by Lisa Cach, Stobie Piel, Lynsay Sands, and Amy Elizabeth Saunders; historical/paranormal (2000)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-4778-0
This is a pretty mediocre anthology. I only find the short stories by Lisa Cach and Amy Elizabeth Saunders readable, and even then, Lisa Cach's novella has a heroine that borders close to being too stupid for her own good. Lynsay Sands' is downright irritating, while Stobie Piel's novella bears her unfortunate trademark, the mega-dumbo heroine.
Lynsay Sands starts off the anthology with The Fairy Godmother where Tildy the Godmother tries to matchmake her dear niece Odel with Michelle. No, this is not a lesbian story, Michelle is the hero. I'm not joking. ("Oh Michelle, you're so manly!" sounds a bit off though if you ask me.)
Thing is, Tildy is Irritating with a capital I with her "Yoo-hoo, tee-hee-hee!" cackling. Odel is a stereotypical heroine, who claims to love her freedom after her control freak daddy croaks but goes right away to marry a heavy-handed man who will control her like Daddy would.
Daddy lil' girls - *sigh*.
Really though - Michelle? Michelle?!!
Lisa Cach's A Midnight Clear has Catherine Linwood trying her best to fall for a rude and obnoxious Mr Rose, until her sister Amy wishes upon a star that the really nice Will Goodman will be Cath's true love. Will is definitely a to-die-for hero, I mean, here's a hunky man who actually falls in love with Cath at first sight and tries everything to woo her. Will is a nice man free from the usual rake/millionaire contrivances.
Thing is, when Cath takes ages to get over her self-esteem problem and even longer to decide between an obnoxious twit and a wonderful man, she doesn't look too smart, I'm afraid. After a while I feel I need to lie down, or I'll wake the neighborhood with my "Kiss Willie, you silly girl, he's the one, KISS HIM DAMN IT!"
Amy Elizabeth Saunders cranks up the schmaltz but succeeds in making me go all warm and mushy inside with her wonderful Angels We Have Heard. Rose Shanahan has recently buried a husband she has long stopped crying over, and now she has to deal with her two kids and an impending eviction in the dead of winter. When her son Danny steals from the mine owner Josh Asher and the enraged man tracks the boy down to his house, he finds himself inviting over the Shanahans and hiring Rose as the housekeeper.
Needless to say, Josh - who is obviously the Scrooge in this story - soon thaws. The paranormal aspect here is his late wife Emily appearing as an angel to Rose's daughter Kate to help them all get into Josh's heart.
I love this story. First off, Josh changes from Scrooge to a hero, with no excuses put on his past or something like that for the heroine to love him. And the author writes about his bewilderment and realization that he can't live without Rose and the kids so well that I am charmed. Plus, Emily isn't the usual promiscuous slutty first wife.
Warm and romantic, if tad mushy, this story is my favorite of the lot. In fact, I'd say I find this one a keeper.
Stobie Piel's story is Here Comes Santa Claus. Now, Miss Piel is one author who always comes up with an intriguing premise, but I don't know why the final product never matches the potential of her stories. This novella is no different. The author just couldn't seem to make bickering Santa helpers Ariana and Taran stay in character. Both characters are on a quest to help a soul in need, by the way.
Thing is, Taran and Ariana seem to be possessed by different ghosts with different personalities with each turning of the page. One moment they're lusting, then they are bickering. The author then worsens the schizophrenia by sacrificing character dignity for the sake of slapstick humor - ineptly done slapstick humor. Ariana whines, stomps her feet, and can't seem to stick to her principles or decisions (not when her brain shuts down each time she sees Taran's muscular body) - she's not funny, I'm afraid. Poor Taran, he's marrying a shrill shrew, and I feel so sorry for him.
I can't help wishing that Ms Saunders has written a full-length novel with her premise rather than sandwiching herself aming three rather so-so stories. Oh well, at least it is here to make my reading this anthology worthwhile, so thank goodness for small blessings.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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