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5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved All The Stories In This Book
"Fancy Free" by Catherine Anderson (4 Stars)

This was a sweet romance about 27 year old Clint Rafferty, left alone with 5 brothers to raise - ranging in age from six to 22 years old. One brother, Matt, looks nearly identical to Clint and has become the town rogue, enjoying his drink and the ladies. When Rachel Constantine learns Matt has hurt her younger...
Published 2 months ago by Judge Tabor

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One good story, three also-rans
Anthologies are curious things. With different authors you often find you're reading several entirely unrelated stories, possibly linked around a theme but with little else to enable them to sit happily together. This book is the same, with two stories set in America and two in England, most around the English Regency period (although I'm not sure of the dating of the two...
Published on 2 Aug. 2007 by Helen Hancox


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One good story, three also-rans, 2 Aug. 2007
By 
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Anthologies are curious things. With different authors you often find you're reading several entirely unrelated stories, possibly linked around a theme but with little else to enable them to sit happily together. This book is the same, with two stories set in America and two in England, most around the English Regency period (although I'm not sure of the dating of the two set in America) and all featuring a wedding but apart from that there seems little to tie them together. As an introduction to the works of these authors this is a useful book but sadly this reader only found one story worthwhile in the collection.

FANCY FREE
The first story, "Fancy Free", by Catherine Anderson surprised me by not being set in the Regency period in England, which is what I thought this book was about (although this was my mistake as it doesn't specify English Regency on the cover, it was just the featured authors that made me assume this). Instead it was set in America in some unspecified time in history (my knowledge of American history isn't enough for me to know when) and features Clint Rafferty, a cattle rancher, and his family of seven younger brothers who finds himself getting married, rather unexpectedly, and at the end of a pistol, to Rachel Constantine. So how can people settle down after a shotgun marriage when they know very little about each other and when Rachel is well aware she's not want Clint wanted? He wants someone to make a home but her cooking skills are somewhat lacking, especially as she can't see anything due to excessive short-sight and that she believes if she wears her spectacles men will be appalled by her ugliness. I felt the realism of this story was sorely lacking in terms of how Rachel could cope with her short-sight, especially when we learn she couldn't read a recipe - short sight would meant that she COULD read paper close to, it's distance things that would be a problem. Somehow Clint and the boys don't seem to mind her disasters and very quickly she becomes important to them. But Rachel has a low self image and doesn't understand this and when another woman comes to the house she can't handle it and runs away - Clint and she have to decide what is important to them.

This was a pleasant enough story but there wasn't any great character depth and I did have some problems overall with Rachel's domestic skills, especially bearing in mind her eyesight problems. Sometimes she seemed almost blind, other times it was clear she must have been able to see reasonably in order to function in public without her spectacles. It was an OK read but nothing that special and didn't inspire me to read anything more from this author.

THE MAD EARL'S BRIDE
The second story, "The Mad Earl's Bride" by Loretta Chase, was rather more engaging. We are given a brief history of Dorian Camoys' youth under his autocratic grandfather. Dorian knows that he is beginning to succumb to the same brain disorder that killed his mother - after she had spent some time in a lunatic asylum. He returns to Dartmoor to live his last months in peace but his peace is shattered when the other close members of his family die and he inherits the title of Earl of Rawnsley and finds one of his distant relatives trying to help arrange the succession. Dorian is asked to marry Gwendolyn, a young woman who badly needs his money in order to build a hospital. Gwendolyn wishes she had been born a man as she wants to be a doctor but no men except for one doctor ever take her seriously. Her experiences in learning about medicine mean that she can help Dorian in his last months and so they marry. However there is much research to be done about his condition and as it begins to worsen they begin to plan for the future and to learn about each other.

This story has links to "Lord of Scoundrels" and some of the characters from that story appear in this. It's a very enjoyable read and although a short story it seems surprisingly detailed. I very much enjoy Loretta Chase's writing style although her Regencies occasionally slip into Americanisms, but overall this is a good story with a likeable hero and heroine and a rather different theme from the norm.

PROMISES
"Promises" by Lisa Kleypas is another story set in England in the Regency period. Lidian Acland, our heroine, has been holding a torch for the improbably named Chance Spencer for a year whilst he does the Grand Tour. However her mother (along with pretty much everyone else) thinks Chance isn't worth her devotion and tries to encourage Lidian to look at other men. None interests her until she meets Eric de Gray, heir to an Earldom and squiring his sister at various parties. She and Eric clash a number of times as he tries to get her to see Chance for who he really is and Lidian wants to hang on to her dream. There's another mini romance within this story which isn't particularly detailed but is enjoyable.

The writing in this story was fine and the setting (for example the hero and heroine take a walk in Vauxhall Gardens) was well described but unfortunately I didn't get into the characters in this story. Eric seemed over-harsh and not very warm to Lidian, Lidian seemed rather stupid about Chance when we are told she is intelligent. Her behaviour is also not appropriate for a woman in her situation, going out unchaperoned etc, and her supposed constancy towards Chance is also dropped surprisingly quickly. Still it was a reasonable enough read if not particularly deep.

THE KISS
The final story is much shorter than all the rest (the first two accounted for over two thirds of the book) at only 29 pages. Written by Kathleen E Woodiwiss it was evidently a follow-up to another previous story (which I haven't read) which detailed the relationship between Brandon and Heather Birmingham. This couple's relationship is referred to repeatedly in this story and we also meet them in this tale.

"The Kiss" takes place in Charleston, America, and is about Brandon's brother Jeffrey who finds himself unexpectedly coming to the aid of a woman whose guardian is about to sell her to a man. Jeffrey buys her instead, takes her home and then realises that he hasn't necessarily helped her situation as he will have compromised her by buying her in public. He resolves this in a fairly obvious way and then the story ends. It's a 'love at first sight' story which I couldn't always believe but then a story this short can't go too much in depth. However there was one significant irritant - the author seems to have rather a small stock of adjectives and she massively over-used the adjective 'manly'. We had 'manly shoulders', 'manly scent of his cologne', 'manly form', 'manly costume', 'manly desires' and the rather bizarre 'manly tread' as he walks across the room - all in 29 pages. The other descriptions were all rather basic, 'narrow hips', 'slender waist', that kind of thing. This writing style proved rather irritating to this reader and the rest of the story wasn't really engaging enough to make it truly enjoyable.

In conclusion this is a rather bitty collection of stories. The only real stand-out story is Loretta Chase's one, the other three are ultimately fairly forgettable and seem to have either plot problems or writing disappointments. I understand this book won a number of awards but I'm not really sure why as I felt it was rather a disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Loved All The Stories In This Book, 10 Dec. 2014
"Fancy Free" by Catherine Anderson (4 Stars)

This was a sweet romance about 27 year old Clint Rafferty, left alone with 5 brothers to raise - ranging in age from six to 22 years old. One brother, Matt, looks nearly identical to Clint and has become the town rogue, enjoying his drink and the ladies. When Rachel Constantine learns Matt has hurt her younger sister, Molly's feelings, she decides to take matters in hand and teach old Matt a lesson. But... without her spectacles, she can't tell the difference between Clint and Matt and manages to get Clint foxed, whereupon she finally gets him inside the church with the intent of leaving him there pant-less for the Sunday morning crowd to review.

Things go awry and before long, her father - the town sheriff - has Rachel and Clint married faster than you can say, "Jack Rabbit." Clint is actually glad because he desperately needs a wife to help make his house a home. But... Rachel is afraid to wear her spectacles, having learned the hard way that men don't like gals who wear specs. You can only imagine how this affects her ability to take care of business, such as reading recipes, etc. Nevertheless, the men of the ranch fall in love with her and they are willing to forgive her of all her shortcomings. Then, unexpectedly, Clint's aunt arrives to take over the tasks of managing the house and things fall apart.

So, we must agonize a bit until everything gets smoothed out while we are rooting from the sidelines for Clint and Rachel's HEA. Great story - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The Mad Earl's Bride" by Loretta Chase (5 Stars) - may also be purchased separately at this link: The Mad Earl's Bride: (Originally published in the print anthology THREE WEDDINGS AND A KISS) (Scoundrels)

Dorian Camoys, Earl of Rawnsley, is going mad. It's a well known fact, his mother died in a madhouse and now he's got the same symptoms - it's just a matter of time until he becomes unable to tend to himself. To this end, he's made a deal with the devil, so to speak. Having seen his mother in the insane asylum where she spent her last days, he's arranged things so that he will have private care and has returned to his home among the moors of Dartmoor to end his days in isolation.

Into his life comes the bothersome duc d'Abonville, a distant cousin who insists he look to his responsibilities, take care of some legal business and marry a wife so he will have an heir to leave behind. Added to this mix, the duc just happens to have a willing female in mind, his future wife's granddaughter, Gwendolyn. If you've read Loretta Chase's best selling Lord of Scoundrels (Avon Romantic Treasure), you'll be acquainted with the duc and his fiance, Genevieve, the Dowager Viscountess Pensbury and you'll certainly be acquainted with Bertie, Gwendolyn's cousin.

Dorian is of the opinion his past debaucheries are also part of his mental disability and has found the isolation of the moors serve to free him from the sordid temptations of the flesh that have caused him anguish in the past and which he was never able to control. Long hard rides across the moors give him the relief he needs physically and when the headaches become too much to bear, his caretaker doctor, Kneebones, gives him laudanum.

Into this mix, Gwendolyn arrives with desires of her own which have to do with building a hospital and having the freedom to pursue medical interests - aspirations she's found difficult, if not impossible to fulfill, in the world of men. To say that she's a capable and unique individual would be putting it mildly. Shortly after she arrives, Dorian takes off on a wild ride into the moors to get relief from his troubling visitors, Gwendolyn takes off after him, riding astride, causing Dorian's horse to startle and slide down an embankment whereupon Dorian is emptied into the bog. And to be honest... he thinks dying in the bog might be a better option than dying a madman, but doggonit, he wants his horse out of there and safe. But, Gwendolyn is no fainthearted Miss. She lassos him and pulls him to safety even while he is angrily demanding that she remove his horse to safety. He may as well be talking to the wind. He's never met anyone like Gwendolyn and once he gets a glimpse of her white calf, the old torment kicks in and he's done for. From there on out, I. Was. Hooked.

Awesome storyline! Too bad it wasn't a full novel. We even get to revisit Dain and Jessicia from Lord of Scoundrels (Avon Romantic Treasure).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Promises" by Lisa Kleypas (5 stars)

Lidian Acland loves the Honorable Chauncey Spencer (Chase) but he decided he needed some time away so traveled to the Continent to do what young men do. She waits and waits and waits and will not consider any other gentleman. Nope, Chase Spencer is her one and only true love even though he's been gone for one year and has not written to her, she will not look at another man.

Lidian's mother, Elizabeth, tries to no avail to get her interested in another man and finally insists they attend a local ball where Lidian meets the stunningly attractive and currently sought after gent - Lord Eric DeGray. He's immediately interested, but Lidian is not. When Eric notices that Lidian is kind to his younger sister, he realizes she's not a typical airheaded debutante, but has been warned by one of his friends that Lidian. Is. In. Love. With. Another. Man.

But, it seems that Elizabeth is bosom buddies with Eric's mama and very shortly, circumstances and mamas conspire to have Elizabeth and Lidian ensconced in the DeGray townhouse for a Season in town. Lidian is reluctant, Elizabeth is thrilled, Lidian and Eric run into one another often enough to keep the storyline interesting even as Eric determines to learn a bit about Chase from none other than our main man, Derek Craven, one of my all time favorites who was featured in Ms. Kleypas' Dreaming of You fame. Derek lets Eric know that Chase has returned to town and the fight to win Lidian is on.

Of course we already know who the best guy is, but can Lidian be persuaded to see how futile her dreams have been? Of course, it's up to Eric to persuade her and Eric. Is. The. Man! Great read. Lisa Kleypass is one of my favorite authors in this genre.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"The Kiss" by Kathleen Woodiwiss (4 stars)

This was a teeny bit of a book, but since it brought back the Birmingham family into our remembrance, how could it not be interesting. We first became acquainted with the Birminghams in The Flame and the Flower, a very controversial book written during a different day and time, in which "rape" was accepted fare in romance novels. Thankfully, we've demanded better writing and higher standards for our heroes these days, so Brandon Birmingham is pretty much a thing of the past - that is, if authors want to sell books to the mainstream audience. Nevertheless, this story is about Jeff Birmingham, Brandon's younger and much more gentlemanly brother.

When Jeff comes across Raelynn Barrett who is running away from her mean, old ugly uncle who is determined to sell her off, Jeff feels as though life stands still for a moment. In fact, he suspects he's met his destiny in Raelynn and therefore, can't help from purchasing her from her uncle in front of God and Country not stopping for one moment to consider how her reputation will be ruined. He has the answer though and he's man enough to do what it takes to keep her close. Sweet, short story! There's a novella sequel to this book titled "Beyond the Kiss" which may be found in this book - Married at Midnight, also a full novel in A Season Beyond a Kiss. I can't vouch for "Beyond the Kiss" or "A Season Beyond a Kiss" because I haven't read them.
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 31 Aug. 2014
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All the same story line.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 17 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Three Weddings and a Kiss (Mass Market Paperback)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 7 Aug. 2014
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Good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 7 Aug. 2014
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Three Weddings and a Kiss
Three Weddings and a Kiss by Lisa Kleypas (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Dec. 1996)
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