This anthology contains 3 stories by 3 authors. Each story is book-length (~300 pages).
RIDES A HERO by Heather Graham
Malachi Slater and his 2 brothers (Cole and Jamie) fought for the Confederacy. Cole married into a family of Union sympathizers, including his wife Kristin, sister-in-law Shannon and brother-in-law Mathew McCahy (in the Union army). The Civil War is over but it is hard to tell with the continued fighting!
This is Cole's second marriage - his first wife was killed by a bushwacker while Cole was left for dead. Eventually, Cole found the man and killed him in a fair fight. However, the killer had a powerful and rich father - who circulated wanted posters. He has placed hefty prices on all 3 of the Slater brothers heads.
Now, the murder's father has had Kristen kidnapped to get Cole to come rescue her. Malachi teams with his nemesis, Shannon, to get Kristen. Unfortunately, Shannon is worse than no help; she's hot-tempered and speaks her mind. Before long, Malachi has to rescue Shannon too.
This book has plenty of action! The only complaint I had was with Shannon - I couldn't imagine why Malachi would want such a loose cannon! 4 stars
SEIZE THE FIRE by Patricia Potter
This story is also of the American West, but it couldn't be more different! There's a great deal of internal dialog by the main characters. There is quite a bit of action here, but the focus is what each character is thinking. I thought it was a bit long because there was so much of the same introspection again and again. After saying that, I thought this was the best story of the 3 and well worth my time.
Army scout MacKenzie has been falsely charged of murder and rape. He is forced to walk behind a wagon in chains - the goal is to for MacKenzie to die on the way to a distant fort. Traveling in that wagon is the widowed daughter and grandson of the fort's commander.
April Manning objects strongly to the treatment of the half-breed scout, to no avail.
MacKenzie takes April and Davey as hostages, planning to leave them at a safe location. However, each of his attempts fails to deliver them to a safe haven. The attraction between MacKenzie and April deepens and Davey adores the scout. Before long, MacKenzie's hostages refuse to leave him!
MacKenzie is accepted by neither Indian nor white. Part of it is his own problem - he's never tried to care about anyone. This makes for a very cold and indifferent person. April and Davey stir his feelings - they refuse to leave him an outsider. April and Davey declare their love for him - but he knows the dangers of having children of mixed races and refuses their love.
This is a powerful story and the last part of the book is particularly good. The reader finds out why MacKenzie has always been cold and indifferent as a fort scout. 4.5 stars
SWEET SONG OF LOVE by Merline Lovelace
It was a shock - after 2 stories about the American West, the last story is about England, Brittany, etc., in a far earlier time. I forced myself to finish the story even though it was boring and trite.
Here's the synopsis: young woman's very old husband dies (and leaves her with lots of money); she is "given" to a much younger man - a knight with little money; knight marries young woman, has lots of sex, they live happily ever after.
Mellisynt of Tremont is about 22 and has been cloistered (in the Tremont Castle) by her aging husband. He has also been a penny-pinching tyrant; when he dies, few tears are shed. Soon after, Duke Geoffrey gives Mellisynt to Sir Richard FitzHugh, a fearsome knight-warrior. He is ambitious and sees Mellisynt only as a means to securing his future.
However, Sir Richard doesn't reckon on his new wife. The story is about two individuals, coming from differing backgrounds, who strive to make peace in their marriage and eventually fall in love.
Lovelace has a good grasp of the history of the times and adds it liberally. There's more than enough fighting for the reader; the times highlighted in this story were violence-prone and dangerous. 3 stars