Lessons in Love, Anthology

>> Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Lessons in Love, an anthology, was a loan from a friend who I'd told how much I'd enjoyed the linked stories in The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown. This one's an earlier book, and it does a similar thing. It tells the stories of three sisters, who go together to a house party.

The first story is Allegra, by Alicia Rasley.

Nicholas and Allegra have spent several years apart while he was a soldier in the war, and when he returns and has trouble dealing with his parents' death and subsequent circumstances, Allegra feels rejected and fears he no longer loves her.
I'm afraid the romance didn't work at all in this one. The only remarkable thing about the story, and something I liked, was that having fought in the war had had a real effect on Nicholas. Usually this is something authors treat as an insignificant detail in their characters' past; "he had been in the war" they say, as if they were saying "he'd spent the last few years running his estate in the country". Maybe these characters have some trifling wound left over from those days, but authors very seldom deal with the psychological effects of war, at least not beyond a couple of nightmares. Not so with Nicholas.

So, good for the author that she got this right, but I'm afraid it wasn't enough for me to get excited about the story itself. A C+.

The second story is Maggie, by Lynn Kerstan

No one is more shocked than Lady Magdalen when Simon, the rakish Earl of Keverne, begins wooing her. But when he abducts her from a house party and spirits her to a magical place by the sea, a headstrong woman soon finds herself propelled into the uncharted sea of true love.
Kidnapping plots are always problematic for me. I simply cannot get into the "fantasy" spirit this plot requires, and I get too angry about the sheer arrogance of the heros. Bastards, who do they think they are to force the heroine to do something that's against their will!

As kidnapping stories go, this one's one of the better ones. The heroine is quick to make up her mind that she actually likes being kidnapped, that it allows her to do the things she wants to do and enjoy life. Good thing she changed her mind quickly, because previously she'd been a sour, joyless hypocrite. As for the hero, he wasn't very well drawn. Maybe it would have helped if we'd seen his POV before the last few pages. As it was, this one gets another C+.

The last story, and the best one, was Sarita, by Julie Caille

Sarita, the youngest of the three, is searching for a husband, but expects her marriage to be one of convenience. Her parents, claiming to love each other, did nothing but cheat, argue and hurt each other. Convinced that if she does not marry for love, there will be no hurt. Then Robert enters her life. Robert's reputation is in a shambles because of his wife's suicide, and he does not want to hurt Sarita by having her associate with him, thus putting her own reputation in danger.
I liked this one best of all, mostly because the chemistry between Sarita and Robert was pretty good, and both characters were likeable. Still, nothing too remarkable. A B-.

My final grade for the entire anthology is a C+. I would have added points, as I did with The Further Observations... if the links between the stories had added something, but they didn't.


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