on 24 November 2008
This book contains four romantic stories based on a similar theme - that of two people meeting randomly at an inn ten years after they last saw each other. Each story approaches the subject differently and with variable success.
Stephanie Laurens' story, 'The Fall of Rogue Gerrard', has a reformed rake meeting up with a very important woman from her youth. Lydia Makepeace is known as a sensible woman, rather on the shelf, and so it's a real surprise to Ro Gerarrd to discover she's planning to break into a country house to steal back some indiscreet letters that her sister wrote. Of course Ro considers it his duty to help Lydia, but finds that spending time with her might bring him more than he bargained for. This was a good story if at times rather improbable and the relationship between the central characters was fairly convincing.
Mary Balogh's 'Spellbound' wasn't quite up to her usual standard, for this reader at least. The story felt rather familiar, that an estranged husband-and-wife couple meet randomly at an inn and rekindle their relationship, discovering the web of lies and misunderstandings that has kept them apart. The story contains Balogh's usual excellent writing style but was missing that certain extra quality of emotional depth that she usually offers.
Jacquie D'Allesandro's 'Only You' was very enjoyable, a story of youthful friends whose completely different stations mean that they are separated. Cassandra Heywood ended up married to an Earl and her life was a misery; her childhood playmate Ethan Baxter, a stable hand, has now made a life for himself as an inn owner. When Cassandra stops at Ethan's inn they rekindle their friendship and discuss the ten years that have passed since they last saw each other - but can the countess and the innkeeper have a future together? The emotion and personalities of the hero and heroine in this story were well described and it was an enjoyable read.
Candice Hern's 'From This Moment On' was a bit of an odd read. We seemed to be spectating on a lot of reminiscing as former lovers Captain Sam Pellow and Wilhelmina, Duchess of Hertford, find themselves together at an inn. Conveniently for the reader they rehash their entire history, explaining why they were separated as youngsters and what has kept them apart in the intervening time. Although reasonably written, and despite being the shortest story in this collection, I actually found it a bit boring in places and there wasn't enough plot to hold my interest.
As usual with a book such as this, containing stories by different authors, there was some variation in the overall quality. However it was interesting to see the different take that each author brought to the same overall theme and it was an enjoyable read.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
on 16 November 2008
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.
The Fall of Rogue Gerrard by Stephanie Laurens
Lydia Makepeace needs to infiltrate the home of Lord Alconbury in order to retrieve a letter her sister had written. Problem is that Lord Alconbury has several guests and nightly orgies that do not end until past dawn. After scoping out Alconbury's home one evening, Lydia returns to the inn and is shocked to see Lord Gerrard "Ro". Perhaps Lydia can get a bit of help. **** A bit of adventure with this romance - and who would not enjoy that? ****
Spellbound by Mary Balogh
Long ago Nora Ryder had been the daughter of a gentleman of vast wealth and political influence. Richard had been her father's secretary. Now their situation has reversed. Richard Kemp is a baron and Nora is penniless. Having recently left a position, unpaid, she has no choice but to return to her brother's home until she can find new employment. Unfortunately, the stagecoach she was to travel on has collided with a gentleman's vehicle. Richard's. Will her heart survive seeing him again? **** To tell more of the couple's background would spoil the fun. Rest assured that the story is well done with an interesting twist or two. ****
Only You by Jacquie D'Alessandro
Ten years ago Cassie became Countess Westmore. In doing so she left her only friend, Ethan, behind and entered purgatory. Now a widow, Cassie returns to Cornwall. Ethan now owns and operates the Blue Seas Inn in St. Ives. Before returning to her parents, Cassie decides to spend one evening at the inn. Perhaps he will be there. **** Pure romance that left me with a warm glow. The story is spiced in a way that only Jacquie D'Alessandro can do. ****
From This Moment On by Candice Hern
She had been plain Wilma Jepp at one time. He had been plain Samuel Pellow. She thought he was dead. Instead Sam had gone into the navy - unwillingly. When her mother tossed her out, Wilma did the only thing she could do to survive. She became a mistress. Today she is the Duchess of Herford, widowed for over three years. Samuel is a retired blockade captain. Fate brings them together at an inn one stormy day and Destiny will do her best to keep them that way. **** This romance moves at a slower pace than the previous ones. It is mostly two people reminiscing about the hard choices each made in their past. The author has added some humor to keep things light and she has done it in a very sneaky way. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.