Three Weddings and a Murderby Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle, Courtney Milan, Carey Baldwin Published 01 Jan 1970
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This book was a limited time charity anthology and is no longer available. The authors wish to thank each person who read the anthology. Between anthology sales and private donations we raised over $10,000, which we donated to the 2012 Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Santa Barbara. Thank you, romance community!
The pleasure of your company is requested...
...at the most thrilling, sexy event of the year.
THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER
Four delicious, dangerous tales of love...
"The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright" by Tessa Dare
Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, Miss Eliza Cade is not allowed "out" in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she's trying to be good, Eliza keeps bumping elbows--and lips--with the notorious rake Harry Wright. The passions he stirs in her are so wrong...but she just can't resist Mr. Wright.
"The Misbehaving Marquess," by Leigh LaValle
Having awaited the return of her husband for half a decade, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, has no intention of reconciling with her misbehaving marquess. But when he insists he needs an heir--immediately--she must confront her own lingering desires. Can she protect her heart while attempting to win his once again?
"The Lady Always Wins," by Courtney Milan
Railway financier Simon Davenant has waited seven years for a second chance with his childhood sweetheart and best friend. He isn't about to let his impending financial ruin destroy the opportunity. This time, he'll do anything he can to secure her hand in marriage--even if it means losing her heart for good.
"Solomon's Wisdom," by Carey Baldwin
Bad-boy-turned-pediatrician Charlie "Drex" Drexler returns to Tangleheart, Texas hoping to reconnect with his old flame--but Anna won't cooperate, his dark past resurfaces, and his best friend's baby disappears. How will Drex and Anna mend their broken hearts while dodging bullets and racing to bring baby home safely?
"Three Weddings and a Murder" Reviews
It was the book overall that rather ... failed, not the novellas. Milan, Dare and LaValle wrote amazing stories. That's why this gets three stars, really, because each of those three novellas are just outstanding.
Tessa Dare: Her little story about Eliza and Harry was lovely. It smacked of Pride and Prejudice in terms of set up: there was more to both the hero and heroine than we originally thought, and each one's 'secrets' had a lot to do with the strength of his and her character. I won't give it away, so I won't go into more detail than that, but I loved the way Dare set up her characters and fully developed and fleshed them out. What I found most interesting was that I was able to absolutely adore a story where I initially thought the characters were quite ... selfish. Harry seemed rather flippant, dismissive, irreverent, and of course rakish at the start. Dare tempered that by introducing a sense of weariness, which of course signaled a depth of not only character but emotion that we hadn't come across yet as the reader. As for Eliza, she seems so eager at first to marry off her sisters so she can finally get her debut, and to have her 'Change And Get Better' would have been the easy way to do it. Instead, Dare makes the reader's perception of her change by very slowly revealing a depth she kind of hid at the beginning. Don't get me wrong, Eliza *does* change, but not that "Yay I'm A Better Person Now Isn't It Obvious" kind of way that is so popular in sub-par fiction. I think what it is is that Eliza changes slightly, grows up a bit, but the reader learns to appreciate her a bit more and understand her a bit better. What I loved was that, at the end, Harry and Eliza were still selfish and wonderfully flawed people in their own way, but that didn't diminish the romance at all. In fact, it only made it stronger. Their imperfections were what made that particular romance so passionate and sweet and complete. If that makes sense. Seriously, though, it's Tessa Dare. Just quit your life for an hour and read it.
LaValle - I loved the way she handled the Long Lost Spouse bit. And I thought the backstory was really interesting - the part about WHY Jamie left, specifically. It was a great twist on the 'foolish young lovers' trope, and she had both the H/H mature and develop gracefully. The secondary plot with the village was lovely, and I loved how that really fleshed out a part of the heroine's character. Charity work is a plot bunny often relied upon by Regency writers to make their heroines sympathetic. Sometimes, (often) it REALLY backfires. (See, Lisa Kleypas, Stranger in My Arms, which is one of the worst books I've ever read.) But LaValle made it work for her and for the heroine, Cat. And Jamie's stories from abroad, and the gifts he brought back, were lovely.
I will admit, though, I *hated* one thing about this novella. I don't normally hate things in books, unless I just dislike the book overall, but that's different. In this, I felt one brief twinge of actual hate. Jamie brings back a statue of Ganesh from his travels in India. He uses it as a bookend. He uses it as a f--king bookend.
Now, I'm not Hindu. I do not mean to speak for Hindus. But I am South Asian, part of the region known as "Hindustan" when this story took place. And I know that my Hindu friends have statues of their gods in their homes, in their cars, and so on. They say their prayers and they touch these statues and figurines. For health, for protection, for luck, out of gratitude. It's an act of worship, and the statute, the physical statue is very much a part of that, whether it's made of jewels, or gold, or bronze, or cheap plastic. It doesn't matter. The spirit or essence of the god rests inside, no matter what the casing.
And Jamie uses it as a f---king bookend.
That moment just brought all these notions of imperialism and the bloody conflicts in South Asia rushing to my mind. It's a very personal thing. To have the riches of your land stolen by marauding colonialists, who enslave the indigenous people, rape the women, kill the men and children, and then, less violently (or perhaps more), with less reliance on physical force, destroy a culture, a way of living. Impose upon the indigenous the mindset that everything about them is wrong. Their gods. Their food. The color of their skin. Their clothing. Their hair. Their manners. Everything about all of that is wrong. But then, later, when the white man puts up a statue of Ganesh in his home, it's called cultural tolerance and interfaith nonsense. When a white woman puts on a sari and bindi and gets henna tattoos, it's called progressive. When these same things - the gods, the clothing, the henna tattoos - on the indigenous people are thought of as medieval, savage, backward, uneducated. Wrong.
This is turning into a social justice rant and I don't want that in a book review. At the same time, I will throttle any of you who tell me I'm "taking it too seriously" or "need to lighten up." You do not get to tell me, a person of color, and Indian by heritage, what I may or may not find insulting with regard to discourse about my culture, or one of the religions of my countrymen. You do not get to decide what I find offensive.
Because I really found that moment, when Jamie removed a statue of Ganesh and used it to hold up his books, quite offensive.
But then I kept reading, because this really was a lovely story. I have never heard of LaValle before, but I like her style and if she's written other books, I'm probably going to track them down and read them.
Courtney Milan: This woman can write. I love, love, loved Simon and Virginia. Simon was amazing. The banter was awesome, and Simon's moment of self-revelation is powerful in a way that few romance novels have seemed powerful to me. (I don't mean to denigrate the genre; it's already much-maligned and, I think, unreasonably so. There is nothing surprising about a romance novel with strong, developed characters, a solid plot with unexpected twists, and more than that, *meaning.* And yet if you mention a romance novel like that, people always act surprised. "But, but, it's a romance novel!" Ugh, screw that mentality.) Anyway, I can't even say anything more about the Milan novella. It was great. It was just great. Read it. You'll enjoy it. You'll come away feeling quite satisfied. (And I'm not even talking about the love scene. Frankly, in remembering the story, I have to stop and think about whether there was a love scene or not, because the actual story, and the relationship between the characters, took center stage.)
Baldwin: Hm. This was where it fell apart for me. I didn't care for the characters. I tried. But I didn't connect with them, and I didn't really *get* them. I didn't care for the writing or the dialogue. I just ... didn't get it. It all felt completely out of place.
And that brings me to my larger criticism of the book. As an anthology, it was ... very disappointing.
An anthology, to me, is not four stories cobbled together between one front and one back cover.
To me, an anthology is a story where the characters exist in the same time, location or general sphere of awareness. I'm thinking of the Whistledown anthologies: in those books, the characters all knew each other. And even if they didn't know each other, they knew 'of' each other. There was some general awareness. And that created a cohesion that tied every novella together, whether the individual novella was good or bad.
This one just felt ... awkward. I didn't mind that in the three historic stories, none of the characters knew each other. That was fine. There was still something that tied it all together: the setting, the social norms, the country, for crying out loud. The final one was contemporary, and it just felt so out of place. It felt like it derailed the whole book. And I hate to say it, but the writing wasn't that great either. It was a total flop. I hate giving bad reviews, unless I've given that author a positive review on one of her other books, in which case, I'll be honest and say why I thought a certain book was terrible. I'm sure Ms. Baldwin is a lovely person and I feel bad saying all this, especially because I am doing so on GoodReads and all she has to do is google her book and my review will come up, and she can easily message me and flip out at me. (I mean, I don't care about that - she can flip out at me if she likes. I'm commenting on the nature of the new proximity that exists between authors and reviewers online.)
So I feel bad saying all this. But as an anthology, this kind of fails.
But the three stories I mentioned are all FABULOUS, and you should totally buy the book just for those.
Also, it has excerpts of the authors' new releases, and GOOD GOD I CANNOT WAIT FOR TESSA DARE'S NEW BOOK ABOUT KATE/THORNE. A Lady by Midnight. I swear, I'm going to go nuts waiting for it. Argh. (The excerpt is amazing, by the way. It's not the same one that was in "A Week To Be Wicked." It's a newer one. A shorter one, but hey, it's something. Ugh. I don't know how I'll make it to August.)
This is just a quick recap of a great anthology!
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
For a novella, I usually prefer the couple to have know each other previously for the story to work better in the shorter space but in this one they don't...and it still works! Miss Eliza Cade made a foolish mistake when she was younger and pays for it no by not being able to have a Season until her three older sisters are married. She unintentionally meets the notorious rake, Harry Wright and they both capture each others attention. A bit of time passes and a chance encounter reacquaints them, and the desire and attraction still burns. With clever chapter titles and superb writing skills, you will fall for this couple and hope they overcome the obstacles that continue to arise. Tessa Dare is an auto buy author for me and she proves why, even in the shorter story length. 4 stars
The Misbehaving Marquess by Leigh LaValle
If you read Leigh LaValle's debut, The Runaway Countess, you know that Cat is in an unhappy marriage with her husband leaving her alone for five years. When Jamie suddenly returns home and demands he wants an heir, all the hurt and unresolved feelings from the past five years come back full force. It takes a small 'aha' moment for Jamie to finally talk to Cat about what happened in the past and try to forgive and move forward. But when Cat reveals her own heartache, will they be able to overcome the last hurdle to find a way to renew their vows and start anew? This was a very engaging story to a secondary character from a previous book and I am very happy with the results. We get a small peek into Mazie's life as well and I am anxious for more books from the very talented Leigh LaValle! 4 stars
The Lady Always Wins by Courtney Milan
Simon Davenant was crushed when his childhood sweetheart married another, just to have money since his father was going to cut him off if he dared marry Ginny. Now, seven years later, Ginny is a widow and he has three days to make her fall back in love with him before his new found wealth disappears. But Ginny had her reasons for marrying for money and when they come up, it about undoes Simon's plans. I enjoyed the banter between this couple, how they were always trying to one up each other and the ultimate one up comes at the end and was a nice little twist, which you don't always get in a novella. Another enjoyable story for one of my favorite authors. Seriously, Courtney Milan could write the phone book in a way that would be enjoyable :) 4 stars
Solomon's Wisdom by Carey Baldwin
It was kind of weird going from historical to romantic suspense, but once I got my brain adjusted I enjoyed this debut novella from Carey Baldwin. It is about two couples, one long estranged and one happily married with a son and what happens when some mysterious bruises appear on the child. The chain reactions from this event make for a quick story and twists and turns that worked all right with the novella length, but I felt would have been better situated as a full length or slightly longer novella story. It was an enjoyable, quick read and a nice taste for what is to come in the future. 3 1/2 stars
Overall, I enjoyed all the novellas and they seem to be a good taste of each authors work. For historical romance fans, I would recommend them all. They will make you smile and laugh and sigh and leave you with a happy heart...and your heart is sure to pound a bit with the last one. Overall, 4 stars
I would love to rate this higher because Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare's novellas are wonderful, and Leigh Lavalle isn't that bad. Dare and Milan? Five stars. Lavalle? Easily three stars.
I rate this anthology two stars because the final story is awful. And it has nothing to do with the theme of the first three. It's a contemporary murder mystery that's poorly plotted, not well-fitted to a novella length and with two leads that I don't really get to know. It's simply a mess and I'm so annoyed that's paired with three otherwise good stories that it drags down a good anthology I can't justify a higher rating. Anthologies work on the theme of the book. Baldwin's entry is all wrong and awful to boot.
However, the first three stories are lovely, and it's a cheap buy, with profits that go to breast cancer so it's not a bad buy. I just don't recommend even touching the final story. Skip it altogether.
On sale for $2.99. All proceeds go to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
First I have to admit.. I only read the 3 weddings. I loved all three stories.. wonderful characters, interesting stories. Since the 4th story is a contemporary (which I hardly ever read) AND I saw a review by someone with the same taste in books as I.. saying that this story was not up to par.. I decided to skip it.
The first three stories make the book worth the purchase even if you skip the last!
Review posted on Got Fiction? Books
Three Weddings and a Murder is an anthology featuring 3 historical romance novellas for the “weddings,” and a contemporary romantic suspense novella by Carey Baldwin for the “murder” which I did not read. (I don’t read contemps very often, and I don’t think it would be fair to review it) That being said, this review is only for:
The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare -5 flames
What struck me the most about this story was the emotion. I think I went through every single emotion possible. This story takes place over several years. That’s right, years. Eliza did something rash as a 14 year old, and consequently was ruined. Her parents forbid her to have a Season until each of her sisters was married, so she wouldn’t have a chance to ruin their prospects.
When she meets Mr. Wright for the first time, she immediately discovers he is Mr. All-Wrong. But for some reason they can’t leave each other alone. What is so sad about this one, is that once they realize they are in love, it isn’t possible for them to be together. The ending made me cry.
I think this is without a doubt Tessa Dare’s best work yet. I am so sad because I’ve read all of her books. But what makes that so wonderful, is that now I can re-read them!
The Misbehaving Marquess by Leigh LaValle- 4.5 flames
Leigh LaValle has a great story about love, betrayal and forgiveness. My favorite part was that the H/h are a married couple, and this story takes place 5 years after the wedding. Right after they got married, Cat was accidentally compromised, sort of. It was innocent enough, but it made a cuckold of her new husband, and his solution was to bail.
He left her.
For 5 years.
And in this story, it all begins with a pair of boots.
Cat is walking out the door to go riding when she spots a pair of boots resting on an ottoman. Surprise, surprise, her missing husband is not missing anymore. He’s home, and he didn’t even bother to let her know. He figured she’d happen upon him at one point or another.
This story is a bittersweet tale of love, anger, and redemption. Watching them try to hurt each other with their verbal barbs, and angry words is nothing compared to the forgiveness they look for. How can he forgive her transgression? How can she forgive his purposeful absence? It was a lovely story, and I am very glad I have her novel The Runaway Countess.
The Lady Always Wins by Courtney Milan- 4.5 flames
Ginny and Simon were childhood sweethearts, but Ginny was poor. Not just the scrimping and frugal poor, but the her father would sell his only daughter for money poor. So when Simon’s parents made no bones about cutting him off should he marry her, Ginny knew that Simon would marry her anyway. And she wouldn’t allow him to live in the horror and misery she’d known. So she married another man.
It infuriated Simon, so when he was one of the wealthiest railroad industrialists of his time, he found the perfect revenge. Ginny was widowed, and he was rich. . .for now. He was in the midst of the deal of a lifetime. A make-or-break you kind of deal. And he knew he was going to be broke (bad pun-ha ha). He would lose all his money, but in the meantime, he would find, seduce, and wed Ginny. She wouldn’t know they were poor until it was too late.
This isn’t exactly a revenge plot though, because he thinks that he can deal with her being angry with him, but he’ll at least have her-he can make her love him. Except, he finds out, that he can’t. But Ginny out-plots his plotting, and as the title states, The Lady Always Wins.