Confessions of a Secret Admirer.
Waiting For You by Jennifer Ryan headlines the whole affair and gets things off to a rocky start. Taylor Larson has come home to Fallbrook, having inherited her grandmother's falling down ranch. She runs into her old boyfriend, Seth Devane, now a married man, in town. It's a hi-how-are-you-doing sort of exchange and in barges Seth's older brother Grant who essentially escorts Taylor to her car warning her to stay away from Seth, whose marriage is a little bumpy at the moment. Taylor is pretty pissed about this, given that her and Seth are "just friends" and it's really Grant who she has always had a thing for. Grant eventually realizes he's a jackass, and goes about woo'ing her until we get to our happy ending.
Ever read a story and feel like you should already know who all the players are? That's how this one read. Like the author dunked me in the middle of a Giant Series Ocean and "assumed" I already knew what was going on. So I went investigating and turns out this is actually a prequel novella, with the first book in the McBride series coming out until March! Dude, nobody has any knowledge of this series yet, and already with the first novella I'm flummoxed by this feeling like I'm supposed to know what the hell is going on before the story even starts. It left me not giving a damn who these people were, what was going to happen to them, and why am I bothering with this story again? None of it worked for me.
Grade = D
Sweet Fortune by Candis Terry finds our heroine, Sarah Randall, moving to Sweet, Texas after her career washes out in Los Angeles. Tired of being overlooked, she decides to play secret admirer to hunky town cop, Brady Bennett. Armed with advice from her well-meaning friends, and a few well-placed anonymous gifts for Brady to find, she starts putting on the full court press.
Terry has an easy, breezy writing style that is quite charming and for readers who cannot get enough of the whole small-town-Texas-thing, this is a series that may be worth investigating. This novella is smack-dab in the middle of a series, but it was like night-and-day compared to the Ryan story. I had no problems keeping up, but.....the more I think about it, the more I am increasingly annoyed how every other woman in this story who wasn't 1) the heroine or 2) a former heroine was portrayed. We have 1) the overly aggressive real estate agent who is about as subtle as a 13-year-old who bathed in Axe body spray 2) the aggressive town dominatrix who the hero thinks is the one leaving him gifts and 3) the single Mom the hero sees at the local bar, and gee he might want to stop by sometime soon just to make sure her kids are being well taken care of.
Here's a thought asshole - MAYBE SHE GOT A GODDAMN BABYSITTER!!!
Ugh. I did like the writing style, but other than that? Well, there is a moment when the town dominatrix tells the hero to "get over himself." Which just goes to show that 1) all Texas small towns need a dominatrix and 2) we need more dominatrix romance heroines.
Side note: This story opens with the heroine enjoying a "crisp" autumn day in L.A. Authors, we don't "do" autumn in SoCal. You know what September and October are like here? Try 100+ degrees in the shade. Oh, and usually half the state is burning down. Hey, that's it! Maybe the author meant "crisp" as in "everything is burning to a...."
Grade = C-
Major League Crush by Jennifer Seasons is the best story of the lot, assuming you can get past the dialogue. The heroine is a nerdy girl and creator of a very popular comic strip. Her comic alter ego is obsessed with a baseball player who lives across the hall from her. You guessed it, our heroine, Roberta "Bertie" Cogswell, lives across the hall from a baseball player who she has been secretly crushing on for years. Until one morning she runs into Drake Paulson in the hallway and they decide to attend a Valentine's Day party another tenant in the building is hosting.
This was another story where I really enjoyed the writing style. Bertie is funny and charming, in an awkward sort of way. The problem here is the hero, who has the deductive reasoning skills of a rock. Then there's the fact that he talks like no man under the age of 85. He actually calls Bertie "girlie." Seriously, "girlie." Oh, and my personal favorite, "little mouse."
Just shoot me now.
85-year-old men who pull their pants up to their chins and make annoying sucking noises because their dentures don't fit right say "girlie." Not hunky baseball player romance heroes.
But there's a bright side. Once the painfully obvious dawns on Drake, he goes about woo'ing Bertie in a very sweet fashion.
Grade = C+
So what I am left with is an anthology that breaks the norm for me. It's usually one dreadful story, one OK story, and one story I really, really liked. Here it's: didn't like at all, would have been OK if my inner feminist wasn't so offended and OK if you can tolerate a hero who talks like my long-dead grandfather. Sometimes trying something new ain't for sissies.
Overall Grade = D+