Royal Bridesmaids, available only in e-book format, is a follow-up to last year's uninspired Royal Weddings anthology by the same trio of writers. This one is only slightly less uninspired.
A Return Engagement by Stephanie Laurens features Lady Nell Daughtry as bridesmaid to her sister Frances who is marrying the Prince of Lautenberg. Frances is suffering under the Vane Family Curse, which is an extreme case of Bridal Nerves. Nell must keep her sister from bolting before the wedding with the help of Robert Knightley, best friend of the Prince, special envoy from England and Nell's long-lost love.
I found the whole Curse thing to be utterly ridiculous, and since the most of the story was about keeping Frances too occupied to get nervous, that didn't leave a whole lot of time for Nell and Robert's romance, which was tepid at best. Yes. A tepid romance from Stephanie Laurens. Shocking, I know.
Things improved a bit with Gaelen Foley's The Imposter Bride. In this story, the bride actually does runaway, which leaves our bridesmaid, Lady Minerva, to take her place, wedding Prince Tor to seal the peace treaty between their two countries.
I liked Tor and Minerva, and their marriage of convenience romance was sweet - until he realized he'd been duped, of course. But I spent most of my time trying to figure out where the heck they were. These are fictional countries, of course, but Foley states they are in the Alps, and that Tor is of Danish descent; Minerva lives "next door" in a country that sounds a lot like Italy - canals, on the Mediterranean, etc. - but she gets to Tor's land by riding an elephant and there are camels in the train. And then the Lipizzaner Horses showed up, for goodness sake, and threw me into another tizzy. It was too much. I couldn't concentrate on the romance at all.
And finally there's Lord Lovedon's Duel by Loretta Chase. During the reception for her sister's royal wedding, Chloe Sharpe overhears a bunch of drunken men gossiping about how the Prince had to leave behind his true love and marry for money. The most boorish of the lot, to Chloe's mind, is Lord Lovedon. Incensed, a tipsy Chloe throws champagne in his face, slaps him with her glove and challenges him to a duel. Lovedon is intrigued.
This was my favorite story in the anthology, though it comes perilously close to being just an excuse to talk about the truly remarkable dueling pistols used. But, Lovedon and Chloe are cute together, the letters they exchange setting up the duel are fun, and, if it is all very slight, it is still enjoyable.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, June 27, 2012