightened the mood after reading the "Counting Crows" story. The characters were funny, realistic, and quite clever. This is a light, quirky romance, something that makes you feel good when you read it, but something you don't rememeber the details of once you've completed the story.
The final story is "Moonglow" by Catherine Asaro. I loved this story as well! Iris Larkspur feels out of place learning how to use the magic her teacher believes is deep inside of her, but Iris seems to be unable to harness. It doesn't help matters that Chime, her classmate, is just about perfect, from her golden hair to her feet. Iris, in an amazing moment, however, discovers her power - and also discovers that the prince of her land, long thought dead, is actually alive. Once Prince Jarid is found, he must return to assume power of the kingdom, but he is blind, deaf, and mute. And since Iris is now the most powerful mage in the land, she must marry the Prince - and at the same time, try to heal his broken spirit.
I really liked Iris and Jarid - both of them were outsiders, and yet there was such a bond between them, almost instantly. "Moonglow" was an interesting story, and I'm really looking forward to the next book by Catherine Asaro. Altogether, I liked all three of the stories, just in a different way. Each story appealed to me on a different level, and it's rare to find that in a book. I'll definitely be reading this book again!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars be forwarned..., April 2, 2006
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
others have detailed the gist of the three stories very well. My main thing I want to get across is that in the first story, Counting Crows by Mercedes Lackey, the heroine, is brutally RAPED by her husband, in shocking detail.

I was not expecting that in a romance, and it ruined the entire book for me. If reading disturbing scenes like that would bother you, then I highly suggest you either skip this book or at least skip Miss Lackey's story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2 Duds, one Gem in the rough, December 12, 2003
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
Counting Crows-Mercedes Lackey's first foray into the official romance genre is not up to her previous works' standard. The plot drags, I had difficulty connecting to the characters, and the romance reminded me more of one of the old 'courtly love' tales, with less oomph. Not her best work by any stretch of the imagination.
Drusilla's Dream-Rachel Lee's premise is a good one but the novella's length did not allow for enough plot and character development. It was choppy and very hard to follow. Not up to her usual standards.
Moon Glow-This is my first contact with Catherine Asaro's work but I am very impressed. The plot twists delightfully, I can relate with the characters, and no one is perfect. I will definetly be on the look out for more of her work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent storytelling and well written characters, December 22, 2005
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This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
Charmed Destinies brings together three talented authors telling stories of romance set in rich, vibrant fantasy worlds. Okay, so two of the authors do this.

The novel begins with "Counting Crows" a story by Mercedes Lackey. My absolute favorite author, Ms. Lackey doesn't disappoint with this unique tale of a magically talented heroine betrothed to a neighboring lord. I loved the heroine's resourcefulness, which turned what could be a fairly run of the mill plot into an engaging page-turning read. The hero of the tale, not the foreign lord by the way, comes across as a soft, engaging gentleman, and the twist which brings them together is masterful storytelling.

Rachel Lee's story "Drusilla's Dream" takes place in a real life cube farm during the graveyard shift. While the story of a woman working at a drudgery job in order to support her dream (heck, I do this), is admirable, the actual story lacked imagination and skill. A shared daydream between her and a systems engineer a few floors above puts them both in a trite fantasy world, and although the heroine seemed quite well-rounded as a character, the hero fell flat. This story is by far the clunker of the three; however, the other two stories more than make up for this one's failings.

The final story, "Moonglow" by Catherine Asaro, is so sweet and tender that it's an awesome story. I found my breath taken away by the relationship between Iris and Jarid. His disabilities are played with thoughtful insight. I found the characters, and their relationship to be most powerful, and the geometric based magic intriguing. This novella makes a stunning finale for this collection, and introduces us to a most wonderful world.

All in all, this anthology makes an excellent introduction to the world of Luna fantasy novels, and is well worth the read, especially for fans of Asaro and Lackey.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better!, May 6, 2004
By 
"stinksap" (Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
The three stories in this book are not very good. The starting point of the all three stories is good,but somehow never reach a point where you as the reader really care what's happening. The stories are supossed to be a mix of romance and fantasy. Mercedes Lackey's story never really makes it's self felt as either a romance or a fantasy story. The other two authors Rachel Lee and Catherine Asaro are new to me,I liked Asaro's story Moonglow best. It was more indepth and had characters you could really care about. All in all I would say read the book but do not get your hopes up to high..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Damned with Faint Praise, January 23, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 (Mass Market Paperback)
I have to say that I liked the stories, but I've read far better by all of the authors. Counting Crows was indeed grim and the plot points were a bit too rough--I often found myself wondering about the backstory. I found myself skipping over most of the Rachel Lee story--the ending was very predictable. Of the three I liked the Catherine Asano story the best, and I would like to see more stories in this universe.
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Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1
Charmed Destinies: 3 Novels in 1 by Catherine Asaro (Mass Market Paperback - November 1, 2003)
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