IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is an anthology set in Regency-era England supporting a common theme . . . "ten years ago, when life was simple and love was new, they said good-bye . . . now they were reunited . . ."
Book 1 -
Stephanie Laurens: "The Fall of Rogue Gerrard." Rating: 4 stars * Grade: B-
Rake, gamester, and womanizer Robert "Rogue" Gerrard, fifth Viscount Gerrard, was the only man to ever steal Lydia Makepeace's heart. In their foolish youth, "Ro" was both her protector and white knight. Then one memorable day, in an out-of-the-way orchard, they shared a kiss. For Gerrard the kiss proved to be too powerful. It terrified him; leaving seemed the only way out. However, as the years past, it matter not how hard "Ro" played, Lydia Makepeace continued to haunt him. The lady had taken both his heart and soul! Then suddenly she was back! Needing him, wanting him, possessing him!
Despite the fact that everything appeared to be there, a wispy coolness surrounded THE FALL OF ROGUE GERRARD. I didn't trust in Ro and Lydia's romance. I wanted more from these characters. Nevertheless, in the end, The Fall of Rogue Gerrard wasn't an unpleasant book.
Reading Status: Not too bad.
Book 2 -
Mary Balogh: "Spellbound." Rating: 5 stars * Grade: B+
Just before Mrs. Witherspoon sacked her, Nora Ryder resigned her position. It felt good, but her joy was short-lived, now what would she do? Suddenly she felt alone and hopeless; she would have to return to her brother's home! Then Richard Kemp, Lord Bourne, appeared! But alas, the baron was ten years too late! Straightaway, Richard saw that Nora had matured into a beautiful woman, and straightaway he remembered the intense hurt and pain she had once inflicted, and straightaway he thanked heaven Nora Ryder was no longer his concern. He thanked heaven she was simply a girl from his past . . . a girl he had once married.
SPELLBOUND is a traditional Mary Balogh story, full of poignant moments and Regency custom. Overall, Balogh creates an atmosphere that allows her characters to move past old wounds and onto their happily-ever-after. If there is a flaw, I felt I had read the story before, which is understandable considering Mary Balogh's vast backlist. However, with Mary Balogh's poignant pen running in high gear, it was extremely entertaining.
Reading Status: Touching page turner.
Book 3 -
Jacquie D'Alessandro: "Only You." Rating: 3 stars * Grade: C-
As children, they shared an unlikely friendship, but Ethan and Cassandra were once best friends. Two friends who laughed together, and shared hopes, disappointments, and their deepest thoughts. A unique childhood friendship forged out of common loneliness and shared interests. In his youth, Ethan Baxter was completely besotted with "his" Cassie, yet he had nothing to offer her . . . except . . . his love, his heart, his soul. It was all so unfair, for she would never, never be his, those were the harsh facts of life! A common stable boy and a viscount's daughter plainly did not mix. During the next ten years, Cassandra Heywood's married life was filled with severe loneliness and bitter emptiness. Now as a young widow, she realized Ethan Baxter could give her everything she needed . . . passion, laughter, and care.
ONLY YOU was tender and warm. And yes, romance was certainly portrayed, but something seemed out of whack! Was it the historical detail deficiency? Or did Cassie's unhappy marriage seem a little too tailor-made? I don't know! Nevertheless, something was off and that reduced Jacquie D'Alessandro's ONLY YOU.
Reading Status: It was OK.
Book 4 -
Candice Hern: "From This Moment On." Rating: 3 stars * Grade: C+
Back when life was simple and brand new, Sam and Winnie had been friends and lovers. Yet, life had taken them down different paths. She was no longer the blacksmith's daughter and he was no longer a scrawny lad. She had done quite well for herself. She became the notorious Wilhelmina allowing men to possess her. He determinedly moved on with his honor, scruples, and pride intact. Along his way, Sam found a rich wife and a new life. Years later, could Captain Sam Pellow and Wilhelmina, the Duchess of Hertford, possibly spend one magical night together; a single night filled with seduction and possession?
Well certainly, there is nothing wrong with Candice Hern's FROM THIS MOMENT ON; it just never really rose above acceptable in this reader's mind. Winnie's constant unworthy self-regard and Sam's constant assurance plays throughout much of the story and frankly, it grew bothersome. Still, I read to the end just to find out how the happily-ever-after would play out! For Candice Hern fans: Wilhelmina's character is from the author's Merry Widow Trilogy series.
Reading Status: It was OK.
While not entirely strong, I did read IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT quickly and found it an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, but only one story really earned my strong recommendation. For this reader, Mary Balogh's SPELLBOUND was the highlight of the collection.