Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor)

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Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor)

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: Soul-soothing, classic romantic fiction from forty of the best in this anniversary edition by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Great value for money!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 576 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Mira Books
ISBN: 978-0778303374

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What a feast is presented in these forty stories from well-loved and prolific romantic authors, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Romantic Novelists' Association. In a Who's Who of the genre, there are writers from every age group, including one or two who might even have been founder members of the RNA, back in 1960. My advice is to sip through the stories slowly, rather than gobbling them up quickly and suffering from indigestion.

Have you ever seen the guidelines for submissions to traditional women's magazines? The narrow parameters of acceptable plots, themes, characters, morals, language and word lengths, and many no-go areas, means that writers are forced into ultra-conservative variations of the boy meets girl theme and formulaic writing can be a problem. Yet the RNA writers craft fresh-sounding stories around the traditional female stereotype of marriage, monogamy and happy families ever after. How far this conventional framework interacts with a contemporary, multi-cultural society is beyond me, but these authors retain an enthusiasm for bringing romance into our everyday lives that makes it churlish to mutter about the political incorrectness of ethnic and gender imbalances in the stories.

So there are secret lovers who turn out to be husbands and husbands who turn out to be not-so-secret lovers. There are single men in possession of fortunes (in fact, quite a few of them) and in want of wives or not wanting wives but about to meet them come what may. There are lovers at all stages and from all ages. There are heroines with fairy-tale backgrounds and fairies who step forward from the background. Always that gentle nod favours the European tradition of enduring love, the idealized picture of one perfect partner out there, waiting, for each and every one of us. To the occasional surfeit of syrup I yelled Bollywood and rushed back in.

I like writers who poke fun at their characters, such as the forty year old who finds she looks like a celebration dumpling in Jane Wenham-Jones' Wolf Whistle, or the inept car parking fairy in The Angel with a Wet Black Nose by Rita Bradshaw. And I love the schoolboy humour in Debby Holt's Wind of Change where Lily falls abruptly in then out of love with her father-in-law due to circumstances beyond his control.

Several stories have novel enough plots for me to chew on them afterwards: one such is A Weekend in Venice by Carole Matthews. Woman gets undressed by famous artist who paints the most fabulous portrait of her and then ravishes her to oblivion. Oh isn't that the stuff of dreams? I also particularly liked, at the other end of the scale, a cute little story set in the British Museum, Mummies and Daddies by Victoria Connelly.

One particular story stood out for me, perhaps because it explored the sensitive subject of breast cancer in an unusually open way for this genre (cancer stories are usually a no-no because the subject matter will affect some readers personally). In Sue Moorcroft's poignant – and romantic - story, The Malta Option Alicia has to explain her decision not to accept treatment for an aggressive breast cancer to Grant. In common with all the stories it is full of warmth despite the grim subject matter.

I'm fascinated by the short introduction about each author. Who, for example is the single male contributor, a female nom de plume-ist who spends his weekends mountaineering? Which writers have several pseudonyms? And which writers still write with great energy, even though their prolific output spans many years?

Has the great British tradition of romantic short stories lost its appeal in this multi-cultural age? It certainly seems that magazine publishers think so, for real life stories have overtaken fiction in women's magazines by a long way. I'm not so sure. Editor, Katie Fforde, says in her Foreword … reading romantic fiction … has always been what got me through the tough times, and still does … She has a point. Women look for an escape from mundane problems in their romantic fiction – which they won't find in the endless tales of misery peddled as human interest in the media.

The Bookbag would like to thank the publishers for sending this book.

If you enjoyed the more contemporary stories, Cut on the Bias is a set of stories punching way above their weight, from the Welsh Women's Press, Honno.

Buy Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Katie Fforde (Editor) and Sue Moorcroft (Editor) at Amazon.com.

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