Under The Boardwalk
by Linda Howard, Geralyn Dawson, Jillian Hunter, Miranda Jarett, and Mariah Stewart; assorted (1999)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-02794-8

Anthologies are always risky investments. I know my friend Hildy has given up on anthologies, or buying them, that is. That cheapskate actually xeroxes her favorite anthology novellas from those anthologies she borrows from others. I have a good mind to follow her ignoble footstep myself, because this anthology is a mixed bag. Two wonderful stories, two just average, and one totally forgettable.

Okay, since this is a summer theme and it is rainy season here in Singapore, I improvised by reading this during an episode of Baywatch. Hey, there's sea in it, right? Maybe it's the lack of atmosphere, or the fact that I'm cranky now that my vacation's over, but I don't think I'll be full of glowing recommendations about this book.

First of, Blue Moon by Linda Howard. This one is very good. The wonderful cop character this side of Taming The Night from Paula Detmer-Riggs, Jackson Brody is a total hunk of a sheriff. Sexy, virile, and oh-so-masculine, I can just drool over him if it's not a dignified act for my age. He is summoned to investigate a possible blow-up between a drunkard and Delilah Jones, the witch of Old Boggy Road. All under the influence of the blue moon, which everyone knows causes weird things to happen in normal folks. Next thing you know Delilah and Jackson are stuck in her place during a storm. Oh la la, they did a lot of naughty things and a murder only spiced up things. Totally enjoyable, this one. Jackson, you are so... oh, never mind.

Jillian Hunter's Ruined is also wonderfully entertaining. The heroine Sydney and her friends are shipwrecked upon the island of notorious Rylan DeWilde, author of horror stories and rake infamous. For Rylan it's love at first sight and his attempt at keeping Sydney from leaving is absolutely hilarious. There's a wonderful dog named Frankenstein, an adorable housekeeper, and lots of fun and comedy. Unmissable!

Buried Treasure by Miranda Jarrett and Swept Away by Mariah Stewart are both sweet and pleasant, featuring reunited lovers. These two authors have wonderful writing styles, easy and flowing seamlessly, and I have a mind to look up their backlist. Compared to Howard and Hunter, however, their stories pale a little in comparison.

Geralyn Dawson has the weakest story in my opinion. Castaway also has a reunited lovers theme (what is going on here?) but her over-reliance on a familiar Bid Misunderstanding theme spoils the fun somewhat.

So there you have it. Another anthology that is, while a bit better over others out there, not very much keeper material for me. It will make a pleasant read or two, so I think I'll keep this until the sun comes out. Then I'll give it another try.

Rating: 70

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