Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thief of Hearts

by Shelley Cooper from the February 24, 2014 issue

Tagline: Julie and Kevin were destined to meet and fall in love. At least, that's how Maurice saw it!

In a Nutshell: Julie's cat likes to take items from people's homes and bring them to Julie. When he snatches some things from neighbor Kevin, the humans realize there might be something worth pursuing.

Observations: This was one of the best stories I've read in a long while. In fact, it inspired me to do a Top Ten list at the end of the year.

As I read it, my smile got bigger and bigger. I make notes sometimes on the page--places in the story I want to talk about in the analysis. As you can see by the picture I marked a lot of places.

Right off the bat, there's an excellent hook first sentence.

I live with a thief.

Isn't that great?

Next, I had to admire Julie's deductive skills when she figured out which house the cuff link must have come from.

When she sees him, we get a great bit of description that takes ownership of the fact that heroes are so often tall, dark, and handsome, but puts a spin on it that makes it amusing.

He was a walking cliche--tall, dark and almost more handsome than my poor heart could tolerate.

I liked her using the word "rock" in its most modern way:

Even without the jacket, the man rocked a tuxedo.

Here's where I laughed:

"A cat burglar, huh?"

I liked her inner thoughts here too. I thought they were cute:

"No, I'm happily divorced. It's a co-worker's wedding. The cuff links were a groomsman gift."

The euphoria that filled my heart at this news was downright alarming.

The twist around two thirds in, where Maurice the cat, starts giving gifts to Kevin was surprising and absolutely perfect! I defy any reader to get to that part and not be completely sure these two will have a happy ending, because hello, the CAT liked him. That's gotta count for a lot, right?

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the bra shows up. Game over. At this point, I'm cursing Cooper for being such a terrific writer. Sometimes I get jealous that way. I get all, "WHY are you not writing stories like this, Kate? Put the hockey books aside for a few days!"

I liked at the climax how Julie is, after being frustrated with the lack of progress in their relationship, suddenly shy and not quite ready to believe he is really interested in her. You catch your breath there (just like her) and laugh at her witty remark about the cat, just in case he didn't mean what she hopes he means.

I thought her last line came a tiny bit abruptly, but that is such a minor quibble, it's almost not worth mentioning.

Often I have a hard time writing the critique. This one came very easily.


Chris said...

I am 100% in agreement, Kate, this one was pure delight. Loved it from the opening line to the closing one and everything in between. It's been added to my very exclusive 'wish I'd written it' list. l finished reading it with a big silly grin on my face and you can't want more than that. Fab-u-lous.

Betsi said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Even though I think Shelley's story hurt my chances of selling the cat story I mailed in January. That's just how it goes sometimes.

I see that we have 3 dissenting opinions in the voting box. If you voted "meh" or "didn't like it" I would love to hear why. Don't be shy, join the conversation! I'm sure Kate won't mind if you disagree with her.

Kate Willoughby said...

Oh, I absolutely don't mind dissenting opinions! This place is for everyone's opinion not just those that agree with mine.

Tamara said...

The story is cute. I especially liked the "cat burglar" line and the manner in which it was revealed that the man of intereset wasn't married (something we always have to established in our stories) I was surprised, though, that WW editor allowed him finding a bra as part of the storyline; I would have been afraid to try it. Also, I didn't like the cupping-face-in-hands line; thought it a bit fast and syrupy and probably editor's creation. The line at the end about not returning the heart is ingenious.

Pat said...

I agree. I loved this story from the first line. Smacked myself in the head and added it to my 'wish I'd written it; list. It had everything that makes me read short stories.

Loved the bra bit. Remember the story about the bra, or was it a teddy, being sent to the wrong person. I think it was a Christmas or birthday story a while back. That's the subtle sizzle I wish I could write.

This will be added to my 'study this story' list, along with your review Kate. Great job on the review and a wonderful story from the author.

Melanie D said...

I really liked this story. That's two animal stories in the past few weeks that I thought were very tightly written (the Great Dane one also). It's encouraging see this kind of comedic premise to the plot because it gives me ideas. I put this in the sub-category of "caper romance" and I wish there were more in WW's pages. I remember another where the couple are neighbors and break into the guy's house. They topple through the window just as the mom visits. That's what I thought of with the cat gifting the lacy bra moment: how perfectly funny and absurd (in a good way). I don't have the magazine in front of me, but I think one of the characters was "wordless?" Nice touch. Fun story.


Jody E. Lebel said...

Just a great story all around. Entertaining, modern, well written, witty. If you didn't smile after reading this one, your 'smiler' must have been accidentally switched to off mode. OR...maybe you don't like cats. This story was perfect for WW. They should have given the author two checks.

Chris said...

Two cheques... Now THERE'S an idea.

Kate Willoughby said...

Melanie, I remember that story. I think the heroine thought he was a mama's boy because her picture was on the nightstand...

Sandi said...

I hope this doesn't get posted twice. My computer glitched. I absolutely loved this story. It was perfect from start to finish. It has that "sigh quality" where you give a big sigh at the end of the story. The kind of sigh you give after an especially scrumptious dessert.

Kate Willoughby said...

Yup, Sandi. This was a good one.