My Valentine Anthology

my valentineTitle: My Valentine

Authors: Gina Wilkins, Kristine Rolofson, JoAnn Ross and Vicki Lewis Thompson

Mills & Boon imprint: Harlequin Temptation

Year of publication: 1992

The blurbs:  Denim and Diamonds by Gina Wilkins

Executive Alison Tindall was all silk – power company lineman Beau Harmon only wore denim. None of Alison’s sexual fantasies included a man like him. Then Beau appeared on her doorstep on February 14, dressed to kill….

The Valentine Raffle by Kristine Rolofson

Celebrating Valentine’s Day with raffles was tradition in Valentine, Nebraska, and hairdresser Stella Hathaway was happy to participate. She loved rancher Matt McNeil, but he seemed determined to avoid her. So the townsfolk decided to fix Cupid’s aim….

A Very Special Delivery by JoAnn Ross

Every New Year’s Eve patrolman Patrick Sullivan vowed to forget his sexy ex-wife, Valentine Alexander. By every Valentine’s Day he’d broken his resolution. This year was different…chance sent Val – and her newborn twins – to him.

Valentine Mischief by Vicki Lewis Thompson

When Reid Halstead appeared in Jessie Neal’s photography studio, it wasn’t to order one of her Valentine glamour shots. Yet Jessie couldn’t resist teasing the conservative C.E.O. with a naughty picture of herself in a negligee – not the kind of visual aid Reid wanted in his boardroom….

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I thought I’d read this Valentine’s Day anthology now, given that the day in question is next week. The book is almost twenty years old, so I’ll give the stories a little bit of leeway. Here’s my reviews for each one.

Denim and Diamonds: I wanted to like this one better than I did. Alison was just a snob, pure and simple. She thought her neighbour Beau was nice looking but didn’t look twice at him because of his job as a lineman. He overhears her talking with another neighbour at the laundromat and decides to surprise her with gifts and dinner on Valentine’s Day. When he turns up to pick her up for dinner, she reluctantly agrees to go.

They end up in a relationship and the sex is hot, but Alison decides their differences are just too insurmountable and breaks up with him – even though Beau has been nothing but a really nice guy. Alison annoyed me with her attitude – she didn’t deserve Beau. But after they break up, they’re both miserable and end up back together.

The Valentine Raffle: I actually felt it a shame this was only a novella, because this could easily have been a full length novel. I adored Stella. Matt was reluctant to get involved with anyone because his wife left him and their two young sons for another man, but he couldn’t resist Stella. He did run a bit hot and cold, which is where I think it being a full length novel would have worked better. But I really enjoyed this novella.

A Very Special Delivery: Again, another novella that would have been better as a full length novel, because it felt a bit rushed. News anchor Valentine Alexander married her boyfriend, Patrick Sullivan, when they were teenagers. However, her rich parents threw a hissy fit and dragged her home six hours later, and had the marriage annulled. So Val marries some douchebag her parents picked, only to find out he was cheating on her the day she told him she was pregnant with twins.

When Val gets caught up in a snowstorm on New Year’s Eve, Patrick, now a cop, races to her car in a ditch and helps deliver her twins, who make a speedy arrival. When he realises Val is looking after the twins alone, he offers to come help her and she finds she can’t resist. Eventually, they realise their love never really went away and they end up remarried. I really liked this one.

Valentine Mischief: This was probably my least favourite of the four. I’m all for a whirlwind courtship, but what ruined this for me was the prank played by the heroine. CEO Reid hires photographer Jessie to design a poster he needs for an upcoming board meeting. She finds he has a hidden sense of humour, and amongst much flirting decides to play a joke on him by switching out the photo she took for him for one of her in lingerie. What she thought would happen was that he’d look at it, laugh and then she’d give him the real poster. What did happen is that he had his assistant pick it up, didn’t look at it and got a plane to another city for the board meeting.

Jessie, panicking, flies to the city where the board meeting is being held, with the intention of intercepting Reid before he uses the poster, but she happens upon the board meeting just as he unveils it. The board meeting is supposed to be to entice potential investors in Reid’s company, and the whole idea was, to me, just plain stupid. Why would any professional risk jeopardising a potential revenue stream by playing a prank that stupid? As it happens, Jessie runs into someone after the meeting and tells him what happened (without mentioning names), not realising this nice grandfatherly man is one of the board directors. Anyway, she ends up having sex with Reid, who forgives her for the prank, and then after like two days he asks her to marry him. This one didn’t work for me, alas.

Cowboy Up by Vicki Lewis Thompson

cowboy upTitle: Cowboy Up

Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson

Mills & Boon imprint: Blaze

Year of publication: 2011

The heroine: Receptionist/Surfer Emily Sterling

The hero: Rancher Clay Whitaker

The blurb: After Emily Sterling’s parents divorce, she promised to never fall for a cowboy. Now Emily has returned to her father’s ranch… only to find herself face-to-face with unbelievably hot rancher Clay Whitaker!

Clay is the resident stud expert at the ranch and isn’t too keen on city slickers… until Emily arrives. Now he’s showing Emily just what a ranch – and a cowboy – has to offer. And it’s an offer Emily can’t refuse!

Standalone or series: This is book five of the Sons of Chance series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Let’s talk about that cover first, shall we? If the cowboys in Wyoming are this hot, I’m moving there!

I think the blurb above is a bit misleading. Emily was two when her parents divorced; they married because the sex was hot, but her mother wants a California lifestyle and her father is a cowboy and being on a ranch is in his blood, so they divorced and Emily went with her mother. She was raised a California girl and loves to surf. But now she’s in her late twenties and still doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Her father, Emmett, is the ranch foreman and it’s his sixtieth birthday, so she’s in Wyoming to celebrate with him.

When she was last on the ranch ten years ago, Clay had a huge crush on her, but Emily’s mother had drilled into her that ranching life wasn’t for her, and she should stay away from cowboys, so she dismissed him. However, Emily has changed a lot in ten years, and she realises how much she’s missed her father and how much at home she feels at the ranch.

Everybody on the ranch dislikes her because they’ve worked out that Emmett is sending her monthly cheques out of his pay. What they don’t know, however, is that Emmett has been lying to Emily – he told her that it was an inheritance from her grandparents. They also don’t know that Emily hasn’t spent a penny of it; she’s invested the money until she works out what she wants to do with her life.

It turns out what she wants to do at the ranch is Clay. Their attraction is instant and swift, and it’s not long before they’re sneaking around having sex. She’s not planning to stay long, so they both know it won’t lead anywhere, but they can’t stay away from each other. Emmett works out what’s going on and tries to warn his daughter because of what happened with him and Emily’s mother, not because he doesn’t like Clay – he loves Clay like a son. But he knows Clay will never leave the ranch because it’s the only home he’s ever known (Clay was orphaned at three and lived in foster homes until he was eighteen and ended up at the ranch, where the Chance family looked after him).

In the end, Emily decides she doesn’t want to leave the ranch or her father… or Clay.

I enjoyed this book, but one thing that seems to crop up a lot also happened in this book. Let’s talk about sex, baby – more specifically, names for genitalia. I’m generally fine with whatever name is being used, but let’s just stick to one, shall we? In this book, Clay had no less than three different names being used – penis, cock, and johnson, which always makes me laugh and brings me right out of the scene. As for Emily, she referred to hers as a hoo-ha. Again, another juvenile term that just brings me right out of the scene, which is a shame because the sex scenes were hot.

Clay’s in charge of the stud program, which involves collecting horse semen and selling it to various buyers. By the end of the book, you’ll know more about the process than you ever wanted to, trust me.

The editor in me also wants to point out that Emily is referred to as Emily Whitaker in one scene, rather than Sterling 😉