What a great way to get back into the swing of things! I've been bombarded with reading all things homework related since January, so for such a perfect combination of short stories to fall on us here at Bookishly right as I am getting set to read what I want to read makes me very happy!
Brief Encounters is a collection of stories by the above named authors. There is mix of modern and historical, so all should love these witty works. The collection starts off with a modern and fun story called Plus One Guest by Nell Dixon. Lucy is invited to her ex's wedding, and it's the day before and she has not found her "plus one guest". Not willing to attend the wedding alone, she is somewhat tricked by her coworker Diana into allowing her boss, Harry of the fraying cuffs, to escort her. The more time Lucy and Harry are together, the more Lucy realizes she rather likes her boss, and he is more than fond of her. A sweet and funny story that made me smile with every word. Dixon's next contribution, A Weekend in Venice, is the rather sad story of Kay and her attempt to regain a little of her life back after a tragic accident that took the life of her fiancé. After becoming lost, she enters a shop where she meets Roberto, a rather gorgeous Italian, and she learns she can heal and live again. A sad, yet sweet tale that makes you believe in happy endings.
Author Elizabeth Hanbury is no stranger to Bookishly, and she is a favorite of mine. Hanbury's first contribution to Brief Encounters is the historical Miss Pattingham Requests, the story of Gyles Beaufort, a leader in the ton, and his brief engagement to Miss Merryn Ward. After a whirlwind romance, Gyles receives a letter one day, indicating Miss Ward has left for parts unknown and without giving a reason. Despite his search, Gyles cannot find his fiancée and is devastated. When a letter from his former governess arrives with a request to visit her, he resists going, but in the end relents. Imagine his surprise when he enters and sees Miss Ward is a guest as well! A lovely short about love gone awry, only to come back again. Hanbury's second contribution is The Virtuous Courtesan, A Midsummer Eve at Rookery End story. For those of you unfamiliar with the Rookery End stories please see my review here. This is the story of Leonora and Marcus, the gracious hosts of the previous stories. The story begins with Leonora breaking into Rookery End, the seat of the Earl of Allingham, to steal a portrait her father sold. A portrait that was not an original, but a copy. She is caught, not by a servant, but by the Earl himself- a much younger version than what she expected! Sparks fly in this sweet tail about housebreaking, and love at first sight.
The final works in this delightful collection are by author Phillipa Ashley, another favorite of mine. (do you see a pattern here?) Ashley contributes two sweet stories to this collection, starting off with the Feast of Stefan. And before I go on, you will want to feast on Stefan before you come to the conclusion of this tale! Nick has had his eyes on Sarah for awhile, but was afraid to ask her out because of the death of her husband. Then along comes Stefan from Slovakia, tall, handsome, and witty to boot. Stefan is there for work, which just so happens to be the same place Nick works, and they get to know each other over time. Everyone in the village loves Stefan, especially after his first gesture is buying the entire pub a round! Nick’s feelings for Sarah are strong, but he wonders of Stefan and they way they talk to each other. Sure that Sarah has eyes for Stefan; he slowly resigns himself to losing Sarah. It’s only after a freak snowstorm and hitting his head do these two come together in what is a very sweet story. The final story of the collection is A Bolt From the Blue, the story of Lisa and her quest to get over the betrayal of her fiancé. A weekend of camping and hiking with a friend turns into a mountain rescue as her friend is injured, and Lisa is led back down the mountain by Hagar as they jokingly call him. Lisa comes face to face with a Viking God or the equivalent in this case, which will set your heart pounding. After packing up their equipment, Lisa sets off to thank the rescue team and meets up with Hagar again, and this time sparks fly. We never do learn his name, but it’s not really necessary, and I’m sure you will agree. I do always love Phillipa’s leading men.
Brief Encounters is a must read, and its size makes it the perfect evening getaway. Be sure to download this as quickly as you can! It can be found at all online bookstores, and according to author blogs, the print version will be out in September. Well done, ladies!