Scottish Brides, an anthology

>> Thursday, August 12, 2004

I bought the anthology Scottish Bridesmostly for the Julia Quinn story (her short stories in The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown and Where's My Hero? were among the best I've read), but the other three authors have all written at least one book I've enjoyed in the past.

The first story was by Christina Dodd, titled Under the Kilt. Dodd is probably the author I like least of the 4 in this book. I did like her That Scandalous Evening, and My Favourite Bride was ok, but I really disliked a lot of her books, including the ones I've read in her governess series and A Well Pleasured Lady. This last one, together with A Well Favored Gentleman, is related to the short story in this anthology.

Christina Dodd enthralls us with the tale of a willful Scottish beauty -kidnapped by an arrogant yet irresistible Englishman- who fights to keep from succumbing to her brazen captor's passionate, and persuasive, proposal.
Under The Kilt was a pleasant surprise, and I liked it well enough to give it a B-.

The blurb is misleading. Hadden, the hero, doesn't kidnap Andra at all. They are simply "accidentally on purpose" locked together in a tower for the night by interfering servants. Before the start of the story, they've already met, got to know each other and made love. Andra sent Hadden away when he proposed after that night, and the story begins as he decides to go back, ostensibly to ask her about a legend (he "collects" them), but really to try again to get her to marry him.

Knowind Dodd, I was bracing myself for a mean, angry, mysoginistic pig of a hero, but Hadden was quite all right. He was a bit angry, yes, but I found him tolerable. Andra I liked much less, because she was a two-dimensional, sour-faced idiot. Maybe if there had been more space to develop her fears of a relationship, it would have worked better, but as it was, it simply wasn't convincing. Plus, we miss everything but the end in this relationship, so this means I've no idea why Hadden likes Andra so much. All she does here is be peevish and reject him and then, in the very end, decide she loves him.

The second story was Rose in Bloom, by Stephanie Laurens. I really liked most of her Cynster books, but the one short story of hers that I'd read, in the anthology Secrets of a Perfect Night, had been really, really boring.

A wealthy gentleman finds his childhood nemesis has blossomed into a most desirable lass - and he's determined to do everything in his power to claim her as his own, before she is quite unsuitably wed.
This was a nice story, if not too compelling. A B, basically because the protagonists really were believable as their friendship turned into love. I was especially amused by Rose's quite successful attempts to tease Duncan.

My favourite was definitely the Julia Quinn story, Gretna Greene.

When Englishwoman Margaret Pennypacker learns that her brother has eloped to Gretna Green, she chases him all the way to Scotland, determined to prevent him from making a terrible mistake. When Scotsman Angus Greene learns that his sister has run away to London, he chases her all the way to England, determined to prevent her from making a terrible mistake. But when Margaret and Angus meet up at the border, their siblings are nowhere to be found, and this mismatched pair discovers that love often blossoms in the most unexpected places...
This story was fun! Angus and Margaret were simply wonderful together. They clicked the minute they met, and they spent the entire story bantering around as if they'd known each other forever. I think the reason I was so taken with the story was because Quinn succeeded in showing that they really liked each other. It was a good humoured, happy comedy, and my grade would be a B+.

The last story was also pretty good, The Bride of Glenlyon, by Karen Ranney, an author who's not a particular favourite of mine, but who's written some things I've enjoyed.

A legend decrees that the sexy Laird of Sinclair must marry a woman he's never met. But only sweet, passion-filled love will lead him to his true and forbidden bride.
Likeable characters and a midnight courtship that was terribly romantic. That final scene, with Lachlan showing that his love for Janet was the most important thing for him was lovely. I'd rate this one a B.

This was probably the most atmospherically Scottish story of the lot, and that was something I enjoyed. I've been on a Scottish kick for a couple of weeks now, and I've no idea why. I mean, I've never been particularly fanatical about men in kilts ;-)

Quite a good, balanced anthology here. My grade overall: a B.


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