What happens when four romance authors get together to write an anthology and raise money for a good cause at the same time? Readers are treated to Three Weddings and a Murder, a collection of four short stories from Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle, Courtney Milan and Carey Baldwin. These authoresses created this limited-edition anthology to help raise funds for their Avon Walk for Breast Cancer team. All four will be participating in the Santa Barbara walk in September.
Overall, Three Weddings and a Murder is delightful and fun, a quick and enjoyable read – especially if you are avid fans of Dare and Milan, like I am. That’s probably why my two favorite stories were the ones Dare and Milan wrote.
In “The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright,” Miss Eliza Cade is forced to watch from the sidelines as her older sisters enjoy the best of society, since she is not allowed “out” in society – thanks to a silly prank from years ago – until all three of her sisters are married. Despite her social limitations, Eliza still manages to get into trouble again and again with the titular Mr. Wright. Neither particularly likes the other, but that doesn’t stop their attraction from growing. Like her novels, Tessa Dare’s story is filled with humor and heart and Dare makes the most of her limited length to tell a full and complete story. The development of Eliza and Harry’s relationship was believable and nicely paced.
In “The Lady Always Wins,” railway magnate Simon Davenant has just three days to win back his childhood love before he is ruined financially. This time, he’s determined to do whatever it takes to ensnare Virginia Croswell, even if it means losing her heart forever. But it’s been seven years since Simon and Ginny were last together and Simon’s about to discover that nothing can stand in the way of what a lady wants – not even him. Once more, Courtney Milan demonstrates her remarkable talent with a nuanced story that presents a little-seen side of historical romances, that of the up-and-coming merchant middle class. The twists and turns the story takes will make readers smile as they figure out what Simon is only beginning to learn.
The two remaining stories, Leigh LaValle’s “The Misbehaving Marquess” and Carey Baldwin’s “Solomon’s Wisdom,” are not as strong as the other two, but they certainly have potential. LaValle’s historical romance between a long-estranged husband and wife lacks the character development of Dare and Milan’s stories, but still manages to bring new life to a familiar plot device. Baldwin’s story is the only contemporary and therefore it felt a bit awkward and out of place among the historical romances. The fast-paced plot tried to cram too much story into a short length, making it seem over the top. But she still managed to surprise me with a few unexpected revelations, so I’d be interested to see what she can do with a full-length novel.
If you’re a fan of Tessa Dare and/or Courtney Milan, I’d definitely recommend Three Weddings and a Murder. It’s a great collection of stories to read at the beach or by the pool and the proceeds go to a great cause. Easiest $3 you’ll spend this summer.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]