Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Romance Is In Your Future by Mary Jo Young

from the October 17, 2016 issue

Tagline: Rosalyn was interested in getting to know Hugh better..and little did she know that he felt the same!

Woman's World Tropes: Couldn't find any.

Observations: I liked this story a lot better than last week's story by Young. I remember a story about a Halloween carnival fortune teller, but it was so many years ago, this story felt fresh.

Anyone who has ever worked or volunteered at a school knows the cafeteria lady is always referred do as the cafeteria lady, so that rang true for me and gave me a chuckle.

I liked Rosalyn's spunky attitude here:

But she was just the "cafeteria lady" with the ponytail and shapeless uniform. Hardly competition for the cute English teacher or the girls' PE coach who ran around in shorts all day.

And then later there was this little bit when she was "telling his fortune..."

"I am beginning to get a picture of someone."

"Not the English teacher who likes to correct my grammar," Hugh warned, "or the girls' PE coach with that infernal whistle around her neck."

I thought that was cute and clever how Hugh unknowingly countered her self-doubt.

Photo credit: Milestoned via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Loving George by Mary Jo Young

from the October 10, 2016 issue

Tagline: Ruth thought love would never find her...until she met George!

Woman's World Tropes: a wedding, a last-minute substitution, a widower

Observations: This story reminded me of a trope I haven't seen for a while, but which is a tried and true one--the last minute substitution. Here, we have Bax, the delivery boy, going to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. So his father steps in to do his job for him. We've often seen this the other way around, where the father has the job and the younger son steps in. Either way, it works.

I didn't love this story, mostly because of some tiny details that took me out of the story experience. (However, remember I'm always in analyzing mode when reading a Woman's World story, so I don't read just for pleasure. I'm actively looking for things I can talk about.) I didn't understand what this meant...

The two owned Dream Weddings and for the last two years had been doing reception venues.

What does that last part mean, "doing reception venues?" When you're wedding planners, don't you automatically take care of decorating the venue? Admittedly, my wedding was in 1991, but if I were to hire a wedding planner, I'd expect them to make sure the venue looked good. Maybe some planners aren't hands-on. Okay, I could buy that, but I wish I'd had a tiny bit more of an explanation here so I wasn't pulled out of the story, confused.

I also wondered about their very tight timeline. If it had been a morning wedding, fine. I could totally believe they had plenty of time to get the tables and flowers set up if they arrived at seven. But if it was an evening wedding so I don't know. You can't have the ceremony too late, or there isn't enough time for partying. Getting the flowers to the venue by seven doesn't leave much set-up time, regardless of the appendectomy delay.

As you can see, I did a lot of wondering, outside of the story.

Still, I thought the George Clooney stuff was very cute. And I loved the visual of the sparkling water in the vases.

Photo credit: andervinny via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Love Will Find A Way by Mary Davis

from the October 3, 2016 issue

Tagline: Becky didn't want to take a chance on love...until she met Tony!

Woman's World Tropes: a concerned friend, characters with a mom & pop type business

Observations: I thought this was a solid story, nothing particularly amazing.

I really liked how Becky ended up wanting to take a chance on love, but I wondered why I didn't feel happy for her until I went back to see how the author had established her hesitancy and fear. After re-reading, I saw no indication that she wasn't ready for love. Actually, she was just really (understandably) busy. So, I think that this story would have been better if we saw some hint that Becky was only saying she was busy to cover up the fact that she was afraid, for whatever reason--a bad break-up, being jilted at the altar, what have you. Then, we can properly applaud her taking that first step at the end of the story.

Photo credit: Sarah Horrigan via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bread and Jam by Melanie Dusseau

From the September 19, 2016 issue

Tagline: When April met Chad, it was a sweet surprise!

Woman's World tropes: a farmer's market/yard sale, coffee date

Observations: I swear this story felt like it was more than 800 words. I thought it was well done.

I have to admit I rarely go to farmer's markets, but I think they're terrific, not only to discover new food items and fresh produce, but as settings for Woman's World stories. There's that nostaligia/Americana vibe they have that appeals to both the readers and the editors.

I don't know why, but I felt the caramel macchiato references were a little forced. It may be because I'm a barista and caramel macchiatos are layered drinks, so there is a layer of sweetened milk on the bottom, then the espresso, then foam or ice, then caramel sauce. So, there is no one color.

However, I loved the idea of her selling jam and him selling bread and the random customer making the comment about bread and jam being the perfect pair. I loved the idea they had of giving out samples of both their wares. I really loved the old man tipping his hat to them in the parking lot. I really loved that little addition.

On a side note, last week, I was talking about a mid-point black moment. This week's story had no black moment at all, which is fine. I just thought I"d point that out.

Photo Credit: Scott Miles Love via Flickr Creative Commons License

Perfectly Imperfect by Kate Hewitt

From the September 26, 2016 issue

Tagline: The bride-to-be had cold feet...until a little reminder warmed her heart!

Woman's World Tropes: Troubled couple

Observations: I admit when I saw this was the first of the Harlequin stories, my expectations rose. I didn't know what to expect. Would the story conform to the types of stories we've become used to? Would they have the same sweet tone? I have to say yes and no.

We met a bride who was having second thoughts. Couples in trouble aren't unheard of in Woman's World, so that was fine. But the story just didn't grab me. When I got to the end, I didn't get a warm fuzzy feeling. I was glad for the heroine, but it felt a little like politeness--as if a co-worker had told me "My sister's getting married" and I said, "Oh, I'm glad."  It took me a while to figure out why.

Firstly, introspection dominated this story. We are in the bride's head so much of the time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and because of the type of story this is, I don't know that that could have been avoided.

Secondly, we never did learn her name. Again, this is not a big deal. Maybe Hewitt did this on purpose, so that every reader could put herself in the heroine's shoes and really experience the story on a more intimate level. If so, I'm not sure this is the type of story to do that with. In my opinion, better to do it with a story that is much more upbeat.

I think the main reason I wasn't crazy about this story is because I didn't have a chance to like the bride first. She starts out discontented. Yes, she was stressed out from her wedding preparations. That's understandable. Yes, I talk about minor character arcs--even in these short 800 words stories--and how it's good if a character grows and changes within the story. And there were paragraphs where she thought about positive things. But for some reason none of that quite won me over to her side. I found myself caring more about Sam than I did about her.

Your mileage may vary. I'd love to hear about it if your experience was different.

Photo credit: Cara Fealy Chote via Flickr Creative Commons License