This is what I've been waiting for ever since reading Bitten. Armstrong hinted at strong backgrounds for all of the characters and mentioned lots of previous escapades preceding some of the books. In this collection, as in Men of the Otherworld, we get some of the stories that didn't fit into the novels. Including the beginning of Elena and Clay's relationship and the inevitable bite that started it all, which I have been dying to read.
The collection starts with the creation of a vampire that I haven't read about, or just don't remember, named Aaron. As with the other supernaturals in her books, Armstrong's vampires are different from lore and popular incarnations. Her vampires can be hereditary, not just bitten. They are also able to walk about during the day. They heal quickly and can feed without needing to kill their victims. However, they have to kill one person a year, near their death anniversary, so that they may continue to be undead for another year. Anyway, Aaron is a hereditary vampire and struggles with his existence.
The second story, "Bewitched", tells the story of witch and half-demon Eve Levine and her unlikely romance with sorcerer and Cabel son Kristof Nast. It was nice to learn more about Eve when we are introduced to her in the books SPOILER only after her death END SPOILER. The glimpse that we get of Kristof in Dime Store Magic leaves us unsure about how and why Kristof and Eve got together and what his intentions toward Savannah might be. This clears things up, at least for me.
"Birthright" gives us insight about Logan, the werewolf we are briefly introduced to in Bitten. It also tells how he came to be at Stonehaven. "Beginnings" is the long tale of Clay and Elena's courtship and the complications that they both brought to the relationship. I think the best part about it was the narration by Clay since everyone seems to only guess as to his intentions and believe that he doesn't understand any human behaviors at all. "Expectations" gives us the brief first meeting of Lucas Cortez and Eve Levine. "Ghosts" is a kind of interlude featuring the thoughts and memories of Alpha werewolf Jeremy Danvers. It takes place during the events of Bitten.
"Wedding Bell Hell" is a cute story about the wedding of Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne. The last story is "The Case of El Chupacabra". Paige and Lucas are hired by Kristof Nast's son Sean to investigate a dead body he stumbles upon while at a bar. The killing was made to look like a vampire committed it, bringing to a head the long simmering rage the Cabels have had against that race of supernaturals.
These were, as I said, interesting back stories and clearer tellings of events we only got brief mentions of before. These stories were started by Armstrong as a thank you to her fans on her website. She asks who the fans would like to narrate a story and then she writes them. They are collected and published only when Armstrong is able to donate the profits to charities. Excellent reasons to write some fun stories with interesting characters, I say.