More Than Words, Volume 6 (anthology) by Joan Johnston, Robyn Carr, Christina Skye, Rochelle Alers, Maureen Child
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Anthology
Length: Full Length (442 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poppy
Little by little, one person at a time, we can make our world a better place. The five dedicated women selected as this year's recipients of Harlequin's More Than Words award have done just that, by discovering a seed of compassion, and nurturing it to effect real change in their communities. To celebrate their accomplishments, five bestselling authors have honored the winners by writing short stories inspired by these real-life heroines.
We hope More Than Words inspires you to look into your heart and find the heroine who lives within.
More Than Words is an anthology that uses, as its inspiration, the good deeds of women-created non-profit organizations and builds fictional stories that tug at the heartstrings.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I tend to prefer longer stories, but this book didn’t disappoint me in the plots or characterizations in each story. They’re prefaced by a page or two about the real life story behind the charity they represent, and I was inspired by both the non-fiction and fictions stories in this book.
I’ll admit, I cried more than once.
In Almost Lost by Joan Johnston, we learn about The Polaris Project (www.polarisproject.org) and the slave trade that still goes on daily, here on the streets of American. Teens lured into prostitution: imprisoned, isolated, beaten and raped until they are so emotionally destroyed they don’t even think about trying to leave their situation – the very thought of it horrified me. She realistically portrayed how any young girl might end up having this happen to them, and how tough it is to find them and get them back out. The story has it’s lighter moments, too, with the romance that grows between the police officer assigned to the job, and the father of one of the girls involved. Ms. Johnston’s writing didn’t pull any punches and drew me right into the story. Her characters were real, the emotions strong, and the story believable.
In Sheltering Hearts by Robyn Carr, we find out about the Zoe Institute (www.zoeinstitute.com) and how it addresses the needs of single mothers in America. The story follows one such woman who left an abusive marriage with her children and herself mostly intact. She’s still a little fearful, a bit over protective and mistrusting, but who could blame her? And when her too-good-to-be-true handsome neighbor starts helping her without asking, mows her lawn, plays catch with her son, puts her garbage on the curb she’s concerned. She doesn’t trust her intuition anymore, and tries to push him away. I have to admit, this was my least favorite story in the series because I just couldn’t understand why our hero kept pursuing a relationship with this woman – she was a little crazed at times, screaming and accusing. This may be completely in character for a woman recovering from abuse, but I didn’t find it believable that he would continue trying to break through her defenses. However, when he succeeded, their relationship was sweet. And she, as a volunteer for the Zoe Institute, really showed us how there are many women in different situations that can use their help.
Safely Home by Christina Skye discusses the needs of senior citizens and one organization who helps them help themselves. Partners in Care (www.partnersincare.org) lets senior partners offer their skills in trade for the skills of others. The story deals with the kidnapping of two women, one of whom is a tough old bird, and we get to watch the sister of the other lady, and the deputy sheriff of a tiny town learn to trust and love each other while they search for the two missing women. This is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat story, you won’t regret reading. I only wish it had been longer!
No Limits by Rochelle Alers addresses a timely issue: the needs of pretty much everyone to access to a computer in order to do even day-to-day things. She spotlights The Sky’s the Limit (www.stlonline.org) which provides refurbished computers to kids who need them for their schooling. Having a computer is something most of take for granted, and because of this many things are built around that – including schools tests and assignments. Our story revolves around a woman who’s a former elementary teacher, recently divorced from her husband, who is now teaching a literacy class to adults. She’s approached by a former student who asks her help to study for the GED. When she tells the girl that her work will be done over the internet, she comes to find out that her student doesn’t have her own computer. With the help of her ex-husband, who’d like to ditch the “ex” part, she establishes her own version of The Sky’s the limit and shows us what can happen with determination, support and love. A very sweet story.
The anthology ends with The Princess Shoes by Maureen Child. Her tale highlights the need of many children here in America who don’t have basic necessities like shoes that fit. Shoes That Fit (www.shoesthatfit.org) is an organization who helps address this need. Our story stars a widow and her young daughter, and begins with the daughter being accused of shoplifting. We find that she’s tried to steal a pair of shoes for her best friend who doesn’t have properly fitting ones. The story touches the heart of the widow’s boss, and the previously stand-offish man begins to get involved with life. He helps the girl earn money to buy the shoes for her friend and then, after seeing the reaction of the little girl who received the shoes, helps organize a local Shoes that Fit chapter. This story made me cry more than once. I absolutely fell in love with every single one of the characters, and my heart broke for a little girl who wanted to help her friend. My favorite story in the book, this was a fabulous way to end my journey.
Each of these stories was wonderful. Each made me see how small things make a big difference. Each one highlighted a wonderful organization and made it real through a fictional story with well-drawn characters, a strong plot and – best of all, a happy ending.
If you’re looking for a feel-good anthology with a touch of romance that supports worthy causes, then you need to pick up your own copy of More Than Words. I know I’ll treasure my copy.