I am a big fan of the Kensington Brava "Wicked Women" series, and most Kensington Brava books period, so when I saw this one in the store, I picked it up without second thought.
Unfortunately, this one does not measure up with others I have read.
MaryJanice Davidson has a kooky, madcap style of writing. Sometimes her quirky humor and characters make for an entertaining romp, other times they are simply annoying. This one definitely falls into the latter. The story is only about 64 pages long, really short even for a novella, and the story feels very rushed. It starts out humorously with a series of emails between Julie Kay and Scott, who are two employees of a greeting card company, plus the IT department and the CEO. But then it goes downhill from there. Julie Kay is strong willed, brash and foul mouthed, but then turns inexplicably ditzy at the end of the story. Either persona is not very appealing. I also find Julie Kay referring to sex with Scott as "boning" to be highly unromantic and distasteful coming from a woman's mouth. Scott, who is apparently a 6'5" sex god to look at, acts and speaks most of the time like he is about 12 years old, so it is easy to see why he is a "tremendous geek who never has sex". Enough said.
Leslie Esdaile is a new author to me. I had mixed reactions towards her story. The actual story itself is entertaining with the idea of a girls night on Valentine's day and the resulting mayhem, and the main characters Jocelyn and Raymond and the attraction between them is appealing. What I didn't enjoy as much was the style of speaking used at times. Both protagonists are African American, which is refreshing for a change. However, Ms. Esdaile has them, and other characters, lapsing often into "neighborhood" slang, which to me is awkward coming out of the mouths of a graduate student and a police officer, two highly educated people. It quite frankly reminds me of thugs and gang members and participants of the Jerry Springer show. Perhaps it is just me not having much understanding or exposure to the culture, be that as it may. All in all, not a bad story, but also not great.
Susanna Carr has by far the best story of the three. The heroine Shanna Murphy is planning her Valentine's Day to make it look like she has a hot love life, even though it is the opposite. It seems a little flaky and desperate, but when you see what she has to deal with in her co-workers, her witch of a boss and having to see her ex-lover Calder Smith every day at work, you can start to see what has driven her to this. Of course, her carefully laid plans all fall apart, leaving in her dateless and having to work late on Valentine's Day. Throw in the suspicious death of her boss and a suddenly attentive Calder, and you have a very enjoyable story. My only gripe is that it was too short. I think Shanna and Calder could be very interesting characters, especially Calder, if they were given the opportunity to be totally fleshed out in a complete novel. But overall, pretty good. In my opinion, the only thing to redeem this anthology and bring my overall rating to 3 stars.