“A Clean Romance” by Cindy Christiansen is a short story about a cleaning product saleslady who is mistaken as a maid from a cleaning service. The story and the title are a type of pun because the author has developed a reputation for writing stories that are clean of sexual content and foul language.
In this story, a young woman is selling cleaning products door to door. When she rings the doorbell of an artist, he assumes that she has been sent by a cleaning service to help him tidy his house before his mother arrives for a visit. His mother owns the cleaning service, and is a real stickler for white glove inspections. He agrees to buy her products if she will help him get ready for his mother’s arrival.
I felt that the final resolution of the problem would have been better motivated if the story had a little more “dirt”. By “dirt”, I mean research or an intellectual element for the reader to think about. If the heroine had shown methods or remedies for house cleaning problems that are hard to resolve, the ending would have been more believable.
For example, she could have shared the method of using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to remove baked on grease from metal cookie sheets and bake ware. Or she could have combined two of the products she was selling to create a new one. Either of those solutions would have made the heroine look ingenious, smart and competent. A smart woman is a “keeper”, a trait that would have motivated the hero to retain this person in his life. It would also have given the reader something to say “ahhh” about. It would have made the plot a little more suspenseful if the reader wondered how she was going to solve a household problem that the reader has never been able to fix themselves.
The plot also lacks a contrast in character; strong versus weak, or realistic versus idealistic. When he learns that his mother is arriving early, both characters fly into a panic. While this is a believable reaction for the female employee that has no power, no dreams, and is a victim of circumstance, a self-employed business man would have reacted by formulating an action plan (first things first) and then delegating responsibilities according to strength and talent (I’m good at this, you’re good at that). I didn’t believe that the male reacted as a man would.
As such, the story is a simple, pleasant read. It moves along nicely, and is a “feel good book”. It is of the same quality as the author’s other books, including “Time Will Tell” and “Risky Seeds, Risky Hearts”.
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