by Nora Roberts, Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, Marianne Williman

ISBN: 0-515-13619-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Jove Books
Mass Market Paperback

Down through the ages, the hour of midnight has held a special allure. The ending of one day, and the beginning of another, it is the perfect time for magical events. Many tales have been woven around itís dual nature, and four talented authors have added their voices to the throng with Once Upon A Midnight.

Nora Roberts proves once again that her skill for storytelling transcends genre as she weaves a wonderful fantasy, The Witching Hour. In the land of Twylia, the people suffer under a tyrantís rule, hoping that the ancient prophesy will come to pass. Hidden away from those who would destroy her, Aurora learns that she is the child of kings, and her destiny is forever intertwined with the ancient tale. Her adventure takes her into the heart of the enemy, where she meets the warrior who haunts her dreams - disguised as a stable boy. Even in the confines of a short format, Ms. Roberts gives us a compelling story - with lots of action, intrigue and strong characters.

Hidden away in Bitterbloom Cottage, Fiona keeps a secret. Her young ward, Gilroyd, is the missing Prince. She has kept him safe and happy, far from the evil men who would destroy him. Using a magic mirror, she sees a man beaten and left for dead in the woods nearby. She is compelled to save him, and in doing so, places all that she holds dear in danger. Mirror, Mirror by Jill Gregory tells the story of how a young womanís love and courage is tested as she fights to protect a prince.

In the contemporary Dream Lover, savvy businesswoman Ally Kerr has decided that the only man she is interested in is her dream lover. Sent to Scotland on business, she succumbs to the charm of the Highlands, and a certain Scottish rogue. Things are not as they appear, however, when events begin to take on other-worldly aspects. Author Ruth Ryan Langan brings the Scottish countryside alive in this story filled with ghosts, familiars and passion.

Author Marianne Willman spins a fairy tale worthy of Walt Disney in The Midnight Country. Researching her ancestors in Europe, Jenna DíArcy discovers that the town of Beaumont Foret is real and its inhabitants are not quite human. Offering to help handsome Phillipe Beaumont restore some ancient manuscripts, she discovers that he is looking for something that will keep his son safe from an ancient magic spell. The imagery of this story and the skillful way it is woven together makes it a very entertaining tale.

Once Upon A Midnight is a fine addition to your collection - as fantasy/paranormal romance, as another "Once Upon ..." anthology, or as part of the Nora Roberts section. The four stories weave spells of romance that are welcome escapes from the daily grind.

Reviewed in October 2003 by Paula.