Avon Romance March 29, 2011
Anthology by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Assesandro, Candice Hern
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
We asked our readers what story they would most like to see from four bestselling authors. They responded . . .
A handsome hero returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. But family duty calls and he must find a bride.
A young lady facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of his affections.
It Happened One Season
Four amazing talents
Stephanie Laurenshave come together to create one of the most unforgettable events of the year. The results are spectacular—each story is as unique as a lover's first kiss.
Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro and Candice Hern
I usually like anthologies as a whole, but for some reason this pack of stories left me rather flaccid in the enthused department.
To be honest, I flipped though The Stephanie Laurens short, the characters and plot did nothing for me. The Seduction of Sebastian Traynor was...not very interesting. I found it very talky and the adventure did not draw my interest. Neither did the hero and heroine. Just one of those things, it didn't grab me at all. I think the less said the better, I don't like bashing stories very much.
Only Love by Mary Balogh was pleasant, she is one of my favorite writers, however I found it distracting to the extreme at the constant use of italicized words. But past that nit-picky complaint, this was a lovely little romance. Cleo Pritchard has been a widow for five years, not really a great beauty, she has no illusions she will ever attract a man. Her late husband was 23 years her senior and a Colonel besides.
Jack Gilchrist is an ex-soldier, who has been living the last five years as a virtual hermit. He is summoned out of his seclusion by his older brother and ordered to find and wife and beget a heir. Immediately. Attending a ball, he sees a familiar face, Cleo Pritchard. During their brief acquaintance Major Jack Gilchrist shared something with Cleo, a rather passionate kiss while serving in the Peninsula. She had lost weight since he had seen her last. They strike up a pleasant acquaintance at the ball. Jack soon realizes Cleo would do as a wife as any other. This slow burn romance builds at a satisfactory pace, and always steeped in the era as only Mary Balogh can do. Hero and heroine are likable, the romance tender and hot all at the same time. Well done.
Third Story is Hope Springs Eternal by Jackie D'Alessandro was pleasant enough, Captain Alec Trentwell decides to assist the scandal ridden sister of one of his late comrade in arms. How will this proud woman take assistance? Alec hires her to paint a portrait of his family. Guilt hangs like a thick fog over this couple, as Alec feels responsible for Penelope Markham's brother's death.
There was enough heat between the couple to keep my interest, and Alec was a fine hero. Penelope however, was a stubborn minx and to me a bit annoying, but overall this was a fine read.
The last story is Fate Strikes a Bargain By Candice Hern. It was by far the most charming. Nathaniel Beckwith is a soldier who is damaged more on the inside than out. He meets the heroine, Phillipa Reynolds as they hide from society at a ball. Both are crippled in their ways. Nat emotionally, Phillipa physically, she is lame due to a twisted hip. Both began talking, very frankly and honestly. Fantastic by play between the hero and heroine as the decide to enter into a marriage of convenience. I loved Nat's bold, up-front way of speaking, and so did Phillipa. Their perfunctory courting turns into something far more deeper than either anticipated. I enjoyed this couple the best. It was real, hot and beguiling.
This book was a result of a contest where the winner picked the intricate narrative for the stories. I think it was too restricting and hampered some of the storytelling, but all in all this was a satisfactory read.
2.75 out of 4 stars