Christmas at Maple Creek (A Christmas Village Romance)

A Sweet Old-Fashioned Vibe

I really liked this one for some reason. Maybe it was the perfectly lovely actress that played the lead. Maybe it was her character’s sweetness and shyness. Maybe it was the old-fashioned atmosphere and the historical village setting. It almost had a YA vibe. I know for sure that Jake Epstein, who played the love interest is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, had a lot to do with it. So far, whatever he is in, I’ll give it a try.

Diana is a very successful romance novelist who has a crush on the guy who is the male model for her book covers but she really does not want to make a move. I think it’s mostly because she is shy and old-fashioned. If you immerse yourself in historical romance, it makes sense that you would tend to take on the attitudes of that time. She is basically being bullied by her editor to date him, which really annoyed me. The male model is clearly wrong for her because though he’s nice, he is not very smart, he’s shallow, is more interested in physical activities rather than more thoughtful pursuits. All he’s got is good looks and a good bod.

She decides to go to her hometown, which is a historical village like a very poverty-stricken man’s Williamsburg Virginia. Maple Creek is struggling and will soon have to be shut down unless they can up the attendance and make more money. There she meets a history professor (check) who is doubling as the town blacksmith (check, check) and is tall and good-looking in a down-to-earth way (check, check, check) I think we have our winner. He does not approve of the way she approaches history in her novels although he respects that she is a good writer. He teases her and is nice to her and soon she has come out of her shell and they have become friends with a lot in common. Plus, they are trapped in a storm together. Like something in a romance novel!

Of course, the male model shows up in the village, attracted more by the fact that she is not chasing him than by genuine affection and attraction to her, and the inevitable misunderstanding occurs with Carter. Seeing the two suitors together, she definitely knows which one is for her, and all proceeds to the happy ending for the couple and the village.

Jeni Ross is a perfectly lovely young actress and her chemistry with Jake Epstein was great. The only criticism I have is that she says her lines way too fast. The Gilmore Girls was canceled! Slow Down!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 15, 2021

Mistletoe and Molly

Help Not Wanted

We meet Molly in the coffee shop where she works with her best buddy. We learn that she is the daughter of a prominent founder and head of a PR firm, but she is very anxious to snag a job with a rival firm and is avoiding her father including ignoring his texts. We only see the father through Molly’s eyes and that made me wonder if he deserves her treatment or is he just misunderstood? Is her insistence on making a success in her career without any of her father’s help justified or is she just being stubborn and prideful? Especially since she is dead broke. I liked the “show don’t tell” aspect to this. Meanwhile, she has some encounters with a rich and handsome man, Aiden, (who we know is a good guy because he has a hearing-impaired nephew that he is nice to.) It turns out that he is friends with a partner in the firm that Molly is wanting to work for. Molly and Aiden start to date. They are smitten.

I loved the actress who played Molly. She was beautiful in a girl next door type of way with gorgeous hair and a natural delivery. She was a very good actress. The actress who played her friend, on the other hand, was annoying. She was supposed to be extroverted and quirky but just came across as loud and rude.

On a special date with Aiden, her father shows up in the same restaurant and Aiden invites him to join them! This is a very tense scene and had me on the edge of my seat (mostly because of the acting). Aiden knew how she felt about her father. And for the first time, we get a dose of him firsthand. And he is horrible! He totally disrespects Molly by overriding her preferred house Chardonnay with the most expensive bottle in the restaurant. He is overbearing, patronizing, and controlling. He takes over the date and Aiden goes along with it! We later find out her father stalked her to the restaurant! He wants her to work for him, and won’t take no for an answer. I found his behavior abusive and dangerous. Aiden doesn’t get it, especially since he got along with him just fine, but after talking to his sister he realizes that he really screwed up and practically begs her to forgive him. She is offered the job and she is thrilled. She goes over to Aiden’s apartment to forgive him. But then she accidentally sees a text that shows that Aiden tried to pave her way to the new job offer even though she told him in no uncertain terms to let her earn the position on her own. OMG! What an idiot! Plus that is treating a grown woman like a little girl who needs a man to take care of her. That kind of discounting is an intolerable insult. At this point, I was hoping she would dump him for good.

The resolution and the happy ending for her love life and her career was an anticlimax. Of course, I was happy for the happy ending but… she breaks down and asks for Dad’s help to help Aiden’s sister’s struggling charity and their relationship is repaired just like that. Apparently, he finally gets that he is not going to have her under his thumb. It was way too easy after all the drama. She realizes she got her new job because she is awesome and not because of the undue influence of Aiden. So she forgives him. I was OK with that because I think he really learned his lesson. And she learns that it’s OK to ask for help. That part was lame-It is NOT OK to take advantage of who you know to get something you want over someone else. It’s not fair. She was right the first time. It was not made clear that it IS OK to ask for help in order to do good works for others.

Despite the ending, I loved this. But it could have been a 10.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 8, 2021