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    Good characters and storyline

    This is a review for the second edition of the Sparkle and Shine novella. I was really intrigued by this gay-for-you story of long-time friends turned lovers. Factor in cowboy heroes who are active in the professional rodeo circuit, and I was hoping for a fantastic short story. While I liked a lot of the components of Sparkle and Shine, there also was a lot that didn’t work as well for me. The heroes, Brooks and Evan, were likable and I enjoyed how the author established the long-standing, hidden attraction they both harbored. I also liked the way Evan being a single father figured into the plot and conflicts. The romance between Brooks and Evan moved at a reasonable pace and I appreciated that it didn’t go from zero to happily ever after. The transition from friends to lovers felt believable, building slowly as the characters got comfortable enough with their attraction and relationship to make it public knowledge. Finally, it was nice to see the rodeo life more accurately represented and described than how many cowboy romance novels come across. What I struggled with most was the rushed feeling I had while reading Sparkle and Shine. Although the timeline was spread out reasonably well, it didn’t read smoothly because of randomly occurring time jumps. I would have preferred these jumps forward to have an obvious transition marking the passage of time. While the writing itself was solid, the rhythm was a little forced and rushed. The result was I never really settled into the story. Additionally, due to the shorter length, much of the resolutions and character/plot developments were quickly addressed or felt glazed over. In general, I felt like I didn’t get enough time to really see it all play out and develop fully. So while I liked many of the basic parts of the story, it simply never came together the way I would have hoped. That said, I think fans of western or cowboy stories looking for a short read with good characters might enjoy Sparkle and Shine and I’d definitely be willing to read more from this author in the future. *Reviewed for Alpha Book Club*

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