cover image Ask Me Why

Ask Me Why

Jodi Thomas, Marie Force, Virginia Kantra, and Shirley Jump. Jove, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-0-515-15538-9

Each of the four authors brings something uniquely touching to this collection of contemporary romantic novellas, all of which have taking a dare as the central impetus to love, from the sweet stirrings of rekindled affections to the nervous bliss of a wedding day. Though it’s a bit of a slow start to the collection, “Midnight Bet” is tinged with suspense as two parallel romantic story lines return readers to Thomas’s popular setting of Harmony, Tex., where love is found in unexpected places. This nicely leads to Force’s sappy “You’ll Be Mine,” a slightly spicy, wholly joyful wedding in the wilds of Butler, Vt., that blends families and friendships with heartwarming humor. Jump’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” asks what happens when a longtime friendship between two colleagues suddenly blossoms into more. In Kantra’s excellent and emotional “Carolina Heart,” tied to her series set in Dare Island, N.C., a single mother with a history of heartbreak dares to take a chance on love with her high school crush. The authors’ styles are distinct, and the novellas complement each other, all with completely satisfying happy endings. (July)