I'd better finally write my review for this before it disappears into my mind forever.
This was a surprise find on my library's trade shelves, and I grabbed it because it had stories by Lynne Graham and Carole Mortimer. To my surprise, my favorite story was by Marion Lennox, who I had not read before.
The Lynne Graham story is very much in the vein of her full-length romances. The heroine who is young and bubbly, and becomes an unwitting sex toy for the hero (granted he fell in love with her, but he treated her like a sex object). He dumps her because he thinks she spills the goods on his sex life to a tabloid, and it turns out she got pregnant. Now she's working as a landscaper on the estate of a business associate and Rocco sees her and is reminded that he's not over her, despite his contempt. This story rubbed me the wrong way. I felt the heroine allowed the hero to treat her with minimal respect. She didn't stand up for herself enough and was willing to go back to him because she loved him and because he was her baby's father. I think he owed her a lot more than she was willing to accept from him. I don't like that in a relationship when the hero doesn't respect the heroine as his equal. In my mind, I don't see Rocco treating Amber as an equal. Graham is a good writer even when she's not at her best. But this one just offended my sensibilities too much. I couldn't give it more than three stars.
Carole Mortimer's story is a bit ho-hum in the sense that it's almost drama free (I admit that I am a drama hound, so I missed it). It's a decent Christmas romance, and the hero was a nice guy. He palliated my senses after the first arrogant, and in my mind, sexist hero. He was more of an everyday kind of guy (although wealthy). Cally has the wrong idea about Noel, and she comes to realize that he's actually a good guy. Cally has some issues in her past that made her reluctant to trust, but I liked how Noel earns her trust by being a straightforward decent guy and showing his love for her and her daughter. The family interactions (since Noel's family descends on them en masse) were good and what you'd want in a Christmas story. This was more of a 3.5 star read.
Lastly, Marion Lennox was a pleasant surprise. There is something very fresh about this story. I admit I was really impressed with the fact that the hero is a wedding planner. And no, he's not gay. Yay to bursting stereotypes. Guy's cold and precise and a bit snooty, but it's clear that he has a heart underneath that he buried due to tragedy in his past. The heroine was also refreshing in that she was a very down to earth girl who likes her quiet, small town life and embraces family obligations. She's a widow who has dedicated her life to taking care of her son who was burned badly in the accident that killed her hubsand and is recovering slowly from that debilitating accident. I loved her bond with her family-in-law and that she happily embraces their eccentricities. Her son made me cry, I mean big time. I can't believe how mean people are to people with disabilities and physical differences, but I could see what a good man (and a potential family man in the making) Guy was in how he interacted with Henry. I just plain liked this story, maybe because it taps into my fascination with wedding planning and my love for kooky people who don't read the book as far as being trendy and fitting in. Lennox also touches on the phenomenon of celebrity, since Guy is a celebrity wedding planner. Although this couple falls in love over a short time period, I believe in their happy ending. I have to give this four stars.
Because the first two stories weren't as satisfying, I'd have to give this one 3.5 stars.