Author’s Unique Treatment of Conflict Makes “His Mistletoe Family” a Nail Biting Joy to Read!
“His Mistletoe Family”
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Romance fans and other writers will love it! This is the kind of story that was made for Christmas. The major characters in the book are the most sympathetic and deserving of happiness as any you’re likely to find outside of the Christmas Carol.
A good indication of why, “HisMistletoe Family,” has such endearing characters can be found in the author’s “Dear Reader” letter at the very back of the book. I think it helps if the reader reads this message first:
On Memorial Day in 2010 I stood alongside a tall, strong forty-something soldier. I didn’t know him. He didn’t know me. He watched that small home-town parade with grave intent. On the back side of his military cap were tiny yellow ribbons, marking two memories in a quiet, private way.
“I knew I had to write a story about him. Whoever he was. That stoic soldier became the basis for Colonel Brett Stanton, retired, U.S. Army. And those two ribbons became symbols for Ben and Josiah. Most of us are honored when others emulate us, but when that example leads loved ones to an early grave, the resulting guilt weighs heavy, especially at holiday time.”
With this kind of genesis one can understand how the feelings in this book are so genuine and heartfelt. The characters are rich enough for the author to employ a unique approach to the novel’s conflict. Normally in a romance the conflict stands between the hero and heroine. The reader wonders how these two could ever overcome the obstacles that are keeping them apart. Often even more obstacles are thrown into the mix as the story progresses. This makes the resolution of the conflict itself the central focus of the story. This is not the case in “His Mistletoe Family”.
The hero, Colonel Brett Stanton, has become almost a recluse since he retired from the Army. Few people even see him in town. His son and younger brother both entered the Army to emulate his example. They died because of it. He may have a case of survivor’s guilt. He was not a good father. He was always gone. He’s a good and noble man. He served his country well and he paid a very high price for his service. When the heroine comes to town with two young nephews she just inherited, he immediately comes to her rescue time and time. He would like nothing better than to have a second chance to be the husband and father he should have been the first time around.
The heroine, Haley Jennings, is almost thirty. She’s single and has had a horrible childhood with a father who abandoned the family to start another family. She is also over-worked trying to start a new business. Against her selfish mother’s advice, Haley accepts the guardianship of her half-brother’s two sons who are three and five years old. She has no idea how to be a mother or what a happy family would look like. When the hero offers to help her in many ways she reluctantly agrees because she needs that help.
The apparent conflict here is that the hero may be seen as too old for the heroine and the heroine may seem to have too much baggage with two children she must raise. But this isn’t a real conflict because the heroine would love to have a strong, older, father figure as a husband and father for her nephews. The hero views the two children as God’s way of giving him a second chance to be a good father.
The hero and heroine start the story as ideal solutions to each other's problems. Brett is the key to Haley’s lock. They are a perfect match. While they just met as the story opens, there is no doubt that given a decent interval of time they will fall in love and marry. But there is always doubt in life.
|Wait Until Next Year!|
It’s like being a Yankee fan and the Yanks are in the seventh game of the World Series and they score eight runs in the first inning. This is not a tie game that could go either way. No, this game is now a Yankee ‘win’. It’s their game to lose -- if they blow it. If you love the Yankees, this kind of game can be the most nerve wracking kind. As a fan you know that every hit by the other side could spell disaster…could mean the floodgates are about to open. The Yankees could lose the game and the World Series. As a fan watching such a game you are afraid of losing what you already consider yours: a victory. This can cause more stress than watching a tie game which neither side ever considered won.
The Importance of Sympathetic Characters
To successfully employ this unique type of conflict the author must create absolutely sympathetic characters the reader will love and root for. Since the central focus is not on overcoming existing conflicts, the author has the time to create the most genuine and endearing characters. This is what Ruth Logan Herne managers.
When It's Not A Close Game
Consider why this is so important. If you loved the Yankees in the above example, the game would be a real nail biter. You’d worry about every hit and wish the game would end soon before things could go wrong. But what if you did not favor either team? Let's say you liked another team not in the World Series. You might very well find a lopsided game not worth watching while a tie game going into the last inning could hold your attention. This is the same with the novel. If you didn’t really care a lot about the characters you would miss the traditional conflict which captures the typical romance fan’s interest.
A Greater Risk. A Greater Reward.
What I am saying is that the author has taken a huge risk using this type of conflict. It worked! It’s great. It’s highly emotional. It’s exceptionally satisfying. The last time I felt this good after reading a Christmas story was when I first read the “Christmas Carol”.
“A Mistletoe Family” Is The One Christmas Romance You Don’t Want to Miss Reading this Season.