Giving an overall rating to an anthology is always VERY difficult. Some stories hit and some miss. Yet, I always enjoy reading an anthology, because you USUALLY come across an unfamiliar author . . . someone new and satisfying.
Scotland, 1790. As she quietly sewed, Aileanna MacEwan moved her weary fingers over the beautiful wedding gown, but alas, the exquisite dress was not for her. It was for her spoiled, ungrateful mistress. Sadly, Aileanna winced. All seemed so unfair, for she was in love . . . in love with the intended groom. Yet, Aileanna knew she COULD give her beloved a lifetime filled with happiness, for inside her flowed the blood of a sorceress and for the man of her dreams, Aileanna WOULD cast a spell . . . and so the legacy of the bewitched wedding dress begins . . .
1). Barbara Metzger: "A PERFECT FIT." - Rating: (4 Stars) (Grade: B+)
This was my first trip into Ms. Metzger's world and the adventure pleasantly surprised me.
Katie Cole may be an earl's daughter, but she spent the last eighteen years raising chickens and an illegitimate daughter. Tanyon Wellforde, Viscount Forde has a very unpleasant task. He must reluctantly cancel his nephew's wedding. It seems Gerald is too young and too inexperienced to deal with the designs of a rural gold-digger. As Gerald's uncle and guardian, it is Forde's duty to find out exactly what Miss Susannah Cole and her mother are!
A PERFECT FIT is delightful, witty, and pleasantly poignant. However, the rushed concocted ending (specifically her unforgiving father's reappearance) caused an otherwise intriguing story to slip a notch.
2). Connie Brockway: "GLAD RAGS." - Rating: (5 big Stars) (Grade: A+)
In an anthology format, I was beginning to think that the perfect story was impossible. Connie Brockway proved me wrong! GLAD RAGS is reading perfection. This little gambol has it all - humor, spice, and wonderful characters.
Innocent, strong-willed Lucy St. James was driving Alexander Thorpe crazy . . . he was love-crazy, lust-crazy, and he was leaving for the Crimea! Therefore, he staunchly resisted Lucy St. James' charms. Alex swore he would not make Lucy a widow nor would he allow her to spend a lifetime married to an invalid! Therefore, he did the next best thing. He crazily bowed out of their relationship.
Using the wedding dress folklore, Brockway successfully spins it with a surprising twist. This talented, creative author surrounds the entire phenomenon with a gentle sense of humor. This is a splendid read.
3). Casey Claybourne: "SOMETHING SPECIAL." - Rating: (5 Stars) (Grade: A).
Goodness another winner! In SOMETHING SPECIAL, Casey Claybourne intensely moves her heartwarming tale start into her reader's heart.
Wealthy, eleven-year-old Eliza Cooper was a lonely little girl. Although her frequently absent father tried, the lonesome child wanted a special friend. She wanted someone to share her life, someone to fuss and encourage her, someone to make every day special. Yes, Eliza wanted someone special - someone like a mother. As Penelope Martin arrived in Seattle, she looked forward to a new life. Although she lacked experience as a teacher, she was willing to learn and she knew she could create a wonderful world for Eliza Cooper. However, Josh Cooper had other ideas for his daughter and those ideas did not include this so-called `governess.' A governess? Why, the woman could not even read!
Through soft humor and likeable characters, Claybourne delivers a very good page-turner. SOMETHING SPECIAL is well written and very enjoyable.
4). Catherine Anderson: "BEAUTIFUL GIFTS." - Rating: (4 Stars) (Grade: B-)
In 1996, Catherine released "Keegan's Lady." This story circled child abuse - abuse by an alcoholic father. In January 2006, Ms. Anderson's Summer Breeze will be available. This book revisits the Keegan/Paxton family. BEAUTIFUL GIFTS is the connection between the two, allowing Anderson's reader to revisit the 1996 story and then move into 2006 and Summer Breeze.
Faith Randolph and her precocious daughter, Charity, are running away. They are running from the dark and sinister nature of one man - Faith's father. Through a quirk of magic, brought on by the wedding dress, Faith embarrassingly stumbles upon Patrick O'Shannessy. She is applying for the position of his housekeeper. Patrick is shocked, not only did he place the advertisement long ago, but also Faith Randolph is hardly the housekeeper type!
Catherine Anderson IS one my favorite authors; her books ARE an automatic buy. They are always tenderly written, poignantly moving, and commonly involve the unusual. Although BEAUTIFUL GIFTS is a lovely story, it does however bog down with information data. The reader is very aware this short story's main objection is its connection value for the Keegan/Paxton legacy. Nevertheless, Anderson's skilled hand manages a lovely soft theme, but in this brief anthology format, the information overload IS a problem.