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4/10/23 - Ace of Hearts - Bond of Wildflowers v2 sub 9, 4779 words

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Warning for minor transphobia.
Thanks for the feedback last week! And... looks like I'm maybe the only person going this week.
The next couple of subs don't have N in them, and the idea is that W needs to grow closer to him by working on herself (and helping her friends) first. However, when I had a friend read through this she said this part of the story left her feeling frustrated at how the main plot stalled, so I'd like people's input on that.
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Interesting read! Yes, the absence of N is definitely noticeable. If it's not for too many chapters, I think it's ok, but I wouldn't go too long. These were very much "assembling the team" sort of chapters. It's sort of weird that W is collecting all the secondary characters--it seems a little plotful. I'll be interested to see how the next submission goes. It was fun to develop the other characters a little, but as this is a romance story of sorts, not having the primary couple both in the story is a little weird. I wonder if we can see a little of N in these chapters, maybe in a quick check-in or something?


Notes while reading:

pg 1: "Walking barefoot all of the way "
--Wait, why is she barefoot again?

pg 3: H seems pretty self-sufficient. I'm not sure why W feels the need to protect him.

pg 3: "What’s his game, then?"
--It seems a little weird that they sensed the agent. Is he magical or something? Hugo I might understand, but I'm not sure why he's creeping around in the bushes...

pg 5: Yes, everyone is trying to stay calm here, but I wonder if Mom might show a little more surprise or emotion?

pg 5: "no offense"
--H says this a lot. Always where it means the opposite.

pg 6: Did we know about H's mom and F both being trans before? No judgement on that, but I'm not sure why it's coming up now.

pg 8: I think this chapter is a good sequel to the last chapter, taking account of everything that's happened. It doesn't leave a strong direction for what's coming next however, and H doesn't really get any more likeable. It sort of ends on a down tension beat, which makes it a natural stopping point. This may be some of what other readers are responding to.

pg 10: What relation to who is B, again? We may need some reminders now there are so many fey characters running around.

pg 14: So W is starting her own little fey boarding house now? I'm still not quite sure where this is heading. It's a bit of a switch for W, and this is starting to feel like a second story.

pg 17: "because this is where I have a real chance to make a difference."
--I can see where people got frustrated with this part. Depending on how many chapters we get before seeing N again, the relationship dynamic starts to get a little weird through here. W is gathering the secondary characters, but I'm not really sure enough of the overarcing plot that I know why we're focusing on them. Will we get a POV for N? Seeing them both working toward their goals might be fun, but only sticking with W leaves out part of the story.

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 P1: Okay, this is almost  certainly WRS, sorry, but where did she los her shoes?

“And given how you look like sh—” okay H is growing on me.

It’s telling that H seems completely unsurprised, but I’m curious how else he feels. I think because he seems to accept this from W rather easily – obviously he knows about the supernatural stuff already, but I’m more thinking that he goes along with her proposed solution here without questioning it.  And there’s no payoff for W ignoring his earlier warnings to stay away.

P3 “…nothing is scarier than her advisor…” lol.

P4 “…how weak she is right now” – this reminds me, I don’t know what the status of the magic healing potion is right now. I’m guessing it’s running out, since mom isn’t doing so well?

“…not telling the full story…” no kidding. Mom is taking this very well Does she have any idea of any of this supernatural stuff, and if so, does W know that she knows?

“…after being raised by an overbearing mother.” I’m still not tracking exactly what H and N’s family situation, and I’m getting lost trying to follow the conflicts H is relating of characters who have so far been relatively peripheral to the story.

“…at least he doesn’t lack self awareness?” LOL. I was about to make this very comment.

P8 “…this is something I have to do without him.” As a character moment, I like this a lot, and her decision to not get involved in the fey realm where she hasn’t been able to help makes a lot of emotional sense. But I can’t help but wonder what specifically it is that W plans to do – if she even knows it yet. I’m definitely eager for her get to do something proactive.

P15 “And you’ve gotten so big” – this landed oddly for me. It feels something you’d say to a much younger person.

W’s mom really is taking all this vey well. I would have many, many more questions in her shoes.

 Overall: Similar thoughts to @Mandamon on this one. I enjoyed the read, it definitely felt like a getting-things-ready to gear up the next act sort of statement. It was also a bit weird to me that W is collecting secondary characters, but maybe not a problem? The one I struggled most with – and I know W didn’t collect her exactly, since she went away after delivering A and G – was B. I just wasn’t quite sure why she was doing what she was doing.

I actually really like the idea that idea needs to work on herself and her friends before getting back to the romance part – though I wonder if it needs to be a set up a little more, i.e. what specifically W needs to work on about herself (whether she knows this or not). Not having N in the chapters certainly changes the dynamic, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily. I agree with Mandamon that a check in or two with N would probably be useful, since this is a romance, but I do think you can get away with them being separated for a while if we can see the characters working towards each other.

Aside from the fact that W’s parent has been captured, I don’t have a very good sense of what the plot is going forward or what the overall threat is (what threat does the village pose? What about MA? What role does Aeg play in this?) or what Ws role in that is (or what she thinks that is), and by this point in the story I probably should. I wonder if building up that sense of the bigger picture might help with that feeling of being “stalled” that your other reader mentioned – it will probably be easier to feel progress once we have a better sense of where in the overall story this new sequence is going to fit.

I also wonder if  the magic medicine subplot needs a little reminder or two of where it’s at in the chapters leading up to this one. The last I remember seeing of it, N had just picked her a bunch of flowers so it almost felt like a solved problem.

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I just wanted to pop in and give some comments on these latest chapters. I think it's fine to shift to only W's POV, it does put distance between them. I think it needs a big payoff for what N is doing. These chapters were ones that didn't trip me up much. I read right through it so I don't have too many comments-

Page 6 

Transitioning is normalized in their community-- when I first read this I thought it meant transitioning to living in the human world. Whoops!

“She was fine with people being trans, but she wanted a son and not a daughter. Called it betrayal that my mom turned her back on the person A wanted her to be.”-- I did not see this coming. I'm kind of lost in all of it and I'm not certain of its relevance to the story in general. Hopefully it will make sense somewhere down the line. 

Page 13

A. pauses. “When did you get so confident?”-- um, yeah- when? Sometimes W seems confident and sometimes they don't. It's kind of back and forth. 

Page 16

Considering that going back to his old place doesn’t seem like a great ide-- Where does A really live? Was it at that mansion? It kind of didn't seem like it at the time. 

Anyway, there's the few things that jumped out at me. Overall these two chapters went really fast for me. I'm hoping all this background work is setting up for something cool!

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