I decided to read this set of novellas because I wanted to delve further into the genre of historical romance and get a flavour of a number of different styles. For brevity, I am just going to write a mini-review on each one.
His Lordship’s Vow by Cheryl Bolen
This story had a sweet level of romance, which I generally prefer. I thought the characters were witty and the dialogue well-written. There was a bit too much description of their clothing and an overuse of the word ‘exceedingly’ but it was historically accurate and an enjoyable read.
To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone by Bronwen Evans
The romance level in this one was steamy and there was an excessive emphasis on the physical for my liking. A noticeable editing issue was the fact that the point of view switched frequently between the two main characters within scenes – this kind of head-hopping made it difficult to know whose head I was supposed to be in. However, the plot was intriguing enough that I definitely wanted to keep reading.
The Christmas Knot by Barbara Monajem
The writing in this was mostly good but I found it crude sometimes with unnecessary references to bodily impulses. In terms of plotting, the main flaw for me was that the story contained a ghost – mixing supernatural and historical genres just isn’t to my taste.
Bride of Falcon by Collette Cameron
I found the two main characters in this romance very appealing. They were flawed, vulnerable and realistic, and I was eager to read more about them. One small downside was that the author employed a lot of slang words in the dialogue which were probably in common use at the time but a bit too obscure for my knowledge. In addition, a couple of plot threads were alluded to but then frustratingly never went anywhere. Despite all that, this was my favourite story in the collection because I loved the characters so much.
Christmas Wishes by Wendy Vella
This was quite humorous in style and I really liked the characters of Max, Hero and all the orphan children. It did need more proofreading, however – there was a heavy use of the word ‘then’ which lowered the standard of the otherwise good writing. I have to say I found the dramatic events escalated too quickly and, of all the stories in this box set, I felt that this could have been expanded into a longer tale.
Miss Watson’s First Scandal by Heather Boyd
One point in favour of this story was that the characters were further down the class scale and the main male character was a banker as opposed to the customary lord or duke. Unfortunately, I didn’t find him very attractive as the love interest. In addition to this, there were too many continuity errors and the secondary characters, who were quite important in tying up the plot, were underdeveloped.
The Duelist’s Seduction by Lauren Smith
This story was based on a ridiculous premise, which made it hard to invest myself fully in it. Further to this, the quality of the writing was not of the highest standard. Nevertheless, where romance is involved I always want to find out exactly how the two lovers end up together and so I was interested enough to still want to read on.
The chief result of reading this collection is that, while I gave them my best shot, I have confirmed to myself that I am not a fan of reading stories in the short novella form. I don’t like to invest time and emotion in a set of characters only to have them disappear so swiftly. A full-length novel allows you to connect with characters over a longer period of time and thus makes the effort more worthwhile. As well as that, plots in shorter stories tend to be either thin or truncated due to the lack of space to develop them. Having said that, this was a good exercise in experiencing a lot of different writing styles at once and there were admittedly a number of swoon-worthy moments across the box set. 🙂