As with most anthologies, this one offers some good novellas sandwiched between others of lesser caliber. Naturally, the JD Robb story, "Eternity in Death," is excellent, fast-paced, and devoid of any cloying story elements as recurring characters Eve Dallas, husband Roarke, partner Peabody, and the rest of her usual team go after a dangerous con man and killer who preys on foolish young socialites. This story had a very dark feel and would have set the stage nicely for something in a similar vein.
The other authors lack Robb's skill, however, and the second tale, "Amy and the Earl's Amazing Adventure" by Mary Blayney, is a huge departure as student Amy Stevens is given a magical coin by a shadowy stranger, leading her to an adventure into the past with a bartender. He's the younger brother of a present-day earl, but finds himself in the earl's shoes when he and Amy are whisked into the past to solve a mystery. This story lacked cohesiveness, as well as a smooth and believable beginning. What could have been a colorful trip into the past instead fell flat.
Things start looking up again in Ruth Ryan Langan's "Timeless," when busy career girl Laurel Douglas takes a vacation in Scotland and passes through a ripple in time, surfacing as the missing and much loved wife of a Scottish laird. In his arms, and in the company of their son, she discovers deep and abiding true love, before the intrigue she has landed in threatens to take it all away. This is a richly-woven tale with deep feelings and exciting intrigue, well worth the read.
Everything goes south again in Mary Kay McComas' "On the Fringe." Bonnie Sanderson's marriage has gone a little stale, so she and her husband are taking a break. He's moved into an apartment close by and things are friendly, but Bonnie is too stubborn to be the first to reconcile. Then, a magic carpet in her grandmother's attic sends her into an alternate reality where she's in a dangerous hostage situation with a man she quickly comes to love, but because of their desperate situation they have only hours together. When she is returned to her regular life, she realizes there are some important things she doesn't want to let slip away. I can't come up with a better adjective for this one, so I'll settle on boring.
Though only half of this book is really worth reading, it's still worth the price of a paperback. The stories are all fairly short, as well, so even the most tedious one isn't interminable. I always read the Roberts and Robb anthology stories, but don't always bother with the other stories in the books. Judging by this experience, I haven't missed much. It is nice to have a few novellas around when I'm in the mood for a quick, light read, and at least half of these are worth the time it takes.