zaterdag 4 augustus 2012

Anthology: Rough around the Edges

An anthology of stories by Susan Johnson, Dee Holmes, Stephanie Laurens and Eileen Wilks, published June 15, 1998.
Genre: a mix of historical romances and contemporary romances.

Rough around the edges

From four of today's hottest romance authors come sizzling stories of the sexiest heroes who will heat up the pages and leave readers breathless: a rakish Duke forced to marry a reluctant Duchess, a bad boy bachelor who suddenly offers a stunning proposal, a Hollywood stuntman stranded in a storm with a wide-eyed, small town girl, and a profligate Duke reunited with his childhood sweetheart. Can these rogues be transformed? It only takes the right woman to smooth out a man's rough edges.

Susan Johnson – Playing with Fire

The new Duke of Ware is left penniless, and he has to marry an heiress to pay of his father’s debt and restore his estate. Rupert really doesn’t want to, and he totally intends to ignore his future wife. He doesn’t realize that his bride to be also had no choice in this matter. She would do anything to get out from under her father’s thumb, and her father bought a Duke for his money. And if she would not have said her vows herself, her father would have done it for her.
Olivia Overton is trying to make the best of her marriage, but she will not be bullied around by another man. If her husband leaver her alone, she will have time for her writing. But Rupert has other plans. The marriage contract gives him half the money needed to pay of his fathers debt after the wedding, and the other half when he gets himself an heir. So he plans to bed his wife as often as possible until she is with child, at which point he will go back to his rakish life in London and leave her behind on the estate.

Of course, both of them did not consider they might get to like each other when spending so much time together. But when Overton decides to come for an unwanted visit, things might break for good.

I really like the forced marriage trope, and this one did surprise me. Olivia is a girl with a backbone, and she won’t be bullied by her husband. And Rupert sets out to be nasty and drunk, but he really does not want his bride to hate him, or to really hurt her. Though there was one questionable scene, he does make up for it. Olivia has carte blanche with the house, and he keep himself busy with the estate and the farmers and tenants living on it.
Yes, lots of lovescenes because of the need for an heir, but there was room for character development, or I would not have liked this story.

7 stars.

Eileen Wilks – Simple Sins

Felicity Armstrong is not used to adventure, she is usually shy third grade teacher. But now she has hidden her car along the driveway of the old house, and is sabotaging the phone line. Damon Reed will have no choice but to let her stay for the night in the house he recently inherited from his grandmother. He cannot turn her away in this thunderstorm.
Damon and his grandmother hated each other, and he never would have come back here if is was his choice. Unfortunately, his grandmother died without singing her new will, and no one can find the previous one. So he has been searching the house for it, as he wants nothing to do with it or anything else from his grandmother. They truly hated each other. Damon was born out of wedlock, and his grandmother has punished his mother every day of his life for it. And Damon hated her for that, and did his best to oppose her whenever he could.
He has made a career for himself in Hollywood, as a stuntman, and is about to start a step up as stunt coordinator.

Felicity only knows that the old Mrs Reed blackmailed her mother for years, but not what she used for the blackmail. So she has come to search the house while Damon is asleep, for whatever paper belonging to her mother she can find. She did not count on Damon recognizing her as the young girl with the crush who used to follow him around. Nor on his attempts to seduce her. When Damon catches her in the act of attempting to search the study, he makes her tell the truth. Which is not difficult, as she is a terrible liar. But she really has no clue what she is looking for. Damon agrees to have her search for it, and will even help her, and in exchange, he will keep trying to seduce her. But Felicity is very sure she can withstand his attempts. She is not a virgin but she also has very little experience.

I liked both Damon and Felicity. Felicity was surprised by her own actions, she has always lived a careful life, mainly because of some heart problems as a young girl. But even when she outgrew that, her mother was very overprotective and made the whole town look out for her. So when Damon challenges her to stay, she stays, wanting to find whatever is her mothers. Not that she is afraid that Damon is like his grandmother, even though he clearly seems to think so.
And Damon, talk about a tortured hero. Afraid of showing his feelings, of even feeling them for Felicia, he cannot talk about commitments or anything, and just shows her passion. Yes, I liked this one. Felicia sure made a giant step out of her comfortable life for and with him, and the epilogue was very much fun! Thanks Eileen Wilks, for that extra smile.

8 stars.

Dee Holmes – Once Burned

This one is a sweet story involving a road trip. A year ago Deke and Mariah were involved, but when things became too close to real commitment, Deke could not handle it, and broke it off, leaving Mariah heartbroken.
Deke is a mercenary, working for her father, and he has just seen to much bad stuff to be able to function in a “normal “ relationship. Or so he thinks. Mariah is a fashion advisor, and could not be more different. Still, opposites attract. When Mariah learns that Deke is going to drive across country to be there for her fathers 60th birthday, she plans to go with him. She really hates flying, so why should they both drive? Now they can trade places behind the wheel. Deke is sure it is a bad idea, but still he goes through with it, certain he can withstand Mariah for a few days, even though she has not been out of his mind ever since the breakup.
All Mariah wants to know is why he broke up with her. She has moved on, and has a new boyfriend, but she knows she is still in love with Deke.

Of course, being close together in a small car totally ignites the attraction between them, and there are some hot lovescenes. Until Deke really insults her one time too many, and Mariah chooses to go the rest of the way by plane after all. Can Deke mend this breach?

I liked this story. I have never before read anything by Dee Holmes, but I do like her writing style and her characters. Mariah was fun and sure of herself, but she could not resist Deke when he came on to her. I liked how she took care of him, and how he noticed it. Second chance at love is one of my favourite themes, and Dee Holmes did a good job of this one. I am looking forward of reading more of her work.

7 stars.

Stephanie Laurens – Melting Ice

When they were children, Fiona and Dyan were almost inseparable, getting the other one in and out of trouble all the time. When Dyan kissed her one day, Fiona was hoping he would tell her loved her, as she loved him. But when he had nothing to say when she told him she was not one of his scullery maids, everything went wrong. For years Dyan ignored Fiona, and when he thought she was going to marry one of their best friends, he went to India for 15 years. But now he has inherited the title and estates, and as a Duke, he needs to be home. His family start of course with pestering him to marry, which is not something he is looking forward to. Life in England is difficult enough to get accustomed to after the freedom he had in India (and the very accommodating women).
Then faith brings Fiona and Dyan together again as uninvited guests at a houseparty thrown by some friends. Fiona thinks she will be rescuing Harriet from something she does not want, not knowing that Harriet had lied to her. The houseparty is more of an orgy, and really no place for a single woman like Fiona. Luckily, Dyan is there to safe her name and reputation. And he takes full advantage of the opportunity to seduce her, not knowing she would have done the same. But Fiona refuses to marry Dyan until he tells her he loves her. No matter how many ridiculous reasons he can think of, no matter how much his kisses and caresses fuddle her mind.

This is the story I bought the book for, as I am a huge Stephanie Laurens fan. Of course it is a very short story, but more than half of it is spend making love. Which I am not really accustomed too in her books. Still, the writing style is the same, the long sentences with all the long words, the thought processes described rather than the actions. And I liked it, a lot.

Fiona never did marry, she could not stand any man to touch her but Dyan. She is taking care of the family estate, as her absentminded older brother is not capable of that, and she enjoys her freedom. And now that he has come home, she won’t loose him again.

8 stars.

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© 2012 Reviews by Aurian

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Oh this sounds like a good anthology to find new to me authors. I may have to give this one a try!