Top 10 Short Stories & Anthologies
As Determined by AAR’s Readers in July 2001

Top Ten Short Stories

  1. The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase from Three Weddings and a Kiss
  2. Gretna Green by Julia Quinn from Scottish Brides
  3. Miracles by Judith McNaught from A Holiday of Love
  4. White Out by Linda Howard from Upon a Midnight Clear
  5. Love’s Prisoner by MaryJanice Davidson from Secrets, Volume 6
  6. The Substitute Guest by Mary Balogh from Token of Love
  7. Rose in Bloom by Stephanie Laurens from Scottish Brides
  8. Scandalous Lord Dere by Stephanie Laurens from Secrets of a Perfect Night
  9. Tangled Sheets by Lori Foster from Hot Chocolate
  10. An Unexpected Guest by Deborah Simmons from The Brides of Christmas

Top Ten Anthologies

  1. Scottish Brides, 1999 (Dodd, Laurens, Quinn, Ranney)
  2. The Grand Hotel, 2000 (Barbour, Fairchild, Kelly, Lane, Metzger) 
  3. A Regency Christmas I, 1989 (Balogh, Mills, Buck, Rice, Layton)
  4. Hot Chocolate, 1999 (Forster, Foster, Minger, Preston)
  5. Secrets of a Perfect Night, 2000 (Laurens, Alexander, Gibson)
  6. Holiday of Love, 1994 (McNaught, Deveraux, Barnett, Lamb)
  7. A Regency Christmas Carol, 1997 (Balogh, Barbour, Fairchild, Kelly, Layton)
  8. Secrets, Volume 6, 2000 (Fraser, Davidson, Gaines, Knight)
  9. Pistols for Two, 1960 (Heyer)
  10. Upon a Midnight Clear, 1997 (Deveraux, Howard, Allison, Holm, Stewart)

Three Weddings and a Kiss, 1995 (Woodiwiss, Anderson, Chase, Kleypas)

Analysis

On the subject of anthologies our readers fall into two distinct camps: those who like short stories in general and those who pick up anthologies because the collection includes a story by a favorite author. No one specifically mentioned sub-genre, which surprised me. I fall into the former category and tend to pick up regency and historical anthologies more often than I do ones with contemporary stories.

Those who like short story anthologies in general mentioned several reasons. Anthologies make great bedtime reading since one can finish the whole story and still get enough sleep. Short stories are great comfort reads when time is limited. Anthologies were almost designed for reading in lines, in waiting rooms, during short lunch breaks. Short stories are also a wonderful frame for an emotional event that can be described independently of a larger story arc. Because of the space limitations the author has to concentrate just on the main event. This takes skill to pull off and short stories can be a real challenge to write.

For the second group, those who read short stories because of a favorite author, a secondary benefit was the most mentioned. They often discover new authors to try out if they liked any of the other stories in the anthology.

Both groups had anthologies on their comfort read shelves and, in most cases, the anthology was there because of one particular story. However, there were a few in our list that deserve further mention. Over all, the Regency Christmas anthologies were mentioned again and again. A Regency Christmas I made it onto our list, but many of the other volumes were mentioned and the consistency of the series was also praised. For many of our voters this series had several great stories in each volume.

The Secrets series was also mentioned several times (vol. 6 is on the list) as being favorites for sensuous reading and the collection Hot Chocolate was also mentioned in this category (as one reader pointed out “Romance and chocolate, how could you not read it?”). Scottish Brides and Grand Hotel were both singled out by readers as anthologies that were enjoyed for all the stories.

Reading everyone’s lists has sent me back to my own shelves in search of many of these anthologies and out to the bookstore for some of the ones that I have missed. Mid-month should find me lounging in the shade and reading about Christmas in July.

–Shelley Dodge

 

 

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