Bride By Arrangement
by Mary Jo Putney, Merline Lovelace, and Gayle Wilson; historical (2000)
Harlequin, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-83437-3

By the way, the novella by Mary Jo Putney, The Wedding Of The Century isn't new, it's a 1994 novella originally found in the anthology Promised Brides. The other two are new, but this one isn't. And when I discover a copy of Promised Brides in the caverns of my TBR mountain, let's just say things get a bit loud. No wonder the Putney novella seems so familiar.

Incidentally, The Wedding Of The Century is one I find weakest of the three. It's about a British Duke marrying an American heiress among lots of paparazzi fanfare and all, only to face problems when the said heiress meets the Duke's Evil Momma. So they all tiptoe around Evil Momma until the Final Confrontation comes, upon which the hero asks her to bug off. When Momma is bugged-off, heroine Sunny apologizes to hero Justin for not getting along well with the obviously rabid, psychotic woman.

Oh boy.

Nothing like nice people who tiptoe around nasty people to start off my day.

Merline Lovelace's Mismatched Hearts is a pretty enjoyable but rather so-so story about people falling in love while being engaged to someone else. Lucky for them, they manage to call off their impending marriages in time to see each other naked. The short length prevents this one from being anything more than a pleasant diversion during an interminable subway train ride.

But Gayle Wilson's My Darling Echo - that's a nice closure to this anthology. A blind nobleman marries a widowed lady out of convenience, but like all well-laid plans, things get out of hands when their hormones surge a-fire. This one is a well-written story that manages to pack a punch in the emotional department without resorting to cheap exploitation of sentimentality value of blindness and single motherhood. If only it's longer.

All in all though, this anthology is rather, well, forgettable.

Rating: 70

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