Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Review: For Love and Honor

For Love and Honor
By Cathy Maxwell, Lynne Hinton, and Candis Terry
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: May 29, 2012

For Love and Honor is an anthology from Avon’s digital imprint that is billed as “Three military heroes . . . fighting to protect their countries, their homes, and the women they love.”

“The Bookish Miss Nelson” by Cathy Maxwell is the first story. Captain William Duroy is assigned the task of leading a small escort party to take Pippa Nelson, the daughter of the British envoy to Spain, to Lisbon where she will board a ship to carry her to safety in England. William does his best to avoid the assignment, but when his best efforts fail, he is determined to complete his task as speedily as possible so that he can rejoin Wellington’s troops before the battle begins. Pippa isn’t any happier with the situation than is the captain. Forced to leave her beloved books behind, certain that her father will expect to find her where he left her, and resentful of the restrictions imposed by her gender, she is angry and determined not to like her handsome escort. Pippa escapes when the party stops overnight at an inn. Stealing clothes from the innkeeper’s son in order to disguise herself as a boy and riding her mare Tatiana, she sets off on her own to return to the Wellington’s camp. William goes after her and finds her with little difficulty, but before he can insist they resume their trip to Lisbon, they are forced to hide from a French unit taking ammunition to the French forces that will soon be attacking Wellington and his troops. When it becomes clear that William plans to destroy the ammunition, Pippa refuses to be left behind. It takes the intelligence and daring of them both to achieve their goal, and they rescue one another and fall in love during their adventure.

“Letters from Pie Town” by Lynne Hinton consists of a series of letters from various citizens of Pie Town that will be included in a “Hometown Hero Goodie Box” that the town is sending to Raymond Twinhorse, a soldier recovering in a military hospital in Germany from wounds he received in Afghanistan. His priest, his father, his girlfriend, and others express their love for him, their pride in him, and their desire to see him return home safely. The letters also reveal details about Raymond’s history and the character of the letter writers.

The concluding story is “Home Sweet Home” by Candis Terry. Aiden Marshall has returned to Sweet, Texas, after a term of service that included a tour in Afghanistan. He and two of his best buddies enlisted in the aftermath of 9/11, but only Aiden is returning. Burdened with survivor’s guilt and grief over the loss of his friends and the forced abandonment of Renegade, a canine D'Artagnan adopted by Sweet’s three musketeers, Aiden feels that he is undeserving of the hero’s welcome the town gives him or of the life he had dreamed of with Paige Walker whom he has always loved. But Paige loves Aiden too much to give up on him. She’s always been a girl who worked a plan, and she has a plan now that, with the help of the good people of Sweet, will help heal Aiden’s wounded heart and truly bring her hero home to her.

I like anthologies, but I almost always find them uneven. This one proved no exception.

Cathy Maxwell is an author whose books I have often enjoyed, and I found William and Pippa likeable, engaging characters. Even when Pippa’s choices seemed foolhardy, I enjoyed the story, and I was delighted with the heroic roles both played. But the last part of the story moves very quickly with much telling, little showing, and little development of character or plot.  I did appreciate Maxwell’s emphasis on the role of those who wait with anxious hearts for those at war, but I wished “The Bookish Miss Nelson” were a novel so that the post-marriage section could have been as strong as the earlier part of the story.

“Letters from Pie Town” was the first thing I’ve read by Lynne Hinton, and it is too slight for me to reach any conclusion about her work. A novella, by definition, is a work of fiction, shorter than a novel and longer than a short story, with a compact and pointed plot. Hinton’s story seemed more an introduction to characters whose stories are incomplete that short fiction satisfying within itself. The hero never appears; readers learn all they know about him from bits revealed in the letters.

Candis Terry’s “Home Sweet Home” is an appealing story with the small-town characters, sizzling chemistry between hero and heroine, and makes-me-smile moments that I expected from a story with her name on it. I like Sweet, Texas, and look forward to Terry’s new trilogy that will be set there.

I received a free ARC of this book from Avon via Edelweiss, but it will be generally available to readers today at a bargain price that makes it well worth checking out. It also includes excerpts from a novel by each of the authors.

Do you like anthologies? What’s your favorite novella?


Jane said...

I do love anthologies, especially those from Brava. One of my favorite novellas is Toni Blake's Brushstrokes from the Taking Care of Business anthology.

Kathleen O said...

I like anthologies, especially if my fav authors are involved.. I have put this one on my tbr list..

Santa said...

I love anthologies. My favorite novella "I Will" by Lisa Kleypas and it appears in a Christmas anthology. I happen to adore Christmas anthologies.

irisheyes said...

I don't think I'm as fond of anthologies as most people. Probably for one of the reasons you mentioned, Janga. They always seem to be so uneven. They do however, provide a chance to sample a few authors at once. The only time I really love them is at Christmas time when all the stories center around the same theme and more often than not you find more winners than losers.

I think my favorites would be Where's My Hero and The Brides of Christmas, and of course the Christmas anthologies by Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly.

quantum said...

Like Irish, I'm not keen on anthologies. I like to write short stories but on the whole don't really enjoy reading them. The psychologists would probably have an explanation!

Thanks for the special offer alert though. It would be good to include more of those .... for the best stuff on offer of course.

Janga said...

Jane, I think I've read only one Brava anthology--Lords of Passion, which has a Maggie Robinson novella. I'll have to check out the Toni Blake story.

Janga said...

Kathleen, the anthologies I read always include at least one novella by a trusted author. More is better. I like trying new authors, but I also like being confident that my money and time are well invested.

I hope you enjoy For Love or Honor.

Janga said...

San, I remember how much you like Kleypas's "I Will." I share your enthusiasm for it and for Christmas anthologies.

Janga said...

Irish, most of my keeper anthologies are Christmas books, many of which I reread. I wish more writers would follow Mary Balogh, Mary Jo Putney, and Carla Kelly and publish a collection of their novellas. I was wishing just the other day that Edith Layton's publishers would offer a collection of her Christmas stories.

Janga said...

Q, anthologies have two big attractions for me. First, they are a low-risk way to try a new-to-me author. Second, I can read a novella in an hour or so. So anthologies are great when my reading time is limited.

I'm really looking forward to reading Three Weddings and a Murder with novellas from Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Leigh LaValle, and Carey Baldwin. It's waiting on my Kindle, but I'm snowed under with review books first.