cover image You’re Still the One

You’re Still the One

Janet Dailey, Cathy Lamb, Mary Carter, and Elizabeth Bass. Kensington/Zebra, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-1-4201-2419-4

This unrewarding collection of “lost love” contemporary romance novellas manages to depress more than excite. Lamb’s “The Apple Orchard,” about a traumatized woman coming to terms with her past so she can reunite with an old flame, has a compelling voice but ignores the uncomfortable similarities between the heroine’s abusive father and her love interest. Bass’s “Romeo & Juliet... and Jane,” in which high-school opposites drift back together after years apart, shows the charm of small-town life but squanders the romance on a self-absorbed hero who doesn’t really know the veterinarian heroine. Dailey’s “The Devil and Mr. Chocolate” features a lightweight rekindling of shallow feelings between a repellent art dealer and her artist ex-husband. The best by far is Carter’s “A Kiss Before Midnight,” a charming story of magic and music in New Orleans, but even this fun and funny read has the same disturbing sexual consent issues that sour the rest of the collection. (Mar.)