by Karen Witemeyer (Goodreads Author), Mary Connealy (Goodreads Author), Regina Jennings (Goodreads Author), Melissa Jagears (Goodreads Author)Humorous Historical Romance Novella
Collection Offers Love and Laughs
Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Husband Maneuver," Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers "Her Dearly Unintended," where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives.
Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition" finds a young woman forced to assist the man she's often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.
My Review: 9/10
I usually love Bethany House's book covers but was not a fan of this one. Every quick glance reminds me of Austin Powers. I realize it's the index finger and not the pinkie, but it's blurry and at a quick glance... combined with the pursed duck lips... ugh. But cover aside, loved this book and I really hope this novella collection becomes an annual thing.
I enjoyed the short story about Dead Eye Dan and Marietta. The conflict between them was original and I admired Etta's determined honesty and, well, her determination in general. It was nice to read about a female lead who (kind of relentlessly) pursued what she wanted rather than one who pined, but practiced self denial so regularly that by the time interest came her way she was bewildered by it.
I'm a big fan of Ms. Jennings' work, so naturally I loved her story as well, though it was a little weird for me to be reading about Josiah. I swear he was just a youngster playing pranks! Katie Ellen was a unique character. Her control issues and the thought processes behind them were very interesting. I loved their exchanges, so much sass! When I wasn't smiling stupidly to myself at how they cared for each other, I was laughing. But that's always the way with Ms. Jennings books. Even after the explanations, I still found their guest more than a tad disturbing, but then again, one of things I love so much about Ms. Jennings' stories is that her people are not black-or-white, good-or-evil. Being a little weird doesn't make you a bad person. And being likeable doesn't mean you're without flaws. Her characters are always so realistic and relatable because she embraces this. I hope we get a story for Josiah's little sister, too!
I have only read a couple of Ms. Connealy's books but I had gotten the impression that her style was more over the top humor, which isn't really my thing. So I was really surprised by the tone of this story, which was very tense. While I really enjoyed the story, I kind of wish it had been a full length novel, so that Carrie and her brother, Isaac's, relationship could have been more flushed out; their family dynamic really intrigued me. There were a TON of characters, and I got the impression that the reader was supposed to appreciate the small bits of information tossed out here and there, as if they were updates on couples from other stories. It was a little confusing for someone not familiar with the previous stories.
I had hope for Ms. Jagears' story for a while, but Harrison and Charlie just did not suit if you ask me. I really did not like her. Harrison was right in everything he said about her. She was mean, thoughtless, unfaithful, a sore loser... I could go on and on. And by the end of the story, I didn't really like Harrison much either. She was engaged, so he had no business touching her or kissing her. He really was only set up as the hero because he was handsome and intelligent and liked her (for some reason), while her fiance was described as unattractive, slow, and primarily interested in her property. Yet, of the three of them, August was the only one who valued fidelity ("August won't marry a two-timer"). I would have much rather read his story- the one about the plain but strong man who wasn't academically minded, but wasn't stupid, who was a hardworker, steady and faithful, who was rarely emotional and wasn't really romantic, but believed in companionship and who, coming from a family of 20, wanted a small family of his own, separate from their demands and reputation, who had been cheated on and left by a woman just using him and was perhaps even more guarded than before as a result. Maybe he's a little rougher around the edges. Maybe he's the kind of guy who goes along with the crowd and has been a bully by association and needs to learn how to compromise and sacrifice and communicate in non aggressive ways. Or maybe he's all business and needs to slowly be coaxed into letting his guard down. The possibilities are endless and infinitely more appealing to me.