Lisa Tawn Bergren, . . Tyndale, $9.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-8423-3580-5

Reading these three predictable inspirational romance novellas, all set in the late 19th century, guarantees a sugar buzz. The recipe is simple: two people meet; letters are penned; the correspondents fall in love, overcome hardship and with God's guidance live happily ever after. The strongest writing is Bergren's in Until the Shadows Flee. Dr. Samuel Johnson is haunted by his past as he seeks solace in taking over the Seattle medical offices of the late Dr. Ari Nada. As he works side by side with Nada's beautiful widow, Charissa, an accomplished nurse, Johnson pens Scripture verses to her and wins her affections. In Pratt's trite novella Dear Love, Violet Milton plans her wedding right down to the flowers and the date, but neglects to choose a groom. She falls in love with a mysterious letter writer, who turns out to be the stable manager (who is—surprise!—actually a Scottish nobleman). Characters repeatedly flush, their faces grow hot, eyes mist or flash, emotions rise, hearts leap, etc. Finally, Cote's mediocre contribution, For Varina's Heart, describes how Varina Schiffler, an immigrant Slavic farm girl, enters a marriage of convenience and, after an exchange of letters, finds true love. Christian romance fans who like formulaic, happy endings will be diverted by this syrupy trio; other readers will find the collection empty calories in comparison with more substantial offerings in the much-improved buffet of Christian romance. (Jan.)