03 August 2014

My Secret Admirer


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dangerous Lover by Anne Stuart
Emma O'Bannion has been entertaining herself with romantic daydreams about the mysterious, gorgeous Frenchman who's moved into her New York apartment building. On a whim, she decides to act on her instincts for once, and ends up in water so hot that her heart may never beat normally again!

Once Upon a Mattress by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Amelia Townsend's Bedroom Fantasies store is a tremendous hit, but being the boss has definite drawbacks. Though she feels a bit awkward indicating any personal interest in her deliveryman, Will Murdoch, the guy makes her salivate every time he muscles a mattress onto the truck. And now he's asked for her advice on waging a secret admirer campaign for another woman!

Special Deliveries by Marisa Carroll
Nine-year-old Dani Jensen and her little sister think Christy, their new neighbor, and their dad would be a really good match, and Dani has figured out a perfect plan to get them together. Unfortunately, the anonymous cards the girls have been sending prompt Christy to go to the Authorities, and the path that was supposed to lead to romance for Del Jensen points to the police station instead!

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited, 1999; received from a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts: I wanted to read this book mainly for Vicki Lewis Thompson. I'd only read Anne Stuart once, and that was a joint effort, Dogs and Goddesses, with Jennifer Crusie and Lani Diane Rich (and despite my love for all things Crusie I didn't much care for it). Marisa Carroll I'd never heard of. The underlying theme of each of the three stories is, of course, secret admirers.

In the first story, "Dangerous Lover", by Stuart, Emma is an attorney who has, not one but two boyfriends, either of whom would make a perfectly decent husband if she could pick one of them. We never meet them, but are told that they know she is dating both of them and don't care. Because Emma apparently is bored and has no excitement in her life, which is a sad state of affairs for a women dangling two guys on her string, she's developed a lust crush on the mysterious Frenchman who's moved in upstairs. So with Valentine's Day coming up, she decides to send him candy and flowers and little notes anonymously. Just for fun, as one does. Luc, said mysterioso, however, is actually a retired spy, and he figures out pretty quickly that Emma is behind the anonymous gifts, and he is convinced that her agenda is to kill him. So he kidnaps and drugs her and takes her out into the country to interrogate her in privacy. This story of course has a happy ending, but I didn't even care. The plot was just too silly and over the top for me, and to say the relationship developed too quickly would be an understatement.

Thompson's story, "Once Upon a Mattress", was better, though not as better as I anticipated. Amelia owns a furniture store that sells, or leases rather, fantasy. Themed bedroom groupings, giving the customer over the top love nests in their own homes. She is described at one point as being “thirtyish”. Will is one of her college student employees, a deliveryman. I got the impression that he is older than the average college student, having served in the military before school, but his age is never revealed. Amelia and Will lust after each other, but she's the boss and he's an employee, so neither thinks the other could ever possibly be interested. When one of the sales girls breaks up with her boyfriend, Will is convinced by his fellow deliveryman to pursue her, and hatches a plan to send her flowers and candy and notes, anonymously, and then reveal his identity at a restaurant on Valentine's Day. Will tells Amelia the plan and enlists her help, which drives her insane with jealousy, but being a mature sensible woman she pushes it down and helps Will by planting the deliveries for the other girl to find. I think my biggest problem with this story was thinking about this “thirtyish” woman and this college kid, and I really wished I knew how old Will was. Older woman/younger man stories just do not appeal to me at all.

Marisa Carroll's story, "Special Deliveries", was my favorite. Christy has taken a leave of absence from her nursing job in Atlanta to come home and run her aunt's business for her while her aunt is out of the country for a month. Of course her path quickly crosses with Dani and Kara Jensen, the daughters of her high school boyfriend. Christy and Del dated for six weeks when she was seventeen, and then his ex-girlfriend announced she was pregnant with his child, and Del married her in order to do right by the child. Christy left town for college and never looked back. Now Del is raising his two girls alone, and after seeing pictures of the two of them gazing at each other lovingly in Del's high school yearbook, nine-year-old Dani decides they need to be together. So with Valentine's Day coming up, she begins leaving anonymous valentines in Christy's mailbox, planning to sign her dad's name on the last card inviting her to dinner. To disguise her handwriting, she prints her messages on a computer and tapes them to the back of the cards, which are those jokey kinds kids give each other, with sharks and such on them. And which to Christy look menacing and suspicious, and make her think someone is stalking her. Carroll's story was sweet and engaging, with a more believable (and sensible) happy ending.

I haven't really read anything before, that I remember, featuring a secret admirer storyline, and frankly I don't really care to. I think I would feel like Christy in that situation - like it could be some crazy stalker, and that just isn't romantic. So between that, the horrible first story, and my personal aversion to older woman/younger man stories, I wasn't crazy about this book. However, the last story made it all worthwhile. 

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