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
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