Review: One Sweet Morning

One Sweet Morning is a spring themed sweet romance anthology from Roane Publishing containing 4 stories of romance and how spring can play its part.

Story 1 of 4: Spring Water by Claire Devon

Here you have two people with very different problems. One feels a need to start over after finishing her academic life, while another is faced with a debilitating fear. Riley is a fearless woman who loves her hometown of Boston, while Graham is a man struggling with the loss of his brother, and the incident which caused his death.

On the outside, both seem seductive to the other, with Riley not discovering Graham’s issues at first. The way this character deals with Graham’s behaviour is relatable, especially given her desire to move and, as a consequence, her minimal interest in commitment. The way the author brings lays out her struggle there, as well as her willingness to give the relationship a chance anyway, maintains the curiosity of how she will ultimately handle the inevitable forced decision of whether to save their romance or drop it in favor of greener pastures.

Graham is an equally interesting character. He has become almost a shell of what he could be after many crises as a result of his often crippling fear. Throughout the story, there is the hope he will overcome his fear so he could have what both he and Riley truly want.

Another nice aspect of the writing is the way the role of Riley’s best friend turns out toward the end. She isn’t just a secondary character to be used by the leading lady to hear just what she needs to at just the right time. The drama between Riley and her friend adds a nice filling to the story that gives it the feel of having a life before its beginning.

Then there is the what happens when Graham tries to come to the rescue of the heroine. It is not a fairy tale, knight in shining armor saves the princess from dragons, kind of outcome for him. What immediately follows that is, instead, unexpected. It forces the characters to face their relationship for what it is.

One thing to note in particular about this story is the specifics regarding the city of Boston during winter and spring. You can learn quite a bit about it if you read this short story, even some tips for tourists.

Story 2 of 4: Spring into Action by Theresa Kemble

Tamara is a young woman trying to make it on her own, without the input of her sometimes overbearing single father and his money, while Joe is a regular guy who makes it big as the host of a reality show about enhancing vehicles. He’s the star mechanic, she’s an assistant on the show. An unlikely pairing for a romance she admits, especially given her not quite model figure. Still, she desires him, so the question is, does he?

The set of characters in this story are familiar, and yet they bring interesting surprises from time to time. You can’t tell exactly where this story is going at first, with the evolving portrayal of Joe providing the biggest surprise.

The author does a god job of creating special leading characters, both with complications that help build the expectations for romance. The question of what the romance will look like persists for the bulk of the story. With all the twists and turns in both characters and story, there is a lot to keep the mind busy. This story could have used more time, but it makes good use of what it had to create a unique cast and unpredictable outcomes.

Story 3 of 4: Only the Heart Knows by Suzi Macdonald

Maddie is a woman caught between a man she has grown to love called Troy and her former love, and Troy’s best friend, Jack, who was thought to have died on his way to his and Maddie’s wedding day. Years later, he shows up on the wedding day of Maddie and Troy. A dead man coming back to life to storm the wedding of his former lover seems fitting for a daytime soap opera, but there is much more heated and even dark drama lying ahead.

The author did a good job of making this story easy to read. The characters are all flawed. The scenes are well laid out, and you’re not sure of what’s going to happen until big secrets are revealed. This is not a story for one looking for a truly sweet romance. This is instead more of an erotic thriller without all the erotic language. You have a single mother hoping to marry a man she thought was good for her but who is sometimes powerless around the man she had been with for a long time.

The reason Jack didn’t die like everyone had thought he did seems out of place, given the expected genre of the story, but it is most certainly a twist that adds a strong sense of mystery and confusion. What are arguably even bigger twists involve Troy. Usually, in a sweet romance story, characters are not explicitly made out to be quite so different to who they really are in the beginning. Troy starts out as this great guy Maddie feels lucky to be marrying but abruptly changes to someone quite different. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it does make this story stand out, but the specifics involving this transformation are markedly darker and more shocking than its counterparts. These are the most noteworthy things to keep an eye on about this story.

Perhaps Maddie could have put up more of a fight against Jack’s advances as all she learned about him since he returned was that he hadn’t died and she was still supposed to be with Troy. Still, Maddie makes difficult choices throughout, faces difficult situations well, and does what she feels she needs to do. A good lead for a truly drama-filled story.

Story 4 of 4: Sparkage by Kim Strattford

Chris is a woman with a nice office view. Kirk worked with her. They became good friends. Chris always wanted more, Kirk was with someone at the time. He moved away, then suddenly moves back, without a woman in tow this time. Chris wants a chance with Kirk, but she is not willing to rush anything while he and his ex are not officially over.

Chris and Kirk are fun characters. They share a love for sci-fi and fantasy and neither possess any unpalatable flaw. They are good together, and the author is able to squeeze a lot out of their relationship, even the sexual tension between them. Easy and entertaining to read, this short story has a lot, albeit in bite-sized chunks. The meddling sister and Chris’ assistant are make a nice supporting cast.

The leads have a consistent playful vibe that is only slightly tinged by the uncertainty surrounding Kirk’s love life. Chris is strong, yet patient. Kirk is not especially decisive when it comes to his ex, and yet he is when it comes to Chris. Their relationship is easy and yet complicated at the same time because of their jobs.

The progression of the story is natural, in some parts compelling, and even funny. There are also curious twists and characters that inject a bit of drama here and there but without overshadowing anyone. Chris is certainly special. She drives the story and is always a character of substance, making the story itself more than pleasant.

One Sweet Morning has four distinct stories which show how different romances can be, and how they can they can be told in different ways. There are some truly intriguing characters and good entertainment inside this anthology.

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