Sweet Wind, Wild Wind by Elizabeth Lowell is the first book in this anthology. It was a re-release of a 1987 book.
Even after fours years, Lara Chandler is nervous about returning to the Rocking B Ranch to research and write a one hundred year history of it. Growing up, she always had to deal with her illegitimacy. Now that her grandfather, Cheyenne, is dead she feels she will have a hard time on the ranch. Her biggest fear is dealing with Carson, the adopted son of her father. His rejection of her was the main reason she fled the ranch.
Carson has had to deal with his own set of issues over the years since he was not a true blood heir. He has worked hard and made the ranch a success, but put his own needs on the back burner. He has not let anyone get too close. Seeing Lara again brings back sweet memories, but can he keep the past and all its issues from ruining any future they might have?
Ms. Lowell tells a sweet, but sensuous love story that concentrates mainly on the hero and heroine. They are both wounded and have to work through a lot of emotional baggage. The history research element is a interesting pivotal plot device and works well with the storyline. Ms. Lowell may have developed more sophistication and polish in her writing since this 1987 novel, but this is a more pure form of romance than most being written today. There are steamy scenes galore, but a underlying tenderness that resonates with true romance readers.
A Wolf River Summer by Barbara McCauley is the second book in the anthology and is a new original novel.
Paige Andrews is a stereotypical small town librarian, whose big excitement for the week is her standing date with her boyfriend to watch TV with his mother chaperoning. Imagine her shock when rancher Clay Bodine comes to ask for her help. Rumors of his past feed the town's gossip mill.
Clay's request is to marry him so he can try to get custody of his daughter that he has just recently become aware of after his ex-wife's death. Without a wife and stable home life he fears his former in-laws will get full custody. He is on a tight schedule and has to be married as soon as possible. At first Paige turns him down flat, but after an epiphany with her boyfriend, she changes her mind and becomes Mrs. Bodine so fast she is the new material for town gossip. She know she is in for a long, hot Texas summer trying to get used to marriage and doing what is best for Clay's child.
The author has done an excellent job of mixing some wry humor into this uplifting romance. You feel an emotional attachment to both the hero and heroine. Paige has led a sheltered life, but is afraid that she does not deserve anymore than what she has. Her boring, banker boyfriend is stable and the type of man women in her situation would expect to marry. She is like many women who sell themselves short. Clay has all the money one can buy, but it has not brought him happiness. He was deeply hurt by his ex-wife so he has protected his heart. The discovery of his daughter has opened him up some, but he is still a practical businessman when it comes to finding a new mother for her and wife for himself.
Even with Summer now over, A Wolf River Summer will provide romance readers with love scenes that will warm up their fall nights. Ms. McCauley has another winner to add to her award-winning body of work.