Monday, August 6, 2012

All For A Good Cause: THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, an anthology

Lucky me, a while back I won a copy of this fabulous anthology with no expectations of a review but how can I not review this lovely collection of wonderful novellas? Impossible, I say, impossible. I must spread the word.

Also, I should mention that there's something very special about this anthology - all profits from this limited-time digital anthology will be donated to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. So for the cost of this lovely anthology, you'll be contributing to a good cause and getting a great collection of reading in return. Since I was given this anthology as a gift, I'd like to give back to this wonderful cause by purchasing an ecopy and giving it to one lucky commenter, so stick around to the end for details. : )

The first story in the anthology is by the winner of the 2012 RITA Award for Regency Historical Romance for A NIGHT TO SURRENDER. The wonderful, Tessa Dare:


Miss Eliza Cade is a lady in waiting. And waiting. Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, she's not allowed "out" in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she's trying to be good, she keeps bumping elbows--and more distressingly, lips--with notorious rake Harry Wright. Every moment she spends with him, she risks complete ruin. The sensual passions he stirs in her are so wrong...but Eliza just can't resist Mr. Wright.

Normally with a novella you get a short expanse of time because of the size constraint but Tessa easily took us through years. Eliza Cade is precocious and incorrigible. She's looking for her time in the light - her Season. Standing in her way, three sisters - one already married and the other two nowhere near - and an unfortunate incident which has her father locking her down until her two older sisters are settled so that she might not ruin their chances of marriage with another - ahem - scandal. Of course, within the first pages of this novella, Eliza finds herself in a situation that if discovered would ruin her forever but she is fortunate that the man joining her in this incident has more decency than the last.

Harry Wright might be the wrong person for Eliza Cade or so he tells her but in truth, he cannot escape the memory of her. Over a serious of encounters, his attraction to this still maturing young woman is becoming harder and harder to resist. Eventually, he discovers that it's all the other men who are wrong for Miss Eliza Cade.

From the minute I began reading this delightful regency romance, I was hooked. I was hooked by the free-spirited heroine, Eliza Cade and the brash, teasing hero, Harry Wright. I caught glimpses of Jane Austen's influence amidst the characters and their relationships to each other, amidst the reactions to situations, and within the enticing and delightfully teasing banter that was the growing attraction between Eliza and Harry much as it was between Lizzie and her Mr. Darcy. My only wish regarding this story is that I wish it was full-length for when I reached the wonderful and exquisite ending, I smiled but with a tear in my eye for the characters and for me because I knew I was done. THE SCANDALOUS, DISSOLUTE, NO-GOOD MR. WRIGHT by Tessa Dare is exquisite and delightfully brilliant.

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Having awaited the return of her husband for half a decade, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, has no intention of reconciling with her misbehaving marquess. But when he insists he needs an heir—immediately—she must confront her own lingering desires. Can she protect her heart while attempting to win his once again?

Reading this wonderful novella about a very stubborn wife who isn't ready to accept the return of a wandering husband had me thinking about the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder. As we all know, absence doesn't necessarily make the heart grow fonder but in the case of Cat and Jamie, I think it did, at least enough to give them a second chance at the life they once dreamed of together.

Cat is a stubborn woman who understandable doesn't want to forgive her husband's abrupt disappearing act that has left her alone and unhappy for the past five years. Not knowing where he's gone or what may have happened to him, she has made the best of her life as a lonely wife caught in this state by a misunderstanding that caused a scandal and her husband's unwillingness to accept her excuse or forgive her her unfortunate circumstance.

Jamie has returned after a five year absence only because his heir has died and now he's in need of a new heir and Cat, his wife, is the only chance of that happening. Showing up five years after disappearing, Jamie is not exactly welcomed with open arms especially after he announces the only reason he's returned is to make sure Cat bears a child so he might have an heir.

Both unwilling to forgive the other, both wanting the other back in each other's arms, both stubborn beyond stubborn yet desiring each other just as great as when they married five years earlier. THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS by Leigh LaValle will keep you exasperated, cheering first for Cat then for Jamie and then sighing in relief when the two come together exquisitely and very romantically - a wonderful and delightful historical romance worthy of much praise. A second chance to build a life together after rescuing it from the scattered remains left by an unfortunate misunderstanding.

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Next:  THE LADY ALWAYS WINS by Courtney Milan

Railway financier Simon Davenant has waited seven years for a second chance with his childhood sweetheart and best friend. He isn’t about to let his impending financial ruin destroy the opportunity. This time, he’ll do anything he can to secure her hand in marriage—even if it means losing her heart for good.

Simon Davenant has returned to win the hand of the woman he once lost because his family disapproved. He would have married her anyway but she would have nothing of it - not only because his family didn't approve but because he would have been cut off and she would've had to live a life of poverty. Petty, you think? No, Ginny Barrett Croswell knew true poverty and she knew real love but was more afraid of being poor than losing the only man she ever loved. Never sure when Simon was playing at love or sincere, Ginny intends to win no matter what. When the truth of why she married another man comes out, Simon realizes that his own plan to marry her before he loses his fortune would be cruel and unloving. After telling her the truth the real game begins and most definitely, the lady always wins.

THE LADY ALWAYS WINS by Courtney Milan is most definitely a second chance story. Of all of the stories in this anthology, this one was probably my least favorite but that's not to say it isn't well written. I just think the characters lacked something to bring them forward to be favorites of the reader. I honestly have to say that when I sat down to write my thoughts on it, I had to look back into the story to remember their names. I enjoyed the games they played with each other and I especially enjoyed the placement of the story in a time less known to Regency readers with some history of the railroad as a background. This novella is still worth reading and as I always say, different folks - different tastes, so someone else may think this the finest story in the anthology.

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Next: SOLOMON'S WISDOM by Carey Baldwin

Bad-boy-turned-pediatrician Charlie "Drex" Drexler returns to Tangleheart, Texas hoping to reconnect with his old flame - but Anna won't cooperate, his dark past resurfaces, and his best friend's baby disappears. How will Drex and Anna mend their broken hearts while dodging bullets and racing to bring baby home safely?

We started with Regency then traveled further into the 1800's and now we are in present day with another friend turned lover second chance story that pulls in long time friends, the past and a killer - or two.  Already a huge fan of Carey Baldwin's talent in suspense I didn't expect anything else from her here and I wasn't disappointed.

Anna has never forgotten her first love, the best friend who chased every other skirt in Tangleheart but her, yet she was the only one who truly loved him. On the night she got up enough gumption to actually profess her love, a terrible thing happened that sent Charlie hurrying away from Tangleheart and her. Now he's returned and acts as if nothing has changed. He acts as if she never professed her love for him. He acts as if he never broke her heart. He acts as if they are still best friends.

Charlie had left Tangleheart to escape the pain of childhood, the disappointments that life kept throwing at him and the memory of a young girl who had apparently killed herself because he had broken up with her. He had never run away to escape Anna nor her professed love for him, or had he? He was back and he wanted to redeem himself to Anna, the girl he'd never forgotten or gotten over.

Even as Anna and Charlie attempt to get beyond the past and clear their way to capture each other's hearts, the past comes screaming back to the present and now one of their best friends is missing as well as her baby. Simone is running from something or someone. She and her baby have gone into hiding and someone is now trying to stop Anna and Charlie from finding her. Their only clues to solving what's happening lie within the past. When they happen upon the truth, it puts their lives in danger just when they realize they can clear away the walls that keep them apart.

SOLOMON'S WISDOM by Carey Baldwin is the dessert at the end of the meal in this anthology. Its complexity, its twists and turns keep you guessing right up to the moment all is revealed. First you think it's this person then this one and I even found myself pulling in folks that weren't even possible. I love a good mystery and Carey gives it to us, all the while keeping the teasing romance and second chance at love alive and steamy.

This anthology is a delight to read and also supports a wonderful cause. Nearly everyone on this planet has been affected by breast cancer in some way, either personally or by relation to a family member or friend so the purchase of a delightful few hours of entertainment is an easy thing to do to help someone else possibly get a second chance at life.

Since I did receive THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, an anthology as a gift from Carey Baldwin, I'd like to do my part by purchasing another ecopy and giving it away to one lucky commenter. I hope even if you win this copy that you will spread the word and perhaps purchase another for a family member or friend.

So what do you think about second chances in love? Have you ever experienced one or wished for one?

This GIVEAWAY is OPEN to EVERYONE!!  Remember to leave a valid email address with your comment to be entered.


One lucky entry will be chosen at random. This Giveaway will run until NOON EDT on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 so Good Luck and ...


THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, an anthology featuring works by Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle, Courtney Milan, and Carey Baldwin, available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo Books.



Beebs said...

Hi Amy

I totally agree, loved this anthology. I've already got a copy so I won't enter the contest but heartily recommend it as a great read. :)

Unknown said...

i dont know about second chances, do they work, they didnt for my cousin, no matter how hard she tried. but, my next door neighbour give her husband a second chance and he seems to be happier and more content

Jaye Shields said...

Haven't read this anthology, but I got to meet Courtney Milan at a conference and she seemed super cool. I still haven't read her though. Eek!

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Y'all!
Glad you're visiting but doesn't anyone want to win a FREE copy of this wonderful novella. I'm buying! : )

Just remember:

Comment + email address = ENTRY


jbcweiss said...

Sounds like 4 nice stories - look forward to reading it. Never gave or had a second chance at love - guess we didn't need it.
From what I hear it works for some - if changes are made - and doesn't for others if they go back to their same old, same old!

jbcweiss AT sbcglobal DOT NET

lorimeehan said...

I love anthologies and thus one sounds wonderful. And what a great cause.
I guess you could say my husband and I had s second chance. Years ago in the beginning of our relationship we went our separate ways over a disagreement but after awhile we realized our mistake. we've been together for 32 years now.

Amy Valentini said...

It's true that second chances don't always work out any better than the first time round but when it does, it's all the sweeter, don't you think?

jbcweiss, I'm glad you never needed one and Lori, I'm glad yours worked out so splendidly.

True romance - nothing beats it! <3

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
I think there are people that have good luck with a second chance, but I'm glad I didn't need one. I've been married to a good man for over 23 years.

I lost my mom (my best friend) when she was only 49 yrs old due to breast cancer. I think it's wonderful what you are doing with this book. Thank you!

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Tina,
Thank you for coming by and congrats on 23 years - that's wonderful and I'm sure your Mom is watching over you and very proud of you. I'm so very sorry for your loss. My hope is always that we will someday find a way to give everyone that second chance at life. God Bless. : )

bn100 said...

I like to read about second chances. Thanks for the giveaway.