5 Stars Out Of 5
Nine wonderfully developed stories
February 17, 2014
[This will be released on March 1, 2014]
This anthology, released by Barbour Publishing, is a collection of nine historical romance novellas from the Isles of Britain. Each novella is a fully developed tale with characters we grow to love. All the authors wrote their piece using the nuance of language of the period, richly researched in such a manner that their costume, mannerisms, circumstances and surroundings create a credible world the reader could become immersed in. I enjoyed reading every story in this collection.
A collection such as this allows the reader to become acquainted with authors with varying writing styles. For example, Julie Stengl wrote two of the stories: Fresh Highland Heir and Woman of Valor. The latter, a tale of the 1600's, tells us about a timid lass who has had to travel across the country to become governess to the three motherless children of a cousin Helen has never met. She meets this cousin's prideful brother-in-law who like her has met misfortune and been displaced from his home. She falls in love with this horsemaster though their future is uncertain.
Fresh Highland Heir is the second of a loosely bound trilogy that's setting is in the highlands of Scotland. Each story of the trilogy centers around Kennerith Castle, though the tales are separated by centuries. As one would expect, there is conflict between clans MacMurray and Galbraith. Both lay claim to the castle and its surrounding lands. The current Earl, a Galbraith, hires Allen Croft (secretly a MacMurray) as bodyguard for his daughter Celeste, who has been threatened. The complex plot keeps the reader guessing who is on which side. The love story between Allen and Celeste that comes out of this situation is heartwarming.
Pamela Marie Griffin wrote Moonlight Masquerade and English Tea and Bagpipes. The first tale involves a mystery and double identity, two men with hidden agendas, while Letitia, a Spanish beauty, must submit to the indignity of her cousin's airs until the final moments when the truth of all involved is revealed. English Tea and Bagpipes is the third story of the trilogy I mentioned above. Fiona is a fiery Highland maiden whose entire life has been lived in Kennerith Castle. Her stiff independent spirit creates friction when she learns her sister has run off to marry an Englishman. Fiona reluctantly teams up with the Englishman's brother, Dr. Alex Spencer, to try to stop the marriage. Her antagonism clashes with the doctor's stubborn will. There's never a dull moment in this quest.
Pamela Hancock Murray wrote A Duplicitious Facade and Fayre Rose. Fayre Rose is the first story in the loosely knit trilogy in which Fayre, a surf's daughter, is taken from her father when he could not pay his taxes, to Kennerith Castle to grow a certain rose for their gardens. Thus began the legend of the MacMurray roses which played a part in the remaining stories of the trilogy.
Other stories of this anthology include Love's Unmasking by Bonnie Blythe, A Treasure Worth Keeping by Kelly Eileen Hake, and The Apple of His Eye by Gayle Gaymar Martin. I would be hard pressed to name a favorite read among all these fabulous choices. But this final selection, Apple of His Eye, is among the more memorable for me because it is based on the author's own family history. I've always loved it when a family story becomes a tale that sounds like a fairy tale. An ingenious and hardworking young orchardist overcomes the social system of the times when his family cider press business becomes successful and he wins the hand of the woman he loves, a daughter of a nobleman.
I highly recommend this collection. It is one of the best anthologies I have read in a long time. I will be reading this one many times over; each story is approximately sixty pages long, just long enough for a quick afternoon or evening break. [Note: most of these stories were previously published.]
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Barbour Publishing, Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 FR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."