Valentines by Barbara Metzger

VALENTINES
Valentines by Barbara Metzger
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Historical, Holiday, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A trio of Regency love stories for Sweethearts’ Day!

BALD LIES

Audrina is desperate to ensure that Lord Blanford not only notices her beautiful cousin but marries her as well. However, Max’s head is beset by larger worries than matrimony–though he is curiously diverted by the antics of the flame-haired matchmaking minx. . . .

THE LAST VALENTINE

Exiled into obscurity by her odious father, Martine can only assume the romantic love notes on her doorstep are a mistake–intended for another. Who could it be? Only Cupid knows–as mischief and merriment mark the countdown to Valentine’s Day. . . .

LOVE AND TENDERNESS

Few blushing brides have their wedding night ruined by a ghost only they can see, but Senta’s hysterics send her groom running. Reconciling these stubborn newlyweds is no easy task–even for a handsome, oddly dressed apparition who calls himself the King . . . .

Valentines is an absolutely delightful collection of short stories!

“Bald Lies”
is the first story in this charming anthology, and definitely my favorite. I fell in love with Audrina (Dree) and Max right away. Dree is a sweet woman trying to save her cousin, Carrie, from a loveless, arranged marriage. Dree is outspoken, and I had to shake my head at her obvious attempts to push Carrie on Max. While Dree had Carrie’s best interest at heart, it is very clear that Carrie preferred another young gentleman, and that Max has absolutely no interest in Carrie. However, Max did find himself increasingly preoccupied with Dree.

I loved watching Max and Dree get to know each other. Even though the story is very short, Ms. Metzger paces the budding relationship between Max and Dree perfectly. Their connection feels absolutely genuine, and I found myself smiling whenever they were together. One of the things I found most interesting about Max and Dree, is that they are both extremely self-conscious about certain aspects of their appearance. Their insecurities make them more realistic and certainly helped bring them to life in my mind. Both Max and Dree make very silly attempts at concealing what they view as their imperfections. Little did they know their actions put them on a collision course with a happy ending that had me laughing out loud.

Martine’s situation is dire in “The Last Valentine” . She’s been banished from her family home for a youthful indiscretion, yet it is apparent that Martine is a warm and caring young woman. She had my sympathy immediately. When love notes start appearing at her door, Martine is touched and for the first time in a long time, she begins to have some hope of happiness in her future. I enjoyed reading the love notes with Martine and watching her gradually come back to life.

Martine soon believes she has figured out the identity of her admirer. She seems so certain, that I completely followed her line of thinking and had little reason to doubt her conclusion. I began to think that the story was sweet, but predictable. However, Ms. Metzger threw in a hilarious twist at the very last moment that had my mouth dropping open in surprise. While I never could have pictured Martine’s happy ending, I believe that it is a much more fitting conclusion than the one I initially envisioned.

“Love and Tenderness” is definitely the oddest story in this collection. The ghost who ruins Senta’s wedding night has no memory of his past life, but remembers that he is a king. Like Senta, I assume that he is the spirit of some long dead royal. We were both completely wrong. Since he can’t remember his name, Senta calls him Sir Parcival. While Sir Parcival is entertaining and provides a small measure of help to Senta at pivotal moments in the story, I must admit that I found Sir Parcival’s appearances somewhat disruptive. I won’t spoil the story by revealing Sir Parcival’s true identity, but I will say that he definitely doesn’t belong in Senta’s world. Since Sir Parcival is so obviously out of place, I had a hard time settling in to Senta’s story.

Senta and her husband, Lee, are both very likable characters. However, they both strike me as rash individuals who need to learn to alternately listen and speak up at the appropriate times. The problems keeping them apart are generally not complicated and are of their own making. I found myself increasingly frustrated with them. If only they had taken a minute to listen to each other, they could have starting working as a team much sooner in the story. Despite this issue, I did enjoy reading about Senta, Lee, and Sir Parcival and his antics.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Valentines. Ms. Metzger certainly has a knack for crafting amusing stories with unexpected endings. I recommend Valentines to anyone who likes their historical romance with a generous dose of humor.

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