South Carolina Brides

South Carolina Brides
Vickie McDonough
Barbour Books

After tackling quite a few classics, I was ready for a light read, so a set of novellas sounded good to me. Though the last novella collection I read was a disappointment, this collection is a set of books previously published by Heartsong Presents, which I enjoyed a lot when I was just beginning to read Christian fiction. And since these were all set in my home state, I thought it would be a nice change.

Out of the three stories, the last was probably my favorite. All the same, I didn’t find any of them particularly memorable. 

As I read South Carolina Brides, I think I discovered the main problem I have with romance novellas is that they try to fit all the elements of a full-length romance into a short amount of pages; it just very rarely works. Halfway through the novella the characters will be declaring their love and I’m just like, “Guys, you literally met the day before- this isn’t a Disney movie, all right!” In fact, some of the time the characters in a Disney movie have more of a basis to their relationship than the characters in some of these novellas! If the characters finally realized they loved each other at the end of the novella, or even if the story was about two people who already liked each other who now had to face a challenge- maybe that would work. But most novellas seem a little like a fun-sized candy bar; a shot of mushy romance to satisfy feminine emotions and desires where the relationship consists of mostly kissing and contrived romantic situations because there’s not enough space in the book to write anything else in regards to their relationship. The character development languishes in a frustrating way while the author tries to fit a bad guy, kidnapping, disapproving relatives, romantic trysts, and some sort of Christian message all in 100 pages. Just pick one or two of those things, please, and you’d be on to something. But doing it all at once just doesn’t work.

I know: it sounds really mean and harsh, but no matter how good of a writer an author may be, I’m always left disappointed when reading these novellas. I liked them a lot when I was younger, so maybe as time has gone on I’ve (hopefully) raised my bar of expectation in my reading material. As a fraction of a whole, South Carolina Brides wasn’t any better or worse than any other novella collection I’ve read. (and I personally apologize to the author of this collection for using South Carolina Brides as my starting point for this rant-like review of novellas in general) I can’t say I’m completely done with novella collections, as I admit Barbour’s The British Brides Collection caught my eye (this one being a much larger collection of stories by a variety of authors) so I’m still hopeful. But unfortunately, South Carolina Brides didn’t break out of the sappy/dime-novel-feel mold this genre seems shackled to.

Rating: 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


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