Love Triumphs
by T Cowden, C. Joy, S. Brooks, S. Kopil & B. Norman
(Dream Street Prose, $14.95, G) ISBN 1-928704-72-7
Love Triumphs is a collection of 29 short stories with a romance theme. All of the pieces are the works of five authors: Tami D. Cowden, Carolee Joy, Susan D. Brooks, Su Kopil, and Betsy Norman. It's a mixed bag that might provide just the right assortment for lovers of "sweet"romance.

Most of the stories seem to focus around the theme of finding love again. Widows and divorcees abound, as well as a few unwed single mothers. Rather than try to review each piece individually, I'll touch on a few highlights. In "A Rose a Day", the initial offering from Carolee Joy, a widowed florist is puzzled by the handsome man who comes in each day to purchase a single rose - always in a different color. "Engraved Memories", by Betsy Norman, features a couple who has been married for 47 years. Is the magic gone? One of my personal favorites, "Hungry for Love" by Su Kopil, tells the story of a secretary who keeps finding half of her lunch missing - and notes in its place. Who is leaving them? The shy mailroom clerk? Or her attractive new boss?

No doubt, the price is rather steep for a short-story collection. These are light, quick reads, without the length needed to develop characters and emotions much beyond the surface, but as a bedside collection, they'd do just fine. The writing is of a uniformly acceptable standard; no heaving bosoms here, and the dialogue is realistic.

To be sure, some of the stories are so short (2-3 pages) that it's hard to get much of a feel for anything beyond the basic framework. That may turn some readers off. In fact, one of the best-developed stories is, quite naturally, one of the longest. "When Hearts Heal", by Susan D. Brooks, tells the story of a young widow trying to let go of her husband's memory enough to face the future. It was poignant and absorbing. Tami D. Cowden's "Prom Queen" features a never-wed single mom who is invited to chaperone her daughter's prom - with unexpected results. Thirty-somethings will grin.

Love Triumphs will no doubt find its way onto the bedside tables of quite a few readers. New publisher Dream Street Prose is to be commended for offering romance readers something unique. Have a look.

--Cathy Sova

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