Reviewed by: Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
This romance collection is from the Romance Writers Organization of South Africa and all proceeds go to the Athol Williams Read to Rise Literacy Charity and the ROSA Scholarship Fund.
The Fire Inside: Romy Sommer
Rich, handsome TV personality Ryan Morgan is attending a stag party for his friend. He was looking forward to a fun night, but it turned out to be more than he expected when he discovered that one of the firefighters at the party was Sam Redfern, a woman who set off all his bells. Sam makes no attempt at being girlie and is convinced any relationship only ends with heartache, evidenced by the fact that her own mother walked out one day and never returned. Ryan sees what is inside of Sam something others don’t, but can he break down the walls she has built around herself? Can he and win the only woman that has made him consider settling down, the only woman who doesn’t respond to his fame and fortune?
A Love Lost: Alissa Baxter
Jane is in her late twenties and unmarried. At a cousin’s wedding she is greeted by the man she gave her heart to when she was eighteen. Jane fell in love with Miles and they planned a life together, but one day he disappeared. He purchased a commission in a cavalry regiment and left without so much as a goodbye. Seeing him again brought back all kinds of painful memories. For some reason, he didn’t seem to show any signs of remorse and spoke to her as if nothing ever happened. The reason for his disappearance is revealed—but can their love be rekindled?
Picture Perfect: Sophia Karlson
Hayley is a sought after photographer. In addition to offering to be a bridesmaid for her friend, she also agrees to be the photographer. Three months ago, Hayley gave birth to her daughter; a child conceived when she had a quickie at another friend’s wedding. Now feeling like a beached whale, hoping her breasts don’t start to flow due to the now tight maid of honor dress she is wearing, she does her job in spite of her discomfort. Since her daughter’s birth, she has felt lost, her husband and she don’t seem to be able to connect with each other. The once happy, lively Hayley is nowhere to be found. Hayley, like so many women after giving birth, looks in the mirror and sees a stranger. Can she find herself and reconnect with her husband who she has always loved and still does?
Priest: Suzanne Jefferies
Billy Jorge has left the church and is no longer a priest. His heart belongs to the woman he loves, Max. He wants a future and happiness with her, but still feels a pull for the church. The church was where he was able to lay his demons to rest, a place where helping people gave him a feeling of pride and purpose, and a place he still returns on a daily basis. He admits to his love of the church as well as his love of Max. When he was refused permission to marry in church, he felt lost. His brother keeps telling him that “once a priest always a priest” and he is beginning to believe it. He has put off their wedding until a visit to the park and a meeting would change everything for him.
Promises of Forever: Natasha Anders
Juniper Taylor and her husband are attending the wedding of her sister-in-law. It is being held in a small, quaint hotel forcing June and Lincoln to share a room and a bed when they have been estranged for six months. June is convinced there is no hope for their marriage after her last miscarriage and wants a divorce. Lincoln does not agree and is unwilling to let the subject go without a thorough discussion. I know that miscarriages can be traumatic and yet I have little sympathy for women who just let it destroy them and give up, I say that after suffering from two and losing a six day old, but I never gave up and now have three sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. If nothing else I hope that this review will encourage women to keep trying until they are told there is no hope. June is willing to give up her marriage because she feels inadequate which is totally not true and whether she and Lincoln can come to some kind of understanding is not for me to reveal.
Under the Highland Sky: Tanya Wilde
1792 is a time when marriages were arranged by parents. That is what happened to Dianna O’Donnell when she was an infant and her father made a marriage commitment with a best friend’s son. Alasdair Murray, the fourth Duke of Castleworth was Dianna’s fiancé. Two weeks before the wedding, he told her he wasn’t ready to marry her and wasn’t sure that he ever would be. Hurt and embarrassed, Dianna decided to end the engagement without knowing why Alasdair said what he said to her, not knowing that his statement came after a statement he heard her speak to another man. These are two people who need to communicate, but it was a time when that wasn’t readily done between a man and woman. If they did finally communicate and whether they finally revealed their true feelings is not something I will reveal.
Houdini’s Hack: Sharonlee Holder
Melissa (Lissa) St. John is the manager of a branch of “Baked Expectations” and had no idea that a simple delivery would change her life. Delivering cupcakes to a bride to be and her party she was met by a man holding an axe and yelling at her when she explained why she was there he told her to pull over and she began to unpack the van, that was when Houdini, a pitbull, who looked like he was put through a blender and came out all ground up came running to the van and damaged a lot of the boxes of cupcakes. The man with the axe recognized Lissa immediately since she was the girl he stood up at their high school prom and a girl who knew who he really was. Fortunately, with his sunglasses on Lissa did not see who he was until once again Houdini knocked the glasses off his face. He was Wade to her and he whispered to her to keep his name a secret. This was the man who broke her heart, who gave her first kiss and now he was telling her to keep who he is a secret. What was he involved in? Who Hack works for, why he stood her up at the prom and whether they could reconnect since there was no doubt they still had feelings for each other is not for me to say.
Melisende and the Star Warrior: Marie Dry
Another wonderful story about Zygrins, the conquerors who land on a planet and conquer it until 2478 when they were about to take over Earth and the leader took an Earth woman as his breeder, fell in love and promised to do no harm. With a new weapon, they were able to travel back in time and change events and in France 1065. Zain waited to finally meet his breeder whom he stole from, the man she was on her way to wed. Melisende was a woman considered to be too tall, took a bath every day and was able to read and question things around her. Although her betrothed was less than happy about the arrangement, it was in his best interest to accept. He didn’t fight very hard when Zain took Melisende for his own. For the first time in her life she was with someone who appreciated her bathing daily, enjoyed her constant questioning and who brought her all the reading material he could. In spite of his looks and appearance of a demon she grew to enjoy his company. I loved this story as much as I enjoyed all the other books I have read from Ms. Dry.
Cut the Cake: Ashleigh Giannoccaro
Dominic is a cop who the Callegaris family has been trying to switch alliances, but he has been able to stay true to himself. At the wedding of his cousin to Rain Callegaris’ sister, he seduced Val the bride’s twin in the hopes of getting his foot in the door and finally bringing an end to the Callegaris family. Unfortunately, his attempt was a perfect example of what can go wrong. Rain knew exactly what he was up to and his feelings for Val went much deeper than he expected, especially when the unexpected happened. This story is part of a series and it is a series I will be reading to follow the story of the Callegaris family and Val and Dominic. Val lost the love of her life, killed by her brother and since then her loyalty to the family and her brother is hanging by a thread. Is Dominic the one who can break it?
Occupied: Jo Watson
Amantha without an “S” something she has been teased about her entire life is at her sister’s wedding and finds herself sitting next to the very man she hates, Jack Emory. Five years ago, she and Jack have a one night stand which she believed would be the beginning of a relationship until he disappeared. Since they were children Jack was the bully that tortured her from grade school through college, but her hate is a love/hate feeling because she can’t get him out of her mind especially since he is an actor and appears everywhere. When Amantha trips and cuts herself it is Jack to the rescue even against her pitiful attempts to stop him. Once again they are at each other’s throats but this time it is only to find themselves locked in a bathroom with no way out. Stubborn and refusing to stay in the same room as Jack she attempts to get through a small window, and yes she gets stuck all the while yelling that she isn’t stuck. Finally, together after five years and alone they finally have the opportunity to find out what happened all those years ago and who is to blame, and can it be rectified.
I have to admit that I truly enjoyed all the stories in this anthology something that doesn’t happen very often when you consider there are ten stories by ten different authors and usually there are at least one or two I don’t totally love, not the case with this book that I highly recommend to anyone who loves romance and who at the same time is contributing to two worthwhile charities.