Always A Bride
by Betty Brooks, Linda Cook, and Denise Daniels; historical (1999)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6222-2


Always A Bride is an romance anthology about marriage and love. That is probably the most redundant statement in the world. Anyway, it starts from very good to average to a dip of my face into a septic tank.

Betty Brooks' Mail Order Love will not be winning innovation awards anywhere, but it is a very good read. Desperate Abigail Carpenter decides to be a mail order bride to flee bad circumstances in her life. Her hubby-to-be is one Bush Tanner, but Bush is out of town and his friend Caleb Montgomery welcomes her to town instead. What else? The obligatory Mountaintop Log Holiday Inn stint and they fall in love. The end.

Abby is a smart heroine who tries to make the best of things, Caleb is a scarred fellow who just wants a simple life, and watching these two shyly bumble and dodder around each other - she's to be married to Bush, after all, and both never forget that - is charming.

Bush isn't the mad, psycho evil guy either.

All in all, a nice warm romance.

Linda Cook's The Widow Thief has a heroine who is rather silly but that's okay - she's out of her depths, poor Constance de Lanmartin. The hero Guyon de Burgh, however, is another story.

Connie is shocked when her prized jewel box is stolen. The box is used by the monastery where Connie places the box for safekeeping to store some bones of a saint. The case and the bones are taken by Guy and his entourage of fake priests for his English liege. Connie walks to him and demands the box back. See, she needs the box and the rest of her money to bargain for her freedom from her lord. She doesn't want to be married again.

Guy points out that there is no way she will be allowed to remain unmarried, and next thing you know, she and he are going on a road trip together. I like Connie, but I loathe Guy, who keeps stringing Connie along with false promises. When Connie takes her to task, he balks in self-righteousness. Pig.

A well-written migraine, this one.

Wedlocked by Denise Daniels... oh my God. The problem is evident when the 17-year old brother of the hero Luke Winston acts with more dignity and maturity than Luke.

The premise makes me quite ill too. Luke's mother says she is dying, so she demands that Luke and Luke's old flame (and daughter of Evil Bitch Mother's friend) Fancie Parlay marry. I call her Evil Bitch Mother because if you ask me, only a particularly cruel woman would demand that her kids do one last thing that they hatehatehate just to placate her. And she says she loves them? My bum.

Luke, oh Luke. Apparently Fancie broke his heart a year ago, blah blah misunderstanding blah blah, and when she tries a reconciliation, he stomps his feet and acts just like a bratty school girl. His behavior is so childish and irritating that it's like... I don't know what it's like, seriously. This brat's solution to his problems is to lash out and start fights with his younger brother and then pout and whine when Mommy pulls his ear.

Wait, is there anywhere in this story that actually says that Luke is the elder brother and not the 13-year old younger brother? Shall I check... nah. I can't take the migraine.

Hmmm, how should I rate this one? It is a complete downhill ride all the way, from the top of Never Neverland right into the cess pit. Since one story is blah and the other one painfully bad, the sole good story here by Betty Brooks can't save this anthology from mediocrity.

Here you go - this anthology gets a 57.


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