After thoroughly enjoying the first anthology from this quartet of romance novelists, I waited expectantly to see if there might be a follow-up anthology, which would rival the first in terms of sizzle factor. Let me just say, I was not disappointed in the least. If you buy this book expecting to read heartwarming stories about how the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, triumph over all the odds, and then live happily ever after, do not buy this anthology. However, if you want to read about a man and woman meeting, then engaging in all varieties of sometimes eyebrow raising sexual play, and then living happily ever after, then buy this anthology and buy it as quickly as possible.
"Mastering Lady Lucinda" is set in England and the locale of the story does not change to an Arabian harem, as is often the case with Ms. Small's novels. However, it does involve a period of captivity in the English countryside. The reader is introduced to young, headstrong, recently widowed Lady Lucinda. She is expected to remarry, but has turned down numerous proposals from prospective suitors. Lady Lucinda is quickly taken into hand by The Master. After learning some interesting lessons, there is a happy conclusion for Lucinda and her "lord and master."
Susan Johnson's "Risking It All" is set in Monte Carlo, where the hero and heroine meet each other in a casino at the roulette table. After their initial meeting, they quickly retire to a hotel suite and do not leave it until almost the end of the story. The characters engage in humorous banter, a sexual marathon, and an interesting role-playing game. My only complaint with this story was that it ended all too quickly. I would have been satisfied to read another 20 pages of this particular story.
"The Pleasure Game" is a story about childhood neighbors who are all grown up and ready to play adult games with each other. Thea Devine's story quickly alternates between the matchmaking machinations of the London Season and Lady Regina Olney's bedchamber. The story concludes with one happy father and one well-pleasured bride-to-be.
The premise of Robin Schone's "A Man and a Woman" was intriguing - a widow masquerading as a prostitute to provide herself and a stranger from another country a night of passion. What I have always enjoyed about Ms. Schone's earlier works is her willingness to portray main characters who are either not in the prime of their youth or have some sort of physical deformity as sexual beings. I was not disappointed with "A Man and a Woman" in that aspect, but my mind had some difficulty handling the fact that the hero of the story had been "gelded" when he was a boy. Although there was a happy conclusion to the final story in the anthology, the page limitations of a short story is not enough to do justice to Muhamed, the male character. A story such as his would be better suited for a full-length novel. It would allow for fuller development of his character and would provide a richer, historical context as to how he became an eunuch.
All in all, this second anthology by Small, Johnson, Devine, and Schone is a 5 star read. Dare I hope for a third anthology from these ladies?