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Devon’s review of Hallowe’en Husbands by Lisa Plumley, Denise Lynn, and Christine Merill
Historical Paranormal Romance Anthology released by Harlequin Historical 1 October 2008

This anthology features three stories, set in different places and times, against the backdrop of Halloween. The crisp autumn atmosphere was nicely captured, that mysterious element in the air that makes you think anything might happen. Despite some issues, I enjoyed all three stories, and would seek out other books by the authors.

Marriage at Morrow Creek by Lisa Plumley

The first stop is Arizona Territory, 1884, against the backdrop of a traveling medical show. Rose (“the plain sister”) is desperately in love with Will, the bagman for her father’s show, and desperate to win him. Encouraged by a mysterious new acquaintance, Rose decides to go for it. I have nothing against a girl going for what she wants, but Rose was so desperate, determined and deluded, it was kind of annoying. I felt like she strong armed the clueless Will into submission. He went from not even noticing her to thinking perhaps he had cared for Rose for a long time. His feelings changed so quickly, I wasn’t buying it. His reasons for not wanting to get together with Rose felt like excuses.

Still, this was a cute and sweet story, with a touch of magic. I liked the small town, Americana setting with its homespun Halloween celebration. The paranormal element was nicely done, if a bit predictable. I didn’t care for the name-dropping. Many characters from Plumley’s past books drop in, with no real purpose. Overall, this was a pleasant change of pace. I just wish there was more magic to the romance.

Grade: B-

The only thing Rose Tillson ever wanted was a life of travel beneath the Western stars—and to marry secret sweetheart Will Gavigan! All Rose needs is a small dose of Hallowe’en magic to make Will realize she’s the girl of his dreams….

Wedding at Warehaven by Denise Lynn

Next we head to 12th Century England for a story of tension between old Pagan ways and newer Christian beliefs. This story got off to a great start, with a wild pagan celebration. I should mention that it was the sole story without a paranormal element, despite all references to the demonic. I guess Medieval types were obsessed with demons. Randall Fitzhenry, knight and royal bastard, is sent to Warehaven to put a stop to the locals’ Godless ways. He is to consolidate his power by marrying the lady of the keep, even though he believes she’s a witch. Birgit of Warehaven wants nothing to do with the brute.

I liked the two characters and their battle of wills. They were both well drawn and interesting, and the chemistry was nice. Then Birgit acted like a complete dunderhead and withheld info from Randall that put her and others in danger. There was no good reason for that decision. The ending was a bit abrupt, with Birgit’s father showing up to do the deus ex machina thing and settle everything neatly. My favorite of the bunch, and I may yet become a Medieval convert.

Grade: B

When Brigit of Warehaven casts a simple spell to reveal her true love’s identity, she never expects to wed him that same night! But until the mischievous trickeries of All Hallows’ Eve are over, Randall FitzHenry cannot truly claim his bride’s heart….

Master of Penlowen by Christine Merrill

Master of Penlowen is set in Regency England, and also got off to an exciting start. There’s an abduction, a breathless rescue on horseback, and a creepy estate. Merrill creates a suitably Gothic atmosphere, as Arabella finds herself stuck for the night in the house full of secrets and its handsome but strange owner.

This was a creepy, compelling read. I found the hero, Richard, less than appealing for some reason. He seemed kind of greedy, and wimpy too. Richard did exhibit some charm, and the beginnings of chemistry with Arabella, but I didn’t believe that they fell in love over the course of the night. I mean, during their big love scene, they were kinda possessed, and there was a skeleton nearby. It was ick. I wasn’t really feeling that. Gothic fans may well enjoy it though.
Grade: C+

Arabella Scott cannot decide whether she’s been saved or abducted when she is rescued from highwaymen by a darkly brooding stranger. In his eerily cold, dilapidated home, she has no choice but to trust her cavalry officer rescuer.

Overall Grade: B-