Our overall rating for this book is: 3.75 of 5 stars. See each individual review for a rating for that novella.
Tracy’s Review of The Duke’s Dressmaker by Madeline Hunter — 4.5 of 5 Stars
Selina Fontaine works as a seamstress at the shop, her newest client Lady Giles was taken against her better judgment – she is helping the young woman when her brother in law, Randall “Rand” the Duke of Barrowmore arrives to bring her home – the man that ruined her life. Rand recognizes the woman that almost married his brother Giles four years ago. Selina is worried he will make trouble and force her to run again, so when he approaches her later, she agrees to talk to him. She blames him for Giles throwing her over – but she doesn’t know the real truth and after talking with her – Rand doesn’t want her to find out. He leaves her with a warning to stay away from Giles and never to mention him to his sister in law Edeline. She agrees and thinks she will not see him again. But Rand can’t forget her or help but feel a little guilty for the downward turn in her life caused by Giles. He tells himself he is only interested in her because his family wronged her – but acknowledges that for the lie that it is – he is attracted to her and makes excuses to see her.
They spend time together and eventually become lovers and more truths are revealed. Selina has fallen in love with him and accepts that his lover is the only role she can play in his life. But when Giles returns and tries to get her to help him with Rand, the ugly truth of their break up comes out and Selina wonders if Rand’s attention has been four years in the making. Rand is furious with Giles and has to face his feelings for Selina and what to do about them – but it may all be for naught as Selina has disappeared.
This was a well written, fast paced novella, with steamy love scenes, wonderful characters, a bit of drama and to die for hero (I loved how Rand treated Selina) and finally a believable HEA that left me wanting more!!
Barbara’s Review of The Colors of Love by Myretta Robens – 2.5 of 5 Stars
This is a highly improbable tale from a new-to-me author. The writing was well done and the ARC was one of the cleanest I’ve ever read – no typo’s etc. The characters just didn’t resonate with me and I had a hard time figuring out where they were coming from.
Delyth’s family is wealthy gentry, but she wants more, so she runs away to London. She finds work as a costume seamstress in a local theater and works there until she finds a more respectable employment as a seamstress at Madame Folette’s. Delyth is a gifted designer and seamstress but has absolutely no color sense at all. She dearly loves bright, intense colors and mixes them together liberally – to the point that they hurt your eyes to look at them. To her delight, she finally had a customer, Lady Marjoribanks whose taste ran along the same lines as hers and they created a gown. Delyth’s description of the dress colors is: “Oh, they were wonderful: a deep crimson with a violet over-skirt, yellow piping, and just a hint of the palest green lace.” Delyth is so happy until she reads the fashion column, Aglaea’s Cabinet, in the newspaper and it speaks of the dress worn by Lady M.
Simon Merithew is the brother of a Viscount and he’s also the author of the fashion column, Aglaea’s Cabinet. He has immediately jumped to the conclusion that this dressmaker must have decided to shame Lady M by displaying her in such awful colors and he decides to expose her for doing it. So, he brings his sister to the dress shop and commissions Delyth to make her a gown – then, he demands that she make several gowns and that she must live in their home will doing so.
At Simon’s home, Delyth enters through the front door, she is served tea in the drawing room with Simon and his sister and she is provided with a sumptuous visitor’s bedchamber. That is one of the most improbable situations I’ve read in a long time. Then, Simon actively pursues her and proposes marriage. Sorry, I just didn’t see the attraction nor did I believe the scenario.
Barbara’s Review of No Accounting for Love by Megan Frampton – 4 of 5 Stars
I liked this story. You have two people of disparate backgrounds who find that one other person with whom they can be comfortable and ‘at home’. Henry Dawkins is a huge, but gentle man. He seems to fit that old saying “a bull in a china shop”. There are few if any, small-to-medium sized heroes in romance books, but Henry is larger than most. Add that he is shy and socially awkward and you have a really sweet and lovable hero. Henry’s sister Felicity is the one who now runs their mother’s dress shop.
Our heroine, Katherine, is the daughter of a Viscount who was impoverished before he died. There was no money to settle on Katherine and she had to enter service as a companion to a spoiled, rich, beautiful heiress. That heiress has set her sights on Henry because he is the one man who has said ‘NO’ to her (yep – I don’t buy it either). The heiress decides to go to the dress shop and wait until Henry is there without his sister. That way, she can basically blackmail him into coming to her home for dancing lessons. Henry has no interest whatsoever in the heiress, but he is very attracted to the heiress’ companion, Katherine.
I loved both the hero and heroine, they were lovely together. I loved that both were virgins and that they learned together. I’m not sure how Henry could take on the expense of having a wife nor was I confident of his financial success, but I still enjoyed the love story between Henry and Katherine.
Tracy’s Review of A Fashionable Affair by Caroline Linden — 4 of 5 Stars
Evan Hewes, the Earl of Carmarthen has plans, he wants to raze and then rebuild Vine Street, all the owner have sold their buildings to him, save one – Sophie-Louise Dawkins aka Madame Follette. She has steadfastly refused all his offers and due to the location of her building, threatens to destroy his plans. He cannot build around her as her building shares a wall with another – so he decides to pay her a visit. He is surprised by the lovely woman at the shop and hopes to make her acquaintance once his business with Madame Follette is done. He is floored to learn that she is her daughter and is managing the shop in her mother’s extended absence. He explains the situation to her and Felicity is stunned – her mother never mentioned any of this to her. She refuses to sell and sends him away.
She goes to see her brother and learns that their mother didn’t tell him either, but he thinks the Earl is telling the truth. Felicity gets an idea – she goes to see Evan’s solicitor and makes a deal – she will convince her mother to sell if Evan can find her a shop in a better location. Evan agrees and takes the task on himself – to expedite things of course! He takes her to see a property and she apologizes for her reaction at their first meeting but is annoyed again later when she sees the property he takes her to. He doesn’t understand the problem and is annoyed – but he is not giving up, this project means too much to him. He finds more properties and treats her with more respect, she, in turn, apologizes for the misunderstanding and they form a friendship – but that friendship is tested when she falls in love with a property only to learn that he didn’t tell her the cost of the rent – she is upset and just wants to get away from him.
Evan knows he should have told her, but figured he would work out a deal with the owner of the property – he wants her to have the shop and a reason to keep seeing her so he will find a way to make it work. He doesn’t see her for a few days and misses her, so when he sees her at a theater benefit he finds a way to talk to her – thanks to his mother and sister. He introduces her to his mother and sister, then apologizes for not telling her about the rent and says he hasn’t given up – he will keep his word. When he returns her to her box, her brother is nowhere to be seen. He takes advantage of his absence and offers to see her home. She agrees and invites him in.
They begin an affair and grow close, sharing their pasts, their hopes and dreams, everything is perfect – until her mother returns. She warns him not to visit her and in their time apart, Evan learns something that will guarantee Sophie-Louise will sell to him, but using the information will ensure that he will lose Felicity. Will he find a way to keep her AND the Vine Street project?
This was a wonderful novella with two fantastic leads, I loved their interaction and even if the ending was a little hard to believe, I really enjoyed the story.
The Prologue gives you a nice introduction to the back-story behind the dress shop and how Felicity came to be managing it.
“Once renowned for creating the most envied gowns in London, Madame Follette’s dressmaking shop has fallen far out of fashion. The approaching coronation of King George IV offers a chance to reclaim former glory by supplying stunning new wardrobes to the most glittering society in Regency England. In the face of long-held secrets, looming scandals, and the potential ruin of their shop, the dressmakers of Follette’s are undaunted, not even by the most unexpected complication of all: true love.”
What was missing? Well, an epilogue. Each story had its beginning and its end, but overall, we never really learned what happened with the shop. Each seamstress married wealthy, aristocratic husbands, so — did they continue to work in the shop? And, Henry — with all of the wealthy new aristocratic connections, did he manage to get more clients so he could support himself and his new bride?
I read Madeline Hunter’s & Caroline Linden’s contributions to this anthology – I enjoyed them both and will definitely be going back to read the other two novellas as soon as I can!
The premise of the anthology is nicely set up with a prologue explaining the history of Madame Follette’s modiste shop. The collection features stories of the women (and one man) who work together to ensure the success of the shop.
I felt that both the novellas I read were well written and paced nicely, with likable characters, steamy love scenes, and HEAs. So really my only complaints are there was no epilogue and I felt like both stories that I read ended a little abruptly. But even with that said, I would be happy to recommend this anthology!