As the title of Lousie Lyons’ latest release suggests, this is a collection of three short stories: In Darkest Peru, One Snowy Night, and Lost and Found. These are three very different stories, but all have protagonists in their mid-twenties and feature the power that random acts of kindness have upon our lives.
In the first story, In Darkest Peru, quiet and retiring Rhys is inspired to take a trip to Peru by the Paddington Bear toy given to him by his now ex-boyfriend. Said ex confessed to cheating on Rhys just before Rhys was made redundant from his job, inspiring Rhys to make an out-of-character decision to take the trip abroad. Following his Lonely Planet guide, Rhys knows where to eat and the places to visit, though unfortunately, it does not warn him that thieves are prevalent on the roads. After Rhys’ backpack is stolen, which contains his passport and money, can a sexy stranger step in and save Rhys?
In One Snowy Night, pop-star, Keith Brambles, who models himself on Adam Lambert, is driving home from another disastrous date when he crashes his car. Dressed inappropriately for the freezing weather and with no phone signal, Keith fears that he will die, alone and stranded. However, Keith is saved by Mike, who arranges for Keith’s car to be towed and takes Keith to his home to shelter from the cold. The mutual attraction between them is palpable, but will they give in to their feelings and find the lasting relationship they both crave?
In Lost and Found, full-time author, Phillip Johnson, has to rush his dog to the emergency vet and Prince has to be put down. After throwing himself into writing, Phillip realizes he needs another dog. The advert he answers for a puppy, coincidentally, has been placed by the emergency vet, Edward Manby. Phillip realizes there is a twenty-year age difference between them, but they are united by their pets and the kindness that they display towards others, so does the age gap matter?
Although these stories deal with different human experiences, Lyons appears to have thought about how to connect them, using the feelings of love and lust between the characters, which also creates an emotional association between the reader and the stories.
Lyons’ collection examines the prospect of finding love in the strangest of places, but these stories are not simply sweet romances. Lyons does not forget that these men are sexual beings, in their prime, and sex is a big part of In Darkest Peru and One Snowy Night, though perhaps there is slightly less in Lost and Found. I am not a huge fan of sex scenes just being used indiscriminately by authors and though I could have probably read these stories without this content, I think, particularly in the case of In Darkest Peru, the sex actually complemented the plot. This is because, in the first story of the collection, Rhys is much changed by his adventures in Peru. I think even he is surprised by his lone travels and achievements and I really like that towards the end of the story, Lyons chooses to jump to six weeks after Peru so that we fully witness Rhys’ change in character. The ending here is not necessarily the romantic happy ending we would be expecting, but nevertheless, it is a positive one.
Lost and Found was probably my favorite of the three stories. This is because it is the one with most romance and the heart-breaking loss of a treasured pet is something that so many people, including myself, can relate to.
One Snowy Night is a typical opposites-attract story. Keith is caught in the snow driving a BMW, wearing a silk shirt, heeled boots, and make-up, as well as being a famous pop-star. Mike is driving a white van, is thick-set, tattooed, with a criminal record and listens to rock music. Yet, One Snowy Night is still satisfying for the reader because Lyons acknowledges that it is not the way that a person looks or how they dress that defines a person but their actions.
The Short Stories Collection is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour’s reading time. These stories are drama and angst-free and instead are concerned with human behavior. Lyons has done well to focus on her characters, rather than events, which is an element that can be missing in some short stories. The Short Stories Collection receives a recommendation from me!