Saturday, December 12, 2009

Triplet Reviews: ANTHOLOGIES, Part 2

Hello and welcome to Part 2 to of the Anthology Triplet Review. For Part 1 ('Must Love Hellhounds' & 'Queen in Winter') please scroll down.

Moving on to the third antho in the bunch:

FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL (Historical Romance, 2009)
Cover: Liked the small details that came together to make something more than the first impression of somewhat bland house at twilight suggested. The devil's tail in the title was nifty, the red color contrast with deep blue twilight eye-catching, the smoke in the sky kind of cool.

The Irish Duke, Cathy Maxwell
Premise: Spinster who makes her living advising ton families on matches warns against suitability of Irish dukes, and is taken to task by one such.
Writing Style: Did not appeal to this reader.
World: Didn't engage, therefore didn't care to make an effort to suspend disbelief.
Prediction: Probably wouldn't seek out more from this author.

Catch of the Century, Sophia Nash
Premise: Governess travelling with three young charges is stranded on the road; passing Duke acts as Good Samaritan.
Writing Style: Drew AW in.
World: This story was trundling nicely along, looking to be AW's favorite in the bunch, when disaster (readerly speaking) struck. WARNING! SPOILERS!
Hero and heroine are chugging away in their mutual but unacted-upon attraction, when she leaves the ducal manor to go in search of the boys who are exploring the grounds. The Duke happens upon her (quelle surprise) and agrees that it would be good to find them given that there is a lake nearby. Then the pair of them in effect say to themselves "But oh, wait, before we go check if they are busy drowning themselves, we have just enough time for our first nekkid encounter!" END SPOILER WARNING!
These are people the reader is supposed to relate to, sympathize with, root for? AW thinks not. Clearly the heroine is an abysmally bad governess, and he apparently believes in some version of "I'm a Duke, so above other people that I needn't concern myself the potential of contributing to three premature juvenile deaths by negligence since I did my duty earlier in not leaving a young lady by the side of the road." This little bit of 'What the hell???' made this book almost turn into a wallbanger right then and there, but that would have been unfair to the remaining authors whose stories were not yet read.
Prediction: AW is utterly conflicted about this. On the one hand, the egregious plot development. On the other, she had enjoyed the story up to that point. On a glass half full basis, AW would do a ten page test of another work.

Charmed by her Smile, Tracy Anne Warren
Premise: Debutante seeks the assistance of one man to manipulate another.
Writing Style: Didn't engage.
World: Wasn't drawn in, felt impatient both with the heroine's manipulativeness and the hero's being attracted to her.
Prediction: Will probably not seek this author out again.

The Duke Who Came to Dinner, Elaine Fox
Premise: Island resident and newcomer are brought together by canine antics.
Writing Style: Pleasant, easily readable.
World: Was refreshing to have a contemporary thrown in the mix (the Duke in question is a pet), and the story was sweet, but ultimately, not especially stand-outish enough to make AW rush off to her local bookstore to keep the reading experience going.
Prediction: There was enough here to warrant a ten-page test in a longer work to see if it compelled more.

Devil to Pay, Jeanine Frost
Premise: Loner vampire comes to the aid of a human trying to commit suicide to protect others from his actions when he is demonically possessed.
Writing Style: Flowed well enough.
World: Though the trouble the hero finds himself in was certainly compelling and roused sympathy, somehow, didn't quite believe in how fast the couple made a connection and didn't quite get drawn in to the story. As with the Singh story in MLH, this was a case of writing that was good but not good enough to surmount AW's aversion to vampire stories. Fans of this genre would probably like it a great deal more.
Prediction: Will probably not seek out more from this author unless she were to begin writing about another type of character.

# of authors AW will definitely seek out based on these short stories,
(in brackets, # AW would give benefit of the doubt in form of a ten-page test of another book)

Must Love Hellhounds - 2 of 4 (plus 1)

Queen in Winter - 2 of 4 (plus 1)

Four Dukes and a Devil - 0 of 5 (plus 2)

Read an anthology lately that AW should try next?



Julia Smith said...

It's terribly disappointing that out of five authors in this anthology, not even one gave you a longing to read more of her work. Dare I say that Avon's criteria for historicals these days is not doing much for me? Except for Anna Campbell, whose darker storylines seem to soar above the basic Avon offering.

M. said...

that's the right word. i was disappointed.

at first i thought maybe i was getting jaded and should avoid historicals for awhile, but then I read sherry thomas.

so i know it wasn't the genre that was the problem!