Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review - - Improper Gentlemen

Improper Gentlemen
An Anthology
By Diane Whiteside, Maggie Robinson and Mia Marlowe
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Release Date: July 26, 2011

The final sentence of Mia Marlowe’s novella, “A Knack for Trouble” says it best.

“Besides, who’d ever want a proper fellow when she can have an improper gentleman?”

The improper gentlemen who are the heroes created by these three talented authors suit me just fine!

“Talbot’s Ace” 
by Diane Whiteside

While she once lived the life of a privileged daughter of a prominent Boston banker, Charlotte “Ace” Morland now walks a fine line of respectability while playing in poker tournaments across the western frontier. But the mayor of Wolf Laurel, Colorado has something much more dangerous in mind for Ace than playing in his tournament: to kidnap her and turn her over to a powerful politician known for his brutal treatment of women in exchange for a political favor. When she escapes, the first person she encounters, and the last man she expects to help her, is Justin Talbot; gunslinger, owner of the Hair Trigger Palace and best friend and partner of the mayor. Justin offers her refuge in his establishment and teaches her pleasure in his arms but will there be a future for the lady turned gambler and her very improper gentleman?


“To Match a Thief” 
by Maggie Robinson

Lucy had loved Simon Grant with all of her young heart but the thief had left her behind seven years earlier and never returned for her as he had promised. So six years ago, Lucy also left Scotland – to move to Jane Street in London, also known as Courtesan Court, where she has lived as “mistress” to Percy, Lord Ferguson – a man with exquisite manners, impeccable taste in clothing, especially women’s clothing, and a deep fondness for his butler. When Percy suffers a reversal of fortune and sells his Jane Street home to Sir Simon Keith, an English war hero, Lucy is stunned to discover he and her long-missing Simon are one and the same. Lucy wants nothing to do with Simon but Simon is determined to finally make Lucy his, no matter what she has (or hasn’t) done over the past six years, even if the now proper gentleman has to get a little improper to accomplish it!


“A Knack for Trouble” 
by Mia Marlowe

In steamy Bermuda, convicted murderer Aidan Danaher seduced the lovely Rosalinde Burke, the Commissioner’s daughter, and lost his heart while knowing there could be no future for them. Three years later, Rosalinde, on the verge of becoming engaged to a proper gentleman of the ton, is shocked to come face to face with the new Lord Stonemere in a London ballroom, the same man she knows as the charming Irish convict, Aidan Danaher! Aidan is on a quest to clear his name and discover who was really responsible for the murder for which he was sentenced but no less important is his quest to win Rosalinde’s heart. Will she follow her family’s wishes and make the respectable choice or will she follow her heart and choose her delightfully improper Irishman?


I enjoyed all three of these novellas but especially Robinson’s and Marlowe’s. While both are short in length (around 110 pages), the character and story development are exceptionally well done and I was left with a “full book” feeling by the time I reached the end of each novella. Robinson’s “To Match a Thief” sparkles with wit, humor and characters who all take turns stealing the show. It’s an absolute delight! In “A Knack for Trouble”, Marlowe deftly combines suspense, sensuality, humor and emotion into a heartwarming tale of love and redemption. I confess; I was so taken with her hero, Aidan, that I read the story twice!

I'm a big fan of anthologies, with their delicious bites of romance that I can enjoy as a "reading snack", especially during those busy days when I just don't have time to settle in for a full-course, single-title meal.  How about you?  Do you enjoy anthologies?  Read any lately that you'd recommend?  



  1. PJ, I love anthologies. They are great to read during the week when life is so hectic. This sounds like one I need to add to the stack.

  2. I think you'd enjoy them, Buffie. They're tasty little bites of delicious romance!

  3. Thank you, PJ! I just updated my website and am quoting you all over the place. :) I loved writing Lucy and Simon's story, and am so glad it seemed "bookish" to you. I admit I was tempted to expand.(mostly because I wanted more of Percy, LOL)

  4. Maggie, I understand your desire to expand Percy's "page time." I wanted more of him too. He was one of those delightful scene stealers I alluded to! :)

  5. These three sound great and being shorter simply fits in to one's busy schedule. I like that. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading them.

    Connie Fischer

  6. Great review, PJ! :) Another book to add to my ever growing TBR pile, lol.

    I don't read a lot of anthologies, or if I do, I may only read the ones from the authors I know. But the Lady Whistledown anthologies were great, and I loved The Lady Most Likely by JQ, Eloisa, and Connie Brockway.

    I also have to say I really admire authors who can do anthologies/novellas well. These authors must deliver all the elements of a full length romance (character development, developed plot, building the romantic relationship), but at a much lower word count.

  7. Hope you enjoy them, Connie!

  8. Lisa, I totally agree on the Lady Whistledown anthologies! Also on The Lady Most Likely. Love them!

  9. Hi PJ, thank you for that terrific review! I think you hit the nail right on the head of these improper gentlemen. We always seem to be attracted to the bad boys don't we!?
    I enjoy anthologies very much; I am right in the middle of "It Happened One Season" and enjoying it tremendously! It is the sequel to "It Happened One Night" both books include novellas by Stephanie Laurens, Candace Hern and Jacquie D'Alessandro. Quite a triple threat!

    I like Diane Whiteside, so I'm wondering what you disliked about her contribution to the trilogy? The rest of the collaboration sounds like a must buy/read!!

  10. I do love anthologies for the same reason you do when I don't have a lot of time to read. Also you get to try different authors this way.

  11. I enjoy anthologies. So often, I just have a little time to read and anthologies are the perfect fit.

  12. I like Diane Whiteside, so I'm wondering what you disliked about her contribution to the trilogy?

    I didn't dislike it. I just liked the other two more. I felt the authors delved deeper into the characters in the other two novellas and those stories gave me a more "complete book" feeling. Whiteside's novella was about 20 pages shorter, which I'm sure was a contributing factor, and the ending seemed a bit rushed.

  13. Virginia, I've discovered many new authors through anthologies. It's a great way to take a new author for a "test read!" :)

  14. I literally have a bookcase full of anthologies. I love them.
    I just finished BRAVE HEARTS by Kathleen Eagle, Diana Palmer, and Heather Graham Pozzessere. It is older, the stories (actually books) included were written in 1988, '89, and '90, and if you like western romances and these authors, you should enjoy it.

    I have been reading the reviews for this book and look forward to reading it. Mia participated in the CHRISTMAS BALL anthology last year as Emily Bryan. It was most enjoyable.

  15. That explains it quite well; thanks again, PJ!


  16. I'll have to check out BRAVE HEARTS, librarypat. I do enjoy a good Western! :)

  17. That explains it quite well; thanks again, PJ!

    You're welcome, Flora! :)

  18. I love anthologies, too, PJ, because I can get a quick HEA fix in a short amount of time. I try to save anthologies for the school year since that is when I have the least time to read a full-length novel in a goodly amount of time.

    I've been hearing good things about IG, especially Maggie and Mia's stories. Mia has talked about her hero and he does sound like a perfect, improper hero. ;) I look forward to getting this anthology and reading it.

  19. I Love anthologies too! Sometimes you just want to find out the ending a little sooner.