Hello there, Sian!
This is Kapa, here to review your entry for The Some Chicks Marry Chicks Challenge. Thank you so much for entering my challenge! The results will be up ASAP. : )
As I mentioned in the Challenge thread, I'll be judging the entries based on writing, plot, how well the wedding theme works, characterisation and originality, so I decided to write the review based on the same elements. Here we go!
Writing: Aaaah, this was such a pleasure to read! Your sentences flow so well, and at points your prose even reads like something akin to poetry. You have so many lovely turns of phrase, like "Eithne's voice shimmering silver through the clammy air" and "pleasantly confused by this unexpected sentiment" - and for some reason "It felt deliciously extravagant to order a bottle of champagne with their meals as well" jumped out to me as a favourite sentence. Even your exposition flows naturally and never feels like telling rather than showing. And I have to give an extra shout out to the lovely title of this story!
There are a few places where things could have been phrased slightly better, like how "The small box that Hestia had kept in her pocket since she bought it months ago suddenly felt like it was burning a hole in her pocket" could do without the repetition of "pocket" (for example: "The small box that Hestia had carried around since she bought it months ago suddenly felt like it was burning a hole in her pocket"), but these are extremely minorthings. (Also, shouldn't "elegant, emerald and diamond ring" be "elegant emerald and diamond ring"?)
Plot: Now, this story is very sweet, and there's definitely a structure to it, with an arch, a build up, a climax... but I can't help feeling that something there could be more... conflict? This is slice of life, I know, and there is of course the element of anxiety that I imagine always is there when you propose to someone, and that moment where Eithne is silent before replying is a bit nerve wracking (because you've masterfully drawn the reader so far into Hestia's consciousness that you worry with her), but still... I mean, not every story must have a huge conflict, of course, but there has to be something to drive the story forward. You mentioned that you don't usually write fluff, and this is indeed one of the challenges with writing that genre - this is something I myself struggle with in my writing!
Anyway, I do love all the little storytelling elements that you add together to build this story - the references back to the battle of Hogwarts, the repeated mentions of the ring box, the Quidditch practise stories - and the way that you use these things to build up towards the ending - I especially enjoyed Hestia's little moment of panic over the "special occasion," hehe!
Wedding Theme: A proposal definitely fits right into the wedding theme! There could, I suppose, have been more talk about what sort of cake they want at their wedding and whether they'd both wear dresses and what their wedding flowers should be, buuut Hestia and Eithne don't feel like that kind of people, and an in depth exploration of their relationship, as the one we actually get, feels much more interesting and true to the characters than shallow pontificating about wedding paraphernalia (and I say that as someone who loves shallow pontificating about wedding paraphernalia), so I can't complain. (Also, there's an extra little wedding reference in the fact that our lovebirds met at a hen do!)
Characterisation: This is really the strongest point of this story! Eithne and Hestia feel like real people, with faults and foibles, and they really do seem made for each other. Or, they seem like they've grown together in a way that makes them perfect for each other, which is more realistic but also truly amazing to experience. You capture Eithne's playfulness and Hestia's quiet bravery, and how the two of them bounce off each other and know exactly where they have each other - I loved the little aside of "For once, it was impossible for Hestia to read the expression in her girlfriend's sea-green eyes" because it shows exactly how well these two women know each other. And ha! As I read this I though "hm, is Hestia demisexual?" aaand yes, I see in your tags that she is! Well done with capturing that!
This story really models proper relationship conduct, which sounds like pretty dry praise, but is actually very important! It's so easy to romanticise toxic behaviours, especially in fanfiction, and putting alternative but still romantic and lovely models out there is important! The way they can predict each others actions, the light teasing, the forbearance with less-than-ideal (but not deal breaker) traits... this reads like a very real and very satisfying relationship. "when have I ever given you the impression that I don't want to spend forever with you, you eejit?'" <3
Also, shout out to Cora the waitress who's also a very well fleshed out, rounded and likeable character! Even the team mates and coach that are only mentioned in passing feel like real people, so you definitely have an enviable skill here!
Originality: As I said in another review for a story in this challenge, not every story has to be perfectly original in storyline or content, as long as it's not trite or overly clichéd - and this definitely isn't! The characters are very original and real, even if the basic storyline of "a character proposes to her girlfriend" isn't totally unheard of. And you do add some pretty original elements, like how Hestia has chickened out of proposing before - that seems very true to life, but not something you see in stories a lot.
All in all this was a very cosy and heart warming and amazingly well written story! Thanks again for entering into my challenge!
Hi Kapa! Wow, what a detailed and thorough review - thank you so much for taking the time to write this!
I will be the first to admit just how much I struggled writing this story. I'm definitely not used to writing fluff, and getting this finished in time for the deadline without me abandoning the story completely was honestly a product that was nearly from blood, sweat and tears... so having said that, I'm very pleased you enjoyed it! I can understand what you mean about the plot, and the lack of real conflict here - it could be a good idea for me to look back and try and fix that a bit better, so there is more driving the story forward.
I really enjoyed the characterisation of both Hestia and Eithne, and I'm so glad that they feel like real people to you! The two of them are so different, but they really know each other inside-out, and I wanted to convey that in this piece. They could be independent if they had to be, but they've chosen not to be and I think that's an important distinction - I really don't like romanticising toxic relationship behaviours, and so it was nice to focus on something that was healthier and much better for the both of them in this story.
Thank you so much for this review - I'm really pleased you enjoyed the story!
So it's midnight and i'm too tired for a long and proper review, but i'm giving it a go anyway.
Thank you so much for sending me a link to this tonight, it was EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED! This was so wonderful and sweet and heartwarming amd aaahhh 💙💙 I don't even know what to say. I love how deliberate they are with each other, how everything is planned and thought about carefully and the result of a conscious decision. I love how they give each other space but gravitate towards each other. I especially love how they are both good on their own but better together.
Neither of these women seems like she would break if she ended up alone. They are both strong and confident and ready to deal with whatever life throws at them. And yet, together, they can really take on anything at all.
This is the kind of relationship i wish I'd see more often in everyday life. Thank you for writing something so wonderful. It really reminded me of what i want in life.
I'm so happy that you enjoyed this story! Writing fluff is really, really difficult for me and I'm always worried that I haven't got it right, but I'm glad that it was heartwarming and made you smile. I did like the way that they balance each other out - I think you're right that both of them could be alone if they had to be, but they've chosen not to be and they make each other better because of that. It was a really nice relationship to write, even when both women are so different, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Thank you for this wonderful review!
extra special love review for my Sian <33
So I had the pleasure of getting to read this while still in progress and I know you were worried about how this is going to come across but you didn't need to worry about it because you've really made this piece work for you. I really love your fluff writing because you do it so well even if it's not something that comes natural to you. I love how you've kinda got that with Hestia's character like she's not that comfortable being overly romantic but when she does, she does it well!
I thought you started with some stunning imagery to really set your scene. I'm never not going to praise you for your fantastic attention to details, like you're always building up your characters and surroundings via this and it's so effective and so impressive. I'm really lucky to be friends with you because I'm going to have to insist that I learn your ways. If I was half as good as you then I would be so happy! I think I really need to read through this again for fluffy feels.
I thought the characterisation of Hestia was really lovely because you made her so three dimensional with her anxiety about the proposal (so cute and realistic!), it's really obvious from the way you've written them that how in love they are. I thought you addressed that Hestia is a demisexual in a really good way to add another layer to her character. I really enjoyed this as I connected with her and that's what you do best in one-shots make that bond between your readers and the characters you create.
Eithne seems like a really cute character like I adore her and we don't even see lots of her but I guess she reminds me of me? haha, well, mainly just being late and a bit scatty thing! I just find that totally adorable and endearing. I love this little couple, you totally need to write more of them tbh but I know you have lots of exciting projects coming up so I really can't wait for those! I do love your title, it's so fluffy, makes me happy =D
- Abbi <3333
I really, really don't like my fluff writing, but thank you so much for bearing with me and putting up with all my moaning and doubts while I was writing this!
Ah, thank you! I think including the description is one of the aspects I enjoy the most, and it's always fun to try and weave it into the story in ways where it won't distract from the actual tale I'm trying to tell. I'm really pleased you liked the way that I built up the surroundings here, and the character too. Getting Hestia's character right was difficult, and I'm still not sure that I've really achieved it the way I wanted to, but I'm pleased that you felt like you were able to connect with her when you read it. Haha I promise Eithne wasn't based on you, but it makes me smile that you could see some similarities there! :P
Thank you for this lovely review!
Firstly, I must apologise for this review being later than planned. Secondly, this wonderfully warm story was just what I needed to read; it's brought some happiness and light to my day, so many thanks for that.
I know you said that this wasn't your usual choice of story to write, but perhaps I can persuade you to consider writing fluff and romance more often, as you're pretty amazing at it? This one-shot had such a natural flow, and was positively brimming with adorability :)
I love the opening section, rich with imagery, especially the line "a delicate duel of persimmon and tangerine" which brought to mind all the cosy wintery things like mulled wine, and hearths, and really thick socks. It really sets the story up well - you are so good at writing openings! I NEED to learn how to effectively start a story - will you teach me? Please?
I suspect Hestia felt more at home in Eithne's house mainly because it had Eithne in it! I love the dynamic between the two; the little jokes and jibes, yet the love they have for each other is so clear. Hestia obviously has trust in Eithne. It can't be easy to date/get engaged to a sports star - someone who is used to being centre of attention, away from home during matches, the object of many a fan's desire. On this acquaintance, Hestia appears to be the polar opposite to Eithne; perhaps that's why their relationship works so well? Eithne probably needs someone who prefers shrinking into the background and who allows her the freedom to succeed in her sport. In return, Eithne is obviously very supportive of Hestia, and understanding of her past. The sentence pertaining to Eithne's management of Hestia's sad days, and I adore the sentence containing - "when the onslaught of memories pinned her to the bed and the tears fell" - wow; so succinct yet poignant. It really describes that feeling of grief so eloquently.
I loved the scene in the pub! I really felt Hestia's anxiety as she worried over the right time to propose, and how she'd imagined hundreds of scenarios and conversations, but nothing like this one - ha! So typical, and such a realistic touch. I also love the way you described the background noise in response to the proposal as "rippled into applause, the background percussion for a syncopated melody of whistles and congratulations" <3
I really loved this story of fluff and romance, but still fluently written in your beautifully vivid and poetic style; it's made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. <3
Ah, I'm so glad that this story made you smile :) I really, really struggle writing fluff so I wasn't at all sure of that, but I'm happy it seemed to work!
Opening stories is SO DIFFICULT. I swear, if I ever get it right at all, it's because I've tried about fifty versions of the same line and scrapped most of them. I really wanted to try and set that warm, cosy scene with that line though so it's great that it conjured those images for you.
Eithne and Hestia were a really interesting couple to write, partly because they're so different - it was fun to play with the dynamics between them and try and work out how they work together when they're so different. I think you're right in that they're opposites, in some ways, and they complement each other and allow the other room to breathe and succeed. Hestia's proposal was one of the aspects I was really worried about here, so I'm really pleased you loved reading about that!
Thank you so much for this lovely review!