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Seasons of Love by Bonnie Dee

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Seasons of Love
(a collection of short stories)

Bonnie Dee
Medieval/Historical/Contemporary Romance/Fantasy/Erotica
Published in 2006

Read in Nov, 2012
My rating:

                                          [spoiler alert]

Note: my rating (3.5) is based on the 4 stories by Bonnie Dee: “Maypole Dance” (2 stars), “Amish Paradise” (3.75 stars), “Crisp Apples” (3 stars) and “A Lily for Christmas” (3.5 stars).

Seasons of Love is a collection of four love stories by BD which spans from the medieval England to the present day US. I enjoyed all of them to some levels but my most favorite story was Amish Paradise. Some of these stories had good potentials and I believe, if a few pages were added, I would’ve enjoyed them more. As usual, I love BD’s writing. I feel for her characters, yet, not always things work out for me. If you’re in the mood for something light, this is a perfect anthology.

“Maypole Dance (Spring)”

H/h – Coll/Astacia
Setting: Britain, 1568.

This story was plain weird and kinda disappointing. I didn’t know what to think… and I didn’t feel anything.

The story takes place in the medieval era. Coll, a dreamy young man, is almost always ignored by the ladies. He comes from a place full of miners, and women prefer strong, burly men, which Coll obviously isn’t. He is good looking but not as ‘manly’ as per their standards. It leaves the poor guy heartbroken when a girl he had his eyes on ignores him too. But he’s horny as any young man… any virgin young man that is, and so he runs to the woods to hide his heartbreak. Coll comes across this odd clearing where there is a big beech tree. Sitting close to that, he takes his frustration in his own hands, literally!

His moaning and grunting wakes an ancient wood sprite, Astacia. The beech tree is her dwelling place and she wakes up only in Spring of each year to take care of the woods. Coming down, in all her naked glory, she finds a young human male sitting and... well, doing thing horny young human males do when they’re lonely. (lol) Astacia finds it interesting. She decides to seduce Coll, who stood no chance with Astacia’s thousand years of experience in all things sex. As it begins, time pass by like rocket since the time under fey magic doesn’t abide by the rules of the human world. Coll gives up his human family and all for spending time with Astacia and practicing his artwork, his only model the wood and Astacia herself.

A long time pass by according to the human law but Coll’s under Astacia’s spell and remains the same. Astacia begins to feel some connection with him, which is forbidden by the Gods. You can play with humans, mind you, but no attachments. So far, Astacia saw sex as something they do, a part of the nature. No attachment, no desire and passion of the ‘human kind’ and certainly no caring for your lover. And this left me cold. Even Dionysus comes by to warn her. But with Coll, things definitely start changing for her. Then she finds that Coll has become restless, and stares into the spaces sometimes, lost in himself. She thinks maybe she should let him go, but something inside her rebels against this idea.

Soon, their habitat is in danger from the humans. After one scene with a man who comes to cut down the beech tree, Astacia decides it’s time to let Coll go. In the village, Coll finds that things have moved on and many years have passed (my guessing at least 200). He feels lost and gets into this minor accident, where he’s saved by an Italian countess. She finds the young boy beautiful, and so takes him ‘in’ - as in to service her and in exchange, she’ll be a patroness of his artworks.

So what happens next? Does Coll remain with the countess? Does he return? What about Astacia? Did she ever feel love for Coll? The answer is frustration on my part!! As I said already, I just didn’t feel anything for anyone. I just wasn’t happy about the storyline so far, couldn’t really connect with Astacia at all (me being human and all that). I thought Coll deserved a nice human heroine. I get that BD’s idea was to show that even the wood sprites have hearts that beats, but I didn’t buy into the romance at all. It was really short, so the scope of exploration was small. When the story ended, I could question a lot of things. 2 stars.

“Amish Paradise (Summer)”

H/h – Joe Langdon/Rachael Yoder
Setting: Indiana, 1956.

Ah, this one was really, really sweet; the story of the first love and passion for two young people back in the 50’s. Both the H and h were endearing characters, down to earth and lovable.

This is the first time I’ve also read a character who comes from the Amish community. Even though I don’t have a lot of ideas about this community, Rachael’s life was portrayed rather well by BD. Her life is what a typical Amish lifestyle is- wake up very early in the morning and doing various everyday chores set by her mother. Simple, yet sometimes really monotonous. Rachael hopes for something more, but she knows that’ll never be. There are just too many obstacles; if she dares she will have to pay one way or the other. One day, she goes to the town with her father for some shopping. While her father shops, Rachael does some window-shopping. At that point, the matinee breaks up from the show ‘A Rebel Without a Cause’ and the young people files out. Immediately Rachael catches the eyes of some of them, and they start taunting her. In comes Joe, her neighbor, one of those ‘English’ her people don’t mix with much, to her rescue.

From the first moment, I was taken with Joe. He was sweet and loving and did I mention, plain adorable? He has known Rachael from a young age, and even been her brother Daniel’s buddy for a while when they were young boys. Their farm seats side-by-side but Joe hasn’t really seen Rachael after she grew up. Now, after seeing her, Joe can’t take his eyes or his minds off of her. Their friendship starts off with a forbidden bit of ice-cream that Joe offers to Rachael. She is apprehensive, if her father sees her with him, it’d be just... let’s say, bad.

But you can’t bound two young minds with rules who want to become more to each-other and so, their relationship takes flight like rocket. A little this and that turns into hungry kissing and fondling with Rachael taking loads of ‘walks to think’ to meet Joe secretly. Her family is already forcing her to baptize herself and marry. Rachael doesn’t like this dictate at all and now that she has known Joe’s touch, no one else will ever do for her. Same goes for Joe, who is just crazy about her. I’m not sure if he was a virgin but they were closer in age, and I had a feeling that he probably was.

Their ‘courtship’ or so to speak was sooo good to read, many a times I got wistful. One day, they take things to the next level. They are in love but Rachael is afraid of the consequences all the time. It makes their future bleak, if there is one, ever. And soon enough, trouble strikes. I felt so sad for them, especially for Joe, when Rachael refuses his affections because of her family’s pressure. I did call her a b*tch, even though I knew she also had no other visible choices, unless the most extreme one; to leave her family and community once and for all. But is she ready to take that leap for Joe?

I leave you find out (by reading the book) what happens to them. But to me, it had a super potential to be a full length novel. I just wanted more and more of those hungry kissing and fondling scenes… Oh, the yearning and the desperation! *sigh* 3.75 stars.

“Crisp Apples (Autumn)”

H/h – Alex Bowden/Kate Harrington
Setting: Connecticut, Present day.

This story, set in the present time, was kinda disappointing. It had good potentials but as a short story, some actions felt rushed and the hero, Alex still came off as a jerk. Maybe it’s just me, dunno.

Kate and Alex went to the same high school. Whereas, Kate was the studious, geeky kind, Alex was all bad-boy-in-the-making who also smoked and sold pots. And he never noticed Kate, when she burned for him in secret. One day, while things took a little desperate turn, Alex dumped his pot stash into Kate’s backpack, secretly of course, to save himself from the police because her  locker next to his. Kate got busted but never exposed Alex to the police. And even though charges were dropped seeing how she has no such records, Kate’s hope for a good university came at an end.

Alex left. Kate grew up hating him, always blaming him for ruining her life. She got into some university, not bad but not the best as well. She got married and got cheated by her husband and then, got divorced. She even blamed Alex for all of it. Kate returned to her hometown at last, to open a small bakery. Then one day, Alex Bowden saunters right into her bakery and into her life, all suave and sexy even after 13 years. And he doesn’t recognize Kate at all.

Did I mention I thought it had a good premise? I even enjoyed the first few pages. Kate doesn’t tell Alex about the past but goes with the flow, being nice and all, while thinking about how to take revenge on him. It was apparent that Alex is still a ladies’ man, doing models and stuff. He informs her that he came back to slow down just a bit and help an artist friend promote his paintings. His childhood wasn’t a nice one though and not only because he smoked pot and had bad companies. Alex also had a dysfunctional family, with no ties with them to speak of.

Alex and Kate hit it off soon after. I mean, after the way she whined about how Alex freakin’ ruined her life, I thought Kate would at least stand tall and show Alex something... anything. A payback, don’t know, to make the story interesting. I do love a good enemies turned friends turned lovers story. But she doesn’t do any of it, rather from the very first moment what she wanted to do was to jump in bed with Alex because he still exuded that bad boy vibe. She even does that on the very first opportunity and Alex was only too happy to accommodate her. Huh? All the while, it felt she’s still living in her teenage years and I was annoyed by her thoughts where Alex’s ‘hotness’ was concerned. I kept eye rolling and lost interest. Then again, she endured her cheater husband for those married years, SUSPECTING that he’s cheating on her but never doing anything about it until she caught him red-handed. Meh!

And Alex was just... Alex. I wasn’t really impressed by him, at all and so, his feelings for Kate didn’t feel real. Story ended in a HFN vibe. All in all, this needed more exploration. 3 stars.

“A Lily for Christmas (Winter)”

H/h – Jonathan/Lily
Setting – England, 1915.

This story, set in the time of WWI was quite sweet. It’s also a story of love between the heir to the title and a maid servant; a premise that is not really explored by the HR authors much.

Lily has been working for the Carringtons since she was 13. About the same time, she also started dreaming about Jonathan, the second son of the Lord and the Lady of the house. Jonathan was all dreamy, a bit shy and always had his nose buried in the book. Only a year older than Lily, Jonathan’s always been nice to her. A long ago summer afternoon and a forbidden kiss is all she has to savor. Even then, Lily knew she can never really be with Jonathan, but that doesn’t mean she can’t long for him secretly.

Now, after 7/8 years, Lily feels the same but Jonathan isn’t the same man anymore. He’s back from war a broken, injured man; a suffering soul. His eldest brother died and so, Jonathan is the heir now. His parents really don’t care, as they always preferred their older son (huh???). They’re pretty callous and don’t care whatever happens to Jonathan, when the poor man needs their support and love to get over the emotional trauma of the war.

Lily sees it all, she cares but her scopes are limited. She feels for him, but doesn’t know how to lend a hand, a little comfort. But on a night closer to Christmas, when things are so bleak because of the war, she decides it has gone on for long enough. She’d offer comfort to Jonathan in whatever way she can...

Let me tell you, I was unsatisfied but not in a cranky way. I wanted this story to go on so much that I muttered with frustration. It obviously ended without any resolution but I would’ve loved to know more, especially from Jonathan’s POV. He was just there, that’s all. It was obvious that he has harbored affections for Lily but was there anything more? Would there have been anything, ever? I know BD can write some superb down-to-earth stories, and this could’ve been a great installment IMO. Anyway, still a good read. 3.5 stars.


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