Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Knight to Remember by Shelley Cooper

From the February 22, 2016 issue

Tagline: When Olivia was nearly overwhelmed by her friend's three kids, Sir Galahad came to the rescue!

Observations: Another story with a surprise that I didn't see coming, and I'm loving it. In this case, what surprised me was that the hero was her neighbor. It occurs to me that this could easily have not been a surprise. If Cooper had dropped in the info earlier that she had a cute neighbor in the building, we would have had him in the back of our minds and been looking for his reappearance in the story. By not foreshadowing, it comes as a nice surprise.

Also, this story is a great example of character development, such as it is in an 800 word story. Olivia has an opinion of moms with unruly children and comes to realize the job isn't as easy as it looks. By the end of the story we have watched her change her tune, even to the point where she's a little jealous of her friend. That paragraph where she comes to that realization was terrific. It painted a picture and it tugged at our heartstrings at the same time. A paragraph that multi-tasked.

After changing Kyra's diaper in the stroller, I snuggled her close and watched while Jeff pushed the boys on the swings. Maybe it was the happy grin on his face,; maybe it was the pure joy in Asa's and Aaron's laughter; or maybe it was Kyra's heavenly, baby softness; but for the first time ever, I found myself wanting to trade places with Stacey.

There was no black moment, but this story didn't necessarily need it.

Photo credit: Ted Johnson 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Key to Her Heart by Shelley Cooper

Tagline: Brian didn't quite get the school's art project until a beautiful woman revealed its true meaning...

Observations: This story made me a little teary at the end, so obviously I liked it.

I enjoyed the freshness of the male POV, even if the story from the Feb 16 issue is also a male POV. It's rare enough so it's still a nice change.

I loved Brian's reaction when he sees her face.

She whirls to face me. "Oh, you startled me!" My heart's racing too, but for an entirely different reason. Man, oh, man, is she beautiful. And, I'm pretty sure she's not one of my students' parents.

I loved the backstory about her grandparents and her nephew. So creative. And the quick wrap-up is perfect too.

The only minor thing that bothered me was that, like Brian, I didn't see the purpose in the key art project. I wish that had been touched upon. Perhaps the children were reading a story about keys, or the art teacher had talked about some other art project that was contributed to by the public... I don't know. I just know that it sort of bugged me that there didn't appear to be any meaning attached to the keys on the fence, and maybe that's because I used to teach elementary school. I look forward to hearing your opinions in the comments.

February 8, 2016 issue
Photo credit: Taki Steve

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Right Match by Shannon Fay

From the February 15, 2016 issue

**Whoops. I seem to have skipped the Feb. 8 issue. I'll get on it next week.**

Tagline: Jeff thought he was on the right path, but Cupid had another plan!

Observations: Bravo, Ms. Fay for a really different story, and not just because it was from the man's POV. As has happened before, I'm smacking myself in the head for not thinking of a plot involving a date gone wrong which turns into a matchmaker story.

I seriously had no idea how Fay was going to make this story end up happily. The date was so stupendously awkward, but that's what makes it so wonderful when she drops that plot twist on us.

I have nothing else to say about this story. It was fabulous.

Other stories by Shannon Fay

Photo credit: British Mum via Flickr Creative Commons

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Brewing up Romance

by T.R. McClure from the February 1, 2016 issue

Tagline: Kara thought she'd have to close her coffee shop...until a handsome customer kept coming back for more!

Observations: As a coffee lover and barista, I liked this story a lot. I liked the spunky heroine. While I thought the name of her cafe could have used some imagination, I admired her on-the-spot promotional idea of sending the muffins with Tom.

There were two things I wanted to point out. I felt the dialogue and interaction between Kara and Tom felt real, especially the part where Tom asks about why her business has slowed down. That scene was described so perfectly, I could really picture it--him pausing and turning after having obviously wrestled with whether or not to ask that personal question. Loved it.

I also liked that bit of humor where Tom is asking her out and flubs it up by asking her to coffee. That made me smile.