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Information and reviews are excerpted from the Helpers' Network Quality Fanzine Review.


Beauty and the Beast 1-3 (The Trilogy) by Rhonda Collins. 1993. V/D, PG-13, 8 ½ x 11, roughly 200 p of small typeset type in columns, much art.

The first three volumes of Collins' first 4th season series--A New Beginning, The Trials of Life, and The Truth of Love--bound together and freshly reedited. In A New Beginning, this episodic, lively 4th season V/D romance posits that Diana has formed a one-way bond with Vincent-from him to her-setting up interesting ramifications...and frustrations. D also is concerned that her involvement with the ugliness and evil of the world Above makes her unfit for V's love. A growing V/D romance is interwoven through a number of cases in which D is involved. This book concludes with V/D's wedding and honeymoon, which has interesting revelations about the bond. Some drawings by author; some sex, none graphic.

In The Trials of Life, an entertaining novel, V/D settle into married life, Below. Subplots involve Jacob's jealousy over not having V's affection exclusively to himself; romance between Devin and D's sister; D disposing, singlehanded, of a dangerous intruder into the tunnels... and the impact of that action on herself and V; D's pregnancy. More about V/D's bond. A rather loose, episodic narrative, but readable and interesting. Some non-graphic sex; some drawings by author.

In The Truth of Love, Elliot returns, becomes involved with the tunnel community. V/D's "happy life" is troubled by V's increasing restlessness, that prompts him to seek out danger in the world Above. Later, V/D have an unsettling experience after he disposes of a would-be rapist who attacks D in the tunnels. Interesting exploration of the role the Other plays in Vincent's life. Other incidents involve Jacob; V/D's empathic daughter, Cathy; D goes after a serial killer of prostitutes, aided by V's visionary insights, and saves the life of Lucy ("No Way Down"). The zine ends peacefully with V/D bidding goodbye to lost loved ones. Good reading throughout.

$25.00 US, $27.00 CAN, $30.00 ELSE to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229


Legacy of Love by Rhonda Collins. 10/92, 7/95. V/D, PG-13, 8 ½ x 11, 98+ p, small typeset type in columns, much art, color cover (Kevin Barnes).

This zine has a gorgeous color cover by Kevin Barnes, cover artist for the Cinemaker series, with additional artwork by Jan Durr, Barnes, and Rosemarie Hauer, as well as two additional poems and artwork by Collins. The novelization weaves in and out of the B&B series' final episodes, "The Reckoning" and "Legacies," with occasional transcripts of dialogue but also new material and interpretations of what those events meant...primarily from Diana's viewpoint. The story as a whole offers context and background to these episodes and then extends their movement to explore and dramatize the growing closeness between Vincent and Diana.

The story recounts Vincent's difficulties in going back to "normal" once Jacob has been recovered. Diana attempts to aid Vincent's healing by offering him a sympathetic ear and a refuge away from the tunnels...but she discovers she's much more aware of him than is comfortable, having formed a one-way bond with him, of which Vincent is unaware. Crucial to Vincent's coming to terms with himself is his inability to remember what happened between himself and Catherine in the series' Trilogy cave or precisely how/why his bond to Catherine was broken...which, in part, is due to his rejection of the Other, who does remember.

Vincent eventually commits himself to a painful frankness with Diana which nearly wrecks their friendship but at last leads him to face the truth of his loss and its source in his relationship with Catherine. Though Vincent and Diana are close, caring friends here, that's as far as it goes in this present story, which ends on a positive note. Don't be misled by the small page count: this is a substantial novel. The zine is formatted in columns and condensed type. And the color cover is reproduced (also in color) inside: frameable. Sequels are The Mirror of Our Dreams and Shadow Dancers.

$20.00 US, $21.00 CAN, $25.00 ELSE to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229


The Mirror of Our Dreams by Rhonda Collins. V/D. PG-13, 8 ½ x 11, 161 pages, much art.

In this sequel to Legacy of Love, Diana and Vincent have begun dreaming each other's dreams--literally--and are increasingly troubled about it. Empath D has an open, one-way channel to V's emotions but has been blocking her own, a fact V gradually realizes. And he also realizes that she's become necessary for his happiness. But each is afraid to open up, emotionally, to the other.

V's afraid of losing himself...into the Other, always close in any moment of passionate intensity...and D's afraid of losing herself into V through an activated bond, a fully two-way rapport. D's suppression of emotion, and increasingly troubled and vivid shared dreams, begin to take a physical toll: migraines and a growing reliance on sleeping pills.

The timely intervention of Devin provides D & V the impetus to move beyond this impasse. D/V determine to go off, together, into the depths and attempt to come to terms with one another-make or break. And whatever dreams may come, will come.... This thoughtful, well-written story is more about love than about romance, and more about the problems of knowing who you are than it is about sex, though some dreams (and are they all dreams?) become quite erotically intense. Strong, appropriate poems by Katrina Relf and the author, the many quotes from poetry and literature are identified by a list of references. Art by Rosemarie Hauer (including cover), the author, and Jan Durr. Followed by Shadow Dancers.

$20.00 US, $21 can, $25 else to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229.


Shadow Dancers by Rhonda Collins. 4/94. V/D. strong PG-13/mild R, 8 ½ x 11, 105 p small typeset type in columns, much art.

Continuing the storyline begun in Legacy of Love and The Mirror of Our Dreams, D/V have become closer and yet farther away than ever. Open to each other with a fully functional two-way rapport (when D doesn't block it) since an equivocal but intense dreamlike erotic experience deep Below at the end of the previous book, they are separated by the concerns each of them has about losing control. V doesn't want to subject D to the Other or to the intense emotions of killing; D doesn't want V to share her descent into darkness as she tries to locate a man and his accomplice who have been brutally raping women and leaving them in abandoned buildings to die of exposure. But neither can keep out of it when a helper's granddaughter is the one abducted by the rapist duo. And they can't avoid what happens when D acts as bait to trap her wily and brutal opponent.

Parts of this exciting tale may be upsetting to some, but it's good psychology and good storytelling from first to last. Though no age statement is required, know that some of the story's action leans heavily on the upper limit of PG-13 for both sex and violence. Includes headnote poems by the author and by Nan Dibble. Handsome artwork by the author, Rosemarie Hauer, and Jan Durr; cover by pro artist Kevin Barnes.

$20 US, $21 CAN, $25 ELSE to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229.


Echoes of the Heart by Rhonda Collins. 11/94. V/C, (PG-13), 8½ x 11, 104 p of small typeset type in columns, much art.

This Classic zine retells and expands on two series episodes: "Terrible Savior" and "Siege." In the former, Catherine tries to get over her fears that Vincent may truly be a beast; in the latter, she begins to face the dawning--and just as disquieting--realization that Vincent may be a man...with a man's romantic expectations of her. These novelized episodes therefore represent a crucial early phase in Vincent and Catherine's relationship.

This novel does more than repeat these episodes' dialogue and action. It offers additional insight and new scenes that more clearly bring out the issues (and the romance) involved, yet blend almost seamlessly into the stories as we know them. A subplot involving Mouse's refusal to move to allow the construction of a planned and needed aqueduct provides an appropriate counterpoint to the main action.

The writing, as always with this author, is good. Collins' portrayal of Catherine is of a woman trying to change her life, yet troubled at the demands that places on her; welcoming what she's found, yet uneasily aware of what she used to take for granted that's now lost to her. Vincent is...Vincent: certain this can't be forever, yet unable to tolerate the thought of any ending, which Catherine's blossoming romance with Elliot seems to make inevitable. He's more conscious than Catherine of the similarities between himself and Jason Walker, the vigilante "Protector" of the helpless, on the one hand, and Elliot Burch, the enamored builder, on the other. And when Catherine confidently proclaims, "There is no demon within you," he makes no reply....

Poems by the author provide headnotes for each chapter. Art by Kevin Barnes (who does the Cinemaker covers); Rosemarie Hauer; Jan Durr; Sally Perkins, Sandy Chandler Shelton, and Felicia Coffee, a student of Jan's.

$20.00 US, $21.00 CAN, $25.00 ELSE to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229.


BloodBond by Rhonda Collins. 10/97. V/D/C, PG-13, 8 1/2 x 11, 108 p, small typeset type in columns, much art.
Catherine's not dead--she's a vampire! And after initial indignation, she likes it! After all, there are compensations--namely eternal youth and beauty...but mostly Snow, who's a vampire too. In fact, it was his blood that was used to transform her...by Gabriel, who has a dastardly plot to control all the benefits of vampirism with none of the drawbacks, through experimentation with a special element in Catherine's blood...and perhaps in Jacob's.

Catherine's reappearance and insistence on being reunited with her child does put somewhat of a damper on the hitherto blossoming romance between a well-portrayed Diana and Vincent, who's caught helplessly in the middle between old love and new and able to fully claim neither. And Catherine, with Snow as vampire mentor and more-than- friend, has her own ambivalences to deal with. Though Gabriel's horrible plans for humanity are left a bit theoretical, he's still the man one loves to hate. This unusual, brisk SND comes to a conclusion that most of its likely readers will find both dramatic and satisfying. And fans of the sardonic, offhandedly appealing Snow ("creature features") will find it a particular treat.

Art by the author, with some scanned/modified photos.

$18 US, $19 CAN, $23 ELSE to Rhonda Collins, 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio TX 78229.