The Deal: After seven years spent as a virtual slave in an Australian brothel, Irish convict Colleen Malone was sent back to jail when the brothel's owner realized she had gotten pregnant. Colleen is desperate to find a way to save herself, and her child, and she knows the only viable way is to find someone who would marry her. Women as scarce, after all, and marriage can very well get her out of the prison.
Sam Briggs left London and moved to Australian - taking a job as an overseer in a large farm - and he does not want a wife, but he does need a housekeeper, and he lets himself be convinced to take one of the female inmates as such. He doesn't expect to have a woman, Colleen, beg him to help her or that the fact that she's such a low inmate make it necessary for them to marry, rather than her just getting a work permit.
My Thoughts: Well, I hoped this story would be emotional and interesting and intriguing, but it never quite worked out. His Convict Wife is a very short story and things quite never develop, and everything feels a bit rushed from start to finish. Colleen and her cousin are in Australia, presumably, because Colleen's cousin got tangled with someone above her station; but we are never really told why. Sam is grieving and everything but I never felt like I got to know him or believed that he would fall in love with Colleen.
It just wasn't a very romantic story and it definitely wasn't a romance novel, even though it's being marketed as one. Is not a bad read per se, but it would have benefited a lot from having more page time to develop.
Mistress of the Wind by Michelle Diener
The Deal: Bjorn has been cursed into taking the shape of a great polar bear, and unless he can find the one girl he ever wanted to marry - which he met briefly when he was but a child - he shall remain in that shape forever. It has taken him almost his year-long grace period, but he has finally found her.
Astrid, said girl, is the youngest daughter of a woodcutter, whose whole family is in deep poverty and whom sometimes feel like the wind speaks to her. She's afraid of the bear that one day shows up at her house, offering her family gold in exchange for her willing coming with him as his companion.
Astrid isn't sure but agrees for the sake of her family. Finding herself deep into Bjorn's world without really understanding what's going on.
My Thoughts: East of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of my favorite fairy tales ever, so I always jump at the chance of reading retellings of it when they show up. Mistress of the Wind - while not bad - its not one of the better efforts.
Again, things feel rushed all the time, and things progress at an odd pace. Astrid and Bjorn are thrown together, sure, but she kind of starts trusting him too quickly yet she doesn't really? It's hard to explain. Bjorn is stubborn, and that doesn't gel well with Astrid, she hates being in the dark about what's going on and rushes foolishly into danger.
There are a few neat twists to the story here - like whom Astrid turns out to be - but all in all, it wasn't different enough and I never really connected with the characters either, so it was fun reading it but I would probably wouldn't do it again.