Jacquie D'Alessandro~~4 1/2 and 5 Star Reviews
Anthology (Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro, Candice Hern)
Following in the footsteps of their previous anthology, It Happened One Night, these brilliant authors once again spin four distinctly different stories from one plot, to the pleasure of the audience.
Second son Sebastian Trantor must marry to ensure the succession, but no girl on the marriage mart pleases him until one night when he witnesses Tabitha Makepeace looking for proof of a blackmail scheme. Tabitha enchants him, and while she thinks their improvised betrothal is an act, Sebastian schemes to make it real. Stephanie Laurens' "The Seduction of Sebastian Trantor" (****1/2) features all of the elements readers expect in her work, and still keeps it fresh and fun.
After a disastrous marriage, widow Cleo Pritchard doesn't believe that she will ever find love. But the man who kissed her during the war is back, and though Jack Gilchrist is handsome and a war hero, he seems genuinely interested in her. She must protect herself from getting hurt again, this time from loving too much. In "Only Love" (****1/2), Mary Balogh does her usual masterful job with characterization, creating empathetic characters in a short format.
Alec Trentwell seeks out Penelope Markham because her brother died under his command at Waterloo. She is currently in straitened circumstances, so he sweeps in to get her out of a rough part of London. While he offers her a portrait‑painting job, he really wants her to be his wife. However, a secret haunts him that he dreads sharing with her. Jacquie D'Alessandro shines in "Hope Springs Eternal" (****1/2), a beautiful and sometimes heart‑wrenching tale.
Captain Nat Beckwith needs a bride, but he dreads the rigors of the marriage mart and the crowds of Society. While hiding at a ball, he meets Philippa Reynolds, whose limp and overprotective family has her hiding as well. Being together gives them strength they would not have alone. Candice Hern's "Fate Strikes a Bargain" (****) is an appealing and touching tale.
Heather Nordahl Files
Harlequin Blaze #495Mass Market
Ridgemoor, a man who had a good chance of becoming Prime Minister, is dead, and Simon Cooperstone, Viscount Kilburn, is thought by many to be guilty of the crime. Before he died, Ridgemoor claimed there was a letter hidden in an alabaster box that should clear Simon's name. Genevieve Ralston, Ridgemoor's former mistress, has the box at her home in Kent. So he is in Kent to get that letter and prove his innocence-- but the letter is no longer in the box. Now he must go to Plan B and seduce the letter's location out of the lovely Genevieve.
She was Ridgemoor's mistress for ten years, only to be rejected for the deformity that arthritis has wrought on her hands. She now lives in seclusion and hides her hands under gloves. She believes Simon to be a commoner who has moved into a vacant cottage nearby, although she fears that he's there to expose her secret identity as the author of a scandalous book. But when her manservant is attacked, Simon realizes that he must find the letter before his beloved Genevieve is hurt.
Fans of Jacquie D'Alessandro will be delighted that Genevieve has her story at last, but those who have not read Love and the Single Heiress will not be lost. This blending of a fairly common spy story with the uncommon inclusion of a heroine whose ailment is shared by millions makes for an uncommonly enjoyable read.
Heather Nordahl Files