This was a very calm Hallmark with the usual shenanigans showing up only briefly. A highly successful A-type personality who is an efficiency expert has the rug yanked out from under her when she is not invited on a speaking tour with an Oprah Winfrey-like self-help guru. “Oprah” tells her that her life is efficient but meaningless. Lauren, played by Hallmark fave, Autumn Reeser, is annoying but thanks to Autumn’s charm and acting talent, not intolerably so. She goes on a prescribed retreat in Montana where she learns to calm down and sit still for a minute. She and the son of the family who owns the retreat share an attraction and become friendly. And that’s about it. He is having some easily solved financial problems and is sort of starting to regret his decision to give up veterinary school. There is a honey fest, a super-cute pig instead of a dog, and there is a group cooking scene where no food is thrown(!), but brownies are burnt. Also there is a kiss between the two 30-somethings that is not interrupted by a rainstorm, a snowball, or a busybody, but fades to black. Do we see them waking up together the next morning? No. But I think Hallmark was testing the waters here. If the “family-friendly” crowd doesn’t rise up in protest, this type of scenario may be in the offing at some point for two mature adults.
By the end, Autumn, her work life balance back in balance visits her mother and turns down Oprah’s invitation because a speaking tour would throw things back out of balance. The retreat owner returns to veterinary school in upstate New York which is just a “short plane ride” from Autumn’s home-base, New York City. There is only a vague hint and hope that their relationship may turn into something more significant. Another interesting take for Hallmark.
August 8, 2021
A Wisp of a Plot with all of the Cookie Cutter Elements of the Typical Hallmance
This lame effort is saved by the appeal and the talents of the two stars, Autumn Reeser and Brennan Elliot. As always, their superior acting skills saved the day. They are very engaging with whomever they are paired with and it’s about time they were paired together. I was not disappointed. I just wish they had been given a better vehicle worthy of their talents. And I’ve got to say that “Admiral” character gave me the creeps for some reason. Also, a shout out to Christopher Russell, who played the romantic rival for Autumn’s affection. He was her leading man in one of my very favorite Hallmark Romances, Midnight Masquerade.
August 27, 2019
This is how it’s done, Hallmark. Good Job! When you have two engaging and attractive leads who are good actors and have good chemistry, it already puts it far ahead of the majority of Hallmark offerings. Bravo Autumn Reesor and Kavan Smith. Add an interesting inside look at restaurant goings on and a agreeable restaurant (and chef) makeover plot and you have a definite winner. Kudos for the beautiful and authentic food photography. The love story built slowly and realistically. The leads did not have silly misunderstandings or antics. When there was a bit of conflict at the end, it was resolved quickly with a very nice groveling scene and a deserved abject apology. There was a tough boss who turned quite evil at the climax for some drama and tension.
I also want to compliment the wonderful young actress who played our hero’s teenage daughter. Jordyn Ashley Olson is lovely and a very promising young talent. Latonya Williams also adds sparkle, as usual.
I only mark it down for two aspects. The gourmet breakfasts that our chef-hero cooked for his daughter and were meanly rebuffed by her were so over the top, the scenes were cringe-inducing. Also, the ending was a little sudden and needed another scene to tie the loose ends up nicely. Maybe they are planning a sequel. I’m in.
March 3, 2019
Follows the Usual Recipe
With the preponderance of food related careers among our Hallmark protagonists, I suppose it was only a matter of time before we entered the world of competition Barbecue. This one was not bad due to the presence of Autumn Reeser, one of the better Hallmark Actresses. In fact, everyone did a good job in getting the most out of their lines. Otherwise, it was strictly by the Hallmark cookbook, and totally predictable. Noteworthy, however, in this entry, was a nice ex-husband with whom our heroine had no conflict whatsoever. He was a good father, and even the new love interest, an excellent Marc Blucas, liked him, and visa versa.**6 stars out of 10**
August 28, 2018
Doris and Rock 2.0
This was a charming romance with the talented and funny Autumn Reeser and the too handsome to live Antonio Cupo. Despite his fictionally good looks, he managed to be appealing and a worthy match for one of my favorite Hallmark actresses. They had great chemistry. This older effort (2012) is so heads and tails above the romances that Hallmark is spewing out these days. No cheesy cheap looking decorations or the phony Christmas tree. No small town with the Christmas name. I absolutely loved that Autumn’s character loved and wore vintage clothes. That was a great imaginative detail written in that wouldn’t even occur to whoever is writing the efforts of the last 2 years. And it really added even more to the homage to an old Doris Day romance. Her stupid boyfriend was not evil, but such a loser that it was fun to hiss and boo at him. There were a few little glitches, such as Henry dressed up as Santa at the end and making out with Emily in front of everyone at the parade. WTH? but other than that, Great writing, a sense of humor, talented stars, a good supporting cast, and lack of Christmas cheesiness made one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies ever.**9 out of 10 stars**
November 17, 2017