Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 Maple Leaf Awards - Judges Comments

Thank you to the participants, winners, and honorable mentions for making the 2015 Maple Leaf Awards a huge success!

And a big thank you to our reading judges for taking the time to read the entries! The judges were encouraged to included feedback of their overall opinion of the titles they read.
Here are a few comments from the score sheets containing judges feedback.

Dearest Darling
I really liked the author’s voice and the two main characters. I was totally rooting for them to get together. From about the time the Heroine’s brother showed up out west, the plot twists began to feel increasingly contrived, which took away from my satisfaction with the ending. Overall, though, I enjoyed the story and would look for this author again.

Off The Grid 
The conflict was excellent, enough so the tension could have been drawn out more with an additional 30-20k without becoming long-winded.

Heather for a Highlander 
Read in one sitting which hardly ever happens for me. Truly engaging. I would definitely pick up another book by this author.

Love’s Sorrow 
I liked the first half of the book – thought the voice was solid and did a nice job of capturing the time period. I was less excited in the second half, when the hero started to change. His character deteriorated well past what I think would be forgivable for a romance hero. Also, I have to say that the ending reminded me more of “Gone With The Wind”. The heroine’s decision to keep the baby a secret from her estranged husband was way too bitter for me.

Always A Bridesmaid 
The characters of Dani and Zach grow so beautifully from beginning to the end. The whole story grows – from the lighter, catchy beginning, to passionate scenes, to heartbreak, to something deeply emotional wherein Zach, especially, comes through. The author dealt with the heroine’s personal choice to have surgery with sensitivity and understanding and good reason – and when the hero acts with compassion – that’s where I started to get tears. The writing is quite lovely, but words like ‘crap’ and ‘boobs’ almost felt out of place. I was not expecting so much depth in the story, especially when the author graced us with such phrases as ‘Chantal entered the dining room on a wave of perfume”. Good work!

The Heart of Christmas 
The author's story took me for a wild emotional ride. I've learned to expect the unexpected. Characters of all ages and levels of importance enhance the story and make me feel like I'm right in the middle of the setting.

Six Geese for Monica 
A good writer and at times the story caught me up nicely. I struggled, with some basic points of logic. I didn’t feel much of an attraction between Monica and Luke before he actually kissed her. The lack of sexual tension between them made the timing of the kiss – right after the social services worker threatened to take the youngest boys away – awfully suspect for me. I was left feeling suspicious of Luke’s motives, rather than taken with the heat between them. The pacing was good and the story made good use of the rural, winter setting. An enjoyable read.

A Cowboy’s Fate 
Story moved along very well. Cover blurb is intriguing. Some great phrases (eyes like black tea, splendid tick of a clock, body rigid with turmoil, thinly veiled come-ons transcend continents). Loved the use of the Tarot deck! Good action scenes! Liked the first sex scene a lot; didn’t really need the second. I wanted to know what happened to Ms Connors. Her interaction with Jubel was sad, and that was my only slightly misty moment.

New Year’s Promise 
I really enjoyed this book, but it seemed Justin was coming up with too many excuses why they couldn’t be together. The external conflicts were adequate, without all the additional stumbling blocks thrown in. Overall, it’s a great book (I loved Ellie and her affection for vintage clothing), but I was curious as to what Sam’s illness was?

Six Geese for Monica 
I liked the cover and I love the idea of the twelve Christmas Brides series. Like George and Martha the geese. At the beginning, couldn’t get a visual of the “beast”; could’ve been anything; although found out soon it was a goose, would’ve preferred not having to wait. Story and length suitable for a quick easy read.

Something Good 
This story has strong characters that I found myself feeling like I was right there along with their highs and lows. Great setting and even when I wasn't reading, my mind drifted off to think about the characters and what happened next.

Unlocked Treasure 
I enjoyed this story. It was well paced and moved along very well; however, it was not long enough and left me wanting more. It felt like there was so much more to be discovered, yet the story only scratched the surface.

A Woman of Honour 
This story had unbelievable potential to be a full length novel. So much conflict. I would have love to get wrapped up in this world for another 50-60k easy.

Up and Coming 
Although this was a shorter title I would have enjoyed a bit more character development. I had a hard time connecting with the heroine and why she needed to have a lot of sex with strangers. Had I known her reasoning the story may have been a bit more believable and engaging. Spicy content was well done without being vulgar.

A Cowboy’s Fate 
A fun-to-read, engrossing story.


  1. Thank you for posting all the comments. Hard to learn and grow if we don't know (right or wrong) what caught the judges eye. And thanks to the judges for their time and insight.

  2. I want to thank the judges for their time and dedication. It takes a lots of hard work to read, review and comment on all the entries you received. As a writer I appreciate your work and commitment.