Kate Moore, $1.99
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Based on what the author says in the preface, Once Upon a Ring was originally published in the anthology Ring of Truth back in 2014. That explains why a magical ring is present in this short story. It’s all part of the theme.
Tara, of course, had the perfect job, as a concierge at the Hotel Belmont, a boutique hotel on the north side of Nob Hill. She had found her calling, welcoming tourists to her favorite city and making sure that they enjoyed its hills and views, its endless good restaurants, its history, and its mix of elegant sophistication and Bohemian zaniness. At work she had everything at her fingertips to solve visitors’ problems and make their stay more enjoyable.
Whoa, I can smell the Hallmark movie already.
Tara Keegan, our heroine, is on her way to work when an accidental collision nearly sends her down to her own Final Destination montage. Fortunately, she is held steady by a strange woman.
“Wait!” The woman dipped a hand into the pocket of her trench coat. “I have something for you.” Out came a ring box of scuffed burgundy leather. “Take this. Read everything. Trust me. It will change your life.” She tucked the box in Tara’s jacket pocket.
Wait, maybe this is the start of one of those Blumhouse horror flicks, with some demon-possessed heirloom or something.
No, not really, this one turns out to be a pleasant romance once things get going. Things do begin slowly at first, perhaps too slow for some folks, as the author spends way too much time describing the scenery and every little detail about everything. It were as if the author had read a chick-lit story and taken home the message that a contemporary romance needs to showcase every brand name of everything that is favored by the heroine.
Basically, Tara and Jack are mutual friends of Eddie, a homeless man who is the way he is because he doesn’t like to live any other way, and one day, Eddie goes missing. The two of them get together to find him amidst the bustle happening in Tara’s job at the moment – trying to get her ex and the man’s new fiancée settled down in the perfect suite for him to make the perfect proposal. The whole thing is pretty okay for a short story, and then the author kills the mood by having Jack propose to Tara at the end of the story.
Come on now. I know there is a thing called love at first, or maybe third or eleventh, sight but this story is way too short to make any proposal believable. What’s wrong with letting the two of them walk off into the sunset agreeing to meet up for a real date or something? These two barely know one another well, so it’s way too abrupt for the happy ending to come with something that is more absolute in nature.
At any rate, this one is, as I’ve mentioned, okay, but the slow beginning and forced ending can put a damper on things a lot. The author should have let things flow more organically, and if she had to close the door on this couple so soon, do it more believably. This is a contemporary romance, after all – no lady’s reputation would be ruined forever were she not married by the last page.