Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Go Breakin' My Heart

by Mary Ann Joyce from the April 14, 2014 issue

Tagline: When Sophie broke up with her ex, she thought the music had gone out of her life. Then she met Aidan...

In a Nutshell: Sophie is getting over a break-up with a singer so she's not particularly up on singing herself anymore. Enter the man who works on the floor above hers. When she finds out he's going to karaoke, she can't resist.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: I got halfway before I realized I hadn't stopped to make any comments. LOL Going back to rethink.

Although I personally hate going to listen to karaoke because bad singing makes me want to crawl into a hole and not come out, I think the idea of karaoke in a Woman's World story is cute.

I like the progression of Sophie's attraction toward Aidan and how we see the tiny little scenes.

LOL at what his mom used to say to him in church.

Okay. Done. LOVED IT. The character arc of Sophie, going from dejected, "washed up" singer, to a woman with optimism who sings with a new guy.

There's a reason why Johnene keeps buying Joyce's stories.

Photo credit: Treyhatfield via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 11, 2014

Second Chance at Love

by Tina Radcliffe from the March 31, 2014 issue

Tagline: Who knew a worried mother's rush to the emergency room would lead to romance? (Um, I did. LOL)

In a Nutshell: When Emily's daughter visits the emergency room with a "superficial laceration," Emily notices the handsome doctor. An affinity for beagles is agreed upon, then lo and behold, they meet again at the dog park.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: Risky business to have the daughter be born after the dad died, but Radcliffe managed it without turning off the editors or getting too sappy in describing the situation.

I like Maggie. She's spunky. Radcliffe does great job of showing us Maggie's personality quickly. (This is just another adventure to Maggie. And Most children are afraid of doctors and nurses. Not Maggie. Sitting on the exam table, she holds the compress with one hand while she inspects the room.)

Funny guy: "Which one of you young ladies is seven-year-old Maggie?"

"Tetanus shot up to date?" - This says authentic doctor's office visit so much to me! They engage the child and still talk to the parent about the necessities.

Oooh! An unwitting child matchmaker. We see a lot of matchmakers, but most of the time they're working their magic purposefully. Maggie doesn't even know she's doing it which makes her so cute.

Love this line. So symbolic of her situation and poetic at the same time: I feel a hopeful expectation I haven't felt in a very long time. It's sort of like being gently roused from sleep.

Hm. I wasn't crazy about Emily's behavior at the end. I didn't like how obvious she was in her question, "Do you and your wife take Henry here often?" And then, "Are you and Henry ready of this, Steven?" Seemed just as forward. If I were Henry, I'd be like, "Ready for what?" I half expect Emily to take his hand.  Otherwise, cute story.

Photo credit: Cmee2 via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Love on Laurel Lane

by Terry O'Brien from the April 7, 2014 issue

Tagline: Ellen had already fallen in love with her new house when she met her new neighbor...and fell in love all over again!

In a Nutshell: Ellen moves with her two daughters to a small town for a new start after her divorce. Next door is a divorced man with two daughters.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: First paragraph, I like the setting--it sounds exactly like the type of small town Woman's World adores. Me too, for that matter. Plus, we get a quick backstory for the heroine. However, I have to say, if she's "recently" divorced, she may not be in the best shape for finding love right off the bat.

All right, I'm fairly deep into the story. I'm glad to have read that "The following weeks were busy ones," because this makes it more plausible. Scratch the previous comment. :)

And I'm done. Nicely written. My worries were unjustified. O'Brien did a fine job of convincing me that they were on the path to an HEA. She summarized their courtship, which was necessary because this is an 800 word story, not a novella. I haven't said this recently, but with Woman's World stories, you often have to "tell, don't show," which is the opposite of what you so often hear.

Also--and this is not to knock "Love on Laurel Lane," but in general, I find it unrealistic to show the kids of divorced parents to be so gung-ho about a) their parent finding a new partner or b) moving to a new place (especially if it's pulling them away from all their friends. I lived through my parents divorcing and it sucks. You never stop wishing your parents will get back together. Acceptance eventually comes, but the devastation is never forgotten.

Photo credit: Fae via Wikimedia Commons

OOPS: I skipped an issue. I'll critique "Second Chance at Love" next time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Big Sisters Know Best

by Nell Musoff from the March 24, 2014 issue

Tagline: Susan had to admit that sometimes her sister Mary actually did know what she was talking about!

In a Nutshell: Susan's sister "bullies" her into attending a meeting of the "55 or Better" social club. Susan sees a classmate she hasn't seen in years.

Stream-of-consciousness Observations: Love the bossy sister. I'm only 51, but I am identifying with these ladies!

"I'm well aware of my age. But that doesn't mean I want to join a social club filled with senior citizens sitting around talking about their latest medical procedures." LOL

Oh, she's mourning a husband. Heartstrings tugged.

Oh, hers too. LOL As always, the mention of my late husband tugged at my heart.

LOL She signed her up for brownies. That's hilarious. And bullseye on the "I didn't have to check with you--I knew you weren't doing anything." Wake up call, Susan!

"...You don't sit next to someone for a whole school year without remembering them." Um...I do. LOL

Aww. Done with the story and it was cute. This is the type of everyday hopeful romance I don't remember having seen in a while. There's no date, but the story ends with promise. It's very open-ended, but optimistic. That's something to remember when you're writing your own stories. You don't always have to wrap it up.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sunshine in the Forecast

by Elizabeth Palmer from the March 17, 2014 issue

Tagline: When Anna met Mike, she forgot about the cold winter and began to look forward to a warm and sunny future...

In a Nutshell: Anna has just moved north and isn't sure she likes it, especially when she discovers the oak tree in her front yard is a lost cause. She changes her mind when she meets the man from the nursery.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: Hm. I'm to the place where the magazine inserts a highlighted quote and so far, I'm not particularly drawn in.

Handy how the neighbor happened to have a slip of paper with those names and numbers on it. LOL

Ah! The neighbor warns her to ask for the young Mike Greene. There's a nice twist on the cliche. Very often in WW stories, there is a "mix-up" in a family business situation. Usually the older worker is unavailable or sick and the real love interest steps up to the plate.

Notice that Palmer has laid out the heroine's conflict in a couple of places. Anna isn't so sure about living up north.

I love the moment they meet. Mike is funny.

Now I'm really liking Anna's inner thoughts. Obviously we know she's going to choose to stay, but you can see that she's already subconsciously made the decision when Young Mike talks about the maple. Up until then she'd been just thinking about moving back, then after meeting Mike, her thoughts take a turn and become more about what she'll miss. Subtle change, but important.

All right, done with the story. I liked it. In fact, I guess you could say I warmed up to it. Get it? LOL. Seriously, it took me a tiny bit to get into the slower, more thoughtful tone, but once I did that, I was fine. I guess I was expecting a perky heroine, and Anna wasn't. I did enjoy watching her change her mind about staying.

Photo credit: Denis Jacquerye via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Escape Artist

by Shelley Cooper from the March 10, 2014 issue

Tagline: Laura couldn't keep her dog from running away. Fortunately, he never ran far...just to Matt's house!

In a Nutshell: A dog plays matchmaker when he keeps running away to the house that a cute single guy is restoring.

Observations: Since this is the second story I'm analyzing today and I have limited time, I'm going to do a Stream-of-Consciousness Review ™. LOL.

The first couple of paragraphs are good. I, too, rescued a dog, so I'm immediately drawn in and feel a connection with the narrator. I also feel sympathy for her having just been dumped by her fiancé. Poor thing.

Oh. Teeny is a Great Dane. Holy moly. I have a Chihuahua. Polar opposites! 

Hm. I wonder what kind of neighborhood she lives in if there are Victorian houses sitting around abandoned. But I go with it.

OMG. LMAO. "I'm not sure, but after that kiss, I think Teeny and I are going steady."

I like seeing the progression of their relationship, via Teeny's messing up the porch and shirt.

I really liked the invitation, but I kind of wonder if he could have restored the house in two weeks. Glory is a strong word.

LMAO again at Matt's outfit for the BBQ.

Hm. I am disappointed with the ending. It felt very abrupt. I think it might have helped if right after he said, "And I do want to get to know you better, Laura," she had said something and they'd shared a moment. Instead there was "telling," of the "show don't tell" fame. "That was the day I fell in love with Matt. Thanks for telling us, but I'd rather see it happen real time. 

Oh, a wedding. That' makes sense, but it falls flat for me because I don't feel the couple has a strong enough connection built.

The last sentence was terrific, but I'm afraid it didn't make up for the lack of of happy sigh at the critical place in the story.

Love in His Eyes

by Rosemary Hayes from the March 3, 2014 issue

Tagline: Lisa and Joel were a perfect match but up to now, neither of them had been willing to admit it!

In a Nutshell: As good friends, Lisa and Joel are at the zoo together to take photographs. At Joel's insistence, she signed up for a photography class after she lost her job. While at the zoo, Joel finds the courage to tell Lisa he wants to be more than friends.

Observations: There are many elements in this story that I wanted to point out. Since I'm way behind analyzing the stories and want to do two today, I'm going to just list them.

1. In the very first paragraph we see a darling indication that Joel is sweet on Lisa. As usual, she didn't have to ask him to smile--he always smiled when he looked in her direction, whether or not she held her camera.

2. I had a moment of skepticism when the chimp smiled. I bet you could wait for three days and not see a chimp smile. Not sure they even smile at all or if they only bare their teeth when threatened, like many other animals.

3. I wasn't big on the "say cheese please" joke.

4. I did think the teasing about his receding hairline was good. It showed me that they are that comfortable with each other that she feels okay with teasing him about it.

5. I loved the way he talked about eagles mating habits as a way to lead into what he was really trying  to say to her. Smart guy! Smart author, too.

6. I also adored when she realizes and she snaps a picture at the moment she sees the love in his eyes through her view screen. That paragraph was amazing. You get her physical reaction, her sudden seriousness. You see her thought process as it finally dawns on her. The final sentence warms your heart, and then you get the one word paragraph that means, to me, she took the picture and will have it forever, and that everything just clicked for her.

7. After that perfect paragraph, the author made sure we see Lisa confirming that the feeling is mutual and a sweet kiss to seal the deal.

Ah romance!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Contest to Win One of My Books

As some of you will undoubtedly know, I also write longer, steamier romance fiction under the name Kate Willoughby. My newest book, On the Surface, is coming out next month. It's a hockey romance and I think it's the best book I've ever written.

To get ready for the Big Day and the hordes of fans I hope are in my future (LOL), I had my author website revamped and I unveiled the finished product a couple of days ago. I'm running a contest for people to win a copy of the book, if you are interested.

You will land on the home page, but just choose "blog" on the menu bar to find the contest.

Good luck and thanks for visiting!