Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wish List Anthology

I picked this book up for one story and one story only - that of Lord Andrew Drake - half brother of Logan Scott from Because You're Mine. Of the other authors, I had read Lynsay Sands before, but the other two were new to me.

The first story in the book is the Kleypas novella, I Will. It features Lord Andrew Drake, half brother to Logan Scott, notorious rake and a man who has just been disowned by his own father. In order to get undisowned (if there is such a word!), Andrew needs to prove to his dying father that he has changed his ways, so that he can then inherit everything the Duke has. Andrew sees that the only way he can achieve this is if he pretends to be interested in a well mannered, well connected young lady of the ton. Enter Caroline Hargreaves who meets both of those criteria, but who also wants to stop her brother, who is one of Andrew's gambling buddies, from destroying himself, and the family. When Andrew asks her to allow him to pretend to court her, Caroline agrees but the price is that Andrew must ensure that her brother is no longer able to gamble his life away.

Inevitably, the more time they spend together the more that Caroline realises that Andrew is really a much better man that she originally thought and they gradually fall in love. However, the path of true love rarely runs smoothly and just when Caroline thinks that she is going to get her man, Andrew starts to ignore her. Caroline takes matters into her own hands, and all's well that ends well!

Except for two things I really enjoyed this story - the blackmail twist at the end of the novel was probably a step too far. A lot happened in a short space of time in this novella and this aspect of the story could probably have been done without. The other thing was where Caroline takes matters into her own hands, which I really felt a little uncomfortable with (can't say a lot more without spoiling!)

The second story was Puddings, Pastries and Thou by Lisa Cach. Vivian Ambrose was orphaned at a young age, and from that time she has been shuffled from one distant relative to another. Having spent the previous few years as a companion/carer to a now deceased relative, Vivian arrives at the home of the Twitchens, who seem to think that the best course of action for her would be for her to have a season and marry for herself. The Twitchen's daughter Penelope is not best pleased as she doesn't want any competition for when she comes out in society herself, so that stage is set - Vivian needs to get married, and it needs to happen quickly!

Vivian meets Richard Brent, who for reasons that become clear later in the story is deemed to be unsuitable, and they are instantly attracted to each other, but with Vivian's aunt and uncle opposed to the match, it is not easy for the two to be together.

What did I like...well, I liked one of the very last scenes. The Twitchen's take desperate measures to protect Vivian's reputation, but it doesn't seem to be enough, and the moment when they realise that is classic. I really, really liked Richard - a man who doesn't necessarily meet the ton's standards of honour, but certainly did the right thing in most circumstances in his life.

What didn't I like - Vivian's constant eating. It was cute at first, but it wore a bit thin after a while. Or maybe I was a bit jealous...if I ate like Vivian ate then I would be massive!

The third novella was Union, by another new to me author Claudia Dain. Another young lady who needs to get married in a hurry, Clarissa Walingford has decided that she needs to find an eligible Irish man, but seeing as wealthy titled Irish men are pretty thin on the ground then she will settle for an English man who happens to have property in Ireland, with the idea that her husband can stay in England and she can go and live in Ireland.

She makes a list of the men who meet her criteria. Originally she meets Lord Montwyn and won't consider him, but as soon as she finds out that he does have Irish land then he is in!

I didn't really like this story. We are given no reason why Clarissa is in such a hurry. Eventually details are provided of why Clarissa is so desperate to go back to Ireland but you know I wasn't really convinced by them, and I thought that the ending where it was contrived and completely unnecessary. The author gave Clarissa nine brothers...I wonder if she was hoping to start a series featuring the Walingfords. It would take a lot for me to want to read that series I'm telling you!!

The final story in the anthology was All I Want by Lynsay Sands. The last time I read this author I was pretty unimpressed and I can't say that it worked for me in this story as well.

Ever since Prudence's brother died, her father has been drinking and gambling away the family fortune, to the extent that the vast majority of the servants have been let go, there are debt collectors knocking on the door every day, and their furniture is beginning to get sold off. Prudence has tried to talk to her father but he avoids her, so she decides to go and talk to him where he the gaming hall he frequents. After not being allowed in by the club's owner, Lord Stockton, Prudence tries again and again to get into the club, causing disaster after disaster within the club. And what is Lord Stockton's reaction......why, he falls in love with her, despite the fact that her antics are causing him to lose money left, right and centre.

The thing that was really annoying to me was how easily the gambling issues were resolved, both for Prudence's father and in relation to Lord Stockton owning a gaming hall.

Overall, one good, one okay, and two stinkers. I sometimes wonder why I continue to read anthologies because most of the time I don't really find them all that satisfactory!

Rating 3/5

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