If there’s one thing Harlow Cruse hates more than those schmaltzy Heartcast TV movies…it’s the fact that she loves those schmaltzy Heartcast TV movies. She loves them angrily. With popcorn. Popscorn?
As if she doesn’t get enough drama in her day to day—directing a ministry-minded community theatre that cranks out three shows a month and trying to keep up with her aspiring screenwriter bestie, Teagan, a self-described “dramagician.”
When the Heartcast Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new, original Christmas movies, Teagan is convinced this is her time.
Roped into workshopping scenes from Teagan’s in-progress spec script (“Christmas in Snow Prairie.” Or maybe “Jingle Bell Kiss.” “A Twice-Baked Christmas”?) Harlow finds herself paired with an even more reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley might have the most Heartcast Original Movie name on the planet, but he is anything but formulaic.
As she begins to see past assumptions she hadn’t even realized she’d made, Harlow recognizes that all the time she’s been rolling her eyes at the predictable dance of made-for-TV plot-points, she’s unknowingly been holding people to the expectations of her own formula. Her own opinions. Her own preferences. Her own strengths.
She’d never thought of herself as overly-judgmental. Or cynical. Or even narrow. But in the midst of laughing her way through poorly-executed tropes and half-painted backdrops, out-of-season sweaters and various metaphorical and literal fires, Harlow’s eyes begin to open to the beauty of not-like-me in the body of Christ. And to the truth that oneness was never meant to be a synonym for sameness.
It took me a few pages to get into the story — Harlow’s SO inside her own head that I had to readjust my mindset to get in there with her. She has really quirky relationships with her brother and sister-in-law, and I needed time to adjust to that.
Once I got into the story, though, it really hooked me. For starters, I loved the beta-male/hipster hero; you don’t often see those in romance novels. Jack’s so introspective that he’s a bit awkward, but he learns to connect without changing who he is. I also love that even though she’s in an artsy business, Harlow doesn’t get poetry — I’m a writer and editor, and I don’t get poetry! That sort of endeared me to her. I enjoyed seeing both of the main characters grow so much during the story; personally, I would have liked a few more scenes with just the two of them. 🙂
I have one small gripe with the story though. I don’t want to ruin anything, so I’ll say this — I really wanted the last chapter to end differently! The epilogue made up for it though.
G/PG rating — good clean fun. Get your copy here!