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.

Baby Love by Binnie Syril

baby loveTitle: Baby Love

Author: Binnie Syril

Mills & Boon imprint: Temptation

Year of publication: 1991

The heroine: Woodworker Elizabeth Chapman

The hero: Computer consultant Travis Logan

The blurb: Elizabeth Chapman had never planned on becoming a parent. She’d just agreed to be a surrogate mother for her two best friends. Losing them in a tragic accident meant she now had the overwhelming responsibility of the child’s future. And no one to help her. Until Travis Logan put in a claim for adoption…

As the baby’s uncle, Travis was determined to prove he made good father material. And Elizabeth quickly found in him the strong, caring presence she’d always longer for. She needed a family, too. Then she found out, too late, he’d only wooed her to secure his claim to Ritchie…

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I have a confession to make – when I was younger, I used to read Harlequin Temptation books by the dozen. My local second hand bookstore sold them in bundles and I would regularly buy them. I loved them.

This book is almost thirty years old, so I’m prepared to give it some leeway. It has aged rather well, all things considered; I chuckled when Elizabeth was thankful there was no such thing as a “video phone call” (how would she cope with Skype, one can only wonder?).

Elizabeth is twenty nine years old and acting as a surrogate for Rick and Kathy Logan. Three weeks before she’s due to give birth to their son, they’re on holiday in NYC and are killed in a car accident. When Elizabeth shows up at their house to welcome them back from their trip, she finds Travis Logan, Rick’s younger brother, at the house. He has the unfortunate task of telling Elizabeth about the accident, since she doesn’t know, and the shock of it sends her into labour.

Elizabeth then has to decide whether to give the baby, whom she names Ritchie after his father, up for adoption or keep him. She’s leaning towards the former until Travis begs her to keep the baby until he can go for adoption. While he and Rick weren’t terribly close, due to their age difference and Travis’s job taking him on the road a lot, he hates the idea of strangers raising his nephew.

I found the character of Elizabeth to be rather immature. I understand she was grieving the death of her close friends and found her life turned upside down when she suddenly has a child to raise, but Travis knocked himself out trying to help her. He told her he loved her but, due to a previous marriage in which her douchebag ex was obviously abusive, she has trouble believing him. The last line of the blurb is misleading – Travis wasn’t trying to win her over simply to get custody of the baby. Elizabeth realises that she’s in love with Travis, but loses her shit because someone suddenly turns up months later with details regarding the adoption – when the ball got rolling just after she gave birth. Nobody was told there was any change to it, but Elizabeth seems to blame Travis for it.

Travis proposes and buys a house for them to live in – the three of them – but when Elizabeth throws a tanty, he has his name taken off the title and walks away. I felt really sorry for him, because he’d tried really hard to do the right thing by Elizabeth and the baby, and she just reacted poorly.

In the end, she flies to Chicago, where he’s working, and tells him she loves him. He claims not to believe her, so she throws him onto the bed and has her wicked way to prove it. They get their happily ever after.

One expression that kept cropping up throughout the whole book were people ‘spelling’ Elizabeth; as in, “I’ll spell you so you can have a nap”. I understood what it meant, but I’ve never heard of it before!

I loved that Elizabeth had an unusual occupation as a woodworker. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, so I thought that was a nice touch.