REVIEW: The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas
The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas lures two outcasts to each other in this heartfelt historical western novella. An easy short story that will whet your appetite for more by this talented author.
Why was this book in Dorine’s TBR? I don’t buy many shorts anymore, so this month’s challenge was challenging – trying to find one in the TBR that intrigued me. Wendy saved the day with her post on potentially unusual historicals in December 2018, which made my TBR expand and deplete simultaneously. Technically, The Valentine’s Curse was in my TBR for about a week. LOL
January is a tough month for reading for me. Every year I have this dream of reading book after book in front of a roaring fire for at least a week after Christmas. I have good intentions. I even buy more books with intent to increase my reading frenzy. Nope, I end up vegetating on television (Starz Outlander series, anyone?) and playing games on my Kindle. The frenzy this year was focused on my homesteading magazine obsession. What is it about January that makes me want to be a homesteader? Crazy! In my defense, I did some organizing and accomplished something after Christmas, but reading wasn’t at the top of my list like I had hoped. Oh well – there’s always next year!
I’ve had several Jodi Thomas books on my wish-list for some time. I might even have a longer book in my print TBR somewhere. Finally sitting down to read one after all these years was like coming home.
I love a story about outcasts, but I don’t remember ever reading one where both characters were outcasts, then finding each other because of it. Brody Monroe is known as the “Yank” on the east Texas cattle ranch where he works. He hasn’t been accepted by the other cowhands, nor has he made a big effort to sway them into being friendlier.
Widow Valerie Allen is best known for the curse she puts on any man who comes near her. At least that’s what the neighbors think after both her husbands die. The truth is that Valerie never felt loved by either of her husbands. That’s what makes Brody so special. He’s patient and kind – giving Valerie all the time she needs to fall in love with him.
When this pair meet at a dance arranged by Brody’s boss, their mutual need is clear, but is that enough to get them through marriage? Brody wants property of his own. Valerie has property but needs help to run it. The solution seems clear to Valerie, but can Brody aid the widow without falling in love?
Brody is a hard man who doesn’t seem to have any emotion left in him. Valerie has accepted the abuse by the town folks’ whispers, but she can’t stop smiling when reminded of it by Brody’s honesty. I grinned during this couple’s meet and greet. It was short and to the point with a little humor and very cute.
But there is an underlying sadness in both characters and that’s what broke my heart. There were some good one liners that made me laugh, too. This book made me tear up before the halfway mark and I was surprised at the raw emotion evoked by so few words.
Although their marriage seemed to be one of convenience, at first, they had enough in common to make it to happy-ever-after. I didn’t expect the danger they faced but it made their love become clearer. Even though the townspeople were cruel, they made up for it in the end. This couple felt bad about what others thought, even though they pretended that they were fine, but the best part was that they didn’t let it stop them from being their true selves.
I enjoyed this story, especially Brody’s patience and kindness with Valerie. I wasn’t enamored by the Epilogue at all. Sometimes knowing what happens to characters in their distant future, even if we know it’s inevitable, is best left unsaid. It’s that whole happy-ever-after enchantment. Knowing too much breaks the spell.
This short story did its job by convincing me to look for more by Jodi Thomas, even with that mild disappointment in the Epilogue. The Valentine’s Curse made me cry with compassion, so the emotion is top-notch. The characters had just the right amount of imperfect to mix with their goodness to make them believable. Brody was especially well-drawn, but Valerie was the one who tugged at my heart. Very tightly written and to pull out all the feels anyways, makes this one a keeper.
Follow the rest of the bloggers involved in this TBR Challenge here. Or, decide to join us by following the info at that link. Let’s keep blogging about books zestfully throughout the year. 😊
Review by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital copy purchased at Amazon. Thanks in advance for sharing this review or using the buy links!
The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas
Category: Western Romance
Print Length: 74 pages
Publisher: Zebra (December 18, 2018)
Rated 4 out of 5
Do you enjoy reading short stories more at specific times of the year? Are they a staple in your reading, or just once in a while? Do they help you choose new-to-you authors?