Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Mary Connealy, and Melissa Jagears have put together a humorous novella collection of four stories of "proposals gone awry."
Karen Witemeyer's story, "The Husband Maneuver," delves into the world of dime novels, and each chapter begins with a portion of a "Dead-Eye Dan" story. Of course the real Dead-Eye Dan doesn't have much in common with his overblown fictitious persona, but his road to romance proves just as rocky. I loved the creativity of it, not to mention the humor.
"Her Dearly Unintended" by Regina Jennings: It was fun to see Josiah Huckabee as a man, after being introduced to him as a child in a previous novel. Of course, considering the young troublemaker he was, one can hardly expect the course of love to run smooth for him. I highly enjoyed the twist in the tale. It had been a good story up to that point, but that twist really makes the story.
"Runaway Bride" by Mary Connealy: It may be a little overwhelming with names for people who haven't read the series (plural), but having read them, I thoroughly enjoyed a return to the fun characters (as well as another instance of Connealy's tendency to intertwine series). It definitely fits the western shoot-out feel of the the other books about Big John's friends, who remain themselves even some years later. And there were a lot of sneaky references to her book/series titles hidden within the tale.
"Engaging the Competition" by Melissa Jagears: Though the least funny of the four, it has a fun role reversal - the heroine is the tough, half-educated sharp-shooter, while the hero excels in pedagogy.
The stories themselves have no connection to each other other than being historical westerns on a proposal theme, but they form a fine collection - rich with humor, full of grace. I liked that most of them were built on previously established relationships. Having read most of the books published by these four authors, I especially enjoyed that the stories in this collection are connected to the full-length novels - in most cases, a secondary character who finally gets their story told. Or in the case of Melissa Jagears's tale, it is the prequel to her new series, giving a sample of what is to come.
For related reading, in chronological order according to series by author, enjoy:
A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer
"The Husband Maneuver"
Ozark Mountain Romances by Regina Jennings
1. A Most Inconvenient Marriage
2. At Love's Bidding
2.5 "Her Dearly Unintended"
3. For the Record
By Mary Connealy (in chronological order)
Prequel: "Closer than Brothers: Surviving Andersonville" (e-novella)
1. Out of Control
2. In Too Deep
3. Over the Edge
Trouble in Texas
1. Swept Away
2. Fired Up
3. Stuck Together
"The Tangled Ties that Bind" (novella in Hearts Entwined)
0.5: "The Boden Birthright" (e-novella)
1. No Way Up
2. Long Time Gone
3. Too Far Down (October 2017)
Teaville Moral Society by Melissa Jagears
0.5 "Engaging the Competition"
1. A Heart Most Certain
2. A Love So True
2.5: "Tied and True" (novella in Hearts Entwined)
3. A Chance at Forever