May 27, 2012
Oh, the different levels of annoyance!
An anthology. Well, yes we all know I keep reading anthologies and keep getting annoyed. However, Rules of Engagement just may get a special award for pushing my irritation button.
Usually, when one buys an anthology there is one author in the group who is the reason for the purchase. In this case it was Kasey Michaels. As an added bonus there were stories by Stephanie Laurens and Delilah Marvelle.
Well, I was in for a surprise because I hadn't read anything about this book before hand and with a Nook, reading the back blurbs while standing in a book aisle is no longer an option.
Annoyance number one. Stephanie Laurens. Ms. Laurens used to be an auto-buy author, but after years of her novels being populated by dominating, he-who-knows all, his opinion is the only one that counts men - yes, I'm talking about Laurens tyrant heroes - her alpha guys who run over the heroines with their giant sized boots. So, I eventually quit buying her books and gave up, hoping that she (Ms. Laurens) would create a heroine who would kick the hero in his giant package. So, when I purchased Rules of Engagement, it was with the expectation of reading another despot hero but being part of a anthology I just figured it would be short and maybe Ms. Lauren had changed in the preceding years.
Well, Jason (our hero) is a standard control freak hero. He was so annoying as he walked all over our heroine - in fact there might not have been a heroine. So nothing new. And, do you know why it was nothing new? Because it was a reprint of a 1995 full length story.
Which leads me to annoyance number two. While I was struggling, slogging and skipping over all the non-communication between the hero and heroine in The Reason for Marriage, I noticed that I was on page 200 and the ending of the story was no where in sight. Please when will this story end? By my Nook calculation there were 326 pages, so I began to doubt I was reading an anthology. I had to check to make sure. Yes, there was Ms. Michaels' and Ms. Marvelle's names. Those lucky authors were allotted five chapters each.
Somehow, I felt I had received the royal shaft. And, not the good kind.
What saved this anthology was Kasey Michaels' contribution, The Wedding Party. Not only is it a short story (and I do mean short), it also happens to be a prequel to her Redgrave siblings' series. There seems to be four very strong-willed characters, Gideon, Valentine, Maximillian and Kate. And, they are coming to a store near you soon. However, this story was about Bailey and Alana, one of the cutest gosh-golly couples I've read in a long time. They are also very young and both very innocent. It was a very charming story, I only wish it had been longer.
Unlaced by Delilah Marvelle is also allotted five chapters. This story started out great...it was about an older couple in their forties and I found them to be very interesting. However, somewhere along the way it disintegrated into a stupid misunderstanding and along with that was a distracting secondary story. Given the time constraints of Unlaced, there just wasn't enough space for any true character development of the secondary plot-line. So, I think it was a mistake to squeeze them in and if I had been asked, I would have recommended Ms. Marvelle just focus on Mark and Magdalene. They were great characters or they could have been.
So what do I think about Rules of Engagement? I do not mind publishing companies using anthologies to introduce new authors or new series. I don't even mind the reprint of old stories - doing that gives an author a chance to find a whole new audience. I also enjoy finding new authors when I read anthologies and I am enjoying the recent trend of series' introductions in these books. However in this particular case, the introduction of Ms. Laurens' l-o-n-g long story in this anthology diminished the creative possibilities of the other two authors. All three authors are gifted, and I'm sure that Ms. Laurens has a short story laying around somewhere; I just wish it had been used.
Reason for Marriage by Stephanie Laurens- 14 chapters, Nook numbering 228 pages out of 326. Time/place: Regency England, sensuality rating: Hot. Rating D
The Wedding Party by Kasey Michaels - 5 chapters plus an epilogue. Nook numbering 46 out of 326 pages. Time/place: Regency England, sensuality rating: Hot. Rating B
Unlaced by Delilah Marvelle - A prologue plus 5 chapters. Nook numbering 45 pages out of 326. Time/place Regency England, sensuality rating, Hot. Rating B-