The True Love Wedding Dress
The prologue to The True Love Wedding Dress is set in 1790 Scotland, where Aileanna MacEwan is sewing a gorgeous wedding dress for her nasty mistress even though she is secretly in love with her mistress’s fiancé. Aileanna feels a strong connection to the dress and since she also happens to be a witch, she casts a spell on the dress, that whoever wears it will marry their true love. It works very quickly for her, as the fine lord she admires loves her too and they run away together. The dress disappears only to show up again under mysterious circumstances in another time and place, disappearing again when its job is done. Yes, it’s a silly concept, but it provides the framework for two very good and two acceptable stories.
- by Connie Brockway
Grade : A- Sensuality : Warm
Glad Rags by Connie Brockway
Alexander, Viscount Thorpe, and Lucy St. James grew up together, fell in love, and enjoyed a long courtship which everyone assumed would end in marriage. However, two weeks before Alex left with his cavalry regiment for the Crimean War, they had a very public scene which resulted in a breakup. Two years later, Alex has returned and they have been studiously avoiding each other. However, Lucy's brother Hugh is still seething over Alex's treatment of his sister and in a cardroom goads him into an outrageous bet. Alex loses and makes an appearance in the ballroom wearing - yes, you guessed it - a beautiful wedding gown he found in the hostess's attics and which miraculously fits his 6'4" frame to perfection. (What an amazing dress!) Lucy cannot refrain from getting a bit of her own back and the scene where they spar on the ballroom stairs while everyone in the room watches, agog, is fabulously done. It is clear that they are still in love with each other and will always love each other. But can they get beyond the hurt feelings of the past?
What a fun story this was. The sexual tension just pulses around Lucy and Alex as they try to recover what they'd lost. It was an excess of pride on both their parts which caused the breakup and they will both need to swallow more of it if they are to reunite. The action all takes place in one night, which was unusual, and a pleasure to watch Brockway make the action flow seamlessly and believably. And who can resist the mental image of a very tall and self-assured cavalry officer in a wedding dress? I can't. Well, no one said the woman had to wear the dress for the magic to work! For those of us who have been mourning the loss of Connie Brockway in the historical romance genre, what an unexpected treat it is to have this little jewel of a story.
- by Casey Claybourne
Grade : C+ Sensuality : Subtle
Something Special by Casey Claybourne
Rummaging in the attic, eleven year old Eliza Cooper finds a mysterious trunk which contains a beautiful wedding dress and is inspired with an idea which will solve all her problems. Several months later, Josh Cooper arrives home after months in the wilderness tending to his logging business to find Penny Martin trying on the same wedding dress and looking like a vision. Josh's wife died years ago and he spends much of his time away from home. His daughter Eliza wants a mother and a wife for her father, and arranged to hire Penny for the job, though Penny thought she was accepting a teaching position. She came across the wedding dress while looking for costumes for her and Eliza to stage A Midsummer's Night Dream. Josh doesn't want another wife, and Penny is not a very good teacher, but Eliza and the wedding dress have other ideas.
Eliza is definitely the smartest person in this story, and to their credit, Josh and Penny both recognize this and are flummoxed by her precociousness. Penny was running from some danger in Boston which is alluded to but never adequately explained, but she and Eliza are very cute together. While Eliza teaches the barely literate Penny to read better (which begs the question of just how did Penny think she was going to fake her way through a teaching job), Penny offers her unconditional love and the comfort of a mother figure. Josh was a bit more of a cipher, but was appealing in a befuddled, strong, silent-type way.
- by Catherine Anderson
Grade : C Sensuality : Subtle
Beautiful Gifts by Catherine Anderson
Faith Randolph is at the end of her rope. Born into a wealthy family in Brooklyn, she was married off for dynastic reasons when 15 years old. Now widowed, her autocratic father has another marriage arranged for her to an elderly man who plans to ship her six year old daughter Charity off to boarding school. They ran away and headed west, only to be robbed in a train station and stranded in No Name, Colorado. With no respectable jobs available, and after days of sleeping in a stable and eating from garbage bins, Faith is ready to take the only job around: that of dance-hall girl/prostitute at the local saloon. On the way, she meets a strange peddler who gives Charity a peppermint stick and Faith a beautiful white dress, after which she immediately sees an ad for a housekeeper. They walk the three miles out to the O'Shannessy farm where she promptly faints at Patrick O'Shannessy's feet. Faith is not really farmstead housekeeper material, but Patrick cannot bear to think of the fate that awaits Faith and Charity if she winds up at the saloon and so decides to keep and train her while he falls in love.
Faith is a real fish out of water, but determined to earn her keep. She can't believe her good fortune in finding Patrick who is teaching her more than cooking and milking cows. I liked her courage and his kindness, but had some problems with the writing. This story is part of a series, I discovered, and there was a huge information dump in the middle of it which recapped the entire previous book, a good deal of which, I felt, was not really necessary to the telling of this story. I don't usually read Westerns and the reason why was reaffirmed for me by my irritation with the use of stock B-Western movie phrases: "grub in her belly … mean as a snake … isn't worth the powder it'd take to blow him to hell … ornery as a badger with a thorn in its paw … let's slap some leather and see who meets his maker," etc. Not my cup of tea, though if you're a Westerns fan, it may be yours.
A Perfect Fit
- by Barbara Metzger
Grade : B Sensuality : Kisses
A Perfect Fit by Barbara Metzger
Katie Cole never got to wear the beautiful wedding dress which mysteriously arrived on her doorstep, for her fiancé was killed days before the wedding, leaving Katie pregnant. Banished and set up as a widow in a small far-off village by her parents, Katie has raised her daughter alone, supplementing her small stipend by raising chickens and giving piano lessons. Now her daughter Susannah wishes to marry a well-connected young man whose uncle, Viscount Forde, arrives to inspect Katie and Susannah, sent by his sister-in-law who fears the women are fortune hunting harpies. Forde is quite attracted to Katie and admires her ability to thrive under adverse circumstances, though he is spooked by her chickens and goats. But when he discovers the truth about Susannah's birth, will he call a halt to the wedding?
This was a delightful story full of Metzger's usual artful alliteration and clever turns of phrase. There is a running gag about the wedding dress that Susannah disdains as old-fashioned, and which resists any attempts at alteration, surviving all manner of abuse to remain pristine. I liked that Katie and Forde are an older couple with a bit of life and experience under their belts. An enjoyable read.