Friday, December 1, 2017

Book or Movie? "The Mistletoe Inn"

Why yes, I have read/watched another book & Hallmark movie pair! This one is The Mistletoe Inn, and it's the most enjoyable pair yet! (See my thoughts on Miss Christmas and Marry Me at Christmas.)

I listened to the book The Mistletoe Inn while driving to Colorado for Thanksgiving (see my review here), and I watched the movie a few days later.
At 32, Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car delaership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Deep inside Kimberly knows she's at a junction in her life and it's time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.
In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he's really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he's unwilling to talk about.

Though the book isn't perfect, it is enjoyable. There's a lot of backstory to be had—especially regarding Kimberly's failed relationships (including with a man named Kent Clark, which provided my first snicker of the book) and her mother's death—so the actual Mistletoe Inn portion of the book doesn't begin until about the halfway point. I didn't really mind, though, as I found Kimberly's life to be really interesting.

While I didn't feel like the romance itself was very strong (it was basically "insta-love," which is never my favorite), I enjoyed learning about Zeke's past, and I loved the little trip he took Kim on. I also loved Samantha, Kim's writing conference friend.

I knew from Hallmark's previews that several plot points would change for the movie. Some of these are great changes; others, not so much.
When aspiring romance novelist Kim Rossi is unceremoniously dumped by her soon-to-be-published romance novelist boyfriend, Garth, Kim takes stock and decides to take a leap. She signs up for a romance writing retreat at a quaint Vermont Inn shortly before Christmas, where a top romance novelist is scheduled to attend. Shortly after arriving, she crosses paths with Zeke, whom she initially finds to be intrusive and, naturally, ends up being her assignment partner. Worse yet, her ex-boyfriend, Garth, is also at the retreat. Despite these bumps in the road, Kim steps outside her comfort zone and ends up surprising herself. Equally unexpected is the attraction that seems to be building between her and Zeke that promises to take her down a road she never imagined traveling.
The biggest change between the book and movie is in relation to Kim's ex. In the book, she has a skeezy ex-husband named Marcus. He has certainly affected Kim's confidence and self-perception, but he doesn't play an active role in the story. In the film, Marcus has been replaced with the unlikable and self-centered writer Garth. Garth ends up at the Mistletoe Inn writers conference, and he's even in the same critique group as Kim. He's a typical Hallmark villain—not a very nice guy, willing to do some morally questionable things to get ahead, but not truly evil. I think the movie would've been better without Garth's inclusion, but he didn't bother me too much.

The other major change that I didn't care for was in the Samantha character. Sam was the first person Kim met at the conference (in the book, anyway), and they became fast friends in both versions. However, in the film, Sam wasn't developed at all. She was just a nice woman who Kim attended events with and who popped in now and again to advance the plot. In the book, though, Sam was hilarious. She was often confused and would say the silliest things—basically, she was sweet but maybe not too bright. And I loved her—I wish that some of that personality (or any personality, really) would've been imbued into her character on screen.

One change between the book and movie that I did enjoy was the romance between Kim and Zeke. In the book, Zeke pursued Kim nearly from the moment they met, and their romance progressed rapidly. In the movie, while Zeke and Kim were pretty clearly attracted from the moment they met, each also found the other annoying, and Kim especially wasn't interested in anything with Zeke at first. The romance in the film is a much slower burn than in the book, and I definitely enjoyed it more.

While Alicia Witt and David Alpay are nothing like the Kim and Zeke I pictured while listening to the audiobook (for one thing, at 37, Alpay isn't quite old enough for the Zeke of the book), they fit the roles well, and they have nice chemistry.


Book or Movie?

I think the movie, just by a bit—but both are good! This verdict actually may be colored by my love of Alicia Witt's Christmas movies; I can't think of one that I didn't enjoy! (Book: 3-1/2 stars. Movie: 4 stars.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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