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Emma Collingwood

REVIEW: I Do, Anthology

REVIEW: I Do, Anthology

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

13684I think I’ve mentioned before that anthologies usually make me twitch. I know I’m usually looking at a few great stories, some good ones, a few ‘meh’ ones and a couple that make me shudder. Depending on how many are in the collection. It’s rare that I read an entire anthology. It’s even rarer when every one of the entries is good. Congratulations.

I won’t discuss every story – for that I’ll say people should check out Elisa Rolle’s review – but I will talk about why I like them. Because the writing is good, the characters are people I could walk down the street and see at any street corner. Okay, maybe not the historical molly house party goers, the men in the French Foreign Legion or the Prince from the fairy tale but most of the rest are just ordinary people, living their lives, trying to do what we all attempt in life.

Some have found that special someone and have relationships that have lasted for years or mere days. Others are still searching. Some have experienced loss, either through death, divorce or social pressure. They’re having problems with their families, their jobs, the movers, the studio execs and their fans, the cops, their students, and their exes.

Some have been rejected by those who should be closest to them. Others have found acceptance when they never expected it. They are fathers and mothers, they are younger and older, they are black and white, they are everyone.

You tell their stories in first person, in alternate POVs, in third person and third person present tense. The stories are mainly contemporaries though I really enjoyed the two historicals and the opening fairy tale. Some stories are funny, some sad, some bittersweet, some violent.

But I finished each story, whether it was long or short, feeling that I’d just gotten a vivid glimpse into someone else’s life. And I found myself pulling for all of them to be able just to live an ordinary life, like everyone else, with no fingers pointed, no judgments made, no fanfare or hoopla. Just to be accepted. Maybe one day. Good job, one and all. B+


This book can be purchased in ebook format from AllRomanceEbooks and other etailers.

REVIEW: Lieutenant Samuel Blackwood (deceased): A Georgian Ghost Story by Emma Collingwood

REVIEW: Lieutenant Samuel Blackwood (deceased): A Georgian Ghost Story by Emma...

Dear Ms. Collingwood,

I both liked and didn’t like your novella Lieutenant Samuel Blackwood (deceased).
I was attracted to it as soon as Jane offered it to us, because your email mentioned it was a penny-dreadful styled ghost story, and I love the ghost stories of the Victorian era (it’s set in Georgian times but the style it’s written in is from the Victorian period). I didn’t realize it was a romance, and a MxM one, until fellow reviewer Jayne mentioned it in an email when I was already 20 pages into the 80.

blackwood_coverAnd therein lies the duel nature of my feelings toward this piece. As a Victorian-style ghost story you did an admirable job, beginning with the naval men around the fire hearing a hair-raising story about a cursed ship from one of its men. I was surprised and pleased when at the quarter mark it shifted into present tense and the most intriguing character of the first part, Daniel Leigh, decided to challenge the curse himself by joining the crew.

There were hints about the sexual inclination of the captain, but everything was all done so subtly that I thought this was a ghost story in which one of the main characters just happened to be gay. I’m a fan of MxM romance, but I don’t have to have it everywhere I turn.

Then out of the blue the main character, whose point of view we’d been reading all this time, declares his love! To say that it shocked me is an understatement. I understand Georgian gentlemen keeping this sort of thing to themselves, and indeed we get just the right amount of information concerning people other than Daniel, just what he’d know. But the story is told from Daniel’s close point of view, and I would have expected some idea of his feelings prior to this, other than that the captain’s smile of approval at one point made him happy. It would do that for any underling, so I don’t consider it to be sufficient to support this kind of thought at the moment he suddenly declares his love:

Did he know that Daniel tried so hard to excel in all his duties because keeping the ship in top condition and the crew at bay was Daniel’s personal notion of a declaration of love?

I don’t know if the captain knew, but this reader sure didn’t and she should have at least had some idea of it. So I was quite disappointed in the characters turning to romance because it just felt out of place, and was glad when the bump of their interlude was past and we were back to the story of the cursed ship. The ending to the story was quite suspenseful and I loved the unique approach you took.

The sea and ghost story were very well told. You have a real knack for capturing the period and the cadence of such works. (One small note: ‘dickhead’ stems from the 1960′s according to several online etymology resources, so it wouldn’t have been used in speech by Georgians. I’m not one to be picky about this sort of thing, but that one instance of hippy-era slang really threw me out of the story for a moment.) The rest of the work made me feel I was aboard a ship of the period. I’d love to see what you could do with more pages at your disposal.

Regarding the book itself, the price might seem a little steep to some, $10 for an 80 page booklet. I don’t actually have the booklet in my hands, but from the pictures on your website you were going for a very authentic look in recreating the ‘penny dreadful’. The illustrations are marvelous and Amandine de Villeneuve is to be commended. It seems that the physical copy may well be worth every penny, but as I’ve said, I don’t have it to be able to say (Readers, the author did offer it, but I was hasty and read the e-copy she sent. It is only my fault.). I don’t see an e-version being offered though that is what I read.

In summation, I wouldn’t suggest this to fans simply looking for a MxM romance, as the speed with which romance was introduced and the little face-time it was given made it unconvincing. As an old-fashioned ghost story set at sea however this excels, and anyone who likes those would enjoy the booklet for that alone. If the physical copy lives up to its pictures, it would only add to the enjoyment. Grade: B.


This book can be purchased in hardcopy, the way I’d recommend buying it if there is a choice, here on the author’s website.