…You never know what you’re going to get.
Yes, I went full-on Gump there and borrowed a famous line, but it’s absolutely true when it comes to reading a great anthology novel. Like a decadent box of fine assorted chocolates, an anthology comes wrapped in a tempting package full of unexpected delights that you don’t fully appreciate until you take that first little bite.
As you probably already know, an anthology novel is a grouping of short stories by a variety of authors that usually encompass a specific theme or carry on a common thread. Chances are, that at least one or more of the contributing author’s names are already a familiar staple in your personal library, while the others represent authors you may or may not recognize as easily.
If you are like me, the prospect of popping an entire mystery chocolate into your mouth without first taking a sample bite is a bit of risky business. What if you prefer something juicy, like cherry or sensually smooth, like caramel and end up with a mouthful of shredded coconut bits stuck in your teeth? Anthologies represent that first tentative bite in the form of providing examples, through short stories, of how well the author’s distinctive taste will suit your personal palette.
For instance, being a fan of author Julia Quinn and falling in love with the mysterious Lady Whistledown from her series of Bridgerton Family novels, adding the two anthologies inspired by the character—LADY WHISTLEDOWN STRIKES BACK and THE FURTHER OBSERVATIONS OF LADY WHISTLEDOWN—to my collection, was a must.
It was no surprise that Quinn’s contributing story to the compilation was a wonderful read, but the three additional authors—Suzanne Enoch, Karen Hawkins and Mia Ryan—(for both books) were, as yet, unfamiliar. By the time I was finished reading the two anthologies and finding that all three were a splendid match for my tastes, I was hungry to devour more of their work.
(On a personal little side note, if anyone can tell me where the above mentioned Mia Ryan has been hiding out, please let me know. After reading what was to be the first in a series, The Duchess Diaries (released in 2003), beyond her contributions to the Lady Whistledown anthologies, no further titles from this author have been released.)
Another, more recent example, of an inspiring anthology comes in the form of FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL featuring a blend of historical and contemporary/supernatural romance from authors Cathy Maxwell, Elaine Fox, Jeaniene Frost, Sophia Nash and Tracy Anne Warren. While my own personal taste runs primarily, as you may noticed, to historical tales, Fox’s THE DUKE THAT CAME TO DINNER and Frost’s DEVIL TO PAY made me remember why I occasionally enjoy a bit of supernatural spice with my reading as well.
While already a happy collector of Maxwell’s work, I’ve already filled my wish list with titles available from the other authors from this anthology and so far the two novels I quickly gobbled up from Warren’s clever pen have proven that it only takes one tasty nibble to get you hooked.
So the next time you find yourself browsing the shelves of your local book store, make sure to include at least one anthology with your purchases. You just might discover that you have not only found one enjoyable read, but you’ve also been given a delightful taste of something new to enjoy.
Please Support the Author by Purchasing Their Books: