Friday, December 27, 2013

A White Christmas

by Patrice Howell from the December 23, 2013 issue

Tagline: What Ella expected to be the worst Christmas seemed about to turn into one of the best!

In a Nutshell: Divorced, Ella is sad because her daughter is spending Christmas with her dad. Her sadness is observed by a handsome co-worker who asks her out for a latte at the end of the busy day.

Observations: I have goosebumps on my arms. Maybe it's the magic of a Christmas story and the hope that shines at the end of the tale. Whatever it was, I loved this story.

Sometimes, you have to go back to the basics in which we have a protagonist with a problem and we see her solve it by the end and grow a little in the process. In this case, I think Ella's problem is that she's sad and lonely. While we see the man come to her rescue, sort of, I think it's balanced by her  not brooding after her daughter calls her midday. She also doesn't stand mutely in the elevator at the end of the day. She speaks first, a small but important detail.

Usually I caution writers to be frugal with description, merely because we are only given 800 words with which to work. However, did you notice that long paragraph describing the night at the end of the story? Wow. It was absolutely necessary and added so much. It almost felt as if I was inside a snow globe. It allowed the reader to pause and reflect and let the attraction build between the hero and heroine until they pushed open the doors and started down the path to romance.

Photo by insidious_plots (cc)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lucy's Lucky Day

by K.C. Laine from the December 16, 2013 issue

Tagline: Lucy could only laugh at her brother's game-day superstitions--until the day he came over with his charming friend…

In a Nutshell: The power is out in the neighborhood Lucy and her brother live in. She invites him over to watch "the big game," and he brings over his handsome friend. Lucy had been hoping to see him again after her brother introduced them a week ago, and the friend was the one who asked to tag along. A win-win situation.

Observations: This story has it all, plus a photo of romantic guacamole, something I didn't knew existed.

Cute set-up that is not the norm? Check.

Cute child who allows the hero, Steven, to admire Lucy's parenting skills and thereby convincing the reader he's a family man? Check.

Buffalo chicken wing proof that Steven is more than a handsome face? Check.

Male humor in which Steven teases Nate about his laundry habits? Check.

Self-deprecating humor between Steven and Lucy regarding his manliness? Check.

Both protagonists declaring they like each other, thus demonstrating their assertiveness and her readiness to get back out into the dating arena after her divorce? Check.

Witty, cute, make-you-smile ending? Check!

Nice job, Laine.

Photo by jeffreyw (cc)

Monday, December 9, 2013

True Colors

by Shelley Cooper from the December 9, 2013 issue

Tagline: Who knew that a head of Kool-Aid-green hair would lead one desperate man and one amused hairstylist to love?

In a Nutshell: Simon let his nieces dye his hair with Kool-Aid and it won't wash out in time for him to be best man at his brother's wedding. Kate dyes his hair so it looks normal.

Observations: This was a cute story with a pretty original plot. I enjoyed seeing the hero and heroine spend so much time together. It was easy to like both of them. They were both easy-going and funny. Simon is shown to be a family man--devoted to his nieces.

I also enjoyed all of Kate's internal dialogue. She was so cute, wry and humorous. I liked her a lot. And not just because of her name. LOL

The two sentence epilogue is a rarity. We seldom see a couple get married, but in this story, we did. Why? My guess is that a wedding was a big part of the story. Also, Cooper was able to cleverly sneak in a repeat of the green theme, bringing the story full circle and showing the couple has a sentimental streak.

It seemed an odd choice for a December issue, though.

Photo by wiredforlego (cc)