Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss Anthology #Review

Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss Anthology #ReviewOnce Upon a True Love’s Kiss by Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Lauren Smith, Samantha Grace, Victoria Vane

Series: #4 Whisper of Scandal, #2.5 Rival Rogues
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Indie/Self Published on January 4, 2016
Pages: 714
Format: eARC
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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When this lovely came to my attention, I didn’t even hesitate to snatch it up.  A blend of familiar and new-t0-me writers all presenting a variety of historical romances that range from sweet to some heat.  As it’s an anthology, I’ll be taking the stories one at a time in mini-reviews as I go.

After Forever by Julie Johnston 3.5 stars

#4 Whisper of Scandal

A widowed woman swears off love after having her heart broken, but for some reason has to fight attraction to Nash Overton who hires her to teach him and his daughter how to fit in with Society.  Julianna fights her feels out of fear, but Nash knows she is exactly the woman for him.

I found the story enjoyable and able to standalone though part of a series.  It was well-developed and the author worked a good story for the page count.  I was sympathetic to Julianna’s plight though I did feel she was putting Henry up on a pedestal and he sounded like a twit to me and she was somewhat over dramatic about her ‘nevers’ and vows.  Nash was fun and flirty and I loved seeing him court Julianna.  Her friends were fun and quirky, too.  Engaging story.

The Pirate’s Duchess by Katherine Bone 3.5 stars

All set to marry a friend and get over the loss of the love of her life, Prudence the Duchess of Blackmoor gets the shock of her life when her wedding is interrupted by none other than her husband long thought dead.  Tobias was nearly killed by a scheming murderer who destroyed several other men already and thought the only way to keep Pru safe was to let her and everyone else think he was dead.  But now after she accidentally showed the wrong man Tobias’ papers, her life is in danger, too.  Only the swashbuckling pirate The Black Regent can save her now.

I love a good pirate romance and it was fun to get this romp of a story not to be taken seriously that gave a wink toward the gothic novels of old with swoony romance, dastardly danger, and black-hearted villain.  I’ll have to check out more of the author’s work.

Her Scandalous Wish by Collette Cameron 4 stars

A Waltz With a Rogue Novella

Oh how lovely!  I do enjoy second chance romances and that is what we get when Philomena goes to a ball with her sickly brother.  She sees her one-time friend and man she thought to marry before he left her without a word after the fire and he thinks he is seeing a ghost.  Her brother decides their quickly shared kiss is compromising to his sister and now they must marry.  But Phil wants love and doubts Bradley can ever love the scarred woman she has become.

This was a sweet tale and I enjoyed seeing two separated lovers get another chance.  The ‘cant’ was fun, but also distracting at times when it was strung together.  The characters were engaging including the surrounding cast.  The story had depth and heart.  The author is one I’ve enjoyed her books in the past.

Milady and Her Spy by Jillian Chantal 3.5

I am always up for a good cloak and dagger during a Regency house party.  Lady Augusta has three older brothers and has learned several skills that no lady should have so she impishly foists her way into her brother’s mission to trap a traitor.  Miles is shocked by the new partner he acquires when she insists on helping her brother trap their traitor.  But it is not long before he is enamored by Gus and find his mind on matters other than the mission.

This was an engaging story.  It is light and swift even with a treacherous spy in the mix.  It clips along and I could wish for a little more development especially with the romance.  But I did enjoy Miles and Gus as a couple and hope for more espionage adventures for the pair of them.

Kissed by a Scottish Rogue by Samantha Grace  5 stars

#2.5 Rival Rogues

Ah, this was an adorable holiday romance in the Highlands.  Edith and Fergus tend to butt heads, but call a truce for Lord and Lady Thorne’s family house party.  And the truce grows to something more as they enjoy the festivities and a new understanding.  But will Edith let old fears hold her back?

This book is part of a series, but it can work well alone though the other ongoing story lines are present.  Loved catching up on familiar characters.  The story was a nicely layered piece that left me with a smile and a satisfied sigh.

Stolen Kisses From the Viscount by Alanna Lucas 4 stars

A bet, financial ruin, an ultimatum, a large dowry, and could there possibly be a chance for true love?  Patrick’s father gambled away everything and left the family in ruin.  His only chance to look after his aunt and sisters is to marry well.  Aveline has received an ultimatum from her father’s despicable brother that she will be forced into his guardianship in three months since her mother’s brother is dying.  But she will not have a rake like Patrick even if he is the only man that makes her pulse quicken.

This one is a sensual tease and then a spicy romp, but also a battle of wills as Aveline struggles against her fear that Patrick will hurt her and doesn’t really love her and Patrick must overcome the bad choice of a private bet and the fear that he can’t win the woman he wants, Aveline.  I enjoyed this one and was rooting for Patrick to win her over.

Tempted by a Rogue by Lauren Smith  3.5 stars

She thinks she’s in love with his best friend when he is the man behind the powerful letters they exchange the whole time he is at sea. However, now Jasper Holland is come home. How will he ever get Gemma to love him after all the lies. Because the letters weren’t a lie…

This was quick, humorous, hot, and ready to serve now style. For that, it was just right.

The Redemption of Julian Price by Victoria Vane 5 Stars

This one grabbed me and I delighted in this friends to lovers romance between the bad boy and his tomboy friend grown up.  Julian comes back from the war hollow and also his finances are in desperate straights after a profligate uncle squandered it all.  Hen is looking spinsterhood in the face, but she does come into some money which leads her to a shocking plan involving Julian who was once the boy next door.

The author infused a passionate romance with elements such as survivor’s guilt, PTSD, arranged marriage, fidelity, and so much more.  For a shorter story, this had heart and depth, but a lightness.  And such connection and chemistry that I wanted more of Hen and Julian.

All in all, I had a good time with this pack of stories.  Not one was a dud and I found something appealing in all of them.  The variety of situations, settings, and characters made for a strong anthology.  I encountered familiar authors and new to me authors with backlists that I definitely want to pursue.  I can easily recommend this set of historical romance gems to those that enjoy the genre.

My thanks to the authors who provided the book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #115 HR
Bad Boys of Romance #12
New to Me #47 author/series

 

About Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

About Victoria Vane

Victoria Vane is an Amazon #1 bestselling author of smart and sexy romance. Her works range from comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance and have received over twenty awards and nominations including: a 2015 Red Carpet Finalist for Best Contemporary romance (Slow Hand), 2014 RONE Winner for Best Historical Post Medieval Romance (Treacherous Temptations), and Library Journal Best Ebook Romance of 2012 (The Devil DeVere series). Victoria also writes romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee. She currently resides in Palm Coast, Florida with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse.
Contact info:
Email: victoria.vane@hotmail.com Website: www.victoriavane.com
Blog: www.embracingromance.com Facebook: http://on.fb.me/YVeXrf
Twitter: @authorvictoriav Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1vONQZh
Amazon: http://amzn.to/10QMKT5 Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1sccsM4
YOUTUBE: http://bit.ly/1yNtEMP

Praise for SLOW HAND
“Well-paced, scorching scenes and witty banter…”
—Publishers Weekly

“Slow Hand by Victoria Vane is delightful, funny, page-turning steamy sexy, and the romance between Wade and Nikki make you wish you could pull Victoria’s characters straight off the page and into real life…”
—Unwrapping Romance

“For erotic passion and one-liners, the first book in Vane’s new series will satisfy…Vane’s latest gets a big yee-haw.”
—RT Book Reviews

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Debbie Haupt

    Wow Sophia Rose great review and just what a historical romance addict needs. I’m so happy to see self published books doing so well on the ratings scale, they’ve come a long way haven’t they?

    • Yes, these don’t have that unpolished or, worse, unfinished, feel to them. You can just read, enjoy, and appreciate.

  • I like trying out a new-to-me author by reading one of their novellas. I should look into this anthology. So glad that you really enjoyed all of them. I’ve been meaning to give Lauren Smith’s books a try.

    • That’s what I like to use anthologies for, too. The novella length can be a bit deceptive though if the author struggles with that story length, but at least there will be a hint at their writing.
      Lauren’s story was amusing and hot. 😉

  • I love anthologies especially when there’s a bunch of new to me authors. Great review.

    • Yes, that is exactly my reason to like them, too. Thanks, Mary!

  • Oh this sounds like a good collection and there are some yummy stories in there from pirates to rogues. I love anthologies. They are perfect for picking up late night and reading one story.

    • Yes a nice variety of historical heroes. Fun to read them and see what I was going to get.
      That part was nice. I did spread out reading the stories when I just had short time spots.

  • I don’t know these authors… and I am so weird! You know I love shorties, but for the life of me I struggle with anthologies. What the heck is wrong with me?! I know it’s all in my head, I need my issues fixed stat.

    • Some are more well known than others. I had read books by three of them and knew of one other, but the rest were entirely new introductions.
      And that’s not weird to not like shorter stories. Lots of people don’t from what I’ve seen in discussions and comments. So you’re alright, Braine- at least this not in this instance. LOL

  • The only one I’ve read is Vane and oh hers sounds really good! Grace’s too. I need to try her out I think 😀

    • I liked the two Samantha Grace books I read before- I got them out of order. Now I need to go back and get the ones I missed. 🙂

      Yes, VV’s story was one of my favorites. Hers was the first one I read even if it’s the last in the group. 😉

      I ended up enjoying all of these to some extent and a few of the new to me ones have my attention now.

  • I haven’t read any of these authors before which is kind of amazing. I like anthologies every once in a while because I think that they are an excellent way to try out new to me authors. I love the fact that you liked all of the stories in this one – that rarely happens. Great review!

    Carole @ Carole’s Random Life

    • Yes, the variety sampling is the best part for me. I had pretty good luck with this one. Some I liked more than others, but even those that were more mediocre made me want to try some novel-length stories by the authors.

  • Lots of stories, and I do like the sound of that

    • Oh yes, any type of historical hero at my finger tips. Very nice!