The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters by Amy Lane
Length: 98 pages
Rance Crawford is an alpaca rancher, fiber mill owner, and self-proclaimed grumpy bastard. When sweet, charming tenderfoot Ben McCutcheon moves onto Crawford’s rural road, Rance is very aware that Ben makes it a grand total of two gay men in their tiny town, and even though he is instantly, painfully smitten, any move he makes could be simply chalked up to being hard up. Using his best weapon and favorite skill, Crawford launches an awkward, wordless effort to make sure Ben is kept warm during the cold Colorado winter, every last piece of him—especially his heart.
I think that's the best response I can give. If you want a story that makes you warm, happy, and a little sappy, pick this up. It's sweet, it's a little silly, and it's just plain adorable. It's told from the perspective of a fiber-obsessed grump and does an admirable job of walking the line between overloading on information about yarn and keeping in character. The narrator is gruff, socially awkward, and trying so hard it's tough not to want to give him a squeeze. And Ben is so full of sunshine that it's impossible not to smile every time he does. I fell in love with all the characters and while the story may be diabetes-inducingly sweet for some, I found it to be the perfect pick me up.
I think this story warmed me as much as the fleece blanket I was covered in while I read it.
I'm such a sap.
The characters in this story are just plain fun. The grumpy lead is balanced out by a plethora of funny, pleasant people, lending balance to the interactions. Because this is a shorter work with limited plot, the characters are vital to pulling off this story and Lane did so, using the narrator's voice to bring to life what could be a miserable perspective.
Crawford is a yarn-obsessed man, but instead of boring me with all the information that is provided, I was enchanted by the visions he saw and wanted to duplicate through his work. The descriptions of colors and combinations was especially dramatic, adding a depth to the character by revealing his softer side through his passion. The use of colors throughout the story perfectly wove (err) together Crawford's exterior behavior and interior feelings, all while seducing Ben. An expertly handled construct of the story.
Although these points didn't bother me, some may find there to be a lack of plot, as this is purely a romance where the focus is the coming together of the two men. In addition, some who have issues with jerk leads may be rubbed the wrong way by the narrator, although he is, by no stretch of the imagination, a real jerk. He's just gruff, but for those who are easily annoyed by this, consider yourself warned.
This is a sweet story that is dope-ly sweet, through and through (as if the alpaca wearing knitted gear on the cover wasn't a clue). Again, not a weakness, just a warning to those not looking for that type of story.
Finally, I was no better at knitting than when I started, although my desire to knit tripled. ;)