Saturday, October 31, 2009

Northern Roses and Southern Belles

Six romance authors provide romance stories set during the United States Civil War.

Angel of My Dreams by Susan Macatee - I'm not a fan of the paranormal, but if you like this kind of thing, Macatee writes it well. Kyle, a civil war reenactor, is in the doldrums after his long-time girlfriend dumps him. An encounter on the "battlefield" with a nurse named Josie turns his life upside down. No one else seems to see her, though, and he wonders if he is losing his mind. Hypnosis and regression, as well as dreams, tell the story of Josie's romance with a Civil War soldier. Is Kyle being visited by a ghost? And if so, how can they ever be together?

No Decorum by MaryAnn Webber - The author creates a likable hero and heroine in Randolph and Juliet, but I'd have wished for a little more decorum here. Although free-spirited, the daughter of a pastor ought to show more respect for the "house of God," even if in reality that house is His people and not a physical building. That aside, Webber shows truth in how war both brings people together and also forces them apart, revealing the emotional heartache of separation and uncertainty.

Are You Going to the Dance? by Jeanmarie Hamilton - Again, we have likable characters in Lexie and Clayton, though I found the sexy front porch scene gratuitous. Lexie is a capable woman whose friendship with the Lipan Apache and distrust of Clayton's life-long friend, Al, causes conflict between her and the man of her dreams. When an Indian is injured by renegades, Lexie risks everything to rescue and care for him in secret. She yearns to trust Clay, especially when he makes it clear that he has serious romantic intentions toward her, but can she trust him with this?

The Colonial and the Cottontail by Jennifer Ross - This is my favourite story in the book and the only one with a Canadian connection. When Cole and the Confederate rebels rob the St Albans Bank, it's a short ride across the Canadian border to relative safety. After going their separate ways before a planned rendezvous, Cole learns that thirteen of his compatriots have been captured and realizes he's on his own in the British territory. A chance encounter with widow, Becca Taylor, and her son Thomas, provide him with the perfect cover while he tries to figure out how to help his imprisoned cohorts. Soon, however, he comes to care for the pair. Which must he follow - heart or duty? Ross has created well-developed characters and a fascinating plot line.

In the Shadows by Isabel Roman - This story tells the tale of Marion, a Union spy working in the south. Complicating matters is her attraction to Jack, a blockade-running southerner. Even though their feelings are mutual, she wonders what he'll do when he catches her eavesdropping on her aunt's neighbours as they make plans to kidnap key Union leaders. Will he protect or betray her? Roman, who tends to write more erotic material, "tried to add in a good hot sex scene, but it didn't fit with the story." That's fine with me - this well-written story was hot enough in spots, and it's more sexy not to reveal everything and allow the reader's imagination to take over.

Long Way Home by Caroline Clemmons - When Parmelia Bailey steals one of her own horses from the Union soldiers, she never expects to run into Darrick McDonald, the man who left town with her heart a few years earlier. Seems like Darrick's joined with the Yankees, while her brother Matt fights for the Confederates. Jeff Lawson, a dangerous renegade whose proposal Parmelia rejected, is also on the loose and threatening to harm the local townspeople. Parmelia is a strong and brave young woman, but she can't thwart him on her own, and she's too angry with Darrick to trust him or seek his help. Then Lawson and his men break into the Bailey home and kidnap Parmelia and her future sister-in-law. How can they escape without the aid of a rescuer? Clemmons has penned my second favourite story in this anthology, drawing likable characters and creating an exciting plot that finishes the collection on the right note.

For readers of historical romance who are not averse to the occasional erotic moment.

1 comment:

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for your kind review. I also especially enjoyed Jennifer Ross' novella because it sheds a new aspect on the Civil War. How many people know "our" war went into Canada? I enjoyed reading all the stories, and enjoyed writing mine, LONG WAY HOME. We started this anthology with a "what if we did this" and it turned out to be fun as well as a satisfying anthology.