#1: Trapped by Lori Foster
This story was pretty much a whole lot of nothing. First, the book is called Men of Courage and seems to be focused on the jobs they have. So, why does the first book have nothing to do with Ethan's job? He's a firefighter, but the story takes place over two days — that he has off. So, what's the point? The story is a friends-to-lovers piece that, like I said, takes place over two days. Rosie has always been in love with Ethan, and Ethan thinks of her as a sister. He's also still licking his wounds from a humiliating, brutal experience with his fiancée. Their relationship then goes lightening fast over those two days. Literally running the entire gamut of a relationship. Seriously. It'll give you whiplash. Then there was some weird damsel in distress but not really peril and the worst part — a frigging cliffhanger. Ethan and Rosie's story is completed with all the ridiculousness it promises but the subplot of the story carries over into another book. Why would you do that in an anthology? That's not how you should do these things! Two stars, and I think I'm being generous.
#2: Buried by Donna Kauffman
This one is much more in line with the title of the book. Of course, you have to deal with that being so because the heroine, Haley, does something incredibly stupid. Brett is a rescue worker and was on the job because a massive earthquake hit California when he has to divert his attention to saving Haley. Still, if you love dogs you can kind of see where she was coming from. And there was some decent action in the story. Their relationship goes kind of fast, too, but at least they knew each other for a short time when they were teenagers. My biggest problem with the story was that I don't think any of Haley's backstory was actually explained. We got kind of an overarching outline of what happened with her last boyfriend and her family but they weren't really shown in detail. By far the best part of the story were the dogs. They stole the show. Between them and Brett this gets a bump to three stars.
#3: Stranded by Jill Shalvis
Okay, what the fuck? This started off very promising. A massive storm hits, taking Matt and Molly by surprise. Matt ends up having to save Molly from peril and fortunately he's a doctor! So he can treat her injuries as they hide in the storm basement. The storm rages outside and they fight their own inside in the form of an instant attraction. He doesn't do relationships and neither does she but that's because she has always been too busy working but she's going to change that now because of her near death experience. So, somehow she's going to start it by screwing this dude she's known for an hour. Sigh. Okay. Never mind the fact she has bruised ribs and may be concussed. We already know Shalvis will ignore injuries not conducive to having sex so two strangers can have inappropriate sex. Never mind that they have barely (and I mean barely) exchanged names. Never mind that they've done very little talking. He tries to put her off, pushing her to sleep and rest, which she does for a time, but she will not be denied. She wants stranger-bitch sex and she wants it now! And he's too attracted to resist. So they screw for the rest of the time they're trapped in the basement. Awesome. And then the next day they're exchanging I love yous because they've changed each other's lives and she has saved him! At that point I almost threw the book across the room. The almost anonymous sex was bad enough. The random ~emotions from said sex was bad enough. BUT NOW THEY'RE IN LOVE? HOW? Riddle me freaking that! It's so damn enraging I want to punch a kitten!
What would have been the problem if the story was about them trapped in that basement talking? If they spent that time getting to know each other? If they mentally explored their attraction throughout the talking instead of that pretty much being all there is? If they made each other laugh, and found things in common, and treated each other with kindness and gentleness. If they played a frigging board game and had fun together? Would that have really been so boring to the over/under/IDEK-sexed fuckers out there? So, that's where my impromptu poll comes in:
Am I alone in wishing for a sweet romance that's actually romance? Where talking and getting to know each other is the romantic part and not rando sex? Or do you think the strangers having sex and are then suddenly in love because why not is a better story?
Bonus question: Why do so many romance authors write stories like this? Is it the lazy way out?
Needless to say, one star.
***ETA 9:34: Typos fixed now! Hopefully. Things are much better on a laptop, you guys.***