|Image linked from Goodreads|
I read an ARC from NetGalley that seemed as if it were not quite prepped yet, the Table of Contents was not consistent was the thing that threw me off first.
Queen of Hearts by Juliet Blackwell
Serafina has moved to a small town to get away from a job and a cheating ex (typical romance heroine.) She describes herself as overeating lately but we really don’t know much more about her than that. Her hopes of taking over her aunt’s magic business are dashed when the charming cowboy who offers to help take in her bags is actually her landlord, the one who wants her out of the building.
Of course, this is a short story but everything happens at warp speed which is a little disconcerting. Even with the touch of magic, it’s just Too Fast for Me. An okay read, but no more than two stars/C.
The Holiday Show by L. G. C. Smith
Whoa! Liked that the kids weren’t plot moppets (not entirely) but I assumed that they were at least twelve based on conversations they had and the way their parents referred to them. (They're six and, unfortunately, became more plot-moppet-y as the story went on.)
Two girls want to get their parents together for Christmas. Christie, the mom, hates Christmas and is gluten-intolerant. Dad, Dan, is a baker who loves Christmas. The little girls decide to fight and that leads to the college kids who were in charge of the Christmas show leaving and Dan and Christie having to take over the Christmas show.
Major cheesiness when Dan decides to up the ante and invites Christy’s somewhat-estranged famous Hollywood father to do an added scene during the school play. Would have been DNF if it hadn’t been a short story. Two (begrudging) stars/D+.
Let it Snow by Cecilia Gray
Jessica Mendez has tried to save her parents’ bookstore. To the point of closing herself into it after their deaths so that developers couldn't come in and tear it down. But she rushes outside to save the puppy of the Snow Creek Paramedic who she's been dreaming about for the past year.
Snow Creek seems to be a town of around 200-400 people but can afford a paramedic? And an ambulance? And what seems to be a whole ambulance crew since Daniel is supposed to turn it over to the next shift? At least these two sort of knew each other and it wasn't insta-love. Points to the author for actually having Jessica follow her dreams even if Daniel was stupid enough to (initially) let her go.
Up to three stars/B- for this story.
Second Chances by Adrienne Bell
Paul McAlester is a legend in Snow Creek. A famous hockey player, he’s just returned to town for the first time in ten years. Ten years ago when Eileen Hodge kissed him and then ran. But this year, Paul is recuperating from an injury and Eileen hopes that she might have a chance to make up for an old mistake.
Cute story, actually would give it three stars/B for this one.
A Christmas Yarn by Rachael Herron
Clara has lost a lot of weight. A LOT of weight through diet and exercise. She's just getting used to going on dates and getting hit on when she meets Lincoln. He's dressed like a bad biker dude but is bringing his great aunt to Clara's store to buy her as much yarn as the aunt wants.
I was really intrigued by these characters and wished that this story had been drawn out more. They were much more interesting than stories that were two and three times as long.
Three and a half stars/B+
Miss Bonny's Buried Treasure by Ruby Laska
Caroline Bonny is under a family curse (in this day and age? Maybe if the story had been longer and pulled it out more), doomed to be a spinster. She has a cosmetology store (again, suspension of disbelief, even in a ski town) that is all cruelty free, etc.
Lance Carter is in town for a (gay!) wedding and ends up on Caroline's sofa. He meets her when he accidentally breaks a bottle of very expensive... I don't remember what it is now but he's in his skivvies and she was assuming that he was another in the train of women her brother brings to their shared home.
There is some attempt at humor in the story and I appreciated that though it falls a little flat and seems unnecessary.
One Silent Night by Lisa Hughey
Another story that could have benefited by being longer. Ally Carpenter is separated from her husband Nick but wants to pretend to still be married so her dying mother doesn't start stressing out too much.
The ending is predictable but a little too saccharine for me but I do love a marriage-on-the-brink storyline, especially for a short story.