Review: The Gentleman & Gloves Anthology


 Print Length: 654 pages (total collection)
Publisher:  Penford Publishing (February 20, 2024)


Story #1 One of a Kind (A Singular Sensation Novella) by Sandra Sookoo
My Rating: 1 star out of 5

For the first novel in an anthology? I absolutely hated it. 

The concept was interesting, a member of the ton is attacked and loses his memory. Even him  being rescued by a lone woman who he quickly falls in love captured my attention. But then there were three main points that quickly turned me off of this story. I'm going to start with what annoyed me the LEAST  and end with what annoyed me the MOST.

1. The instalove. It took them a week to decide they were in love and wanted to marry? I'm sorry, but I just didn't buy it. He didn't know who he was, and they didn't really know one another, nor did we see any instances of them together that would make me think they had anything but lust for one another. 
2. The fact that the rules of society apparently don't apply to our main (female) character. She makes it clear that she has been considered scandalous in the past, engages in behaviors that would get her shunned by society (ahem a certain carriage ride springs to mind) and is definitely NOT a virgin (it was at this point I started giving up on this novella - at least bring a hint of reality of the time period to your story). 
3. The blatant stupidity. He was ATTACKED FOR A NECKLACE (which he hadn't seen in years, and hid in a secret pocket of his coat). He gave said necklace to his new paramour for safe keeping. Only to have his townhouse broken into and and members of his staff attacked; over said necklace. In fact, the entire reason for them being able to be alone in his carriage (see #2 of reasons why this novella didn't work for me) was because he didn't want to put her in danger. Only .....  she wears that same necklace to a BALL  of all places in the VERY NEXT CHAPTER. 

For the love of .... I get it. You needed something to move your story along, but maybe next time? Make it more believable. Especially when YOUR story is the one meant to entice to me continue reading the others.


Story #2 Unmasked At Midnight by Collette Cameron 
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This was a cute read centering around Darius the owner of a bookstore/coffee shop (and the son of a Duke although very far removed from having to worry about the title) and Araminta (daughter of the local vicar) that I enjoyed very much. 

When we first meet our duo, we learn that Darius is infatuated with another lady, who he claims is the most beautiful woman that he has ever met, and the woman that he intends to marry despite his twin brother warning him that all may not be as it appears when it comes to her. Unfortunately, Darius is still daydreaming about his future bride (while up on a ladder) when Araminta quite literally bursts on the scene chasing after her pet goose. Chaos of course ensues, but it has an unexpected benefit. She is now in the position to ask Darius if she can set up a corner of his bookstore for her small lending library as she firmly believes everyone should have access to books whether they can afford to purchase them or not. Darius reluctantly agrees (although he's concerned about his stock walking out instead of the books for loan). 

I admit I did have a bit of an issue with how much time these two spent unchaperoned around each other as once again, that just isn't realistic for the time period. However, it was easier to over look because of how well written I found this story to be. The author managed to use a series of time jumps to successfully convey how the friendship between the two main characters turned into more on both sides so instead of happening over the course of a single week like the first story, this one took place over several weeks. 

Added to it the drama when the truth about the woman Darius was originally interested in finally reveals her true colors (and man was that wild), and then the revelation of just who the mysterious author turned out to be,  this one was easy to finish in one sitting.  


Story #3 The Gentleman's All That by Bianca Blythe
My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

This was a cute read, however I was a bit confused. To begin with it is said that the play is to be performed at a "house party", yet there is never actually a house party? It appears more like a group of friends who have a performance night (I say this because Thomas simply comes and goes from Daphne's house as the others appear to do as well, and Thomas' sister comes to the watch the play, when the rest of the time she has been at the house.

I also didn't see much in the way of Daphne being successful in her endeavors to "make him more appealing to the ladies" as the only thing mentioned was the applause from the crowd. I feel like it would have been more enjoyable had they attended another ball or society function and Daphne realizing she had feelings for him after seeing other women fawning over him. Just a bit more angst and groveling on her part after her deception came to light would have been nice as well, or perhaps a showdown between Daphne and her cold-hearted ex-suitor. 

But other than that, I very much enjoyed this story and will be checking out more of this author's work. 


Story #4 The Virgin Widow by Robyn Dehart
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Right off the bat let me give a warning to those of you who may not be expecting this in a historical romance anthology, this book is basically more erotica than romance. 

While I am the first to admit that this was a different take on virgin wife being forced back onto the marriage mart, this one was just...  again wrong for the time period. To begin with Agatha was not only a widow, but one who had reached her majority. Therefore, her parents wouldn't have been able to marry her off a second time. I was also curious as to where the money that Agatha had saved up came from considering she wasn't married to her husband for all that long, or for that matter, why there hadn't been a provision drawn up in the marriage contract before she wed to take care of her in just this event. 

That being said, I very much enjoyed her "rebirth" under the tutelage of Sebastian and the occasional witty banter between them, but I do feel like this story felt very much like erotica over plot. For all that I enjoyed it, I wish there had been less of a focus on them and their compatibility in the bedroom and more on them getting to know one another and seeing if they were compatible elsewhere.

Also, there was so much potential for a bigger arc when the truth came out, that I felt wholly unsatisfied by how this particular one played out. There needed to be more as far as I'm concerned especially between spoiler and spoiler. 


Story #5 If the Duke Fits by Cecelia Rene
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

If you think you would like a re-imagining of a classic story like Cinderella? Then you will like this one. Unless you want it to be an actual re-imagining and not just one that picks and chooses which elements they are going to use. 

Which is what this story was. Don't get me wrong,  we have the classic step-daughter being used for slave labor. We have a handsome man in need of a wife (a duke not a prince), and a ball coming up (although this is being hosted by his Prince Regent cousin and not his father). 

But then this one goes off the rails. Not only is he supposed to be betrothed to her step-sister (something he tried to dissolve as he wanted not parts of it), but they meet and fall in love before the ball even takes place (and come on, I cannot be the only person wanting him to realize she was his love at the ball when she was all dressed up). And I think that is my biggest pet peeve with this one.  

He presents himself as a simple mister when they first meet and interact, and she not only looks the part of servant, but acts it on numerous occasions. So I desperately wanted Evie to move in with her cousin, show up at the ball in something befitting her actual station in life, and the two of them realizing the truth during a waltz.

Not even the "twists" that I'm sure were meant to be shocking surprised me as I had already seen them coming. Overall, this was a solid concept, but with a poorly executed realization. 


Story #6 Kiss the Duke Goodbye by Tracy Sumner
My Rating: 1 star out of 5

This was another case of instalove, where two people are lusting after each other, spend a week trying to scratch the itch and end up deciding that they are in love and should be married ASAP. And yes, I know that tends to happen with novellas as there is only a certain number of pages to be had, but this was another one of those stories where there was a secondary plot (this in the form of Clarissa's parentage) that could have added a whole new dimension to the story, but was thrown in at the last second as a means to an end instead. I definitely would have loved to have known her father's reaction when he found out just whom his daughter was going to marry considering the way he had treated her. I am also curious as to how, if Knox was so hard up for funds, he was able to constantly come into her shop and purchase new bonnets as gifts for his sisters-in-law all of the time. Or where the money to invest had come from. Since this appears to be the last in a series, if I find myself with some spare time, I may pick up the first book (if it's a full-length) to see if I like their writing any better when they have the time to fully flesh it out as much as they want instead of being confined to the rules governing novellas. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this collection from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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