Monday, 24 February 2014

Review: It Happened One Night

Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern
Avon (2008)
Historical romance

Once upon a time, four superstar storytellers—New York Times bestselling authors Stephanie Laurens and Mary Balogh, along with Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern—came up with a delicious idea. What if they each wrote a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society’s constraints? What would happen? And how long would it take for her to give in to desire? 
In these four amazing tales, four heroines will come face-to-face with the men who got away . . . only to discover that, instead of anger, there is still a passionate connection that cannot be denied. And while each of their lives is quite different, and their pasts utterly unique, they will all make a common discovery—that one night can change everything . . . forever.

The Tag Line:

Unfortunately there wasn’t one as they had to provide room for the names of all four authors (two in BIG font, two in less than font – hierarchical much?) I like to think it could have been 'it happened one night....four times!'

As there are four stories I am breaking them down into them, instead of my normal Heroine / Hero / Steam. It’s a fascinating idea – that four historical romance writers each tackle the same core story point and see how they turn out. There has long been the story of there not being an original ideas any more but Balogh theorised it was all in the execution. She’s proven that delivery is everything. (I want AND need to do this with a YA collection...seriously, who will let me do this?  Publishers...?)

Each author was asked to write a novella sharing the same plot: “A man and a woman, who have neither seen nor heard from each other in ten years, meet again when they find themselves staying at the same inn for a twenty-four hour period”. The results were remarkably different.

The Fall of the Rogue Gerrard (Stephanie Laurens)

Childhood friends. One kiss as teen / young adult. A lot of carousing and spinsterising (you know what I mean) for ten years and then Ro and Lydia meet again. Lydia’s on a mission to save her bluestocking sister from ruin by retrieving a letter. Ro ably assists her. Not a huge amount of story but the characters make an impression

Spellbound (Mary Balogh)

Robert Kemp was once a lowly secretary in love with his boss’ daughter, Nora. They ran away to Scotland, married and then were summarily separated. Ten years have changed their circumstances dramatically and a day at the Wimbury fair together answers some questions and sweetly wraps the twosome up in loveliness. Quite enjoyable if not a little underdone.

Only You (Jacquie D’Alessandro)

Ethan Baxter was the lowly stable boy. Cassandra, the lord’s daughter. Best friends since childhood, he loved her but knew it could never be. Ten years later, her husband now deceased and Ethan world-weary, they reconnect. My favourite of the bunch, a real sense of friendship and connection between the two leads as well as a heaped spoon of glorious longing. I was cheering them on the entire read.

From This Moment On (Candice Hern)

A little untraditional in that the two leads were lovers as teenagers meeting on and off over twenty-five years. She thought he was dead, he thought she was a harlot (courtesan, get it right Sam!) and their hurt feelings spurned them both onto elevated status. As sweethearts they had nothing, were seen to be nothing. Now in their middle age years they are successful. Much has passed and as they reconnect they learn that not everything has changed. Hern added some lovely tomfoolery to force the time frame but it felt heavy in exposition as they went over every one of their meetings in regards to their feelings and intentions.

A fun read with a fun take on the idea that romance is predictable and formulaic.

1 comment:

Mary @ BookSwarm said...

Sometimes, collections like this work for me and sometimes not. Romance is usually not the most exciting because I want more -- more passion, more time with the MCs.