Cozy Christmas, Chapter 1, Part 1

Well, I busted through the last bit of The Edge of Darkness (though Michael Murphy deserves no better!) and am actually on schedule for this year’s War on Wintermas romance read…

Cozy Christmas

The cover is just too cutesy, with the couple with the dopey grins standing in front of the world’s most decorated storefront, as well as a chair that nobody would sit in at this time of year.

In keeping with my entire history of Wintermas reads, I am tackling this blind, chapter by chapter.  So we’ll have fun discovering it together, and I have no idea how good the book might be.

In keeping with recent history (as in, last Wintermas), this is the final book of a Love Inspired miniseries.  Last year, we had the world’s most horrible will, and a group of cousins who had to come back to their crappy small town for a year to get money and land.

This year’s series involves a failing small town in Kansas.  The local Big Business that kept the town afloat closed down permanently, and people were left in the cold (har, it’s Christmas).  Many who can have up and left.

But then, some anonymous benefactor bought up a whole block of Main Street and then paid for a bunch of businesspeople to set up their small businesses in those buildings.  Which actually sounds kinda cool until you realize two things:

  1. So even if some smart and savvy businesspeople set up their awesome businesses in this town, on this one block, the businesses will be kinda useless if nobody in town has any money to spend at these businesses, which seems likely since it sounds like the whole town is dying.  (For the record, the businesses set up in the books of this series are, in order: a flower shop, a bakery, a hardware store, a bookstore, a pet store, and (in this book) a coffee shop.)
  2. Speaking of the whole town dying, the really bizarre part of this benefactor and their system is that only out-of-towners are permitted to apply to be in the buildings.  Locals don’t get a shot.  So it’s all about convincing people to move to this little shithole town and open a business, because there is absolutely no way that the resident of Bygones (yes, really), Kansas would ever feel resentful of this situation.

Now, at this point, I’ve only read the first chapter of this book, and the first chapter of the first second book of this series, so I could get a better handle on this deal than I had on Grandpa Asshat’s will last year.  (I’ve got both the first and second books of the series from the library, for reference.)  So the interesting part is that while I haven’t really seen my first point be a thing yet, my second point is.  Like really a lot.  This isn’t even subtext, it is actual text.  In fact, it kinda looks like the entire central conflict of the first second book is that the heroine moves to town and opens a bakery, and the hero is resentful because he wanted to open a business, but couldn’t because he’s not allowed in on this deal because he’s a local.

So yeah, it is super weird and, just like last year, I don’t envy the author her task here, because not only is she writing her own story, she’s tying up the loose ends of the whole series; specifically, who is this mysterious benefactor?

Our heroine is the person who is supposed to figure this out: Whitney Leigh.  She’s a reporter for the Bygones Gazette.  So, to be clear, she works for a local newspaper in a failing small town.  But she kinda acts Too Cool For School about it: she spends most of Chapter One internally whining about having to write fluff pieces about all the romance in the air as all these businesspeople on Main Street keep falling in love.  And what she really wants is to find out who the benefactor is.  She seems to see herself as an intrepid journalist who will break the biggest story of the century, and I’m mildly annoyed by her attitude…but then again, this is the big secret that the book needs to reveal, and it’s just a Chapter One exposition-dump, so I’ll give it a pass for now.

(Also, she’s very much on the side of the townsfolk and kinda pissed (being a local herself) that locals don’t get to be a part of the Save Our Streets (SOS, get it?) initiative.  So points for her in that regard.)

The opening chapter features Whitney heading to the Cozy Cup Cafe, a SOS business run by our hero, Josh Smith.  (Bizarrely, he’s Josh Smith in the book, but Josh Barton on the back cover).  Josh is perfect wish-fulfillment material so far: handsome and sweet, he runs this awesome coffee shop that miraculously appeals to both older locals who chill all day and gossip, and teens who hang in his “internet cafe.”  (This series is from 2013.)

But since I’ve also spent this post in exposition-dump, I’ll leave their conversation till next time.

Happy War on Wintermas!

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Posted on November 23, 2018, in Cozy Christmas (In Progress). Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hmm. I suppose the theory is: outsiders start shops, outsiders employ (and therefore pay) locals, locals spend money in shops. Or at the very least the outsiders need to buy food. (Do they eat anything other than baked goods and coffee?) I suspect this only works if the locals start their own businesses too.

    It’s an interesting conceit, and I see that this series is six books by different writers. (But, what a shame, although all the covers are basically “couple in front of a shop”, they missed the chance to make them tile together into a single street scene.)

  2. They say never judge a book by its cover, but I’m having trouble with that because that cover is nauseatingly cutesy. Ugh it kinda reminds me of Thomas Kinkade paintings.

    I kinda hope Whitney does find out who the benefactor is, because their methods seem pretty odd. Wouldn’t it help the town more to have the new businesses be run by locals instead of out-of-towners?

    • Well, one of the results of the adoration of small-town life is a liking for the idea that a big-city person will move out, discover True Love, and settle down. (Which presumably makes up for Those Darn Kids leaving for sinful urban places where there’s more than one restaurant.) It’s clearly an idea that appeals to some Christian™ authors, considering some of the other romance books we’ve read here – particularly when women give up their big-city careers for Twoo Wuv and pumping out babies, of course.

      Looked at in plotting terms, if both the protagonists are small-towners, they already know each other much better than the reader will get to know them, and one has to wonder why they haven’t got together before now. It makes it harder to set up the plausible meetings.

  3. I’d say problem 2 causes problem 1. If the locals were given money to run a business, they could at least afford to buy at each other’s shops from the money they made at their own. Now all the money goes to the out of towners and the locals still can’t afford shit.

    But seriously, this series is spread over 6 books, all of which are about the new store owners bumping uglies with the locals? It sounds like a weak premise for even a single book. I wonder how the hell they kept the other 5 stories going if none of them were allowed to reveal what the hell is up with this asinine development plan.

  4. I couldn’t help notice that ‘Whitney’ is just one letter away from ‘Whitey’. Just sayin’.

  5. Why is this stuff always in a weird time warp tech wise?

    • Both authors and readers of Christian™-brand romance are likely to be the sort of people who regard the Internet as a bit scary and definitely not a thing that Normal People do, except perhaps as an adjunct to something real. (I could readily believe in a book which had the woman selling handiwork via don’t-call-it-Etsy, for example, but I don’t think you’d be likely to see them using social media – and if you did they’d get it entirely wrong.)

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