The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes is a collaborative novel by Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, and Anne Stuart (not, as one reviewer claimed, a collection of novellas). Dee, Lizzie, and Mare Fortune are sisters with hereditary magical abilities, who have been running from their wicked aunt since they were teenagers. Now their wicked aunt has found them and, as part of a plot to steal their magical abilities, has drawn their True Loves to town. (This does, actually, make sense when not summarized in a single sentence.)
I read a free review copy of this while on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it was terrific summer vacation reading. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to review it properly before going off to Japan, and had to re-read it just now—so I can report that it is also good post-summer, post-vacation reading.
I spotted Crusie’s thread in the novel, that of Mare, right away: it is the only one with more than two characters in it. I can’t say I recognized Dreyer’s (Dee), but I used to read her work under the name Kathleen Korbel and so wasn’t surprised that it was pretty good. I’ve never read Stuart’s work, and I found her thread by far the weakest: I thought that it lacked tension and that Lizzie’s True Love was an overbearing jerk. As a result, when their eyes changed to matching colors to signify their True Love, I rolled my eyes and turned the page quickly.
Somewhat like Bet Me, this book requires accepting its central proposition—here, that True Love exists and can be recognized in the space of a weekend—for it to work at all. Neither of those are my favorite things in a romance novel, but the women—the sisters, their relationships, and their wicked aunt—ended up feeling like the center of this book for me anyway, not the romances. (Though the humor and characterization didn’t make suspending my disbelief too hard, except as already mentioned.)
As for the collaborative nature of this book, I didn’t find the styles jarring or the threads overly-repetitive, though I realize these are very YMMV things. I thought that the ending had one development too many, which may or may not be a result of the collaboration, and that the weird little town could have had its weirdness developed a little more, which is probably a result of fitting three romances and one fantasy plot into a single mass-market paperback. Overall, though, this was another good vacation/post-vacation book.