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Irresistible Forces    by Jo Beverley, Lois McMaster Bujold & Mary Jo Putney order for
Irresistible Forces
by Jo Beverley
Order:  USA  Can
New American Library, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Half a dozen of today's most popular fantasy and romance authors have combined their formidable story telling forces in a fine new anthology, Irresistible Forces.

Catherine Asaro presents 'Stained Glass Heart', the love story of Vyrl and the much older Lily and the colourful complications that their arranged marriage presents for both of them. Lois McMaster Bujold (winner of multiple fantasy and science fiction writing awards for her acclaimed Miles Vorkosigan stories) adds another moment to the ongoing series in the marvelous 'Winterfair Gifts'. It's the eve of Miles' wedding, as narrated by armsman Roic and wedding guest Taura, a seven foot female mercenary who fancies pink clothing and knows a lot more about Miles than his other guests realise. Deb Stover presents the delightfully light-hearted 'Skin Deep' -- Nick Riley won't be allowed to pass through the Pearly Gates unless he returns to Earth to right a wrong he committed against his widow and his best friend.

Jennifer Roberson takes readers back to Medieval England's Sherwood Forest in 'Shadows in the Wood'. Robin and Marion's wild escape from Nottingham's men leads them into an ancient grove where oaks have faces. One comes to life in the form of Merlin, who shows them the way to Camelot and their destiny. Mary Jo Putney skillfully combines history and magic in 'The Alchemical Marriage'. Scotsman Sir Adam Macrae is given a choice: his freedom from the Tower and certain death on the charge of treason, if he conjures a storm deadly enough to sink the Spanish Armada. Macrae and fellow mage, Isabel de Santos, combine their powers to stop the invasion. By far the most powerful of the stories is Jo Beverly's 'The Trouble With Heroes', an imaginative and moving allegory about war: those we've fought in the past and those we may fight in the future and on far-off worlds.

It's been a quite a while since I've enjoyed an anthology as much as I did this one. Whether you're a fan of romance or fantasy, I urge you to pick up a copy of Irresistible Forces.

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