Thursday, January 30, 2014

The House on Main Street

by Susan Holloway from the January 20, 2014 issue

Tagline: Samantha had always loved the old Victorian house. Now that Scott lived there, she loved it even more!

In A Nutshell: Scott bought a Victorian house and hired "Sam" the architect to help him remodel it. When he finds out Sam is a woman, he's surprised, just as she is surprised to find out he owns a book and coffee place and bakes the muffins himself.

Observations: Susan Holloway did a good job with this story. I don't have a lot to point out positively or negatively. I noticed that she included a slight nod to feminism with Sam being successful in a traditionally male-dominated field, but other than that, this story was average.

Photo credit: via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Love on Ice

by N.L. Hickerson from the January 13, 2014 issue

Tagline: Ethan saved the pretty, green-eyed skater from falling on the ice, but nothing could keep Ethan from falling for the skater!

In a Nutshell: Ethan meets a woman skating but she gets away before he can catch her name. The next time he's skating, he finds out it's the same woman his sister has been trying to set him up with.

Observations: Hickerson is a regular contributor to WW. This story is a good example as to why. The circularity that occurs--tying the "most beautiful woman in the world" idea to the end--is perfect. We see the attraction between them. There's humor, from both the hero and heroine. Ethan is a go-getter, checking the local library to see if he can find her.

My only complaint is nothing the author can do much about. Of course, the moment you hear Ethan's sister talking about someone she wants him to meet, you know it's going to coincidentally be the heroine he meets on his own. But that's a plot we've seen before and will see again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Picture Perfect

by Susan Holloway from the January 6, 2014 issue

Tagline: Kasi and the handsome stranger had more in common than she realized when she first ran in to [sic] him...

In a Nutshell: Kasi finds an antique camera that a friend of hers has been searching for. Just as she reaches for it, a man beats her to it. He's good looking, charming, and gallant, since he lets her take the camera even though he wanted it for his collection. Kasi brings the camera to her friend who in turn gives it to her brother, none other than the man who gave it up in the first place.

Observations: I haven't mentioned story structure for a while and something in this story reminded me of that fact. In a typical story, the first act introduces the protagonists and their problems. Often in a Woman's World story, they're looking for love, but sometimes they have some other challenge like getting used to being back in their hometown, or finding a new job. In the second act, things progress, problems arise, and right at the end of the act, things come to a head. Third act, we see the resolution of the problems and all loose ends are tied up. Usually the third act is relatively short. The pacing increases in the second act and by the time we get to the third, we're moving quickly, so the end comes before we know it.

In this story, the "things come to a head" moment, which I also call the big black moment, comes right about the mid point when the man leaves the store and Kasi thinks she'll never see him again. Practically half the story is dedicated to working things out for Kasi and Nathan.

I'm not sure why this works in Woman's World stories. Any ideas?

Photo by Hakan Svensson (cc)

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's a Wrap!

by Elizabeth Palmer from the December 30, 2013 issue

Tagline: Allie was happy to help out at the Christmas fundraising booth. And when her good deed brought Dan into her life, she was even happier!

In a Nutshell: Allie is known in her family for her elaborate gift-wrapping so volunteering to wrap gifts at the mall for a charity is a perfect fit. A man makes eye contact and smiles. She smiles back. Much later, he's there with a large donation and some gifts for her to wrap. Turns out, two of the gifts are for his dog. He just wanted to meet her.

Observations: Okay, Ms. Palmer. I hereby crown you Queen of the Holiday Stories. I'm convinced you could write a winner in your sleep.

I wanted to point out what a "perfect" hero Dan is. First, he looks good in leather. Just kidding. Because I have to go to work soon, I'll just do a laundry list of is attributes.

He's generous -- gives a large donation to Allie for the gift wrapping, which we find out later is his second donation to the Children's Hospital.

He's a devoted uncle who spends time with his niece and nephew.

He has a dog. (And he buys presents for him!)

He's honest -- he confesses to Allie about his deception.

Outside of that, I liked Allie too. She's so perky. Her elf-like perkiness jumps off the page. I also liked that tension when Allie notices the man, but he leaves. And the clever line at the end about Boxing Day being her favorite holiday? Clever!

What I did find strange was the woman whose granddaughter brought a sculpture to be wrapped. The little girl had made the sculpture in preschool and they made a special trip to the mall to get it wrapped? A little weird. Otherwise, it's easy to see why they picked this story.

Photo credit: rheaparedes (cc)