Mistletoe and Horseshoes by Juliette Douglas is an imaginative Western story that takes place on the snowy border of Canada. The headstrong and stoic Jolene takes us into a little town where she finds love, herself, and what the spirit of Christmas truly means.
Jolene is a compelling character and her history as an abused prostitute as well as her jail-time make her a stand-out character in a genre that can be very masculine. She is dismissive, drinks whiskey, and is not afraid to trek through the snow with her faithful horse. However, this all unravels when she agrees to marry Emmett Foster, a man she has known less than two days. There is no real development into the relationship and while both bond over their shared jail-time, the relationship is not convincing which was a pity as Jolene is so unique.
The lack of development could be because the story is only thirty pages. One stylistic problem is that Douglas uses the adjective “hazel” more than twelve times to describe Jolene’s eyes but very little else about her. And so the reader is left with a romance between two characters that is built on . . . criminal conviction?
That being said, the theme of “Christmas miracles” influences the story and in turn the accelerated romance. The birth of a baby in the stable and Emmett’s festive spirit give the story a Christmas feel and a happy ending that is perfect for this season.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.