by Debbie Macomber, Sharon Sala, Jasmine Cresswell, Beverly Barton, Julie Elizabeth Leto

October 2005
ISBN: 0-373-83580-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Trade Paperback

For years Harlequin has been the benchmark in women’s romance. Once again they stand out among the rest with their project for and about women. For the second year in a row they have selected ordinary women who have done extraordinary things. The women were chosen from a list of nominees that readers from around the world had submitted.

This list is whittled down to five truly extraordinary women who then not only receive $10,000 for their favorite charity, but also get to see their story put to words by some of Harlequin’s finest authors. All proceeds from the sale of these books are put back into the More Than Words program, which continues the work of caring for women.

Each story in this compilation shines bright, however as with all things one star stands out among the rest. For me that star was long time favorite Debbie Macomber, and her contribution What Amanda Wants. Not only is this story connected to Ms. Macomber’s Blossom Street books it also stand alone as a powerful story of a young teen’s fight against cancer. Amada Jennings suffers not only from a rare recurring cancer but fights for her own spot in the hospital atmosphere where things seem generated for either the very young or the adults. Falling somewhere in the middle is most difficult for a teen.

When Lydia Hoffman, owner of A Good Yarn finds out about Amanda’s plight she knows her years of experience as a young cancer survivor can benefit Amanda. Not only does she pay Amanda a visit, she introduces her, her parents and hospital staff to an organization called Teen Living with Cancer. Through this program resources and online resources geared to teens, Amanda and other youth will find their fight against the disease just a bit easier. Macomber truly brought this story to life through her talented way with words.

My second favorite contribution comes from Harlequin favorite Sharon Sala who delves into making dreams come true for senior citizens. Frances Drummond loves her work at the assisted living center. Each patient has his/her own special spot in her heart. Charlotte Grace, an eighty-seven year old resident is the one who has stolen her heart. Once Frankie hears Gracie’s life story and her dream she knows she’ll go above and beyond to bring happiness to her dear friend. Through an organization called Second Wind Dreams, a non profit group that grants wishes to the elderly not only does dear Grace see her dreams become reality but Frankie who set the wheels in motion will get to go along for the ride!

The remaining authors in the group quickly bring other stories to life as they introduce such organizations as Dress For Success that gives love income women a chance for the professional attire they will need as they enter the workplace; Street Haven at the crossroads which has helped many thousands of women receive services and programs that allow them to overcome their demons in order to become independent.

Groove with Me is another non profit group that allows underprivileged girls to get free dance lessons. It also offers a chance for the girls to meet sponsors and role models that will help them obtain important skills and talents.

There are simply not enough words to tell all the stories submitted or to rave about the talent of each individual author who gave of their time. I hope you’ll take my word for it when I say; the money you’ll spend on this spectacular book will be a wise and enjoyable investment. Both Harlequin and the authors have outdone themselves.

Reviewed in November 2005 by Shelby.