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Book review: 'In Love and War' is a satisfying collection of clean love stories

"IN LOVE AND WAR: A Collection of Love Stories," by Carla Kelly, Sweetwater Books, $8.99, 240 pages (f)

The four stories written by Carla Kelly in "In Love and War" are charming, clean and full of historical detail that make the time period come alive.

Each is a tale of falling in love without the intent to do so and each is almost like unwrapping a lovely gift.

"The Light Within" is an interesting story of two brothers, two women and new kittens. The brothers' love interests and stories not only intersect but also make rapid turns.

Even at the end, the reader isn't certain which way it's going to go for Blessing, who lost her husband at sea without confirmation and therefore direction. She has now been found by Thomas Waggoner.

It is clear that his brother is endangering the family's future and recklessly forging ahead without thought. The story involves everyone recognizing and reconciling themselves to what really is, rather than what each assumed.

In "A Hasty Marriage," two lonely people find each other when war is declared a few years early.

It begins when spinster Ann Utley takes flight rather than marry against her will and finds work for her former nanny.

She also finds Captain Titus, a man 15 years her senior with a 10-year-old daughter, a man who is surprised and somewhat alarmed to find himself captivated by this woman.

Her journey (helped along by her friend and employer) is a sweet story, almost but not quite predictable.

"Something New" takes the story of a small French girl, Marie Deux, rescued by a battery of soldiers, and turns it into a fine tale of love and kindness rewarded by happy endings.

A misplaced address and the boldness of young Deux combine to create an account that captures the reader's heart.

In the story of "The Background Man," there is again a story of falling in love and the joyous discovery it brings to a gentleman who had long ago given up on the notion of love.

This time a hotel manager, rather than a seafaring captain, finds himself enchanted by a guest who charms him with her ideas and words as she changes not only the way he keeps the rules but also the hotel itself.

There are interesting social change ideas included: what to do with a colored man who expects to stay in a hotel used to excluding colored guests; how to react when a wealthy guest unfairly accuses a maid of theft?

The combination of stories is intriguing, and despite some expectation that in each there will be a romantic resolution, they engage and reward.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at