by Wendy Hobday Haugh from the December 12, 2011 issue
Tagline: After meeting Zach, Molly had a feeling her Christmas was going to be as perfect as her Christmas tree...
In a Nutshell: Molly, divorced a year, is shopping for a Christmas tree. The tree farm manager, Zach, tries to help her, but the tree she really wants is not on farm property. He volunteers to talk to the person who owns the land and see if they can make a deal. Later, Zach shows up with the tree. Turns out he is the land owner.
Observations: Although I saw the twist a mile away, I still enjoyed this story. I wanted to point out the story starts out in Zach's point of view, which allows us to see how he's attracted to her. (There was one small blip into Molly's POV when she is "Grateful for his help," but it didn't pull me out of the story. I only noticed it afterward when I was studying it.) At the midpoint, we switch to Molly's POV and we then see that she's just as attracted.
I also liked how Haugh deftly handled Zach's honesty. He does tell that little white lie when he says he'll talk to the guy who owns the field (unless he actually went home and talked to himself. LOL) But later...
Her eyes narrowed as she studied Zach's ruggedly handsome face, soft brown eyes and oddly sheepish expression.
"Are you telling the truth, Zach?" she asked.
"Absolutely," he replied, unflinching. "The tree is a gift."
You can see he feels a little guilty about the white lie, but when he delivers that unflinching reply, I thought to myself--that guy's hero material.