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ALC Review: It Happened One Christmas by Chantel Guertin


Release Date: 31 October 2023

Rating: 3/5

Narration: 4/5

Narrator: Amelia Sargisson

Synopsis: A charming and rollicking holiday rom-com about a big-city film director who must convince the dreamy, yet grumpy, mayor of a small town to give her the permit to shoot her Christmas movie in his idyllic hometown. Perfect for fans of Hallmark holiday movies, and readers of Maggie Knox's All I Want for Christmas and The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

Will magic happen under the mistletoe?

All year long, Zoey Andrews lives and breathes Christmas--not just because she loves everything about the festive season, but because, as the director of countless Christmas movies, she's perpetually (and happily) surrounded by 24/7 holiday cheer. And this year Christmas has come early: After years of making other people's movies, Zoey finally has the chance to make her own. There's just one thing standing in her way of that: Benoît Deschamps, the sexy, bearded, grouchy and utterly frustrating, plaid shacket-wearing tree-farm-owner-slash-mayor who refuses to grant Zoey the permit to film in Chelsea, the cozy and snowy Quebec hamlet at the center of her screenplay.


With just four days left before Christmas, Zoey must change Ben's mind, but not before an unscripted ice storm leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere, with nothing--no food, no phone, no electricity--except . . . each other.


Will Ben's chilly resolve shatter Zoey's Christmas movie wish? Or will Zoey be able to melt through his stubbornness--and maybe even his heart?

 

Review


I’m beginning to appreciate more of the rom-com subgenre of romance lately, along with all of its nuances and typical tropes, and It Happened One Christmas could have been an excellent one. The premise was great—a screenwriter/director hoping to land a permit to film her first screenplay in the perfect place. The surly guy who happens to be the mayor of the town (I did not know this fact going in, and I think it made the book better when it was a surprise for me). The hilarious mash up of the two folks in weather-induced conditions. What more could a rom-com reader ask for? A lot more, apparently. Once these two landed in a predicament, stuff fizzled out for me before it even got started, dashing my hopes for a great holiday rom-com—oh, and this happens to be one of the first I’ve ever read.

Our main characters in the story are great in and of themselves, but together, they do not have that spark that great romances need to make a compelling story. The hook up in It Happened One Christmas had the potential for greatness, but it felt a bit incidental instead of romantic. Ben and Zoey end up in a cabin together during an ice storm—holy cow, perfect—but the circumstances aren’t very romantic. When they finally make it to safety, it’s well at the end of the book after the two characters spend much of the story in the woods navigating the ice storm, pretty much making the book more of a survival romance instead of a romcom.

Once the two lovebirds arrive safely at the final setting of the book, the story really rushed to its ending with a less than believable situation of miscommunication and jealousy. Much of the book, in fact, revolves latently around that aspect of the romance, and I didn’t really mesh well with it.


The narration for this one definitely made the book easier to absorb. It was a quick listen, about 4 hours for me because I speed mine up, so I was able to get it done in about four hours. There were some awkward parts in it that sounded like patched in segments of someone pronouncing the French dialogue into the main narration, which was a jolt, but it wasn’t a big deal.


In the end, I give the book a solid 3 stars out of 5 and the narration 4 stars out of 5. I hoped for more compelling romance and believable situations. It was a bit more hokey than I wanted.


My thanks to libro.fm and Doubleday Canada for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.

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