by Loraine Mer, contemporary (2006)
StarDust Press, $2.98, ISBN N/A
Even now I still have no idea what to say about Christmas Proposal. It's a story about love and kindness and saving the kiddies, I suppose, but it's also the story of Josephine Lewis, the director of Children's Heaven, offering her sexual services to Armand Schmitt, the man who is going to kick the orphans out of the building in order to save the orphanage. She then is filled with remorse because she behaves like a "wanton" in his arms. What kind of weird contemporary woman expects to behave like cold fish during sex?
This story also has some sordid family secrets and some mild company espionage related to the author's attempts to show how Armand gets over the death of his wife and how he isn't such a bad Scrooge after all. But there is no denying that this is a man who without qualms accepts a sordid sexual proposition from a woman.
There is probably something twisted and amusing about a Christmas-themed story of kindness and charity that features a "romance" which begins the way it does, but Christmas Proposal is too schizophrenic for its own good. The premise works better in an erotica but this story is not erotic enough to be considered one. The sappy and sentimental moments crammed late in this story are jarring when compared to the calculating and seedy sexual transaction that kicks off this story. I don't see any credible romance developing in this story. It is too short to allow the author to do much anyway.
This is one of those self-indulgent stories that probably should have been sent to a magazine or an anthology because I honestly cannot think of a reason why anyone should shell out money for this "novella". I hope that Loraine Mer would take her time to work on her next story so that it actually has depths and some substantial characterization instead of submitting something like Christmas Proposal.
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