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Nov 26 2014 5:30pm

Should I Watch?: The Episode 2 Test, Fall 2014, Part 3

The Affair(Check out this fall’s earlier premiere coverage, with Part 1 and Part 2.)

With the first casualties of the fall TV season already announced (a bittersweet farewell, A to Z and Selfie!; you sadly deserved this, Bad Judge!; good riddance to you, the horrible Manhattan Love Story!), and the final new show of the regular season—Katherine Heigl’s State of Affairs—at last having made its debut, let’s take a look at the season’s remaining new shows, and whether or not it’s worth sticking around for their sophomore outings…

The Affair
Sundays, 10/9c, Showtime

It’s about…that time Manhattan family man Noah (Dominic West) headed to his in-laws’ palatial Long Island estate for the summer and on the way met sultry, haunted waitress Alison (Ruth Wilson). Their subsequent affair will, it seems, shock us, since it leads them to an interrogation room sometime in the future telling their similar-but-very-different sides of the whole tawdry story.

Reason I tuned in: What a stellar cast!

Where’s the love?: Well, the affair, obviously, but both cheating cheaters also seem to really love their respective spouses. Which, since the one is Maura Tierney and the other is Joshua Jackson, just makes sense.

Episode 2 Test: FAIL

Grade: B+

Comment: You know what? I’ve seen True Detective, so the whole unreliable narrator/dueling perspectives/mysterious incident under police investigation thing feels derivative, and while the infidelity in question is assuredly intriguing, as is whatever has brought our unfaithful pair to this interrogationized pass, I just don’t think I have the energy to try to work out what the hell is going on week by painstaking week. It’s a good show, though (Showtime has already renewed it for Season 2), and the cast really is amazing—Tierney, Jackson, even the Bunheads alum playing a sulky teen daughter is well-cast, though it must be said that Wilson’s American accent holds up better than her fellow Brit, West’s—so I can see perhaps marathonning it when the summer hiatus is upon us, and/or when there are some imminent answers available.

[+reviews of 8 more shows...]

Oct 17 2014 9:30am

Because Nothing Says Love Like a Makeover: Top 10 Pygmalion-Style Romances

The MakeoverFirst performed a century ago this very year, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion has long captured the public fancy. The tale of ragamuffin flower seller Eliza Doolittle learning to better herself at the hands of disdainful linguist Professor Henry Higgins in pre-WWI London, the play was named for the Roman sculptor of myth who created himself the perfect woman—though in Shaw’s lengthy postscript to the play, Eliza ends up marrying not her maker but Freddy, her respectable, but ultimately improvident suitor.

With ABC’s Selfie recently arrived on our screens, in which Karen Gillan plays social media obsessed millennial Eliza Dooley to John Cho’s disdainful marketing expert Henry Higgs, the time seems right to look at some previous attempts to bring the story, much like Galatea, to vibrant life. The “Pygmalion” trope, by the way, is vastly different to the “Ugly Duckling to Swan” trope, since it is as much the presence of the ever-so-superior teacher and his (or her) stormy relationship with the spirited student that defines it, as much as does that student’s requisite new beauty and/or ability to use the right fork.

So that being understood, I here submit my favorites...

10. The Makeover (2013)

Thank you, Hallmark, for this gender-flipped attempt, in which uptight and unlikeable politico Hannah Higgins (Julia Stiles) grooms charismatic delivery guy Elliot Doolittle (David Walton) for office—when what he believes she’s training him for is an office job. While I think we can all agree that Stiles hit her rom-com peak with 10 Things I Hate About You and that Walton’s handsome charm is the kiss of death when it comes to TV (every show he’s starred in has barely lasted a full season), nevertheless this cotton candy-light exploration of honesty in politics, embarrassing family members—Frances Fisher as Elliot’s blousy mother is a hoot—and the snobbery directed against South Boston accents is as enjoyable as it is, most surprisingly, thought-provoking. But... Doolittle for Congress? Isn’t that just a given?

[Yeah, they didn't really think about this, did they...]

Oct 8 2014 9:30am

Should I Watch? The Episode Two Test, Fall 2014, Part 2.

A Kiss in A to ZFollowing on from last week’s look at the first round of fall TV premieres (see Should I Watch? The Episode Two Test, Fall 2014, Part 1), let’s now move on to the latest crop of newbies to enter our television landscape, and see whether any of their series pilots were able to grab my not-so-fickle attention enough to warrant a viewing of Episode 2…

A to Z
Thursdays, 9:30/8:30c, NBC

It’s about…: Andrew (Ben Feldman) and Zelda (Cristin Milioti), two singles who are work neighbors in a nondescript office park and who embark on what we are told is “eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour” of dating. For our amusement, apparently.

Reason I tuned in: Of all the attempts at half-hour romantic comedy the networks are throwing at us this fall season, this one seemed to have the most chance of success.

Where’s the love?: Duh.

Episode 2 Test: PASS

Grade: B+

Comment: The sepulchral narration of Katey Segal (see, you did know that voice!) is the show’s least appealing facet, but Feldman and Milioti are comely and snarky-sweet—if perhaps a tad too similar; seriously, they could totally be cast as brother and sister elsewhere—and the addition of some endearing and/or obnoxious sidekicks gives the show an ensemble feel belied by its two star premise.

[That's a pretty promising start...]

Oct 2 2014 2:00pm

Should I Watch? The Episode Two Test, Fall 2014, Part 1

ABC's Black-ishMy goodness, fellow TV fans. So many new shows this fall season! So. Many. New. Shows. Fortunately for me (or for my free time, anyway, if not my soul) many of my favorites wrapped up before the summer hiatus, and so my returning roster is relatively light, which means I can take a look at all the new recruits with a charitable eye and select rather more freely from their swollen ranks than in recent years.

But still, the shows will have to pass my rigorous Episode 2 Test, which states that when I reach the end of the pilot of a new show I must be positively clamoring to discover what comes next in order to bother with it at all. If I feel merely ambivalent about the show and/or suspect that its respective Episode 2 will simply fester on my DVR for weeks and/or months, awaiting an excess of free time (which will probably never come) then it is excised from my personal regular schedule—though I do, of course, reserve the right to return to it if proven wrong. (Which occasionally happens; last season, Reign failed the test, to my later chagrin.)

So let’s take a look, now, at the shows premiering in these first heady days of the 2014 Fall Season, and see which ones make it into the rotation… (and then check out the Episode 2 Test, Part 2)

Wednesdays, 9:30/8:30c, ABC

It’s about…: Successful advertising exec Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) and his idyllic suburban life, interrupted by a mid-life cultural crisis that makes him doubt his, and his family’s, “urban” identity.

Reason I tuned in: Sitcoms only last 22 minutes, if you skip the commercials. (And don’t we all?)

Where’s the love?: Dre is married to feisty pediatric surgeon Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), and there are a couple of teenage kids in the family who will doubtless bring with them some first love hijinks.

[Hijinks are good, but did it pass or fail?]

Sep 26 2014 9:30am

We Laugh Because We Love: Top 10 Romance Parodies

Photo courtesy of 50 Shades, The Musical! websiteObviously, we all love Romance as a genre. None of us would be here if we didn’t. (Here, as in at this site obviously, not here as in alive and in the world.) But loving something does not mean we cannot mock it, or enjoy it when others do so for us. In fact, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then parody must surely be the sincerest form of affection; to spoof anything really well you must know it inside and out, and such thorough acquaintance with the minutia of anything can only either lead to—or, more likely, be born out of— a deep and profound fondness.

Here then, the Top 10 romance parodies that are funniest when you know enough—and love enough—to really get the joke…

10. 50 Shades! The Musical (2013)
Parody of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

This stage parody promising live BDSM (“Best Damn Songs and Music”) was a hit in Chicago before making its way to Manhattan, the New York Post reporting that “the opening scene centers on a middle-aged ladies’ book group, then plunges, like a cougar’s neckline, into sketches making fun of the erotic, best-selling novel.” Conceived by musical improv comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy, the show features songs like “Red Room” with lyrics such as “How much can you take/How much can you handle?/Clamps upon your nipples?/Hot wax with a burning candle?” Rarely, if ever, has soft-core erotica been so jaunty.

[We like a little laughter with our bondage...]

Sep 24 2014 2:00pm

Love and Laughter, Coming this Fall: The Romantic Possibilities of TV’s Upcoming Sitcoms

Black-ishFrom Sam and Diane on Cheers to Ross and Rachel on Friends to last season’s most absorbing comedy couple, Danny and Mindy, sitcoms can surprise and delight with their romantic escapades. Sure, we usually tune in for the candy floss lightness of the rapid fire one liners and the easy superficial silliness (not to mention the bite-sized running times), but very often we are given more – for examples, see Big Love on the Small Screen: Top 10 Current Sitcom Romances.

This Fall TV season brings us a whole bunch of new sitcoms trying to earn our interest and/or obsession, from all the major networks. But will they deliver the ship-worthiness? Let us see…


Series Premiere: Wednesday, Sep 24 at 9:30/8:30c
Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne
From the official website:

Andre 'Dre' Johnson has a great job, a beautiful wife, Rainbow, four kids, and a colonial home in the 'burbs. But has success brought too much assimilation for this black family?”

Thoughts: Anthony Anderson’s can be a frenetic, fractious presence and this exploration of race relations in the suburbs feels like it might be full of uncomfortable stereotype, like Stuff White People Like but without the irony.

[So can we like it, un-ironically?]

Aug 11 2014 1:00pm

Cedar Cove Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: Calling Out the Relationships

Grace and Olivia in Cedar Cove Season 2, Episode 4Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts, plus recaps of 2x01, “Letting Go, Part 1”; 2x02, “Letting Go, Part 2”; and 2x03, “Relations and Relationships, Part 1”.

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x04, “Relations and Relationships, Part 2.”

Stop the presses, sound the alarm, hear ye, hear ye, one and all. The most important, thrilling and withal game-changing event ever has occurred in our merry little town: Cedar Cove now has cell towers within reach, and no longer do its denizens have to take turns making their calls from one particular spot at the end of the pier. “End of an era,” laments Moon (Timothy Webber), and yes, damn straight! How else will we know that this is a really small and remote town—full of people who seemingly don’t know how to use a landline? Darn progress, always messing with the narrative.

[Who you gonna call?]

Aug 4 2014 11:34am

Cedar Cove Season 2, Episode 3 Recap: New Favorite Couple!

Olivia and Grace in Cedar Cove 2x03Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x03, “Relations and Relationships, Part 1.”

If Cedar Cove episodes have a theme, and most of them do, then the theme of this one is “Olivia and Jack are Awesome." There is a secondary theme, of exes and the fact that new loves are emphatically not them, but mostly it’s the Jack and Olivia thing.

So, let’s see how they, and our other couples, fared this week, shall we?


I’ve always quite liked Jack (Dylan Neal), but this week he is super-adorable. He is desperate for Olivia (Andie MacDowell) to take a key to his house, and comes up with an elaborate attacked-by-a-bear scenario to try and convince her; he also is struggling with a title for his new granddaughter to call him. “Which one makes me sound youngest?” he asks on a grin. None of them, dude! Get used to it. Also, he goes on this whole broccoli rant, and I loved it! “It’s an oxymoronic vegetable.” You’re a funny man, Jack.

[He even makes ranting look good...]

Aug 1 2014 9:30am

Romance’s Most Hated: In Defense of Outlander’s Laoghaire

Nell Hudson as Laoghire in OutlanderPoor Laoghaire.

Yes, you read that right. Oh, I am not about to suggest that she is a paragon of all the virtues—or, indeed, any. But I have always felt mighty sorry for the poor wee lass, and now even more so, since she (like Tara Thornton, Lori Grimes and Sansa Stark before her) is about to be hated by whole new multitudes, courtesy of the forthcoming Outlander TV adaptation.

For those who have read Diana Gabaldon’s epic historical time travel romance series, Laoghaire is often ranked second only to the ruthless, power-hungry sociopath that is Black Jack Randall in general and abiding villainy. But I beg leave to offer a dissenting view. A view that takes into account her tender years, the times in which she lived, her father’s brutality, her station in life and, above all, the bitter pangs of love unrequited.

First, a little background. When Laoghaire MacKenzie is but sixteen years of age, she is accused by her father of “loose behaviour; consorting improperly wi’ young men against his orders.” As a result of this (unproven, but who cares, even if it was?) charge, she—a member of Clan MacKenzie, and therefore under the stringent command of a Laird who has not the slightest problem with the public beating of women—is sentenced to be whipped at the hand of the clan’s massive, terrifying enforcer, right in front of everyone.

[Terrifying to us and we were just reading it!]

Jul 29 2014 11:04am

Cedar Cove Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: Baby Daddy

Maryellen and Grace in Cedar Cove 2x02Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x02, “Letting Go: Part 2.”

Who knew Cedar Cove had the power to surprise me? Oh, not in terms of plot twists or anything—I have read the Debbie Macomber books on which the show is based, and while their fairly forgettable details may not exactly stand out in my mind, I well recall the general gist, the vibe of each novel’s relationship rollercoaster(s). And even where the books and series diverge, well, it’s hardly The Sixth Sense. But the fact that this episode provided some of the most romantic and exhilarating moments the show has ever given us courtesy of, of all people, John Bowman (Charlie Carrick) and Maryellen (Elyse Levesque)... well, I never would have believed it possible.

Let us see how that happened, shall we? One couple at a time...


Cedar Cove royalty Jack (Dylan Neal) and Olivia (Andie McDowell) continue to wrangle with Jack’s sulky son Eric (Tom Stevens) and his recalcitrant inamorata this week as an emotional Shelly (Hayley Sayles) still lies abed at the (surprisingly state-of-the-art) local hospital on the very verge of a) having a baby and b) giving up said baby for adoption, to the never-ending whining protest of Eric.

[Quit yer cryin', dude...]

Jul 21 2014 10:02am

Cedar Cove Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: The More Things Change...

Cedar Cove Season 2 posterCedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x01, “Letting Go: Part 1.”

Welcome, friends, back to Cedar Cove, Washingon, where the living is easy and the focus is soft upon mature beauties Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Grace (Teryl Rothery) being expertly wooed by their attractive, appropriately grizzled, beaus. Meanwhile, among the next generation one finds romantic entanglements aplenty, with Olivia’s feisty artist daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth), Grace’s feisty curator daughter Maryellen (Elyse Levesque) and Jack’s sulky son Eric (Tom Stevens) all the object of some oftentimes problematic affections.

This year, we’re going to do a little something different with these recaps; my thinking is, since this show is based entirely on Debbie Macomber’s million-selling sweet romance series of the same name, clearly we’re in it for the relationships. So instead of a play-by-play, let’s just take this one couple at a time, shall we?

[Now boarding all 'ship passengers...]

Jul 7 2014 4:45pm

You Bet Your Love: Gambling in Historical Romance

Gambling cat picture by gchampeau via Flickr Creative CommonsWhist. Vingt et un. Hazard and Loo and Faro and Piquet. If you have ever read a historical, and certainly one set in London between, say, the two Queens Elizabeth, then chances are you have come across reference to at least a few, if not all, of these games of chance, once popular with the ruling elite. Only Vingt et un remains with us virtually unchanged (you might know it as Blackjack), though both Whist and Hazard have survived in modified form, as Bridge and Craps respectively. But even the most enthusiastic of today’s high rollers would be hard put to call themselves as dedicated to Lady Luck as were the scions of the Upper Ten Thousand back in the days of yore, for whom gambling was as much occupation as it was hobby and/or addiction. It was like they were an entire class of World Championship Poker players, only with less tattoos (though, possibly the same number of wigs).

Historical romance would have us believe that a gentleman of breeding spent much of his time at the gambling table—or gaming table, as it was much more pleasingly known (“gaming” has a much dorkier connotation now, of course), winning and losing enormous sums, bonding with each other in the camaraderie of excess, and occasionally becoming accidentally, often resentfully, engaged to some benighted fellow’s innocent young daughter, sister or (soon-to-be) widow.

[Place your bets now...]

Jul 2 2014 2:00pm

Love Among the Wreckage: Adrenaline-Fueled Romance at the Movies

In the closing moments of 1994’s Speed, Sandra Bullock’s Annie tells Keanu Reeves’s smitten Jack that “...relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.” Clearly she’s right, because by the time Speed 2: Cruise Control rolls around three years later she’s gotten tired of his constant life-in-peril routine and has moved on to Jason Patric—who, however, ends up being even more disaster-prone (in more ways than one). But despite the evident wisdom of this oddly self-aware heroine’s words some twenty—can you believe it? – years ago, filmmakers persist in giving us whirlwind romances shoehorned into even the most aggressively boisterous of explosion-filled blockbusters, because they think that’s what it takes to make us womenfolk happy.

And guess what? It makes me happy.

[We LOVE happy, too!]

Mar 31 2014 12:00pm

Big Love on the Small Screen: Top 10 Current TV Sitcom Romances

Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina in The Mindy ProjectFOX’s The Mindy Project comes back on Tuesday, April 1, after more than two months on hiatus. Two months spent by many in a fever of anticipation, wondering what the future will hold for frenemies Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina), whose slow-burn snark-filled almost romance has become one of the most captivating on TV, as H&H’s Heather Waters so gleefully articulated in her post regarding the show’s game-changing winter finale.

Of course, romance in comedy is hardly new, and on the small screen, and in the half-hour format, we have seen a lot of compelling relationships develop under our amused, at times angst-filled, eyes. From 86 and 99 to Joni and Chachi to Sam and Diane to Ross and Rachel, we’ve seen many a love bloom under the aegis of a helpful laugh-track (or, so it is often claimed, a “live studio audience”-track), and it is most when dealing with the vagaries of such emotions that sitcoms elevate themselves from mere short bursts of entertaining nothingness to actual thought-provoking worthiness, by delivering a surprising punch of piquancy, passion, and pathos.

Here, a list of the Top 10 couples from TVs current sitcom crop that have brought us more than just the funny. (A note on the use of the word “sitcom”: true, some of the shows on this list don’t necessarily fit the textbook definition of the term, what with the variable sets and the lack of laugh-track, but “Top 10 TV Half-Hour Comedy Romances” just doesn’t really have the same ring.)

[Did your favorites make the cut?...]

Nov 22 2013 4:00pm

Giving Thanks for Romance: Thanksgiving-Themed Books

Thanksgiving by Janet EvanovichI have holiday envy. There, I’ve said it. Whether it be Passover or Ramadan, Diwali or the Mooncake Festival, there is barely an international observance, whether religious or otherwise, that I would not wish to have as part of my cultural heritage. Oh, sure, we in Australia get our fair share of awesomely unique celebrations—in my home city of Melbourne, we get a day off for a horse race, and even the Federal Parliament takes a break to see which horse will run fastest on that magical first Tuesday in November. But as cool as that is (and it is), it is the fourth Thursday in November that has long fascinated me, my knowledge of it gleaned almost wholly from TV, movies and, of course, books: the American Thanksgiving.

I don’t recall exactly when I first learned about this most excellent of occasions, but I am pretty sure it was from shows the likes of Little House on the Prairie, Family Ties and Diff’rent Strokes. There would be schoolhouse pageants about the Pilgrims and their unwontedly gracious guests, family dining tables groaning under the weight of exotic-sounding dishes like pumpkin pie and candied yams, and bewildering sporting contests ardently followed by all the males of the house. From Charlie Brown to President Bartlet, and from Holly Hunter in Home for the Holidays to Katie Holmes in Pieces of April, if there is a story involving a family gathering designed to give thanks to...whatever it is you’re all so thankful for, then I am completely in.

Imagine my delight, then, when I long ago discovered Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich, several years after its 1988 release date, but also several before Stephanie Plum made Evanovich beloved outside the confines of Loveswept fandom (the book has since been rereleased, back in 2006). It is the delightful tale of Megan Murphy and Dr. Patrick Hunter, instant enemies who soon become friends—and then more than friends—as they team up to care for an abandoned baby, all the while navigating the many family dramas inherent in this particular titular affair. Full of its author’s signature zaniness, the novel also brings a tangible sense of occasion to the tale, especially as it is set in Colonial Williamsburg, than which I don’t think I can even imagine a more appropriate locale to celebrate this particular event.

[Happy Turkey Day...]

Nov 13 2013 10:30am

Falling Prey to Linda Howard’s Montana

Prey by Linda HowardWe’re reading our way across America…one romance at a time.

Montana: Prey by Linda Howard

This 41st state to join the Union is something of a mystery to me. Oh sure, it’s “Big Sky Country,” as books from Linda Lael Miller’s, er, Big Sky Country to Nora Roberts’s Montana Sky to Kirby Larson’s excellent YA Hattie Big Sky (among many others) continue to assure us, but aside from a general impression of wide open spaces, untamed wilderness, various kinds of ranching and rugged individualism of the pioneering-settler school, the state really hasn’t made too much of an impression. Historicals (whether in prose or on film) set therein always seem to be about outdoorsy types exploiting its remote grandeur in some way, while contemporary stories most often use Montana as a suitably out-of-the-way locale in which to commit, or hide out following, Crime (with Nicholas Evans novels being the obvious exceptions).

So what better combination of these two overriding themes could I have found to best exemplify this state than a Romantic Suspense novel by Linda Howard which sees two hunting guides caught up in a deadly web of intrigue and murder—and which also happens to include a vicious, man-killing bear?

[Beware the bear...]

Oct 14 2013 4:31pm

Cedar Cove Season 1, Episodes 12 and 13 Recap: It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Grace and Cliff in Cedar Cove 1x13Debbie Macomber's sweet small-town romance series Cedar Cove is now a weekly television show on Hallmark starring Andie MacDowell! Check out Rachel's recaps of the 2-hours series premiereepisode 2episode 3,episode 4episode 5episode 6episode 7episode 8episode 9, episode 10, and episode 11. And now, onto her recap of the show's two-part Christmas special, episodes 12 and 13, “A New Life” and “Homecoming”:

One thing is for certain. After this two-part episode, Google-then-iTunes searches for the name “Hayley Sales” will escalate madly, as the singer-songwriter guest stars as Shelly, a pregnant vagabond who checks into the Thyme and Tide and finds a job at Moon’s Cafe in the space of about a second and a half. Gorgeous, silken-haired and golden-voiced, the lost waif awakens the curiosity of B&B matriarch Peggy Belden (Barbara Niven), whose husband Bob (Bruce Boxleitner) abjures her to stay out of their new guest’s business (“We’re a bed and breakfast, not a bed and rescue.”). He has much bigger things to be worrying over: Christmas decorations, for one.


Sep 30 2013 11:35am

Cedar Cove Season 1, Episode 11 Recap: Conflicts Everywhere!

Jack and Olivia in Cedar Cove episode 11Debbie Macomber's sweet small-town romance series Cedar Cove is now a weekly television show on Hallmark starring Andie MacDowell! Check out Rachel's recaps of the 2-hours series premiereepisode 2episode 3, episode 4episode 5episode 6episode 7episode 8episode 9, and episode 10. And now, onto her recap of episode 11, “Stormfront”:

In a show where Big Though Easily Resolved Conflicts have been the order of most every day, it is a surprise and a delight (and also a concern, in a “careful what you wish for” kind of way) to report that in this episode, among the conflicts aplenty with which our favorite small town pretty people are beset, very little gets resolved at all. Some of these conflicts have been a long time in coming, and some are relatively recent developments, but all of them combine to make this episode without a doubt the best we have so far seen—and yes, before you get all snarky, there’s some, if not tough, at least mild competition for that title.

Conflict #1: Remember how Jack (Dylan Neal), newspaperman extraordinaire, was off to his bustling hometown metropolis of Philadelphia to interview for a sports writer gig at the end of last episode? Well, I know you won’t even believe this, but he got the job! It’s a pretty sweet deal, actually, following the Phillies around the country, going to Spring Training, really getting to know the team and basically being their official biographer. It’s his “dream job,” one that he’d have jumped at as little as a year earlier, but now that he has Olivia (Andie MacDowell) ... he turns it down! Which was pretty damned predictable, but also slightly worrisome and not a little insane – hell, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Mets fan who would have had to move to Philly from a different hemisphere, and even I would’ve taken it – because sorry, Jack, we also have...

[Jack, you may have made a huge mistake...]

Sep 23 2013 11:29am

Cedar Cove Season 1, Episode 10 Recap: A Town Full of Jerks

Olivia and Jack in Cedar Cove 1.09Debbie Macomber's sweet small-town romance series Cedar Cove is now a weekly television show on Hallmark starring Andie MacDowell! Check out Rachel's recaps of the 2-hours series premiereepisode 2episode 3, and episode 4episode 5episode 6episode 7, episode 8, and episode 9. And now, onto her recap of episode 10, “Conflicts of Interest”:

Relationship discord is the order of the day this time out in Cedar Cove, except between the blissfully happy Jack (Dylan Neal) and Olivia (Andie MacDowell), who apparently never tire of looking soulfully into each other’s eyes and saying the darndest things. Jack, indeed, is a font of pure schmaltz, forever telling Olivia just how lucky he is to have met someone so beautiful, so intelligent and just so generally awesome—compliments Olivia always takes placidly in stride because, after all, they are manifestly true.

The two of them are very cute, of course, and only the not-at-all-predictable, I-cannot-believe-that-happened plot twist of his possibly being offered a job on a real newspaper back in his beloved Philadelphia could possibly rend them asunder. Although, if Olivia’s ex-husband Stan (Andrew Airlee) has his way – as Jack has long suspected – there may soon be something else with the potential to tear them apart.

[Never let go, Jack! Oh, wait...]

Sep 17 2013 2:45pm

Rockin’ Out in Colorado: Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick

Rock Chick by Kristen AshleyWe’re reading our way across America…one romance at a time.

Colorado: Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

Heading to Colorado—home of Aspen, Stargate Command and Celestial Seasonings tea—for this next stop in our romance novel tour of America (the Centennial State was 38th to join the Union, by the by) was the perfect opportunity for me to at last check out Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick, the 2011 indie-release-made-good about which I had heard so many excellent things.

The book, and the series it spawned, are set in Denver, and rarely has a place come so alive to me in prose as it did within these pages. From exploring various neighborhoods to hitting up local restaurants by what felt like the dozen, Rock Chick is as much Zagat guide as it is fun-filled crime caper; certainly, if I ever find myself in Denver, I’ll know where to go for the best sushi (Sushi Den), the best Mexican (Las Delicias), and the best Chinese (Twin Dragon).

But added to Denver’s allure here is the spirited India “Indy” Savage, bookstore-owner and self-proclaimed Rock Chick. The 30-year old daughter of a police detective, her wild hellion days might be behind her, but that doesn’t mean she’s given up the holy Rock Chick trinity of loud music, short skirts and high heels. As Indy describes each outfit she dons in loving detail, they sure do sound cute, each apparently suiting her buxom frame to perfection.

[Enter our hero...]