TPCR: Chapter 7 and Chapter 8

We get another check-in with characters from the previous books: Erin’s waitress is engaged to the town sheriff, who is apparently the Rocky Mountain Heir of this book.

This is also the second mention of a kid(?) named Macy with a dying mother, whom the town has taken under its collective wing.  They’re trying to make a nice Christmas for her, including lots of attention from lots of townsfolk, tree-decorating party, etc.  Which is quite sweet.

All this because of multiple mentions of peripheral characters, and because we get this interesting aside from Erin:

The cowboys who frequented the cafe flirted with her, and once in a while one of them would gather the courage to ask her out.  Erin always declined, using the excuse that she didn’t have time to go out, her schedule was too crowded.

And her heart was too crowded with memories of Lucas Clayton.  They took up so much space, Erin doubted there was room for anyone else.

Well.  Thats certainly a depressing addendum to the assertion three chapters ago, that Erin tried to focus on the future by keeping her calendar full.  Apparently, she is 25 years old and hasn’t had s single date since her secret high school boyfriend.

Look, I get that this is a Christian romance, and that Erin and Lucas are put together by God and all, but I’m not saying I want Erin to be jumping into bed with a dozen cowboys (though that would be pretty funny).  But the woman literally has no idea what it’s like to date anybody but Lucas.  Secretly.  As teenagers.  Hell, I’d be satisfied with an, “every now and then, Erin would agree to a date with one of the cowboys who frequented the cafe.  But no matter how nice they were, none could hold a candle to her memories of Lucas Clayton.”

Oh, and speaking of Lucas, Erin is preparing a basket of food to take to the Halversons, as older couple who live practically next door to her.  Mrs. Halverson has cancer, and the Church Care Committee had asked that Erin bring them a meal.

Erin thinks about how the Halversons want to relocate to Florida to be closer to their daughter..

Because, unlike Lucas Clayton, there were people who wanted to be near family.

Damn, girl, catty much?


But oh, isn’t Erin surprised when she arrives at the Halversons…only to find Lucas there!

So this turns out to be a very confusing (for me) bait-and-switch or possibly just-a-mistake.  The pastor told Erin to take a meal to the Halversons, and Erin assumed it was because Mrs. Halverson has cancer, but it probably was because Lucas is “a newcomer.”  So either the pastor was mistaken, or just didn’t give Erin sufficient information, because…

“The condo the Halversons bought in Florida was completely furnished, so they took their personal possessions and left the rest.  The real-estate agent told me they wanted to settle into their new place before Christmas.”  [said Lucas]

Heh.  Sure.  How convenient that Lucas and Max could rent a completely furnished home.

And frankly, how bizarre of the Halversons to not only be able to skip town with all their personal possessions in a matter of a day or two…but to do so without anyone in town noticing or caring.  Especially Erin, since she owns the town watering hole.  And they are basically her next-door neighbors.  You’d think she’d know all this first, not last.

But never mind!  Lucas dragoons Erin into helping him with gift-wrapping for Max.

See, Lucas has just this evening to wrap a mountain of gifts for his kid, and he apparently sucks at this.

“What you are looking at is a coordinated effort by my meddling cousins and their significant others to make sure that Max has a decent Christmas.”

“That’s sweet.”

Sweet?  To Lucas, it only proved his family wasn’t convinced he had this whole “dad thing” down yet.  He might be upset—if it wasn’t the truth.

Damn, boy.  Ungrateful much?


I mean, his jerk mom isn’t even a part of this, so what’s to whine about?  PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO BE NICE TO YOU DAMMIT.

So Erin starts wrapping gifts, because apparently this is sorcery beyond Lucas’s meager comprehension, and they start figuring out who gave which gift, so they can name-check characters from other books.  Sheriff Zach, of course, gave Max a police car, and cousin Vivienne, heretofore unmentioned, gave Max a “tiny plastic grocery basket filled with fake food.”

I mention this because Vivienne turns out to be an example of why Grandpa Asshat’s will is so horrible.  Vivienne, you see, is a trained gourmet chef, who ended up “settling in New York City.”  So I’m sure it was incredibly convenient for her career to leave NEW YORK CITY and come back to Backstab, Colorado.  Sure, up-and-coming chefs routinely take a YEAR OFF from their careers.  I’m sure it will be no problem.

(Frankly, I would think Vivienne would be the one to say “thanks but no thanks” to the $250,000 and land.  One could easily make the calculation that investing in her career right now is much more important and, in the long run, much more profitable.)

Oh, and back to Max’s gifts.  Someone has given a tea set, which Lucas takes as “a twisted sense of humor,” because Gender Essentialism.  Erin thinks it came from the triplets, who “want to have something to play with other than trucks when they visit.”  Because Gender Essentialism.

That said, Lucas’s gift to Max is going to be a teddy bear, to help with his nightmares.


So, of course, just as Erin and Lucas are getting cozy and Lucas is working up to kissing her, Max bursts back in.  Some other cousin that I don’t care about has brought him, along with a ginormous Christmas tree.  This, like the wrapping of gifts, stops Lucas dead in his tracks, and Erin once again has to provide the assist.  The little soon-to-be family decorates the tree, then Lucas and Erin (the latter at Max’s request) put said little boy to bed, and Erin notices Max has a favorite blanket, and reflects that “Lucas might think he wants equipped to take care of a small child, but his actions said something else.

Which makes me realize that for a Christian romance, these chapters have surprisingly few mentions of God.  And once again, Erin puts the lie to her own prayer that God “needs” to show Lucas how to be a good dad.


Posted on December 12, 2016, in The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised Erin/this book isn’t condemning the Halversons’ daughter for not being the one who moves. The very premise of this series is such an extended paean to filial piety (with some extra Small Town America obsession on top) that seeing someone be allowed around it is a little jarring.

    Wrapping presents can feel like sorcery if you’ve never done it much before, though. A stint at a toy store made sure I was familiar with the dark arts, but before that it was just something my mother did and so she was the one of the very few who saw my own fumble-fingered results, on gifts meant for her. I’m betting Lucas has rarely had occasion to practice (I can imagine his mother taking stuff away and “doing it right” because she thought an amateur wrap job would reflect poorly on her somehow) and has of late only gifted to adults who don’t mind envelopes and gift bags instead of messy paper.

    • InquisitiveRaven

      Ah, but it’s okay if the daughter is married and moved with her husband. Transfer of ownership, doncha’ know.

      Ruby, is there any indication in the text that the Halverson’s daughter is married?

  2. I can’t believe I got it right three chapters ago! I was just guessing that when Erin “kept her calendar full” it meant she didn’t date any other guys because she was still pining for Lucas. I didn’t expect that to actually be correct.

  3. Nerrin: I agree, though I would think that most people of marrying-type age these days would go looking for a tutorial video rather than just sitting there waiting for a mummy-substitute to help.

    Regarding Vivienne: that’s the particularly horrid thing about the will, it’s not just her choice. If she doesn’t do the year, all the siblings lose the money and land, and Nasty Brother whatever his name was gets the lot.

    I reckon the real reason Erin isn’t allowed to date anyone is basically telegony. Which is only cared about now by religious nutters and dog breeders.

    • I looked up telegony (according to Wikipedia, the idea that offspring inherits traits from ALL its mother’s partners, regardless of biology) and… what? Religious nutters, okay, no accounting for what they might take into their heads to believe, but dog breeders? Seriously?

      • InquisitiveRaven

        Telegony was an accepted view of heredity before anybody had any real understanding of genetics, and yes, it had a major impact on historical dog breeding practices, but I’d expect modern dog breeders to know better. It also, IIRC, had a major impact on Nazi ideology.

  4. Well, after this chapter I want to carpet bomb the village a bit less than before, so hey, job well done there.

    I suck at wrapping gifts too. But even if it isn’t too neat, how much is a toddler really going to care? Odds are he’ll be ripping the paper apart with such enthusiasm he doesn’t even notice.

    • I’m not very good at wrapping, either, but the crappy looking bits can usually be rotated out of view, so the present looks nice under the tree. And who cares how the paper looks when it’s time to rip it away?

      • And then there are those people who insist that every parcel be opened carefully, and the wrapping flattened and saved for next time a parcel is being sent.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 16th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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