This anthology was definitely a mixed bag, containing straightforward, conventional romances that have a very faint hue of "impropriety", as well as more unusual stories which go beyond Victorian boundaries and explore the truly "scandalous" (at least for that era), with LGBT themes or issues of race. Guess which ones are worth reading. No story is too "scandalous" to merit an adult rating.
I loved, loved, loved "At Will" by Leanna Renee Hieber (the first story), a gender-bending homage to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was different, with a bittersweet, unexpected ending. I had tried to read The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and gave up after the first chapter. But, having enjoyed "At Will" - I will have to reconsider Hieber's fiction.
"The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain" by Stephanie Burgis was another story I adored. I loved Agatha's fiery spirit, the magical world Burgis created, and the surprising, happy ending. I now want to try Burgis' middle grade books.
"The Garden of England" by Sandra Mcdonald is a fantastic retelling of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, as told from the point of view of an Indian nursemaid which comes with Mary Lennox to England. Mary is not quite the sweet heroine here nor her uncle the pitiable guardian as in the book.
"Mrs Beeton's Book of Magickal Management" by Karen Healey is one of the more conventional romances with a fantasy setting. A very delightful story.
I love how the heroine of "The Language Of Flowers" by Caroline Stevermer interprets the intentions of her sister's suitors through the bouquets they send her. This seems like the most Victorian of the stories, but has the appeal of exploring the relationship between the two sisters.
I found "The Dancing Master" by Genevieve Valentine to be the most haunting, about unrequited love.