by Anthology

January 2003
ISBN: 0-373-83569-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Mass Market Paperback

Behind The Red Doors, the new anthology by three of Harlequin's top authors, certainly started my new year off on the right note.

This book takes place the two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year no less. The Red Doors is a set of three exclusive stores where women are pampered and their significant other can have help picking out the perfect romantic gift for their sweetheart. The stores consist of Heaven Scent, an aromatherapy store where the perfect scent can be created for your love, The Diamond Mine, where the best jewelry can be found, and Sheer Delights, where lingerie can be found for every need.

Vicki Lewis Thompson starts off this anthology with Heaven Scent. Jamie Ruskin is the owner of this aromatherapy store. Jamie has been in love with her best friend Faith’s brother, Dev Sherman, for years. She feels she will never have a chance with someone so smooth, sophisticated and, yes, sexy. Jamie plans to use her aromatherapy knowledge to attract Dev. Little does she know that Dev has already noticed her as more than his sister’s best friend.

Stephanie Bond gives us The Diamond Mine. A year ago at Valentine’s Day, Faith Sherman broke up with policeman Carter Grayson after only a few dates because she was convinced he wasn’t commitment material. He was out for the short fling and she wanted a more permanent relationship. Best to cut her losses before she completely lost her heart to this sexy cop. Fast forward one year later, Faith has scheduled the legendary 27 carat Valentino Diamond to be displayed at her store two weeks prior to Valentine’s Day. Who should be assigned to the security detail to protect the diamond but Carter Grayson? Is fate giving Faith a second chance with the guy she’s never really been able to forget? It just might be... the only problem is Carter tells her he’s engaged to someone else.

Leslie Kelly offers the last story with Sheer Delights. Joe Santori has drawn his sister-in-law’s name in the annual family gift exchange. At the urging of his brother Tony, Joe agrees to give his sister-in-law a gift certificate to the trendy new store Sheer Delights. While waiting for the clerk to produce the gift certificate for him, Joe visits the personal kiosks and enters the personal information of what he thinks is his “fantasy woman”. When his ideal lady appears on the screen, Joe becomes obsessed and visits the store many times over the next few weeks purchasing things for this fantasy woman he has created. Imagine Joe’s surprise one day when he is leaving the store and he runs smack dab into a distraught Meg O’Rourke. Meg is the woman of his fantasies right down to the tiny cleft in her chin. You see, schoolteacher Meg has just learned that her picture is being used at Sheer Delights to model lingerie in the kiosks computer program.

I love reading anthologies but must confess I am often disappointed by them as many times the stories come to an abrupt ending or don’t seem to have much of a connection. This certainly isn’t the case with Behind The Red Doors. Mses. Thompson, Bond and Kelly seem to have taken great pains to insure that these stories flow from one to the other. There are secondary characters that make up a fourth story throughout the book. This aspect is an added touch to an already great anthology. I have enjoyed these ladies individual offerings in their single title releases. Behind The Red Doors offers the reader three times the talent and, of course, three times the romance these authors have come to be known for delivering. I hope these three talanted writers will collaborate on another project in the near future. I will be first in line to read another offering by this talanted threesome.

Reviewed in February 2003 by Barbara.

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