To summarize, this anthology of romantic fantasy stories had three good entries and one that made me go, "huh?" Sharon Shinn's "Fallen Angel" was my clear favorite. Set in Samaria some 18 years after the events of ARCHANGEL, "Fallen Angel" tells the story of the teenage daughter of a rich merchant and her encounters with the bad-boy angel Jesse. Eden's feelings towards him grow from a forbidden crush to love. It almost read like a YA-high-school-romance story to me, with the good girl becoming infatuated with the rebellious boy and redeeming him. I've always been partial to these types of stories and Shinn's was wonderful.
My second favorite story was Lynn Kurland's "The Tale of Two Swords, set in a fantasy medieval-like setting. A young boy bored and having to stay indoors begs his father to read the family their favorite story of daring and romance again. So the father tells of a woman who escapes an odious arranged marriage on a fiery steed and sets out to find the king's mages to help her. She reaches the king's castle to find it run-down and inhabited by an unassuming guy who is more than he first appears. This is the first Lynn Kurland story I've ever really liked; I found it charming. Kurland is a romance author whose style transfers nicely to the fantasy genre.
Patricia McKillip's "The Gorgon in the Cupboard" is about a sweet and clueless artist who learns to see women as more than objects for his paintings or to be put on pedestals. The heroine's plight in this one was really moving--the plight of all the women in the story was moving, actually. I'll admit that I didn't quite get what was going on with the gorgon, but thought the story was nice nonetheless--I liked what it had to say.
Claire Delacroix' "An Elegy for Melusine" told the story of Melusine (ignorance alert: is that a "real" mythical figure? Arthurian?), a cursed half-human, half-fey creature who needs to get a guy to keep his word to her in order to get rid of the curse, I think it was. This was a dark and bitter story--not bad, but not what I was expecting from this anthology at all. It might be considered romantic if you consider, say, the romance of Jason and Medea romantic. I've never read Delacroix' romance novels, and now I'm not sure I'd ever want to.
All in all, an very good anthology. I hope the publisher, Berkley, does more along these lines.--Preeti (2 Aug 04)
Note that I'm not a fan of novellas since, for me, they're generally too short. That should explain most of my reaction to these stories.
Sharon Shinn's story was the strongest. It's about a young Manadavvi heiress yearning for a bad-boy angel. I didn't understand why these two people should fall in love given their very limited meetings and interactions. Pleasant story but not unforgettable. This story takes place some years after ARCHANGEL, so the high points for me were the glimpses of Gabriel, Rachel, and their wonderful, young, responsible son.
Patricia McKillip's story of the artist who learns to see the person behind the woman he uses as a model was interesting but not particulary involving. Usually her writing draws me in no matter how strange her story, but this time didn't do much for me. I just wanted to thwack the hero in the head and say OPEN YOUR EYES.
Lynn Kurland's story about a young boy who begs his parents for his favorite story of derring-do started charmingly. The father relates the tale of a high-born young girl who flees from an arranged marriage and searches for a mage to help her decode her dead mother's book. She arrives at a run-down castle where the peasant who inhabits the place turns out to be (surprise) the hero. He's handsome, she's beautiful, it's predictable, blah blah blah.
I didn't read the Delacroix story because I figured it would be as predictable as the Kurland.--Edith (13 Nov 04)