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Erica Ridley

REVIEW:  Let It Snow by Erica Ridley

REVIEW: Let It Snow by Erica Ridley

Let-it-snow

Adventurer Lance Desmond needs to produce a fortune before his arch-rival collects the bounty on his head. He risks an ancient curse to retrieve treasure hidden within icebound Castle Cavanaugh, only to become trapped inside. Not with the gold he so desperately needs, but with medieval Princess Marigold who’s been cooling her heels since . . . well, medieval times.

The lonely princess refuses to acknowledge the blossoming attraction between them. Not just because she deserves a better future than a penniless rogue. But because at midnight, he’ll vanish like all her other would-be heroes. And the evergreen in the parlor will have one more figurine hanging from its boughs . .

Dear Ms. Ridley,

After attempting to read and failing to finish another of your novellas, I doubted I’d be trying another. I’m sure you probably didn’t want me to either. Nevertheless, something about the blurb for “Let It Snow” brought to mind another paranormal novella I’d read years ago that featured a cursed heroine and a hero who set her free. I liked that one and hoped that similar blurb = similar outcome. And what the heck, as far as time commitment we weren’t talking about one of those epic fantasy tomes that gives you back strain just lifting it. So … onward and off we go.

I was delighted from the first chapter. What a weird, wonderful mix of fantasy and smart phones. Swashbuckling and Candy Crush. And there are apps to handle all those dusty old magic spell books – beats having to get those cranky, huge metal hasps open whenever you want to spell someone! Lance and his best guy buddy Sancho are hilarious as they discuss how Lance can earn quick cash and buy off the bounty hunter who’s set a price on Lance’s head. No way will Lance forgo his beloved dream of owning a pirate ship and sell it off, plus he’s in an installment plan with it and can’t get his money back before paying it all off.

With no better plan and despite Sancho’s misgivings, Lance decides to go on an adventure – he lives for that stuff anyway so why not make some quick dough – to the enchanted, iced over Castle which is said to hold a golden treasure. A grappling hook, some wall blasting, pseudo light sabers and lots of chutzpah, that’s all he needs. How hard can this be?

Very hard, as Lance discovers. Oh, it’s easy to get into the castle but like Hotel California, you can never leave. Actually a worse fate awaits him only Princess Marigold hasn’t the heart to tell him exactly what. Once she’s broken the news to him that “no the walls aren’t made of ice and they can’t be melted and if he keeps hurling himself at the now solid wall where the door was, he’ll hurt himself even more than he already has” she thinks she’s dumped enough bad news on him for one day. And if he knows how little time he has left, he might go mad or spend the last hours in a useless, panic filled frenzy.

Since Lance is the first person to take the news of his imprisonment with a laugh, and the first person to ask her about who she’s become after 600 years of living there and not concentrate on what she can do for him but on who she is, and he’s optimistic, and funny and he introduces her to the wonder of a Snickers bar, she knows it will break her heart when he disappears at the stroke of midnight – just like everybody else.

I loved this section of Lance and Marigold getting to know each other. Lance is an alright guy. He takes everything in stride, looks on the bright side and is determined to make Marigold’s birthday something special. He wants to give her the gift of happiness and once he’s made her laugh and lit her face up with a smile, he decides he could get used to doing that every day. Meanwhile Marigold is a woman after my own heart, an ereader with the promise of endless books to read makes her practically giddy. Through her revelations to Lance about life in the Castle for the past 600 years, he sees just how strong a person she is and marvels at her endurance.

But is there a hope in hell for them? The curse has lasted for centuries and although Lance is proving resilient, they’re still on the wrong side of the walls. Which is where that magic spells book that Sancho pushed on Lance might come in handy but only if between the two of them, they can discover what it really is that has kept Marigold a prisoner for all these years. Will she trust Lance enough to let go and thus earn her freedom and that of so many others?

Okay, this part had me sniffling. Anyone who’s ever lost someone and faced the rest of their life without them will know what Marigold faces, accepts and rises above. Lance is right about her being strong and having learned a thing or two over the years. And just when I’d worked through the hanky I had been using to dab my eyes, along comes a funny scene to wind everything up and send our two lovebirds on their beginning lifelong adventures. B

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Midwinter Magic by Erica Ridley

REVIEW: Midwinter Magic by Erica Ridley

Midwinter-Magic

After an eye-opening congressional hearing, former corporate shark Jack Morgan redirects his ill-gotten gains toward charity work. However, his attempts to bring holiday cheer to a Bolivian village meet with one disaster after another: canceled flights, crumbling luggage, implacable customs officials. His plans disintegrate further when he runs into a sexy tourist with . . . wings?

As Jack’s guardian angel, Sarah Phimm has her work cut out for her. When his latest volunteer mission risks his life, she’s forced to reveal herself to him—but only in part. She can’t risk him knowing the truth. He’s everything her immortal heart desires, but can never have. She soon discovers that keeping him safe amidst death bridges and tumbling telephone poles is far easier than guarding her heart.

Dear Ms. Ridley,

For me to not finish a novella, things have to go terribly wrong. Usually I don’t even bother to file these write-ups in my Reading List posts much less do a DNF for them but this one compelled me to. It isn’t just that it failed me as a nice, little holiday sugarplum tidbit. It failed me because took my holiday cheer away and stomped on it.

It starts innocently enough with former corporate raider Jack determined to make up for all the rapine and pillaging his companies have done to little hamlets everywhere. He’s Seen the Light and is all about Doing Good in the world. His guardian angel is only concerned with keeping him safe until his predetermined date with death at age 70. She has guidelines to stick to.

After a major screw up on her part in letting Jack see her at all, Sarah has no choice but to stay with him in order to try and keep him from discovering her true identity. But she messes that up too. Then throws herself a pity party when Jack asks her about birthday parties and holiday celebrations in her neck of the woods and it dawns on her – after 1000 years?? – that she’s never had either. But it’s not this maudlin goopiness or having an angel lusting after her super hawt charge that caused me to toss in the towel.

No, there is much more along the way that did that.

Jack is determined – determined, damn it! – to Do Good. He’s got the money so he’s going to not only to spend it on the poor of the world but he’s going to put sweat equity into the bargain. At first this is nice however as the story progressed it began to take on the “white male arrives to save the poor but noble brown peasant” tones. Jack is just so rich and the Bolivians are all just so impoverished and dignified yet so grateful at his generosity.

As I was getting more and more uncomfortable about all this, the final nail in the novella coffin gets hammered. Sarah reveals to Jack that she’s his guardian angel – a mistake of major proportions for her. Her end of the month review will be harsh. Then comes the kicker. Jack wonders why the Bolivians they’re helping are in such desperate straights. Don’t they have guardian angels too? “Well …. um, no,” Sarah tells him. Seems like there aren’t enough to go around and poor, third world Christians apparently need not apply. Then she tries to justify the fact that this rich, white American dude gets one by telling him how much good he and his money are doing for the world and that somehow this balances out. Despite the fact that it was his businesses that have ruined the world, or so Jack thinks.

Pope Francis would be pissed about this and so am I. Slack jawed at the hoops the story is now jumping through to try and maintain the plot, other inconsistencies jumped out at me. Sarah is 1000+ years old but goes into brain freeze when she appears to Jack and picks some bizarre outfits. She’s stuck by his side his entire 35 year life and hasn’t noticed what people usually wear? Then there are her wings. Jack hears them ruffling at times and at others they’re an inconvenience – like when Jack sleeps and drools on them – yet there are times – such as when Sarah sits in the passenger seat of an SUV for hours – where they’re not mentioned at all.

So I’m down to nitpicking at this point but I was just so deeply disappointed in this novella that it’s hard to stop. I think I need to go watch “Bad Santa” to get my holiday buzz back.

~Jayne

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