Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

I love the Women of the Otherworld series and this is an excellent addition to the mix.

When Armstrong began her career, she wanted to do something to thank her readers so she put free fiction on her website. Readers loved it but they asked her “When will they be in a book?” Armstrong waited until she could do it with a charitable project, which she did with Men of the Otherworld. Tales of the Otherworld is the second collection of eight short stories and all of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to World Literacy of Canada, which is “dedicated to promoting international development and social justice.”

The first story, Rebirth, tells the story of how Aaron became a vampire. I have to tell you that I didn’t know who Aaron was until I read the last story of the book. I really need to reread some of the earlier books and make notes so I can keep track of all of the characters! Aaron is the second in command of the north American vampires, working with Cassandra. It’s quite a short story so to tell you more would give away too much. Let’s just say Aaron wasn’t that excited about being a vampire.

Bewitched is the story of how Eve met and fell in love with Kristof, thus producing Savannah. And, how it came to be that Kristof didn’t know about Savannah until after Eve died. Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic are my favorite of the entire series, so I was happy to see this one included. I always thought there had to be more to Eve and Kristof than we first thought.

Birthright is Logan’s story. At least the story of how he came to the Pack. He was raised with his mother and never knew anything about his father until, on his 18th birthday, he receives a letter with nothing more than the name of Jeremy Danvers and his address. Logan assumes that Jeremy is his father and, despite the changes he is going through, never suspects that he is a werewolf. Just as his father must have wanted – Logan has a lot to learn and now he has someone to teach him and give him a place in the werewolf world.

All of us who are fans of Women of the Otherworld know that Clay bit Elena and that is how she became a werewolf. What we didn’t know is what Beginnings is all about. As the name suggests, it’s the beginning of their relationship. This is one of the longest of the stories, which makes sense as Elena and Clay have a long history. Elena is a college student when she meets Clay – who is a visiting professor. For reasons he can’t explain, he gives her a job when he doesn’t need an assistant and, gradually, they develop a relationship. Elena has been in foster care most of her life so she is slow to trust and slower to love, but eventually she does love and trust Clay. Clay, however, hasn’t told Elena that he is a werewolf, so there is some tension.

As it’s not a secret that Clay bit Elena, I will tell you this: it wasn’t premeditated, it was an impulse. He’d taken Elena home to meet Jeremy, thinking that once Jeremy saw that Clay had met his mate, then Jereamy would lift the ban on long-term relationships. Clay and Elena got engaged and almost no one in the Pack knew about her. Jeremy isn’t happy about it and when Clay thinks that Jeremy is going to send Elena on her way, he bit her.

The short story pretty much ends there but the rest of it is in the early book, Bitten and more is told along the way in the other books that feature Elena and Clay as well as in Men of the Otherworld.

Expectations is a quick & dirty version of Lucas Cortez’s first meeting with Eve Levine and the lessons she teaches him.

Given that we read the beginning of Clay and Elena’s relationship just a few pages earlier, Ghosts was sort of disconcerting as it takes place after Clay and Elena are married. Jeremy, the lead of this story, also has memories of Elena just after she is bitten, so it gets a little confusing. In this story, though, Jeremy is dealing with a potential challenger for Alpha and facing the consequences of some of his choices as Alpha.

Wedding Bell Hell features my favorites: Paige Winterbourne, Lucas Cortez and Savannah Levine. Paige and Lucas are getting married and being supernatural does not mean that things always go smoothly – or that Lucas’ father will not try to highjack the wedding and turn it into what *he* thinks it should be. Eventually, though, they do end up married – Paige and Lucas, that is – and no one’s father is harmed in the doing of it.

The Case of El Chupacabra is the first nonprequel novella that Armstrong wrote. It also features my favorite witches and sorcerer, along with Cassandra and Aaron, the werewolf from the first story.

Sean Nast is in a gay bar when he finds a body – and the man appears to have been killed by a vampire. He hires Lucas Cortez to find out what happened, hoping to keep his own name out of the press and to keep his family from finding out he’s gay.

Benicio Cortez, Lucas’ father, is intent on getting Lucas to join the family business, which Lucas is dead set against. They finally come up with a solution that will make both Lucas and Benicio happy.

Sean struggles with coming out and eventually does come out to his uncle. Unfortunately, he does not get a positive response. I have to say, the struggles that Sean has with coming out are fairly realistic. It’s easy to say “you should come out!” (and, for the record, I believe you should) but the actual doing of it can be tricky and there are frequently consequences. A person has to be prepared for them. Sean seems determined to find a way to reconcile his personal and professional lives and to be his own man, regardless of how difficult that might be.

The next book (due out in August) is Waking the Witch, which features Savannah, who is Sean’s half-sister. I suspect we are going to be seeing more of Sean in that book, as he is the only Nast who acknowledges Savannah.

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