THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Eloisa James, Victoria Alexander, Liz Carlyle, . . Avon, $6.99 (371pp) ISBN 978-0-06-054026-5
Four of the brightest historical romance authors writing today serve up stories of lovers reunited in this somewhat patchy collection of Regencies. As the title suggests, all four of the novellas focus on couples who have broken up for some reason or another—usually due to a minor misunderstanding, scheming parents or a simple failure to say "I love you"—but who are given a second chance at love. Unfortunately, this premise proves too limiting, as the formulaic offerings tend to meld in the reader's mind. Alexander's "The Trouble with Charlotte" and Carlyle's "Much Ado About Twelfth Night" are both predictable confections full of stock characters who don't leave much of an impression. Maxwell's "Nightingale," meanwhile, is notable for its high sensuality quotient, but it's burdened by an excess of contrived plot twists. The standout is James's "A Fool Again." In her nimble prose, James spins a sweet, playful tale of a young widow whose long-lost betrothed returns to London after seven years to seduce and, this time, marry her. All in all, while this collection doesn't showcase the authors at their best, it contains some serviceable, pleasingly sensual tales.
Reviewed on: 10/25/2004