Bride by Arrangement, an anthology

>> Friday, May 09, 2003

I borrowed an anthology from Marí?a Inés, Bride by Arrangement. I've been reading more anthologies lately than I used to. I tended to think that romance didn't really work in such a short format, but since then I've read a couple of good ones. Sure, I still find some that are too short and undeveloped, but it's worth it to slog through those (and hey! at least they're short!) to find the good ones, which when you get them, are real gems..

In this anthology:



A young, wealthy American with a title-hungry mother and a young, impoverished duke eventually turn their arranged marriage into a love match.
This was a C+. I liked many things about it, but I didn't care for the main conflict. Basically, Sunny, having been told by her mother that sex is painful and humilliating, and that men don't respect women who enjoy them (i.e. they think they're whores) and Justin misinterpreting her coolness in bed as she not wanting him.

This element would have been ok as a tiny, humorous part of the story, but as the basic thing separating Justin and Sunny... no way. Plus, the ending was horrid. Sunny: "My mother told me this and this". Justin: "Your mother's understanding in that area is limited". Ok, the end. Huh?

Apart from that, I liked both characters and liked the fact that Justin fell in love with Sunny almost immediately. Also, MJP has a beautiful style, very easy to read, and this one felt fairy-tale-ish.


MISMATCHED HEARTS, by Merline Lovelace.

A willful noblewoman and an honor-bound baron fight their attraction, hoping beyond hope that their previous bethrothals can be unarranged in time to tie the right knot.
This was a C. A nice story, but absolutely average. Much too short. The characters were well-drawn for 80 pages, but the bare-bones story didn't do them justice.


MY DARLING ECHO, by Gayle Wilson.

A blind earl and a widowed mother find that a marriage of convenience doesn't have to remain that way. Theirs was an unconventional union. Where he was the wealthy Earl of Huntingdon, she had merely been in his employ. Arabella Simmons was under no illusion -- this proud and war-scarred man was desirous of a marriage in name only.
This one was one of the gems I mentioned: A. What a sweet, beautiful story! I'm pretty sure I was manipulated (come on! the scene with the little boy climbing onto the blind hero's lap, afraid of storms...), but I didn't care. Even if I was, it was so beautifully done that it moved me.

Just perfect, even the novella length felt just right: otherwise their reluctance to make any move towards the other would have become tedious.


The final grade for the whole thing is a B.

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