The StoryFrom Goodreads: Life on her brother’s ranch is lonely for Ellie Strickland. Ed’s ungracious manners and tight-fisted habits keep visitors away and his mother and sister close to home. But when Cole Newcomb, son of the wealthiest rancher in the county, meets Ellie by chance, he is struck by an unexpected impulse to rescue her from her solitude—and Ellie’s lonely summer is transformed.
When Cole asks her to go with him to the Fourth of July dance, Ellie is determined that nothing, from an old dress to Ed’s sour temper, will stand in her way. By the time the Fourth of July fireworks go off at midnight, will they herald only more heartache, or maybe—just maybe—a dream come true?
Novella, approximately 21,000 words.
First of all, can I say how much I love novellas? They are quick, easy to read, and make me feel like I'm accomplishing a lot even when reading time has to be snatched here and there. I never thought how much artistry and satisfaction a short story could hold, but Elisabeth Foley's have been just the ticket.
Second, Ellie's mama is awesome. A lot of authors could take a Cinderella story and keep in the evil stepmother motif, but Foley wrote a close and loving mother/daughter relationship. Do you realize how few of those there are in literature? Most mothers are either dead or flighty or mean, but Mrs. Strickland is a woman of spunk, and a good seamstress to boot. Kudos!
While I think Foley's writing style shines even brighter in her later collection, Wanderlust Creek, Cole was a fun hero seizing an opportunity to show a hurting girl he cares, and Ellie was a sweet heroine longing for someone to take care of her. She exemplifies the popular Cinderella traits of courage and kindness.
The western flavor is something I'm finding extremely refreshing lately. There's something honest and homespun and family-centered in Foley's re-tellings of this genre, and it makes a wonderful addition to my literary diet.
If you're in the mood for some sweet relaxation, I recommend picking up a copy of Corral Nocturne.