The book contains two novellas.
After the Music by Christine Feehan
Synopsis (blurb): Terrified by mysterious threats, Jessica Fitzpatrick spirits away her twin wards, Tara and Trevor, to the remote island mansion of their estranged father, world-famous musician Dillon Wentworth. Ever since the fire that claimed his troubled wife’s life and left him horribly disfigured, Dillon has shut out the world. With Christmas approaching, the spark between him and Jessica might light the future, but there are those who shared Dillon’s wife’s love of the occult . . . and their evil machinations may plunge the family into darkness — unless a Christmas miracle occurs. . . .
Review: This was my first Feehan book not dealing with Carpathians and I don’t know whether I’m glad or sad to say that she hasn’t changed her ways. The heroine’s body is still soft and pliant and the hero is once more a predator – even if he comes in disguise of an ex-celebrity musician. In Feehan’s world, there is an order and you must adhere to it. Plenty of molten lava around as well, and she even managed to throw in a narrow ribcage, so nothing new here either.
I wouldn’t call the story Gothic, but there are some mysterious features on board. Hooded and cloaked figures looming in the dark, curious “accidents”, shadows from the past, a Gothic mansion on a remote storm-ridden island, it’s all there. The story dragged along though. Why, oh, why the couple waited for an eternity to follow their mutual attraction remains a mystery and annoyed me quite a bit. It was an ok read, the characters were nice and likeable, I just didn’t feel connected to them. However, for Feehan fans it is a must.
Lady of the Locket by Melanie George
Syopsis (blurb): The echoes of history and romance lure Rachel Hudson to Glengarren, the Scottish castle where her parents met many Christmases ago. But it is the portrait of fierce Highlander Duncan MacGregor that sparks an inexplicable yearning inside her. On a storm-tossed night, as lightning cracks across the castle’s turrets, Rachel finds herself face-to-face with MacGregor himself, astride a mighty stallion. Now, stepping into Rachel’s time — and her heart — the warrior from the past is pursued by an ancient, evil enemy. . . .
Review: This second story was a real treat. I have never read anything by Melanie George, but will definitely look for some of her books. You could literally feel the cold in that old Scottish castle and feel the mysterious atmosphere. The hero, Duncan MacGregor, was to die for, no wonder Rachel fell for him immediately. I personally like the soul mate theme, so the instantaneous connection between the two didn’t pose a problem for me.
I was somewhat dissatisfied with the end of the story. It turned out to be a real tear jerker (not bad in itself), but wasn’t resolved satisfactorily in my eyes. I don’t see how the author could have done it differently, but I just didn’t like it particularly anyway. It was a HEA of sorts, though.
I really liked the lyrics of the song that Duncan sang to Rachel and researched it on the net. The song was written in 1877 by Annie Fortescue Harrison with lyrics by Meta Orred. Thus it could have hardly been known by Duncan who died in Culloden in 1746. Admittedly the song fit wonderfully into the context, but inconsistencies like this could be avoided and just bother me in retrospect.