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Friday, February 23, 2007

Once Upon a Pillow

**** Once Upon a Pillow by Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway. Historical romance, contemporary romance.

This one had been sitting in my TBR pile since April 2004 when I saw Dodd & Brockway at the big pre-WRW retreat signing at TTP.

It's very cute, a series of novellas connected by "The Masterson Bed." Laurel Whitney is losing her job as curator of Masterson Manor because the historic manor house has been sold. So on the last tour, she takes a little extra time to tell the tourists about the various couples who've... er... coupled in the massive Masterson bed.

The first story takes place around 1200 AD, when a knight comes home from the Crusades to a wife he doesn't really remember marrying and who's not at all happy about his return. This was a clever, surprising story with monks trying to justify urging the heroine to murder her husband. I'd have liked to read a full-length version of this story, because it's just so unusual. (Or maybe I should be checking out Brockway's other books.)

The second story, set in the 16th century, involves a captive bride--a more common historical romance plot. The hero abducts the heroine, thinking she's her cousin, who he wants to wed for the money to save his estates. Unfortunately, the cousin has led him on and orchestrated the whole thing to be rid of her poor relation. I saw the twist coming almost from the beginning, but it was fun nonetheless.

The third story is a Regency tale, and is a comedy of misunderstandings. The heroine believes that the hero is trying to capture her brother and get him hanged for smuggling. The hero believes that the heroine's odd behavior is the result of her attachment to the suave criminal he's really chasing. Again, it was a little predictable, but fun.

The final story is Laurel's own, and it's been running throughout the book. There's the romance, which was absolutely predictable--it was obvious from the beginning who had purchased the manor and how that was going to turn out--and there's also the mystery of who's been stealing some of the antiques out from under her nose. That part surprised me.

All in all, it was an entertaining read, and a clever concept. I'd still really like to explore that first story in more depth, though.


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