Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dinner For Two by Jennifer Hayward

From the January 16, 2017 issue

Tagline: A dinner date with her past...and future?

Woman's World Tropes: an old flame, a small town, a meddling grandma, a misunderstanding

Observations: After reading this story, I had to double check to see if this was one of the Harlequin stories, and it was. This was the most Woman's World-esque of the HQ stories I've read so far. As you can see above, there were a lot of tropes. It didn't have too much drama.

There were only a couple minor things I would like to have seen different.

Near the end of the story, Lacey hears her grandmother's advice in her head...Seize the moment. And so you expect Lacey to do just that. But I don't see Lacey seize the moment.

Also, the hero had no personality. He was suave and that's about it. I wish he'd had a little more screen time so I could come to like him more. Even though I suppose we're supposed to trust the heroine's judgement that this guy is legit, I still like to make my own decision and in this story I didn't see enough of him to make any kind of accurate assessment.

Other than that, I liked it. Like I said, this story fit in more than any of the others I've seen so far.

Photo credit: George Martin, via the Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let it Snow! by Joan Dayton

from the January 9, 2017 issue

Tagline: Susan thought she'd never love again...until she met Dan!

Woman's World Tropes: Man to the rescue, independent woman, matchmaker family member, widow, moving on

Observations: There is a great deal of information packed into the first two paragraphs. I haven't talked about this in a while, but backstory dumps are a-okay in Woman's World stories. You don't have time to dribble it in a bit at a time, like you do in a novel. Quick and dirty, ladies! Everything is compressed in an 800 word story.

Here's what Dayton stuffed in there:

  • Susan needs a snowblower.
  • Susan is new in town and new to Minnesota weather.
  • She has a daughter and granddaughter.
  • Susan has become a do-it-yourselfer.
  • Susan had help with this transformation.
  • The helper is single.
After that, still in Act One, she's just as efficient.

  • Dan is proactive about helping Susan when she comes to the store.
  • Dan and Susan are still dancing around their mutual attraction. ("I wouldn't want to trouble you...")
  • Dan makes a subtle move to show he's attracted. ("I really admire how you dove in and tackled all those home projects.")
  • They start using first names.
Act Two, we see the plot moving forward when the daughter gives Susan the push she needs.

Act Three, the scene is all set. The reader is just sitting there waiting and hoping it will turn out all right. And it does. Dayton throws in some romance for good measure--Dan snow-blowing a heart in Susan's driveway. Totally adorable. 

In my opinion, the story would have ended nicely after he says "All the time in the world" but Dayton went even further and brought back the fact that Dan's face lit up when he smiled, which was mentioned earlier in the story.

This was a well-crafted and enjoyable story.

Photo credit: Janine via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Just Like Magic! by Terry O'Brien

From the January 2, 2017 issue

Tagline: Emma was unsure about her niece's matchmaking abilities...until she met Jeff!

Woman's World Tropes: matchmaker, shelter dog, male teacher

Observations: This was a pleasant story, but nothing really stood out to me.

Here's a very minor tip...

O'Brien named Abby's parents Zach and Liz. In my opinion, it wasn't necessary. You name characters because they're important and/or will be appearing enough that it would be awkward (or annoying as to the writer) to not name them. In this case, they're mentioned one more time and could have been referred to as Abby's parents.

This detail/teaching point that isn't anything earth-shattering, but readers are trained to remember characters that have been named and in a story this short, eliminating extraneous names might make the story feel cleaner and more streamlined.

Photo credit: Tim Pierce via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Christmas Wishes by Jules Bennett

from the December 26, 2016 issue

Tagline: She's about to erase the professional line he vowed never to cross...

Woman's World Tropes: Widower

Observations: All righty! Another Harlequin story. I was all prepared to be underwhelmed again, but this one was much more on target. It wasn't dripping with conflict or drama, just a little internal angst that was pleasantly not over the top.

It was all from Jack's point of view and I found myself wanting to read more and find out if Vivianna was aware of her boss's budding feelings for her. I'm thinking she must. Why else invite him inside after the party?

Thumbs up for this one. At the end, I felt hopeful that things would work out for them.

Photo credit: Shimelle Laine via Flickr Creative Commons License