Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Lost by J.D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blaney and Ruth Ryan Langan

The Lost is a collection of short stories, each involving someone or something being lost, and how it becomes found again.

"Missing in Death" by J.D. Robb takes Detective Eve Dallas to a possible murder scene on the Staten Island Ferry. Two women are missing, one is dead, and the murderer is nowhere to be found. But even when one of the missing women turns up to be reunited with her family, she isn't aware that any time has passed since she disappeared on her way to use the bathroom. Nor can she remember anything about what happened during the missing time, or how all that blood got into the bathroom.

It turns out that the missing woman, now presumed dead, was a corporate spy and assassin. She has a history of protecting people and inventions for corporations, and stealing the inventors and their inventions of other corporations. But it seemed that this time, she was onto something that could have been seriously lucrative in terms of profit- a toy that could erase people's memories, either temporarily or permanently. But who killed her, and what happened to the device she wanted to sell?

"The Dog Days of Laurie Summer" by Patricia Gaffney puts Laurie Summer, a workaholic executive, into the body of a stray female dog after she hits her head on a rock in a stream. Adopted by her husband and son, she works hard to keep her family together and keep her husband out of the arms of a woman whose son is a friend of her own. Because her body is in the hospital in a coma, she tries to protect her husband from a woman she sees as getting too close to the man she loves, and who might take her place if she never comes out of her coma.

But when she learns to take life more easy as a dog, she is also forced to look at how she spent so little time with her family, and wonder how it could be different. But what will it take to get her out of the body of the dog and back into her own? Can she save the woman she thinks is hot for her husband, or will she discover that even though Monica seems perfect, she has demons of her own?

"Lost in Paradise" by Mary Blaney takes the former nun Isabelle Reynaud to a small island in the Lesser Antilles named Isla Perdida. Isabelle is there to help the owner of the island, Sebastian Dushayne, by breaking a curse laid on him by his former mother-in-law, whose daughter died in an attempt to reach Sebastian during the storm season when he demanded she come home immediately. Sebastian can no longer leave the island, and no longer believes in God.

Isabelle is there partly to open a medical clinic, and to sing for Sebastian, who loves music. He believes himself to be a hard, cold, pitiless man, but his relationship with the children of the island, who he loves and has done so much for, say that view is a lie. Can the relationship between Isabelle and Sebastian save him when an injured child must be rushed to the mainland to save it from death? Can Sebastian be freed of his curse?

"Legacy" by Ruth Ryan Langan takes Aidan O'Mara from her home in America to Ireland to meet a possible grandfather that she has never met or had knowledge of. Her grandmother once loved Cullen Glin, until her father separated them, and made her marry another man. They soon moved to America, leaving Cullen alone. He had been poor, but made a fortune, and never loved another. But now Aidan is alone, all her relatives dead, and her mother, who recently died, was so sick for so long that Aidan left her job to nurse her. With no job prospect, and no money, she reluctantly takes the money that Cullen Glin offers for a visit and to determine if they really are related.

But in Ireland, she finds her attention held much more by Ross Delaney, Cullen Glin's solicitor and right-hand man than by her supposed grandfather or his mansion or the people of the town. But will she be so desperate not to take away Ross's own inheritance from Cullen that she rejects his love to return to her own life? Or can Ross convince her to stay with him and be his wife?

As with a lot of short story collections, this one consists of four stories. What can be a problem is that often, one of the stories may not really fit in with the theme of the rest. Sometimes, one story, while ostensibly about the same theme as the rest, is so out of tone with the other stories that it, stylistically speaking, sticks out like a sore thumb. Luckily, this book didn't have that problem. Each of the stories, while different from the others, all shared the same sort of tone, so that none of them seemed wildly out of place.

And regardless of tone or other problems, there will always be one author who is the reason for buying the book. In this case, that would be J.D. Robb, also known as Nora Roberts. Her Eve Dallas stories are wonderful, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I think it was the best story in the book. I also liked the "Dog Days" story by Patricia Gaffney as something that really went above and beyond the bounds of a good story. Those were the two best stories in this collection. Not to fault the last two, but they were more cookie-cutter romance stories, nothing that we haven't really seen before. Well-done, certainly, but compared to the first two stories, well, there is a reason they are last in the book. Enjoyable, but no more than that.

So, as a whole, this book is very well done in tone and stories. While not all of them will make you sit up and take notice, there are enough really good stories in this book to make it well worth the money to buy, or to make you seek it out in the library. Well-done and a cut above the usual romance short story collection. Highly recommended.

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