~by Lynn Kurland, Madeline Hunter, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Karen Marie Moning
2002 PEARL Winner
2002 RIO Award of Excellence Winner
2002 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee
2003 RITA Award Winner
This book has won (and has been nominated for) numerous awards as an anthology, and several of the novellas have also been nominated (or have won) individually. Each of the stories has a plot point surrounding a tapestry, thereby giving the collection its name, although some work it in better than others.
The first novella is To Kiss in the Shadows, by Lynn Kurland. Lianna of Grasleigh has recently become a ward of the king after her parents were killed. Disfigured and despised, she awaits the time that she, and her land, will be married off to form a political alliance. Kendrick of Artane is much admired, handsome, and sought-after. His brother, however, is another story. Jason of Artane once served as a squire to a man rumoured to be a practitioner of the dark arts, and he is therefore treated with fear and loathing. Jason has been sent by his father to find Kendrick when he unexpectedly meets and falls in love with Lianna. But the king would never agree to such an alliance with a reviled third son. To Kiss in the Shadows is an award-winner and quite a lovely story. I particularly enjoyed the brothers' interactions and how they played off one another, nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to keep things interesting!
An Interrupted Tapestry, by Madeline Hunter, is the second novella in this collection, and like the first, is strictly a historical romance. Giselle's brother Reginald has wasted the family fortune away. He has left debts all over London, making false promises, and bad trading decisions. Now he is being held ransom, and unless his debts are repaid, he may just lose his life. Desperate, Giselle approaches Andreas, an old family friend and successful tradesmen who she hasn't seen since he had a falling out with her brother. And although Andreas is engaged to be wed to the daughter of a wealthy Venetian merchant, his heart belongs to Giselle and he agrees to help her.
The third novella, Dragonswan is another award-winner written by Sherrilyn Kenyon which has subsequently been published individually. It is the third story in her Dark Hunter series, following the novel Fantasy Lover and a short story entitled "The Beginning". Dr. Channon ("Shannon with a C") McRae has always been fascinated by the Dragon Tapestry which hangs in art museum. In fact, she made it the subject of her dissertation. One day while studying the tapestry at the museum, she encounters a dark, handsome, and mysterious man name Sebastian Kattalakis. Although very unlike her, she ends up sleeping with him. As it turns out, Sebastian is no ordinary human, he belongs to a race of beings known as the Drakos. After stealing the tapestry, he takes Channon back in time with him to pre-Norman Britain. While enjoyable, the story really should have been an entire novel; it is simply too complex a plot to be squished down to novella length and still do the story justice. Perhaps a little over the top at times, but you gotta love were-dragons!
The fourth and final novella in this collection is Into the Dreaming by Karen Marie Moning. Like Dragonswan, this story also has a bit of time-travel and magic mixed in with the historical romance. (By the way, if you read the plot blurb at the beginning of the book for this story, it is almost completely wrong.) To save his clan, Aedan MacKinnon agreed to be imprisoned by the Unseelie King but was tricked into five hundred years of imprisonment, by the end of which he has lost both his sanity and his humanity. Jane Sillee is a modern day woman, aspiring to be a romance writer; inspired by her dreams of a handsome highlander. Although she didn't know, the dreams and the man she loves are real. The Seelie Queen arranges for the two of them to be brought together, but Aedan is no longer the man Jane knew from their meetings in the Dreaming. She has a month to bring him to his senses, or he will be lost to her forever.
Overall, I enjoyed this collection very much. The stories presented a variety of writing styles and romantic genres. As novellas, they were quick reads, but contained a surprising amount of substance despite their length. I can definitely understand why so many like this anthology.