Cozy Christmas, Chapter 1, Part 2
So first of all, a little more information on the setup for the series. The big business of Bygones, Kansas, was Randall Manufacturing. It employed (get this) SEVENTY PERCENT of the town.
So, right away, this seems like a similar story to Christmas Town, which also featured a longtime business (possibly) leaving town.
Then we get this, from Love in Bloom, the first book in the series:
Tate couldn’t help wondering if Robert Randall truly realized what he’d done to this community when he’d shuttered his aerospace manufacturing plant.
Okay, that kinda changes everything for me.
Seventy percent of the town worked in aerospace manufacturing??? I do not blame one single person for picking up and leaving town. Wouldn’t an aerospace manufacturing plant tend to imply highly skilled workers? Engineers and so forth? This is so not the case of an old business that has kept the town afloat for generations, and the families don’t know any different and will be completely lost without the business. Wouldn’t it be more like, “Oh, the plant is closing. Huh, what an ass that Robert Randall is. Guess I’ll move my family to Florida, with the money I’ve been able to save because Kansas has a super-low COL, and get another aerospace manufacturing job!”
But no, the entire town has apparently just been sitting back, waiting to die (When the bank branch had closed, the whole town had known it was in real trouble. (Also from Love in Bloom.), until this mysterious benefactor figured out that opening five small businesses on Main Street, none of which could be owned and run by a Bygones native, would save the entire burg.
So, there’s the background. On to our actual book!
The interesting thing right off the bat about Whitney and Josh is that they are kinda already into each other as the story begins. Whitney goes to Josh’s coffee shop and they exchange a bot of flirtatious banter and Whitney internally marvels at how awesome Josh’s coffee shop is, and how awesome all the new Main Street businesses are, because “each one had filled a need and become an integral part of Bygones in a mere five or six months.”
Yeah, what any dying Midwest town desperately needs is a pet store.
Oh, and “Josh’s computers were state-of-the-art, with game-playing capabilities far beyond anything she had ever seen.”
Yeah, what this dying town of aerospace manufacturers desperately needs is the capability to play PUBG with the highest possible resolution.
(I really want to play some PUBG right now.)
Anyway, Josh fixes Whitney a drink and they sit and chat and we’re already pretty romantical, since Josh’s teasing “made her tremble like dry autumn leaves in a gale.”
Damn, girl, slow down.
Whitney wants to ask Josh some reporter-type questions, but he wants to ask her a question first, and she says sure.
“Why do you wear those glasses instead of contacts?”
“Those clunky glasses. The heavy frames.”
Well, that didn’t take long. Now I hate Josh.
This book was written in 2013, and is it really asking so much that this tired old trope be retired?
And I am not raging on this because I wear clunky glasses and my husband wears clunky glasses and so do my father and brother and…
Okay, Josh, here’s the thing: people wear glasses TO SEE BETTER. That’s kinda their whole purpose. Oh, I’ll let Whitney tell you:
“That’s a silly question. I need them to read.”
“To read? Or as a mask to hide behind?”
Wow, I hate him so much and it’s page 14.
YES, asshole, TO READ. Not as a mask, but TO READ. Not everyone with bad vision can use contacts, and not everyone with bad vision wants to use contacts. I’m gonna blow your mind right now, but I like my glasses. I’ve had them since I was five, and I NEED THEM TO SEE. My husband is LEGALLY BLIND without his glasses. What, exactly, is your malfunction? I mean, seriously, are you stuck in second grade?
He then pays her a nice condescending backhanded compliment by saying that she has beautiful eyes, but, poor lil him, he has to “really work” to see them because THE GLASSES, SO HUGE.
At this point, if I was Whitney, I’d already be going to find a nice home espresso machine. But no, she sticks with this complete ass, and starts whining to him about all the love stories that have been happening in town, all centered on these new businesses. Weird, huh? Basically, at this point the “flirting” turns into an interview, and the POV switches from Whitney to Josh.
Josh could tell his casual repartee had rattled the cute reporter. Well, too bad.
She had been sticking her nose into his business from the moment he’d arrived in Bygones. If she had been old and ugly, or even just a little slow-witted, he’d have been fine. Unfortunately, she was none of those things.
So here’s the thing: the reason Josh is so intimidated by Whitney is not just because she is young and hot, but because he’s scared of her questions.
And he’s scared of her questions because…he’s the mysterious benefactor!
Yep, the mysterious benefactor of Main Street has been revealed on page 18. And it’s one of the businesspeople. So, technically, new businesses were only given to five new businesses, because the sixth is a business run by a millionaire who doesn’t need it. And who, incidentally, so far seems to be the only employee of that business.
Yeah, it’s kinda weird to reveal the big twist in Chapter 1. I’ll be interested to see how this is handled. This has the potential to be interesting…but also to make the heroine look stupid, what with the readers knowing the big secret before she does.
And so the interview continues apace, with Whitney asking very basic questions about Josh’s coffee shop. And despite the basicness of the questions, Josh acts all suspicious and evasive, and vague enough to actually say things like, “I thought I’d try [to serve coffee] with my computers.” He even very obviously dodges the question of his college major. And when Whitney asks him if it was “hard to learn how to make the different drinks,” Josh responds that he merely “got a book and watched a tutorial on the internet.”
So wait, Whitney just assumes that Josh knew nothing about working in a coffee shop before opening one? And Josh confirms that yes, he knew absolutely nothing about it. Yep, that’s just the kind of business we’re looking for to revitalize Main Street, Failingtown, Kansas!
The silly interview finally ends, and Josh reflects that he “could have told [Whitney] that she owed him a lot more than she knew,” but, super nice guy that he is, “he had not launched this recovery program for the accolades it might bring him.”
Maybe not, but he sure does like to think about it, doesn’t he?
Meanwhile, as she wanders off, Whitney thinks about how she can never get a straight answer out of Josh, to the point that she actually wonders if “Smith” is his real name. But as it happens, the school principal, one Coraline Connolly, heads up the process of distributing the grants, and apparently is too “savvy” to fall for a fake name.
But not savvy enough not to hire a coffee shop owner who didn’t know how to make hot drinks until YouTube taught him.
At least Whitney knows Josh is hiding something. So we’ll see where this goes.
Oh, and in all of Chapter 1, not a single mention of God or Jesus. Weird.