Storm and Shelter

Bluestocking Belles. Apr. 2021. 808p. ISBN 9781733245029. $37.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
This anthology includes eight short stories, each approximately 60–100 pages. They share a common setting and event: it’s 1815, at the Queen’s Barque Inn in a fictional North Sea coastal town called Fenwick on Sea, and a dangerous storm is battering the coast, stranding people left and right. Other than the innkeeper and his family, who appear in each story, there’s little in these eight tales to indicate that their protagonists’ lives brush up against one another during shared days in close quarters, though some characters appear very briefly as background characters in other stories. The authors—Burrowes, Rue Allyn, Sherry Ewing, Alina K. Field, Cerise DeLand, Jude Knight, Mary Lancaster, and Caroline Warfield—present a wide range of styles and romance tropes, making this volume an excellent way for readers to find new favorites. The common motif throughout the stories is, of course, forced proximity: the protagonists have no choice but to spend quality time with each other. A few of the authors have trouble pulling off a believable romance in so few pages, while others handle it with aplomb.
VERDICT This anthology will likely appeal most to fans of Harlequin category romances or Regency romances that tend toward the dramatic.
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