The other day when I was going to visit a friend, I ended up being a few minutes earlier than I had thought, and said friend was still in the shower. So to kill a few minutes while I was hanging around (and get out of the cold), I headed into the nearest charity shop to have a look at their books.
Having intended only to browse and kill a few minutes, I ended up buying seven books, because I have impulse control problems. One of them I started reading immediately – a collection of short stories by Melissa Hill, it looked Christmassy and cheerful, light and fluffy, so was just the thing I wanted to read. A Diamond From Tiffany’s has gotten some pretty bad Amazon reviews – possibly because the blurb only mentions one of the short stories, so readers would be surprised and somewhat disappointed to realise that midway through the book, they’re losing the story they might have chosen. In fairness, it does say ‘and other stories’ on the cover art, but in very, very small print.
I managed to figure out that it was a collection of short stories – although not until after I had bought it – so I wasn’t surprised as I was reading, but I still wasn’t particularly impressed with this offering.
It’s been two years since Ethan Greene and Gary Knowles collided one fateful evening outside Tiffany & Co on Fifth Avenue. A mix-up with their shopping bags sent each man’s life on an unexpected trajectory, and while Gary and his fiancée Rachel are heading for the altar, Ethan’s love life is not so settled.
Rachel’s dreams are within her grasp; her restaurant is going from strength to strength and she and Gary are set to be married amongst family and friends at an idyllic New York location. But when they arrive in the city only days before the ceremony, Gary seems distracted and restless. Could he be having second thoughts?
Ethan is anxious to see Terri again at the wedding; he truly felt they had something special, and plans to use the time in New York to prove to her that their relationship deserves another chance.
Will the romance of New York and Tiffany’s work its magic on the couples once more?
The main story in this collection – taking up roughly 50% of the page count – is the titular ‘A Diamond From Tiffany’s.’ I started reading it the day I got it, actually, and finished that story within a day or so, but was left distinctly disappointed. Everything that might have been interesting about this book, as far as I was concerned, seemed to have happened two years earlier, and wasn’t really discussed at all. The circumstances of how Ethan and Gary collided, how Ethan and Terri ended up together and subsequently breaking up, and Gary’s fake first proposal and real second proposal – these were the things I was interested in, but they were only alluded to in passing, and I really felt like this story was focusing on all the wrong things. Rachel was a serious bridezilla, Terri cold as ice, and both men were insipid, and I wasn’t at all impressed with how the story went. It was seriously lacklustre.
Having googled and looked the book up on GoodReads after I finished, it turns out that this short story was actually the followup to Hill’s full-length novel, Something From Tiffany’s, wherein you can find out all the things I was wondering about which seemed more interesting than the actual story I was reading. So perhaps I would have been better advised to read that, as it seems much more interesting than what I actually read.
As for the rest of the stories in this collection? Some were barely three pages long, and had no real substance or character warmth in them. One was, frankly, bizarre, about leaving letters in a tree which didn’t seem in any way romantic to me. About the best story in the book was the final one, which talked about three couples (or I guess really two couples and a single) spending a romantic weekend in Venice, but it, too, felt like it might have been the followup to a book (or maybe several books) that Hill had written before.
Overall, this collection was lacklustre – it had none of the warmth or sparkle that I would have expected from a collection of Christmas romances set around New York. I don’t think this was the first Melissa Hill offering I’ve read, as I’m sure I’ve picked up one of her novels which might have belonged to my mother, but I certainly won’t be rushing back to try another.