Mary Ann Joyce from the October 3, 2011 issue
Tagline: When Tom took his teenage daughter shopping, he expected doom and disaster. Instead, he found love...
In a Nutshell: Tom is a widower and his daughter needs a dress for her first school dance. The shopgirl notices he's at a loss, shoos him over to the TV where he can watch baseball, and helps the daughter pick out a dress. Afterward, Tom muses that his daughter got a dress, and he got a date.
Observations: This is one of those "slice of life" stories. The main character is going about his/her life, and Cupid strikes from out of the blue.
Sometimes your own life is one of the best places to pull stories from. (I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Joyce has a teenager at her house.) One of my most recent Woman's World stories built off a pineapple tasting I attended while on vacation. I transferred that "talk" from a pineapple plantation to a health food store, gave the story a hero who had to start eating healthy or else, and voila!
Anyway, this story was also told from the dad's first person point of view, an unusual choice, but perfect for this story. It helps us feel closer to the poor guy, trapped in a dress shop, unable to escape until his daughter has something to wear to the dance. I got the feeling that he was a real person--not one of those bigger than life characters that we enjoy reading about in novels. And that's what sets Woman's World romance characters apart. They have doubts and often self-esteem worries, but not to the extent that fictional characters usually have. They're more like you and me. So, keep that in mind. :)