One of the many things about literature that I learned from film studies is how to spot the ‘right romantic couple.’ They are the couple that speak the same language. In other words, their conversations with each other suggest a deeper connection or a greater understanding than their conversations with others. In genre romances, the couple are easy to spot – the first man the woman meets is usually the man she’ll end up with – but it’s still a pleasure to see them speak the same language. This is something I need to incorporate with couples in my stories. Shared language shows the couple are good together, often before they realize it.
In Coming Home to Crimson, by Michelle Major (2018, Harlequin Special Edition, Home and Family), Sheriff Cole Bennett pulls over a speeding Sienna Pierce. She’s “borrowed” her now ex-boyfriend’s Porsche to flee Aspen, Colorado, and make a visit to her home town of Crimson, where she has some unresolved family matters. She explains to the skeptical sheriff that she plans to return the car shortly:
“My cheating, dirtbag, sleazeball ex is probably too busy entertaining his mistress to even realize the car is gone.”
. . .
“I gather you recently discovered the cheating, dirtbag, sleazeball side of him.”
“Along with a view of his saggy, naked butt in bed with another woman – that part I could have done without.”
“How long did you date?”
“A little over two years.”
“And his saggy butt came as a surprise?”
Sienna is the long-absent sister of the mayor, a friend of Cole’s, so Cole knows the family situation – divorced parents, estranged alcoholic father, status climbing re-married mother. He follows her to Aspen as she returns the Porsche, and gives her a ride to back Crimson. He’s attracted to her, but also suspects she is trouble.
Neither plans to see the other once she arrives in town, but their paths cross again, and at that second meeting he gives her a half-playful, half-serious kiss. Things progress relatively quickly. Sienna’s working remotely while visiting Crimson, and after living elegantly in Chicago for many years there’s some element of fish-out-of-water now that she’s in a small mountain town at a rundown B&B, but both of these issues fade. Family issues and small town secrets complicate the plot and lead to the black moment, but all is resolved relatively easily.
With the humour, low stakes, and easy resolution, this is a quick, light read. The multiple family reconciliations, including a toddler introduced to no doubt play a role in the next story, add heartwarming elements. The writing is good, but one plot point troubled me. Sienna’s transition from sophisticated urban career woman to cheerful small-town wife, her true character that she discovered over the course of the story, seemed too quick and easy. Maybe I’m old and cynical, but while I was glad she found “A family. A home. And love” in Crimson, I wish she had found a job, too. Her consistently independent nature requires it. Perhaps that’s in the next Crimson story.