Anthology Review: More than Words, Volume 7 with Carly Phillips, Jill Shalvis and Donna Hill

Posted July 27, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Holly‘s review of More Than Words with Carly Phillips, Jill Shalvis and Donna Hill

Each and every one of us has the ability to effect change—to make our world a better place. The dedicated women selected as this year’s recipients of Harlequin’s More Than Words award have changed lives, one good deed at a time. To celebrate their accomplishments, some of our bestselling authors have honored the winners by writing stories inspired by these real-life heroines.

 We hope More Than Words inspires you to get in touch with the real-life heroine living inside of you.

Each of the stories in this collection incorporates a real life heroine nominated through Harlequin’s More Than Words program. The women nominated are ones who have done major things to help their community or bring awareness to vital programs. I really like the idea of the program and was excited to read the stories each author put forth.

In Carly Phillips’s Compassion Can’t Wait, two high school sweet hearts are reunited years later, as if by fate, and discover that if you believe in yourself and each other, anything is possible.

Kyle and Julia were childhood best friends and high school sweethearts. When Kyle gets called up to the minors right out of high school he wants Julia to go with him. Since her sister is sick with cancer and her family is being torn apart by it, she refuses. They lose contact after that. Kyle is hurt that Julia wouldn’t go with him, and Julia is hurt that he’d take off without a word, knowing she couldn’t leave her family.

Now Julia is a social worker who helps single parents families cover their expenses through the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation. One of her cases involves a set of twins – one is dying of cancer and the other has basically been abandoned by his mother while she deals with the sick one. The healthy son is a major fan of Kyle’s – who’s now a major league ball player – and she wants to set up a meeting between the two.

Between them, Kyle and Julia have a lot of baggage. Kyle grew up in a dirt poor home in less than ideal circumstances. Julia had the perfect family life until her sister became ill and she lost her parents to her sister’s care. They relied on each other to fill in the gaps of their missing families. So when Kyle left Julia behind, it was more devastating to both of them than they could have imagined. Of the two, I think Julia had more reason to be angry than Kyle. Yes, he had the opportunity to follow his dream, but she was dealing with a sick sister and her family was falling apart.

Lucky for us, Kyle realized this almost immediately upon seeing Julia again. From there he just had to convince her that they were meant to be together. Their’s was a sweet romance. I liked that, though they had history, they focused on the here and now as much as possible. The main conflict comes from Julia’s trust issues and I thought Phillips handled it well for the page count.

Overall a sweet reunited lovers story.

4.5 out of 5

Donna Hill’s Someplace Like Home tells the story of how one woman’s dream becomes reality, as three special people learn that it’s never too late to form a loving family.

Verna was a social worker for a lot of years. When she realized she wasn’t able to make a difference in that capacity any longer, she branched out and opened Someplace Like Home. The Home was a place where teenagers could come to reconcile with their families, or escape from them if needed. During a conference she was speaking at, Verna met Ronald, a high school counselor who wanted to donate his time to The Home. 

Verna and Ronald are every attracted to each other. Verna holds back because of her commitment to The Home and because of her own past. When another complication crops up between them Verna’s reaction pushes Ronald futher away. While I understood her reasons, I did struggle with the way she went about it. The fact that Verna and Ronald both suffered from it lessened my pain somewhat.

Overall this was a good entry in the collection. I think it had the potential to be darker and more emotional, but the page count didn’t allow for full emotional impact. Even so, it was well done and I enjoyed reading not only the story, but about the charity that inspired it.

4 out of 5

In Jill Shalvis’s What the Heart Wants, an honorable man must learn to forgive himself to regain the trust of the dedicated teacher who is the love of his life.

Shalvis is always a favorite, as you know, but I think she does short stories extremely well. This was no exception. Jack and Ellie were good friends in high school. They lost touch afterward while Jack was in the military. Ellie is now a teacher who runs a program that teaches women how to be confident in themselves. Jack owns a martial arts studio and Ellie wants him to teach a self-defense class at her school.

It’s obvious these two care for each other, but Jack holds himself responsible for something that happened to Ellie when they were younger. Ellie thinks that’s ridiculous, but getting Jack to move on is proving tougher than she expected. I really liked how they were together. As I said, it was obvious they cared for each other. Their long-standing friendship really came through. I love friends-to-lovers themes.

Even more, I liked the parts that featured Ellie’s school and her students. I thought Shalvis portrayed the teens well and did a good job of showcasing why programs like Ellie’s – and the real life organization hers was modeled after, WET’s – are really needed. 

Overall a sweet romance with an excellent message behind it.

4.25 out of 5

This is an excellent collection of stories put together for charity. I really enjoyed all three. Learning about the different organizations these authors chose to spotlight was heartwarming.

Overall Grade: 4.25 out of 5

There are also two additional stories available for free download at the Harlequin site. Be sure to check those out as well. 

Harlequin More Than Words Free eBook - Daffodils in Summer Harlequin More Than Words Free eBook - Worth the Risk 

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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One response to “Anthology Review: More than Words, Volume 7 with Carly Phillips, Jill Shalvis and Donna Hill

  1. Although I have never been a great fan of anthologies this really looks good. I have to keep reminding myself that most of the stories in an anthology are just about the same length as a single novella. Just a mental block for me, I think. Nice review . . .

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