The Noel Bandit
by Sydney Shay
Two days before Christmas, seventeen year-old Melinda Kent is bound for New York when a prankster hits her home, the Lucky Lake Ranch. Soon the welcome sign reads ‘ucky ake Ranch’ and other signs have been tampered with, including the ‘adies room’, the ‘riding trai s’, and the ‘stab es’, thus dubbing the thief, "the No-L Bandit".
This crook doesn't just steal ‘L's, but the spirit of the holidays. Melinda, with the help of the stable hand, Kyle, is on a quest to find who is responsible.
If only their attraction for each other didn’t get in the way...
The Noel Bandit is a charming holiday story set on Lucky Lake Ranch, where someone is stealing all the “L” letters from the ranch’s signs. Despite her father’s insistence that she help solve the mystery and protect the ranch, seventeen-year old Melinda can’t wait to leave and join her mother in New York City…except that she’s fallen for Kyle, the ranch hand her father and brother suspect of doing the stealing. Amid the mystery of the “L” thief, Melinda and Kyle find time to dance in the moonlight, play in the snow, and dream of a future together.
Ms. Shay gives us a sweet young adult tale with well developed characters and just a hint of mystery. The minor characters of Tucker and Russ, Melinda’s father and brother, are nicely developed and realistic. Kyle is a charming, mature guy who knows exactly what he wants - and goes after it. Despite a bit of uneven pacing, readers will enjoy this story of young love, set in the rugged winter weather at Christmas-time.
Review by Dandelion