Aftershock offers a trio of short novellas with the theme of near deaths being somewhat blessings in disguise. I never read these authors before so it was great to dive in to check out their writing as well as their eye catching storylines.
The first offering is Penance by Sharon Sala. After Nicole Masters survived a gunshot wound to the head during a random pharmacy store robbery, she is struggling to pick up the pieces of her life. Words don't come easily to her, as she sometimes mistakes one word for another that sounds like it but means something else, minor depression, staggering movements and a hint of self consciousness since she lost her hair due to surgery. On top of that she begins to head sounds like a rush of wind, and soon a startling vision accompanies it.
Right on the announcement of movie star Lyla Dane's daughter's kidnapping, Nicole "sees" the violent kidnapping right on her tv screen. Soon she is struggling with this new power and finds out she is the only one who can help stop the kidnappers and save the life of the little girl.
This was a great suspenseful read with characters that felt real. Ms. Sala offers a look into each character's lives so you know what they were going through and what dilemma's they faced around the kidnapping and the realization of Nicole's ability. I really liked Nicole's cop boyfriend Dom as he as sincere and as much in love with her as ever despite her change in appearance. He was always there for her showing how much he loved and cared for her and I really liked the dialogue they had between each other.
Nicole was a great heroine who was really trying to put her life back together and the read gets her struggle with finding a comfort within herself and her home again. I liked that she didn't look like the typical romance heroine and I could really feel her strength as she tried to do all she can to understand her gift as well as use it enough to help the little girl.
There was a scene before the HEA that I really liked as it showed how sensitive and affected Dom was after seeing his love in danger once again. It made the HEA all the more sweeter. An entertaining blend of urban fantasy and suspense with a hearty dash of paranormal romance. 5/5
After the Lightning by Janis Reams Hudson is the second novella which centers around jogger Hailey Cameron. After being struck by lightning after a tornado, Hailey is rushed to the hospital where she becomes the roommate of coma patient LaShonda Martin who's son is missing. LaShonda's spirit soon combines with Hailey's after an incident with an oxygen tank and soon the mystery begins--with the help of Special Investigator for the D.A. Aaron Trent-- to find LaShonda's son before it's too late.
I liked how this story started right off the bat with the strike and soon jets into the hospital where Hailey and LaShonda meet. During the course of the investigation, Hailey gets closer to Aaron including meeting his Aunt who (literally) sees dead people. Ghosts to be exact and with her knowledge, Hailey doesn't feel so alone anymore.
The romance between Hailey and Aaron is slow building so that it's believable before they consummate their love. I would have liked to have seen an HEA between LaShonda and Hailey because they seemed like they were building a nice friendship as Hailey was helping her. The name LaShonda kept calling Hailey got a little old but I did think it was cute how Hailey said it towards the end to remind her that she was there for her.
A sweet paranormal offering with a harrowing action oriented climax. 4/5
The final story is Seeing Red by Debra Cowan which has probably one of the most eye catching openings in a story.
Cass Hollister's problems began the day she died.Cass is a firefighter carrying on the tradition set by her well respected father. After being struck by a beam, she dies on the hospital bed only to be revived past the thirteen minutes pronounced death. Not long after, Cass starts having visions of fires before they happen. Soon her fire investigator ex-boyfriend Ben Wyrick is on the case trying to figure out the connection between Cass and the fires as they slowly rekindle the relationship they once had.
This was a great story that focused on the too hot to handle relationship between Ben and Cass with the suspense as the backdrop and a rocky sibling relationship that may be the answer to all the arsony happening in the story. The relationship didn't seem too rushed and I liked that the characters had a history that was left open until now.
A great romance with some interesting paranormal moments. 4/5
If you're a paranormal fan looking for more than just vampires, weres and other beasties, I'd recommend this a great collection of stories which focus more on the relationships both romantic, familial and friendship wise with paranormal elements.