Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Book or Movie? "A Dash of Love"

So far, all the entries in this series have been books and the Hallmark movies that are based on them. This one's a bit different ... though not perhaps in the way you'd expect. Someday, I'll do a Book or Movie post about a book/movie combo that's not connected to Hallmark, but today is not that day 🙂. What makes this entry different is the movie came first, and then a book based on the film was written.

About this time last year, A Dash of Love, starring Brendan Penny (Chesapeake Shores) and Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives), premiered during Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Valentine's Day. I watched it then and thought it was cute, and then I watched it again when it aired last weekend.

When an aspiring chef lands an assistant job at her idol’s restaurant, she's convinced her big break is just around the corner. After a rocky start, she befriends the handsome executive chef and they begin bonding in the kitchen. But her joy is short lived when she discovers her idol’s stealing her recipes and fires them both to protect her secret. Together, they set out to create their own pop up restaurant and discover the most important ingredient is love. 
I've decided that I really like Jen Lilley as a Hallmark actress. I think she's been in three: A Dash of Love; Eat, Play, Love (stupid name but cute movie); and Harvest Love (with Ryan Paevey of last week's "Book or Movie?" post, Unleashing Mr. Darcy). She was also in the odd-and-I'm-not-sure-what-I-think-of-it Lifetime Christmas movie The Spirit of Christmas. But I digress ...

As unconventional cook Nikki, Lilley is a delight, and she and Brendan Penny make a cute romantic pairing. I'm never a fan of Hallmark movie villains (I'd rather there be other obstacles to the happily ever after), but Peri Gilpin (Frasier) does make for a good "bad guy" as celebrity chef Holly Hanson.

While this isn't one of my absolute favorite Hallmark films, it is cute, and I wouldn't mind catching it again.

The book, though, is a different story ...

In cooking and in love, sometimes you have to improvise... 
When Nikki lands an assistant job at her idol’s restaurant, she’s sure her next big break is around the corner. After a rocky start, she befriends Paul, the handsome executive chef. 
Although he graduated from culinary school, and Nikki’s a self-taught cook, the two begin bonding in the kitchen. 
But Nikki’s new boss, Holly Hanson, turns out to be anything but admirable. She'll stoop to anything to save her restaurant, and Nikki and Paul both pay the price. 
Can they win against the scheming of a celebrity chef? Maybe, with some creative thinking...and a dash of love.
I watched the film before I read the book. And that's where the problem lies. Also, I was reading the book while the movie was on the other night, so I noticed some things I wouldn't have otherwise noticed, and they drove me nuts! Basically, the novel is a word-for-word transcription of the movie. There are a few extra scenes, and the reader "sees" into the main characters' thoughts, but overall, it's just a play-by-play of the movie, even down to the descriptions of how characters move!

The one instance of this that sticks out to me the most is a scene with Nikki and Paul in the kitchen. Paul is about to try Nikki's food for the first time, and I watched Lilley put her hands together in a praying gesture as she nervously waited for Paul's verdict ... and then I looked down at my book and saw that exact description!

My feelings might be different if I'd read the book before seeing the movie. But I didn't, and I just felt like it was too much of a carbon copy of the movie to be enjoyable.

To be fair, the book does continue on after the end of the movie, and that epilogue scene is very cute. But I certainly didn't feel like it was a good use of my time to read the book when I'd already seen the film.


Book or Movie?

If you're wondering, you weren't paying attention 😆: movie, hands down, no question about it! (Book: 2* stars. Movie: 4 stars.)

*You'll notice I gave the book a higher star rating in my review. Perhaps I was too generous. But this rating reflects my feelings about the book, especially in comparison to the movie and my experience with both. Held up as a work on its own, the book would probably do better than it does here.

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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