Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61045-3
Contemporary Romance, 2001
My Scottish Summer features “four bonnie lasses of romance” (Warner’s words, not mine), which translates to two-and-a-quarter somewhat-hits and one-and-three-quarter misses.
Connie Brockway’s Lassie, Come Home is a one-third hit. If you wonder what happened to the funny version of Connie Brockway after her admittedly dour and gloomy McClairen’s Isle trilogy, wonder no longer. The humor is back, full-force and infectiously irresistible. Antoinette Chosposi Olson or Toni for short is in Scotland to collect a prize Border collie for her kennels. She gets a bit drunk, okay, very drunk on her first day here and flirts shamelessly with a “Braveheart” (He: “There’s a slight matter of my having eight inches on Mr Gibson.” She: “Oh? Where?”). “Braveheart” turns out to be Devlin Montgomery, an actual laird who owns the doggie in question.
He doesn’t authorize the sale – it is his weasel old bastard relative who did, and when the said old bastard fled with the dog (apparently a woman owning the dog is reason enough to play renegade on a sales contract), both Toni and Dev are stuck in close quarters chasing after the moron old man. And clothes, er, sparks fly.
I love it when drunk Toni flirts. She is incorrigible, and Dev gives as good as he gets. At last, I thought, a normal heroine who has chemistry with a normal non-womanizing, flirty guy. No, Toni alas sobers up and starts behaving like a typical contemporary romance heroine. You know, those that believe the act of flirting alone is the sign of promiscuous ho-dom? As fast as my enthusiasm wells for this story, it plummets down to ground zero.
This story also tells me that those two have great chemistry, but after the flirty drunk heroine act, I don’t see anything here but a typical twit heroine and a charming hero in a rather mismatched relationship. And most of all, the stupid WEASEL old BASTARD McGill, the SCUMBAG who ran off with the dog, doesn’t even get a scolding. Maybe it’s not nice for the young to dress down a senile old geezer, but ugh, what I wouldn’t give to choke that irritating old bag of bones until he is the exact shade of Elmo the Sesame Street monster. Old men behaving badly just have to go.
Patti Berg’s heroine, Emily Sinclair, wants lust, seduction, and sin in her life. Hence she goes to tour a Scots castle. Yes, I do worry for contemporary heroines nowadays. Their brains and spines are deteriorating day by day – must be the pollution in the air. Sinfully Scottish has all the usual ingredients of a typical Scots romance – castles, curses, jingoistic Scots anti-American bigotry (or is it “Scots pride”?), and still somehow manages to be as interesting as faded white wallpaper. This one is too familiar, too overkilled to be remotely memorable.
Debra Dier has a professor heroine (and yes, she has to be harebrained, because we all know heroines with brains have to compensate her intelligence with some flaw, somehow) and a chauvinistic “All women are ho’s because I am a twat who can spend time with a reliable woman, but it’s those Ho’s fault I have bad taste” rich man hunting after some ancestral diary in The Maddening Highlander. Harebrained heroine aside, though, this one at least features a rather sexy pursuit of the hero of the heroine. She demurs, but he is not taking no for an answer. In this anthology, this one is best of the lot. I’m not saying TMH is exceptional, but it’s still the best of this bunch.
Kathleen Givens shows that she can do decent contemporary stuff. Castle in the Skye, however, is like an over leisurely paced tourism brochure commissioned by the Scottish Tourism Board. Maddie Breen returns to Scotland to attend a family friend’s funeral, enjoys the view, oohs at this, aahs at that, oh, wonderful, wonderful… and yeah, she meets this perfect guy who has a Scots castle, wowee! There’s nothing wrong with this story, but there’s nothing happening either. Just a nice sweet trip to Scotland.
I’m disappointed by Connie Brockway’s novella, because the first chapter promises that she can do so much better than the same old tired fare she serves up in the end. Patti Berg tries, but hers just isn’t interesting. Debra Dier and Kathleen Givens soup up readable novellas that entertain adequately, though. All in all, an average anthology by authors who could definitely do better.