Jacob Proffitt's Reviews > A Cold Creek Christmas Story

A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne
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really liked it
bookshelves: chaste, romance, negative-motivation

While part of a very long series of Christmas-themed romances, the only predecessor with any effect on the story is The Christmas Ranch. Okay, that's not entirely true. Half the novel had pop-ins from previous couples and that was more than a little annoying. Also, this story is tons better than that book, so it’s sad how much setup is there that this story leans on. So I kind of hate having to encourage others to endure that one to fully appreciate this one. Maybe stop at ¾ in like I did?

This story might have been designed for me. Flynn and Celeste are exactly my kind of people with the strong/capable guy and the thoughtful/kind woman who find each other and realize how much better they are together. Add Thayne’s adroit handling of children for Flynn’s daughter, Olivia, and you have a killer cast that’s right up my alley. And let me tell you, Thayne did an incredible job with Olivia whose emotional journey from trauma to the start of healing had to have been very difficult to pull off. Some of the emotional payoff drew satisfied tears, it was so well-done.

So why only 3½ stars? Okay, I’ll probably round to four, but there are some very distracting problems with the story. Most of it is the really bad case of negative motivation*. For both main characters. This was terribly confusing for Flynn because his main motivation seems to be taking care of Olivia and seeing to her health/healing. Which is very much a motivation to do things and not negative at all. Only. Every interaction he has with Celeste is completely “don’t do stuff” and firmly, even pathologically, negative—despite how well she fits in with his only stated motivation. So the whole “can’t do this thing” was unexplained and contradictory and that frustrated me mightily even above and beyond my normal issue with negative motivation.

So yeah. 3½ stars. Only I’m rounding up to four because did I mention the cathartic tears? Add the multiplier that it’s the perfect time of year for a strong Christmas-themed story (and one unusually well-grounded in the message of finding happiness in serving others) and I just couldn’t grinch this down to three.

A note about Chaste: There are a couple amazing kisses. And that’s it. Thayne’s mastery of chaste romances makes this not a surprise. But it’s still gratifying to experience it so well-done.

* Negative Motivations: I kind of hate that the term "negative motivation" isn't widespread, yet. Since it isn't, I'm going to save off this little jag to append to my reviews that feature the term. Jennifer Crusie blogged about it a bit back and it changed how I understand story. The problem with the term is that if you've never heard it before, you'd assume it meant motivations that are harmful or immoral. Not so. What it refers to is motivations not to do something. The thing is that many of us are motivated to not do things for a lot of different, perfectly valid and reasonable, reasons. The problem is that in a story motivations to not do things are a huge drag on the plot—particularly considering the fact that most negative motivations are overcome by the character simply deciding they don't care any more (or, rather, that they do care and are now motivated to do the thing). So not only do you have a counter to action but you also have a situation where to overcome it, all a character has to do is change their mind. Which means eventually, the reader is rooting for the character to get over him/herself already and do the thing we want them to do. Conflict drives story. Conflict between a reader and a main character drives readers away from story.
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Reading Progress

November 20, 2017 – Shelved
November 20, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 22, 2017 – Started Reading
November 23, 2017 – Shelved as: chaste
November 23, 2017 – Shelved as: romance
November 23, 2017 – Finished Reading
February 25, 2018 – Shelved as: negative-motivation

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Delacey I so hear you on the negative motivations! This book wasn't as bad as some other books with this story conflict focus.

Jacob Proffitt I completely agree, Delacey. Even though this story was crammed full of negative motivation, it still managed to satisfy.

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