The Toymaker, by Kay Springsteen

springsteenI spent Christmas Day reading, “The Toymaker” by Kay Springsteen.  Springsteen’s prose is so smooth it all but disappears, letting the story take center stage.  To me that is the mark of an excellent writer.  Her words painted vivid pictures in my mind.   The story’s main characters, Lady Ivy and Philip Green — or rather, Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar — are vividly drawn, very human, and very likable.   I very much enjoyed reading this book.

“The Toymaker” isn’t a page turner.  I had no trouble putting it down as I moved through the day, but every time I paused the gentle story called to me. The romantic stumbling block in the story was a little contrived and could have been solved easily, but that seems to be a time honored romance story tradition and was easily forgiveable.  All-in-all, “The Toymaker” by Kay Springsteen  was the perfect, leisurely Christmas Day story and for the most part I read it while sitting in front of the fireplace draped in a fluffy blanket.

Amazon’s book blurb:

Lady Ivy Plumthorne, elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Wythorpe, is a worry to her parents. Desiring only that she be as happily wed as her younger sister, they’ve spent the past year parading prospective suitors in front of her. When she finds none of the suitors… suitable, her parents despair she will ever find the perfect husband. With Christmas approaching, they find one more prospective suitor, the Duke of Greenbriar. Only problem is, Ivy’s already met the man of her dreams… and he’s a toymaker. Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar, wasn’t cut out to be a duke. He preferred crafting toys that made children happy. So that’s just what he did. And as Phillip Green, he traveled freely about, visiting shops and orphanages, and making no child went without a toy of his or her own. But a few chance meetings with Lady Ivy and he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. The problem is, she needs to marry a nobleman and she only knows him as Phillip the Toymaker. He needs a plan, and fast. The world needs to meet the reclusive Duke of Greenbriar, so Phillip plans his own coming out. But how will Ivy react when she learns the truth?

About the Author (Amazon bio)

k springsteenKay Springsteen is a romance junkie and a chocolate addict, who makes her home in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She can and does write anywhere, and often incorporates little oddities of her every day life into her stories. Her family has learned the hard way to maintain a low profile in order to stay off her radar, for fear they will find themselves crafted into her latest novel. Kay is a Christian, who is passionate about all life. She has been an outspoken advocate for homeless persons, shelter pets, the environment, military and first responder personnel, community outreach, education, and people of all ages who have disabilities.

Kay can often be found taking long hikes in the mountains with one or two of her terrific rescue dogs, but she’s just as content to stay home gardening or simply spending time with her wonderful family. You might even find her at Starbucks writing. But if she sees you, watch out! You might just end up in one of her books. She believes in magic and real-life fairy tales, and the romance of life, and knows everyone has a happily ever after waiting out there somewhere. But until you get to it, why not pick up a good book and think about the possibilities?

Astraea Press is a royalty paying e-publisher dedicated to supplying clean reading material to an eager public.  I received this book free of charge from Kay Springsteen and with no strings attached.  This review was not purchased and reflects my honest, unsolicited opinion.

Valentine’s Day ~ Quilldancing Assignment #2

It’s February 15th! I hope you’ve published your story and come to link up! Your assignment was to write a complete story in 500 words or less using the scenario below to kick-start your thinking.

February is the month of love. Your prompt required only that you write a love story. Fashion it as you will, and remember there are many kinds of love.

The Valentine Gift

Valentine’s Day. Jared stared at the date on the calendar. Two years ago Anna broke up with him on Valentine’s Day. Last year Steph broke up with him on Valentine’s Day. Both of them rejected him and his gifts because he hadn’t brought them diamonds or roses.

“Not good enough,” they’d said. Jared knew they were right, they weren’t good enough. He was looking for a girl who wouldn’t judge his value by the price tag on the gifts he offered.

He pulled his 1977 Orange Capri up in front of Janie’s house and grabbed the fern and daisy bouquet he’d placed on the passenger seat. He’d gone to his grandmother‘s greenhouse and picked the flowers himself, then he wrapped them in white wrapping tissue covered in red polka dot hearts. He’d secured the bouquet with a bit of red velvet cord and it looked every bit as glamorous as any professional presentation would have.

Jared carried the flowers to Janie’s door and rang the bell. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue and white stripped, long-sleeved shirt and a dark blue v-neck sweater.

Janie came to the door in a simple pink shift. It had a rounded neck line, flutter sleeves and cute little flirty pleats in the skirt. She looked as fresh as the wild flowers.

“Hi!” She lifted her face for a kiss. Their lips touched, then she said, “I hoped I’m dressed all right, you didn’t say where we were going.”

Jared smiled, told her she looked lovely, and offered her the flowers.

She accepted them exclaiming over the wrapping paper. “How beautiful! I almost hate to take them out of the tissue.” Even so, Janie took the flowers to the kitchen and arranged them in a simple glass vase which she then carried into the living room and placed on the coffee table.

Jared said, “I thought we’d go to the movies first and after we’d catch a bite at the diner.”

Janie smiled. “Great, let me get my coat!” She disappeared into the closet for a moment, then emerged carrying a blue jacket and a little red gift sack. She handed the sack to Jared. “Here, I got this for you. It’s kind of silly, but I’ve been wanting to give you this since the first time I saw your car.”

He opened the sack, parted the tissue paper and found — a Matchbox car! Not just any Matchbox Miniature, but a replica of his little orange Capri. He held the car up in the palm of his hand and grinned at Janie. “Thank you!”

Janie said, “I spent the day in my mother’s attic going through our old toys. I wasn’t even sure we still had it. I was so excited when I found it that I brought it home, cleaned it up and even gave it a coat of wax. I know it’s silly – “

“It’s perfect,” Jared said. “You’re perfect. This car tells me I’ve found the girl of my dreams.” He’d finally found a girl he was willing to buy diamonds and roses because he knew she valued thoughtfulness and time more.

Quilldancing Assignment #2

Your Writing Assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write a complete story in 500 words or less using the scenario below to kick-start your thinking. Publish your story on your blog January 15th, then come back here and link it to my February 15th story.

February is the month of love. Your prompt requires only that you write a love story. Fashion it as you will, and remember there are many kinds of love.

55 Flash Fiction Friday ~ Happy New Year!

55 Flash Fiction Friday is hosted by G-Man (Mr. Knowitall). Click the icon below or the link for more information. All you have to do to join in is write a story in exactly 55 words then trip over to G-Man’s blog and let him know you’ve posted your 55.


“They’re closing the Lang forever after New Year’s Eve.”

“Bummer. I drank a lot of beer there.”

“Me, too. It ain’t right. We oughta save a piece of her for posterity.”

“Yeah, but what piece holds all our memories?”

“Her name.”

“How we gonna save her name?”

“Easy. We just steal the old Lang Sign!”

Flashback Friday ~ Auld Lang Syne

Welcome to the
Auld Lang Syne Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

How did your family celebrate New Year’s when you were growing up? Was staying up on New Year’s Eve a big deal? Was it a date night for your parents or was it a family occasion? Did your family have any particular traditions for New Year’s? Were resolutions emphasized? Did you do fireworks? Watch parades or bowl games? Were there church activities you attended? Did Christmas activities extend into the new year? Was the Epiphany a focus?

We did not celebrate New Year’s Eve as a family. When I was a child Gram and I were usually at my aunt’s and Uncle’s house for the occasion. The adults might have had a drink or two, but only my uncle ever had too much, and we kids never saw or heard the drinking. It didn’t start until after we went to sleep.

When I got older — old enough to baby-sit — I was always in high demand on New Year’s Eve and stayed in so other’s could go out. Even as a young adult I wasn’t all that keen on going out where everybody was drinking too much and acting stupid. I grew up with the motto “Start the way you plan to continue” and I really didn’t want to start the New Year drunk. I seemed like a bad omen.

Of course there was the New Year’s Resolution thing. My step-mom used to make everybody share their’s at breakfast New Year’s morning. I don’t believe they were ever mentioned again after that. I guess we aren’t very resolute people.

I was an adult before I knew that fireworks and New Year’s Eve went together. It not only wasn’t a tradition in my family, it wasn’t a tradition in my region. I have to tell you that after last year in Hawaii, it isn’t a tradition I like. I have asthma and our house filled with sulfur smoke. There was no where I could go to escape the fumes. And the noise was horrendous — not only that it lasted for days. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day being the worse.

My Uncle was a football fanatic. I hated New Year’s Day in his home. Patricia and I were not allowed to watch the game because we were girls, and we weren’t allowed to talk or play, either. We had to sit still and silent. I would read but it just about killed Patricia and she would carry on and whine until we were both in trouble. When I got old enough, I refused to go to my Aunt’s house for the holiday.

I don’t recall any church activities related to New Year’s.  I do remember Epiphany Sunday existing, but other than it always being a Communion service and the sermon being about Epiphany, I don’t recall any special tradition or event.  Sorry.  I know I was boring this week. I’ll try to do better next time.