Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Romantic Appraisal

by Georgie Lee from the November 28, 2011 issue

Tagline: Christina recognized a real treasure when she found one.  Evidently, so did James...

In A Nutshell: The owner of a Victorian store needs an appraisal for a painting. The appraiser is handsome and promises to call her if he finds anything out.  Instead, he shows up at the shop and they decide to go to the Friday Night Flea Market together.

Observations: The only thing that stood out in the story for me was that there was a great deal of interaction between the hero and the heroine. Their conversations take up a good two thirds of the story. I notice that at the end when they decide to go to the flea market together, there is a bit of charming awkwardness which I think helps readers feel like this type of thing can really happen. It's fiction, but it's possible!

"Are you going to the Friday Flea Market?"
"I never miss it," I said. "Do you ever go?"
"Not lately, but I've been thinking that I really miss it."
I gave James an appraising look. Was he blushing?
"Right,"I said. "Time to get going before all the good stuff's gone."
"Do you want some company?"

She hints around and he correctly interprets it which came across to me as realistic.

The only off thing was the whole painting mystery. If they both knew who the painter was, it seemed strange to me that he couldn't find out anything more about it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Suitable Suitor

by M.L. Hickerson from the November 21, 2011 issue

Tagline: It took a romantically minded grandmother with a little Internet know-how to match up Gemma with Tom...

In a Nutshell: Jeanne joins an online dating site and arranges a date with a suitable man...for her granddaughter. She meets the guy and explains how she was doing reconnaissance without her granddaughter Gemma's knowledge. Luckily, the guy is a good sport and when Gemma arrives and is let in on the situation, they hit it off.

Observations: Hickerson has done it again. Her stories are always so fresh and new. She put a matchmaker and a blind date story into a can,  shook 'em up real hard, and this is what came out. All these characters feel real to me and I loved grandma's tech savvy. I had no complaints about this story. Zero.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love in the Mail

by Cora Allen from the November 14, 2011 issue

Tagline: Later, Ben would say that fate had brought them together, but Maggie knew better.

In a Nutshell: Maggie jokes with the mailman about wanting a love letter instead of the plant bulbs she'd ordered. Three days later, she meets the handsome new neighbor who happens to work at the same hospital. He has a letter of hers that the mailman delivered to him by accident. He invites her to dinner on his deck that night.

Observations: There are a lot of story elements that occur over and over in Woman's World romantic fiction. I thought I'd go through this story and highlight the ones I noticed.

1. Clever addition of a character's backstory. Allen slips the fact that he just moved into the neighborhood into the dialogue very naturally.

Ben handed her the letter. "I'm not sure when this was delivered. I've been so busy moving in, I haven't checked my mail the last few days."

2. There are several instances where we see the heroine is attracted to and likes the hero.

--Ben smiled, which made Maggie's heart flutter just the tiniest bit. 
--So he's single? And he cares enough about his parents to move closer to them? Maggie returned his smile.
--An image of Ben, tall and fit-looking, and working in the garden, flashed through her mind.

3. The hero and heroine have a lot in common. They are neighbors. They work at the same hospital. They both love gardening.

4. Both characters discover that neither of them is attached.

"I went back to school after my wife died in a car accident."

And later

"Are you and, um, your husband busy tonight, Maggie?"

She smiled. "I haven't got a husband--and no, I'm not busy tonight."

Finally, best of all, there was a total surprise ending. At least, it was a surprise for me because I completely forgot about the mailman and never NEVER expected him to be a matchmaker. Man, that was great!!! That surprise boosted this story from good to great, in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Date Night

by Shoshana Brown from the November 7, 2011 issue

Tagline: When Kelly's carefullly planned evening out with her husband fell through, she learned that real romance is an everyday kind of thing...

In a Nutshell: Kelly had a romantic date planned, but the babysitter gets sick. Her husband orders in and they have a romantic dinner at home. When the baby wakes up, crying, he goes to comfort her, and Kelly realizes a night out pales in comparison with her thoughtful spouse.

Observations: This story was heartwarming, especially if you're a mother and have experienced that golden moment when your husband gets up to take care of the child to let you sleep. It's hard to write these "problem within the marriage" stories because you don't want to paint the characters as too selfish or whiny. Brown did a good job of describing Kelly's disappointment but keeping her likable. These types of stories are few and far between because they're harder to write than first meet stories, but I wish we could see more of them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Hold Again

So, the story I submitted and hoped would get into the Valentine's Day issue was returned because Patricia got to it too late. She said to submit it next summer. So, into the vault with it. Damn. I really thought it had a great chance of getting published.

At least Patricia loved it. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Boy Next Door

by Dawn L. Cadwell from the October 31, 2011 issue

Tagline: Kara's mom had never mentioned her new neighbor--and he was definitely something to talk about

In a Nutshell: Kara is looking after her mom's orchids while Mom is on vacation. Tempted by the basketballs her mom pointed out before she left, she attempts a shot in the court her dad built when she was a kid, but the ball ends up in the neighbor's yard. A policeman catches her trespassing. She later finds out that the policeman also is the tenant. He likes to play basketball.

Observations: This story reminds me of one of the reasons why I love Woman's World romance stories. They often feature heroines "of a certain age." This week's story had a heroine who was forty! How awesome is that? I think that just goes to show you the possible demographics of the readership, or perhaps they're just more accepting of enjoying a story that isn't about a perfect young woman like we see so much in the media.

But don't worry. I won't get on my soapbox, even if it is my blog.

I also liked the down-to-earth-edness (<--new word invented by me) of the heroine, Kara. Here's one of the reasons:

Not only had I been trespassing, but what I'd been wearing qualified as a fashion felony.


Also, note the ubiquitous Coincidence. Troy, the tenant policeman, happens to like basketball.

The only thing that didn't sit right with me was her taking his arm at the end of the story. I thought that was a little too touchy-feely for having only met him when she was trespassing and then at the end when she finds out he's her neighbor. Also, they're just going to play some hoops in her mom's backyard, not entering a fancy restaurant.